In Pi’s debut thriller, a woman’s career and family are threatened by supernatural forces from her ancestors’ past.
Biologist Nalini Menon, a native of Kerala, India, has a prosperous life in America, including a beautiful home in New York City and a career in the biotechnology industry. She and her husband, Joe, a computer engineer, have two daughters, Anna and Asha. Despite being raised in a devout Hindu family, Nalini had abandoned her family’s religion—until a strange series of events prompts her to return to her native country for a spiritual awakening. It begins when Asha contracts a sudden illness, and Nalini’s maid, Kalyani, immediately recognizes the ailment’s supernatural aspect and begins to pray. Nalini remembers the prayers of her childhood and begins saying them herself. Asha recovers, but it turns out that Nalini’s problems are just beginning, as she’s abruptly laid off from her job. The family returns to Kerala, hoping that a break will help them figure out their next move. After a brief, volatile affair with a neighbor, Nalini separates from Joe, until a near-fatal car accident reunites them. She soon discovers that a malevolent force is behind the various mishaps and that the key to her survival may lie within her Hindu faith. Pi’s ambitious novel weaves Nalini’s story with those of a number of deities, including Kavilamma and Kunjumenon, her family’s guardian angels. Nalini is a complicated character who’s intelligent, sensuous, and deeply devoted to her children. Her journey takes many unexpected detours, and Pi chronicles her emotional and spiritual growth in a nuanced manner. However, the character development doesn’t stop with Nalini; Kalyani is shown to be a compassionate confidante and protector whose second chance at romance in Kerala produces some of the novel’s most poignant moments. The deities also successfully complement Nalini’s story, and their parallel narrative allows the author to elaborate on the protagonist’s religious heritage while also providing context for the events that place her life in danger. Although the novel is long, its skillful pacing keeps the story moving at a rapid pace.
A gripping paranormal thriller bolstered by a complex heroine and her rich spiritual heritage.