The Wildings and The Hundred Names of Darkness: A Two-Part Book Review by Mira Saraf
[How a Two-Part Series about a Bunch of Cats Won This Reader’s Heart]
Every so often, you come across a book so out of the box that you’re not quite sure what to make of it. The Wildings, by Nilanjana Roy, is one of those books. Fortunately, it proved to be every bit the delight I thought it might be.
I discovered it when I stumbled across the sequel, The Hundred Names of Darkness, at a bookstore one day, and rather hastily bought the original.
It is about a host of characters within a small clan of cats in Nizamuddin in Delhi: the Siamese clan elder Miao, the tomcats Katar and Hulo, the kitten who always seems to land himself in trouble: Southpaw, and a fierce queen named Beraal.
One day, a kitten with some unusual abilities, Mara, arrives in the neighbourhood, and then things are never quite the same.
In Roy’s imaginary world, cats speak through whisker links, senders can travel beyond the physical realm, and humans are called Bigfeet, and feared by most, except the lucky few who have not had bad experiences.
This story is about friendship, trust, and integrity. It is the strength of the animal laws of hospitality, courtesy, and love against the wildness and selfishness of the ferals. It is about the power of stepping beyond your comfort zone and accepting that even though you may not like or be comfortable with something, it may not be bad.
The Wildings is creative, unique, and well-written. It will make you chuckle at parts, and cry at others. Punctuated by illustrations by Prabha Mallya, who illustrated another book I have read and enjoyed, The Tale of the No-Name Squirrel.
It is a short and fast read, perfect for a time where your mind might be otherwise occupied (like mine has been of late). It drags a bit at points, but the world that Roy has created within a stray cat community is vibrant and real. I found myself looking forward to getting back to Mara and her companions every evening after work.
The characters are alive and believable; the relationships they form, and the histories Roy shares are well thought out and entertaining.
This book is one that can be enjoyed by adults and older children alike. It is a little violent for younger children but appropriate for anyone that could read the later parts of Harry Potter.
The sequel, The Hundred Names of Darkness brings back many of the characters from plus a lot of new ones. This time the threat to the Nizamuddin clan is more real than in the first book – the Bigfeet and Nizamuddin are changing. Will they survive?
Mara, who is older now, but still not quite adept at controlling her sendings (often resulting in hilarity) faces new challenges. She, as the Sender, must lead the clan to safely. Their lives depend on it.
My favourite parts were the new characters: Thomas Mor: a peacock-turned-golf-enthusiast, Doginder Singh: a harmless Rescue Dog who is more bark than bite, Hatch: a petulant baby cheel who refuses to fly, and Kooky: a misguided koel who believes everyone is in love with her. Add to it, a group of sly scheming bandicoots, and the whole thing becomes quite entertaining.
While I enjoyed the story, this book meandered a bit more than the first: there were one or two tangents that perhaps did not belong. As a result, what could have been the climax of the tale, was relatively anticlimactic as compared to the battle antics of the first.
However, this is not enough to deter you from enjoying the company of the Nizamuddin clan and their rather diverse group of friends in this second part to the story. Overall it is a fun and short read, and this adult reader recommends it.
This book was reviewed by Mira Saraf for IWI.*
All the opinions stated herein are of the reviewer and Incredible Women of India does not conform to the same.
Have you read The Wildings or The Hundred Names of Darkness? What was your take on it? Do share with your thoughts and opinions via the comment box below.