Story plot: 3.5/5
Genre: Fiction, adventure
Anand is a boy who lives in a slum in Kolkata. To him, life has been very unkind. First, his father who had gone to Dubai to work, disappeared. Then, his sister suffered through an incident that impacted her young mind. As a result, she wasn’t herself.
Along with his mother, Anand tried to make ends meet. He took up a job in a tea stall which was run by Haru. Haru verbally abused him and made him work very hard giving him barely any breaks. However, Anand was thankful, at least he could earn a little and he got one free meal a day. In his ordinary and difficult life, he had never imagined he would encounter such magic.
One day, a strange old man introduced a magical conch with supernatural powers to him. The light of the Conch shone brightly in his small house, illuminating the darkest corners. Then, a whole new world of magic was opened up to him. He later realised that the old man was Abhaydatta, a healer.
The conch was in danger from an evil force, and Anand and the old man were trying to safely take it to its destination, the Silver Valley. They also encountered a girl who wanted to join them. This lonely girl is named Nisha by the old man. The three of them embark on a journey to the Silver Valley.
Will the conch safely reach its destination? What are the magical powers that this object of magic holds? What dangers and hardships do the trio face as they travel? Is Anand gifted too? All of these answers form the basis of this novel written by the author Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.
My thoughts on The Conch Bearer
Have you ever dreamt about having magical powers in childhood? Did you find mysterious journeys fascinating? This sweet and simple tale of magic, the Conch Bearer takes you back to the good old days when magic felt more real than it is. It’s a childhood musing coming to life with the author’s words.
Written in the effortless and endearing writing style of the author, this tale is enchanting and the story is unique. The scenarios and difficulties are very original. It fascinates all ages of readers. A child will enjoy this book as much as an adult.
Points of perfection
The reality amidst the magic is something that is worth pointing out in the Conch Bearer. From Meera’s strange and undiagnosed disease to the raging storm that no one will suspect to be evil, everything in this story is in tune with real life. The places the kids visit and the dangers they face are well written and although magical, at no point do they seem to be overdone.
The description of the Silver Valley is that of a paradise. The beautiful silver flowers, the lush greenery, glass walls and twinkling stars and lastly, the shining conch in the centre of the hall, all this is so beautiful to imagine. If you are like me and you love imagining scenes, you will be lost in the beauty of this place.
There are some points in the book that require a little bit of clarification. Who was Nisha? What song did she keep humming to herself? The source of the girl was not discussed and I think it would have been an interesting tale in itself if it had been.
Similarly, why did the old man only choose Anand out of everyone else, was also not clear. What did the evil force want from the conch and why was the conch so important to the Valley? All these questions did not bring forth satisfactory answers. I don’t know if these omissions were intentional but maybe this is where we can use a little magic of imagination.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and embarking on a magical journey with Anand.
Other books by the author: The mistress of spices.