24th March, 2007
Westside Plus, Times of India
Magic of Maya by Nandita Da Cunha
Fantasy never ceases to amaze. Whether you are 8 or 80, the innate desire for escapist fantasies forms the crux of human emotions. Magic of Maya strikes that very chord in every individual, thus ensuring a diligent interest from every reader, old and young.
Magic of Maya is the story of 10 year old Tara, a spunky & unusually strong headed girl in a quiescent village. It illustrates the travails & adventures the young lady faces in a quest to save her world from falling prey to certain destruction. But what set this novel apart from so many other fantasy novels is its simplicity and its extremely simple narrative style which brings to life the various curious creatures in the land of Maya. The various tongue in cheek names & references elicit a chuckle as soon as you realize where the author is going. Mr. Kolorov Muzik (Color of Music) is who else but a great musician handed the job of bringing Tara to the musically enchanted land of Maya. Dholakia is a well rounded individual not so representative of his race in generic terms. The Flattes and Sharpes are a particularly funny take on the truly diverse nature of the two genders.
The author, Nandita Da Cunha, rarely shows signs of first time jitters. She manages dry humor as well as macabre characters with fluid grace and effortless ease. The novel has its fair share of tumultuous twists & astonishing turns. The chapter where the identity of Tara’s father is revealed leads to a whirlwind of activity which further draws the reader into a thrilling vortex of perfidy and the clichéd triumph of good over evil. Magic of Maya is one of those novels which seem disenchanted with the purblind leadership & shallow outlook of people in today’s world. A fantastic La-La Land where music permeates the air through pipes and houses change color depending on the mood of the occupant offers the reader a brilliant ethereal land where he identifies with his innermost concupiscence.
There are a few penumbral sections in the novel but these are few & far between. Comparisons with the Lewis Carroll novel ‘Alice in Wonderland’ are not unwarranted but to deem this novel as a rip off would be an unfair judgement. Overall, the novel is an honest and stimulating work of art. The novel might not be an epoch defining moment in literature but it is definitely an indication that honest first timers can churn out works which are original, entertaining & full of the chutzpah expected out of a good work of fiction.
By Robin Singhvi