My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I really love Jamila Gavin. I love the elegance of her writing, the quiet subtlety of it and the way she tells rich and layered stories that never quite do what you expect them to do.
This slim compilation of three stories, each inspired by a different story of Hindu mythology, are intensely diverse, somewhat scary at times, vividly scenic, and all full of an almost aural texture that made me delight in them. I wanted these read out loud. I kept pausing to read them to myself, to taste the words and revel in her precision, her lovely lovely precision as a writer.
Basically, I wanted more of them than I had here but I think I get greedy with Gavin because what she does is so good, and so I hope you forgive me for that because this whole review will be shot through with that sentiment.
The first story is about Shanta and the Goddess Kali. It’s gorgeous, eloquently told as ever, but with a twist that made me pause and realise the power at the heart of these stories. The same can be said for Amrita and the Goddess Lakshmi, where we see star-crossed lovers, galaxy wide fights, and the wars that occur in the night sky. The final story, about Anil, Kiki and the Goddess Durga is perhaps on a smaller scale but still rather gorgeously intense, taking place in the domestic sphere and featuring bullying.
I think, maybe, intense is the right way to describe these stories. They’re so brief but rather wonderful, like flashes of fireworks in the night sky. They flare, brilliant, bright, before fading away.
I would like them to not fade away, but I am thankful for what we have. Everything from Gavin is a joy. This collection is no exception.
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