Contemporary fiction is a diverse field in India, and often writers venture into the rich culture of Indian Mythology to narrate fantasy tales that would educate and entertain the masses. The latest addition to the list of authors of Indian Mythological fantasies is Mayank Mahajan (mAx). With his novel Balan and Dheera – A Tale of Kaliyuga (published by AuthorsPress, 2021), the writer has taken on the challenge of amalgamating crime, murder, mystery and mythology into one.
The book starts with an unusual murder in the national capital, slowly transcends into a serial killer mystery. The investigation gradually reveals information that shocks the officers in charge and leads to a cat and mouse chase between them and the criminal. The chase itself promises to take the reader on an emotional thrill ride. Shortly after, the story takes the form of a mythological fantasy tale that is a roller coaster of its own.
The story is fascinating in the way the evolution of both the antagonist, Balan, and the protagonist, Dheera, has been carefully crafted. With elements such as public killings, cannibalism and extreme forms of violence, that most authors refrain from, the writer has penned down chapters to highlight the harsh realities of the world we live in.
Despite all the darkness that the book appears to be about, the story ultimately shines light on the most important traits of the human character. Not only does it reeducate us about the glory and richness of the Indian cultural legends, it also explores concepts of time travel, multiverses and cosmic balance, incorporating them beautifully into the religious context of the book. The narrative helps the readers visualize and experience the might of the cultural legends we worship and the extraordinary journey that the book contains.
The writer has depicted his take on religion, existentialism, the laws of Karma and modern society through the story of Balan and Dheera. From the horror of the macabre to the urge to introspect human nature, he has explored everything and still managed to keep the tale tightly knit. The entire tale is narrated in an evenly paced chain of events and Mayank does not run short of content that keeps the readers on the edge of their seats.
Overall, the book is an exemplary attempt from a new writer. It has something for every fan of any genre of fiction. Balan and Dheera will make you experience the thrill of the chase, the mystery of mind games, the marvel for ancient superpowers and the joy of experiencing the journey of the characters. It is a must read for those who enjoy fantasy tales, cliffhangers and mythical creatures coming to life.