WRITING STYLE: 4/5
ENTERTAINMENT QUOTIENT: 4/5
“The Gatekeeper never goes on a mission without his staff; it is a sacred bond and symbolizes the oneness of the devotee with the divine.”
~ Seshadri Subramaniam, The Cryptic Key
Some books disappoint you and some surprise you. Of recently, I have found that books that have gorgeous covers are disappointing inside. Similarly, many books that don’t look so appealing in the first look are beautiful inside.
They say don’t judge a book by its cover and I say it is true. For how else would you discover hidden gems? Today I am going to talk about a book that pleasantly surprised me. Read on to know my thoughts about Seshadri Subramaniam’s The Cryptic Key – a book that should definitely feature in your TBR pile.
What to expect?
Every reader is different and so are their tastes. Hence, it is essential to mention beforehand what to expect from a given book. The Cryptic Key is a modern day mythological thriller. It promises adventure, as well as fantasy and people who love the idea of quests and treasure hunting, will surely find it a good read.
What is the story?
Raghav, a software engineer, goes missing and his wife Vaidehi is dejected. The police are unable to find any solid clues but one day a weird phone call makes Vaidehi’s brother, Krishna, suspicious. To allay his own fears, he starts digging deeper into the work that Raghav was doing.
To his surprise, he finds mysterious notes in Sanskrit and some ancient texts about a secret encryption technique. He soon uncovers a secret that will take him on a quest – a quest to find Raghav and a mysterious ancient city which has eluded mankind for millenniums.
Nestled amidst lush green hills and yet untouched by civilization is a small sleepy hamlet whose existence is known only to a few. Protecting an ancient temple and its rituals, the village holds secrets that are as ancient as time. Seeking its enigmas, Krishna and a bunch of outsiders arrive on a quest that will change their lives forever.
“Veera Puranam, as the ritual was called, told the story of a faraway king who was driven out of his prosperous kingdom by his brother and remained in exile.”
How good are the characters?
The characters in the book are diverse and vivid. I like how Seshadri has created such an assorted troupe. Even though the number of characters in the book is pretty high, each one’s introduction is sharp and succinct. No matter how big or small the character, each has been developed well. The descriptions that they paint in the readers’ mind are powerful and striking.
What about the author’s writing style?
The author makes use of some excellent techniques to keep the reader bemused. I love how there are so many subplots and side characters but that doesn’t distract you. These have been put to use very intelligently. For if not used wisely, they often add to the confusion and chaos, which in turn doesn’t bode well for the reader. The author, however, seemed to be mindful of the fact and has taken care to not overdo it.
The author weaves together the elements of mythology, Sanskrit texts and various ancient rituals in an effortless fashion. The Cryptic Key reads more like a Tomb Raider or an Indiana Jones movie rather than a run-of-the-mill mythological thriller.
In addition to providing an entertaining story, The Cryptic Key also makes for an informative read. There are many things you get to learn from the book. It gives you an altogether new approach to look at Indian mythology and its ancient customs.
Let’s talk about the climax
When it comes to the climax, the book doesn’t disappoint. But it doesn’t wow you as well. This is a sort of climax that is more regularly adopted by Hollywood movies these days. I didn’t have an issue with the ending, however, I did not like the way many loops were never closed; many side stories never concluded.
What could have been better?
The book leaves certain questions unanswered. There were also certain loose ends that weren’t tied up so well. Some characters deserved conclusions and that wasn’t delivered. It is one thing to keep the reader guessing throughout the book (good practice) but another to keep them guessing after the end of the story (doesn’t work for me).
What I absolutely loved?
The Cryptic Key is a book that keeps you on your toes; it keeps you guessing all the time. New characters and new twists are introduced well throughout the book and these characters keep one intrigued. It is this ability of Seshadri to keep the reader’s interest alive which I liked the most about the book.
It all boils down to the entertainment quotient
In the end, the book delivers what every good thriller should aspire to – an action-packed page-turning read. Entertainment is one ingredient this book has a good amount of, and hence, I will definitely recommend the book to my readers.
Pick up the book if
Pick the book if the idea of a modern-day mythological thriller excites you. This book will appeal to fans of Ashwin Sanghi and Dan Brown who are looking for much simpler reads. The book doesn’t confuse the reader much and manages to keep one hooked. Also, pick it up if you are looking for an entertaining read.
Skip the book if
Skip the book if Indian mythology and/or mythological thrillers don’t interest you.
Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy of The Cryptic Key from the link below.