Well.. first of all, a big thanks again to Blogadda for providing me this opportunity to review the recently launched book Tantra by Adi.
As the back cover of the novel proclaims -- Anu is a leather wearing, no-nonsense professional guardian with a reputation for killing the most dangerous vampires in New York City. But when her enemies murder the one person she truly cared about, all she wants is vengeance. The only clue points to New Delhi, so Anu puts in for a job transfer.
In India, she finds more than she expected. For one thing, her fellow operatives have made a truce with the vampires. For another, it’s way too hot to wear leather.
At first, it seems Anu’s biggest challenge will be evading the nice boys her aunt wants her to marry. But when children start disappearing, she discovers forces older and darker than anything she’s faced before. All of Delhi is in danger, especially the sexy stranger who sets Anu’s pulse racing.
To prepare for the coming battle, Anu must overcome her personal demons and put aside years of training. This time, her most powerful weapon will come from her mind, not her weapons belt.
The front cover is nice and appealing with shades of indigo-blue and royal-blue. Girl with a big knife, lightning, face (spirit) in dark clouds protruding downwards from the sky, with the city backdrop to it, the book cover serves its purpose of presenting a mystery-adventure soup to the first time picker.
The main protagonist is Anu Aggarwal, a from-NY-to-Delhi vampire hunter who has come to India in the search of her lover Brian's killer vampire. She is really a badass character when it comes to hunting her targets. Her Delhi counterpart is Amit, always flirting with her and reassessing his role as a guardian for the rest of his life. Despite his increasing disinterest in his regular job being a vampire hunter, he performs his duties well with his conscience.
Then come Anu's cousin Smiti, her aunt Nina, her lust-interest Gaurav, who all play important parts in taking the story forward and also shaping Anu's social life which used to be almost non-existent earlier. Dr. Sharma and Pandit Grover become her mentor in solving out the Tantra puzzle to fight the most evil man in the city, tantric Senaka aka Babaji, whose character mostly evolves indirectly rather than direct presence in the story until it goes climaxing towards the end.
Vampire city king Chandra is inserted as a grayish character, an element of surprise most of the times.
The story starts with a NRI vampire hunter, Anu, returned to Delhi to avenge her lover's killer traced to a Delhi vampire. But sooner than later, she is forced to look into other supernatural matters enveloping the city, teaching her that vampires aren't the only bad things she would have to fight in the future here. Along with Amit, she first comes across child disappearances (mainly from slums) in the city and trace it back to Baba Senaka, the evil tantric who is hellbent on using children's spirits to establish his connection with the spiritual world and amass great power to achieve his enlightenment (the tantric way).
On the other hand, Suresh, their Delhi centre's head is always convincing Anu that vampires aren't a big concern in Delhi, which she finds annoying as her main motive being present there is to search for Brian's killer into vampire's 'mostly-incomplete' database. She doubts Dr. Sharma initially as well who introduces her to the knowledge of ancient Indian supernatural power Tantra, but believes and agrees to take his help once confrontation with the odd truth of being nearly killed by Senaka's acolytes on her surprise attack visit to the ashram compound where she witnesses him using children's spirits for his own deeds.
In between come her cousin Smiti, her situational face-offs with Gaurav, and her aunt Nina with whom she is staying for now. Of these, she discovers Nina to be already looking out prospects for her marriage; develops lusty feelings for Gaurav; wants to keep Smiti out of trouble, more when Amit develops interest in her later. All this and her confrontation with Pandit Grover, a sattvic priest, who helps her to discover what is maya, with Chandra, the vampire head called Panch in the city, whom she wants to kill herself being a vampire hunter, but finds unable to do so, firstly because of her sheer lack of powerlessness before him, and later when she finds out that he could play a major role in her fight against Senaka; with all those vampires who have turned over to Senaka's side due to his tantric power making them vulnerable, and fighting them alongside Amit....
All of these forms the crux of the story. Does she finds a way to defeat the evil within time who is growing dangerously in power? Is she able to form side with vampires despite herself born and trained to kill them unhesitatingly? Does she discovers the path of maya and Tantra in positive manner or does she have to follow the unstable path of Tantra herself for the righteous cause? Will it all be acceptable to her? What are the motivations of Chandra, Pandit Grover, Karta, and even Dr. Sharma in choosing her to be the only one possible when it comes to defeat Senaka?!
To discover all this and much much more, delve into the extra-ordinary and India's first supernatural action thriller, and get surprised every now and then. You won't mind reading India's very much ancient mysterious powers so deeply rooted in earlier times like Mahabharata and else, and still today, weaved so fearlessly into this book by the author.
Everything is likable about this book, well not everything, but still almost everything.
The writing style is so smooth and the action scenes are described so flawlessly with greatly balanced details.
The surprise locking and unlocking of horns among several major characters at times.
Coolness and vibrancy felt throughout the whole book, no narrative lost anywhere.
Adventure, mystery, ancient 'magical?' powers at work and their satisfying working details and usage inserted at appropriate places in the story.
Natural but unpredicatable twists and turns building up in this story about super-natural.
Romance and Love presented only in the form of lusty dialogues/descriptions spread across here and there throughout the book got a disgusting look from me whenever I came across such everytime.
Overall, I would only say that Tantry by Adi is a riveting supernatural action thriller in its truest sense. Despite author's debut work, he has done a commanding job in this novel. Don't you miss it, Indian vampire and supernatural genre readers!
Overall, 4.5 out of 5 stars :)