The Secrets of the Dark


This is the first book in a planned Fantasy series by author Arka Chakrabarti and this is his debut novel.

This book is set in the mythical land of Gaya. It is a tale of wise kings and evil guardians, brave warriors and devious renegades fractured by a prophecy foretelling of doom. Involving elements of both Western and Eastern Fantasy and myths, the author vividly creates a new world of wild adventure.

For a debut novel, this is a pretty strong offering. It’s a good, if not very original tale of adventure and fantasy. The hero is Agni – a boy who grows up in a foster family with no knowledge of his parents or destiny. After an attack on his foster family, he and his friends go on a mission to find the evil doers and extract revenge.

On the way he learns a bit more about his heritage, and the prophecy that seems to refer to him.

I liked this book very much, but didn’t quite love it as much as I expected it to.

Here are some reasons why:

  • Pacing issues: The book starts off fast, and then starts to slow down in places. Towards the end, it picks up and becomes really exciting, but the middle of the book was very slow.
  • Stereotypical plot and characters: Probably later books will develop the main characters a bit more – now they seem like stock fantasy characters…you know, warrior princess, boy with super-natural powers, the chosen one, etc.

    In some places, the plot also seems a little contrived. There are references to a wall that is built to keep the demons of the North away, references to the Seven (all these reminded me much too much of George R R Martin’s plot constructs), and I hope that future books in the series will take the plot through less well-known paths.

Once I got over the plodding parts, the book starts to flow freely. I loved the second half of the book where our hero and his friends actually embark on their quest. All the fight sequences are very well-written, and there is a certain suspense to the proceedings that brought me to the edge of the seat.

The plot then moves into a really thrilling finale, and I admit makes up for all the flaws in the beginning and middle sections.

Last Words

This is a promising debut. It will be interesting to see what is in store in future books in this series.

Oh and btw, you guys know how much I love maps in Fantasy books, so here’s one drawn in the author’s own hand. I loved reading about the places in the story and then going back to the map to see where it is…it’s one of the best things about Fantasy books according to me :). Do you get all excited like that?

A Map of Gaya

A Map of Gaya

Thanks to Srishti Publications for sending me a copy of this book to read and review.

  • Interesting. Finally Indian authors are jumping into fantasy. I love maps in fantasy novels too.. I think I started liking it from Lord of the rings reading days.

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