The author is better known for her fiction dealing with romance, relationships, and strong heroines as in The Mistress of Spices, Arranged Marriage, The Vine of Desire, Palace of Illusions (which was a fascinating retelling of the Mahabharata from Draupadi’s perspective), and recently, One Amazing Thing. This is her only young adult fantasy series, Brotherhood of the Conch, and it is set entirely in India. It consists of the Conch Bearer, the Mirror of Fire and Dreaming and Shadowland. She wrote these books for her two sons who had been clamouring for some time that she write for them as well. Other motivating factors for venturing into young adult fiction were the post-9/11 events in America, especially the increased hostility towards immigrants. These incidents threw up questions about identity, the problems of valid documentation, and cultural differences. To discuss these issues and create heroic role models for the readers, Divakarurni uses a combination of mythology and fantasy in the Conch series.
Shadowland, the third book in the trilogy, deals with the problems of being an illegal immigrant or a person without paper or rights. Anand and Nisha, who are fifteen, are off on their third adventure to restore the Conch to its rightful place. In order to do to so, they have to leave their beautiful Silver Valley and venture into the forbidding Shadowland, where they stumble across a curious society. A place where the magicians are locked up and the scientists are supreme, but there are also a bunch of youngsters who are kept imprisoned, to be used as labour, as and when required. Armies and police maintain order in this dreary land. It is a disturbing book because of the issues that it raises, but the author maintains her reputation as a good storyteller. – BY JAYA B. ROSE
Volume 1 Issue 2