PLOT: 3/5

My musings

I enjoy books that promise a generous dose of magical realism. There is something about the strings of reality, intertwined with elements of magic, that makes the reader in me go jumpy with delight. 

Some books with aspects of magical realism that I have enjoyed in the past include Murali K Menon’s The God Who Loved Motorbikes and The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan.

Recently, I had the opportunity to read another book that has a generous dose of magical realism. Read on to know about my thoughts on Anuj Tikku’s Sunaina Ki Jadooi Sandal.

What to expect?

Expect a book that narrates the story of a strong and courageous woman. Expect a short read that has an interesting premise. Expect a book that offers a combined package of action, drama, adventure, and magical realism.

Who can read?

The book has an easy-to-comprehend language and hence can be read by beginners. Intermediate and voracious readers might not enjoy it due to the lack of proper editing.

The story as it goes

Sunaina finds the love of her life and after marrying him, shifts to Punjab. Professionally educated and modern by her outlook, Sunaina finds it difficult to adjust to her new home. At her in-laws’ place, she is expected to mingle in the rural setting and be a docile daughter-in-law.

Things take a turn for the worse when Sunaina becomes a widow at a time when she is three months pregnant. Instead of supporting her, her in-laws rob her of the rights and property that her husband had left behind. 

Dejected and hopeless, Sunaina goes back to Pune and takes up a job at a teaching facility at an academic coaching institute.

One day fate leads her to a roadside vendor from whom she buys a pair of flashy red sandals. But unknown to Sunaina, these sandals have magical powers. They provide numerous superhuman abilities to anyone who wears them.

Sunaina discovers her new powers and also learns that her husband’s accident was a planned murder. Furious and baying for revenge, Sunaina takes off for Punjab to bring justice to her husband’s killers.

This is the story of revenge as well as upliftment. It is a story that portrays the power of a determined woman.

Let’s talk about the characters

Sunaina, our main character, undergoes a massive transformation. Hers is an inspiring character that builds on the narrative of a powerful and determined woman. But what we find missing is her backstory, especially her love story. Another aspect of Sunaina’s character is her trusting nature. She is gullible and easily trusting of strangers. The part where she discloses the secret of her sandals shows her naivety and lack of worldly wisdom.

How good is the writing style?

The overall storyline is good; however, the deliverance of particular parts is noticeably hasty. We see in detail, the struggle of Sunaina in her marital home, including how she bears the tortures that are inflicted on her. But the part where she discovers her magic sandals is doled out too hastily.

For magical realism to work in a regular story, the reader needs to be convinced about it. It takes more than a page to do that (even when the book is a fifty-page novella). Here we see that the introduction of her magic sandals is rushed and unbelievably so.

Use of vernacular to infuse flavor

The author makes good use of vernacular language to enthuse flavor and punch into his writing.

What did I like?

I love the way Sunaina transforms her distress and tragedy into action and opportunities. Instead of lamenting her loss and pinning her hardships on her fate, she decides to fight back and make the most of her circumstances.

What could have been better?

Right in the beginning, the introduction provides a synopsis of the complete plot that doles out the entire mystery in one go. Though there are enough hooks to urge the reader on, these are introduced well in advance. The author needs to keep the plot twists shrouded in mystery and surprise the reader, instead of unraveling the twists in the introductory chapter.

What I didn’t like?

Editing is one aspect where the book loses multiple points. There are many grammatical, punctuation, and editing errors that make it difficult for the reader to retain interest. Needless to state, this negatively impacts the reading experience.

About the climax

The climax is decent and gives a befitting end to the story of Sunaina. There is a lot happening in the end which keeps things interesting for the reader. Part predictable and part unpredictable, one particular aspect of it especially left me bewildered. Sunaina does something extraordinary in the end that I didn’t see coming.

In the end

In the end, Sunaina Ki Jadooi Sandal narrates the inspiring story of a courageous young woman who turns her misfortunes into opportunities and uplifts not just herself and her family, but also other women.

Pick the book if

  • You are looking for a short read.
  • You enjoy stories of powerful and upright women.
  • You love women-centric reads with strong female characters.
  • You are a beginner-level reader getting started with English reading.

Skip the book if

  • You don’t like books that aren’t properly edited.
  • You are looking for a page-turner.
  • You are looking for a five-star entertainer.

Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy of Sunaina Ki Jadooi Sandal using the link below.