Goodreads blurb: Anantya Tantrist is a 23-year-old tantrik from Delhi who prowls the nights, solving macabre mysteries that involve monsters straight out of a nightmare. Cult of Chaos is her first adventure.
She is sassy and bad-mouthed and kicks supernatural ass with ease.
The tantriks are now overground. They have their own council, police and justice systems. The Kaula Ashram of the white tantriks have emerged as the most powerful; their men are recognized tantriks, women intimate collaborators.
Then there is Anantya Tantrik, who has rejected the Kaula path. She is powerful and lives life by her own strict moral code. Who needs official seals anyway? When the world goes to hell in a handcart, badges and honours aren’t going to save the day.
Incidentally, hell and chaos is exactly where the world is headed. In Delhi, little girls are being sacrificed in a tantrik ritual. A desperate daeva is trying to blackmail Anantya. Someone is trying to call up the God of Chaos. A three-headed giant cobra turns up in old Delhi. The White and Red tantriks are facing off, and there is one or more Black tantric brewing some dangerous shakti. As Anantya struggles to stop the madness, the supernatural underworld – peopled with creatures humanoid, barely human and inhuman – comes alive in all its bloody, gory glory.
If I could only use three alphabets to describe this book, they would be OMG. Oh My God!!! is the only exclamation that comes remotely close to describing my feeling after reading this book. While I have heard of writers having fantastic imaginations and amazing story telling skills, it is very rare that one comes across a writer having both of these, and trust me when I say this Shweta Taneja has both of these in abundance, and Cult of Chaos is surely proof of that.
I could gush on and on about how good the book is, and how wonderfully well it is paced and how it promises to be the start of an exciting new series of Anantya Tantrist mysteries, if she decides to write a sequel and many more books, but I would simply not be able to do any justice to the book itself, and all you readers of this review also would not understand or appreciate the same unless you read the book itself.
To be honest, I chose this book on a flight of fancy, having fallen for the wonderful cover and intrigued by the blurb itself. Little did I realize the immensely fun roller-coaster ride it would take me on when I started reading it. The main protagonist Anantya Tantrist, the quintessential outsider who is happy living life on her own terms on the fringes of mainstream tantrism and magic, proves to be an important pawn in the grand game that the plot of this book deals with. Her character is well etched out and reflects most rebellious youngsters we know or hear about; the ones who dare to go against most societal norms and conventions, but have their hearts in the right place and want to do what is good for the greater number; those that dare to take the fight to politicians and bureaucracy albeit in their own unconventional ways; the omnipresent angry young man (or woman, in this case).
To take a character like Anantya Tantrist and go ahead and put her in a chaotic dystopian future where tantriks, magic, rituals and humans co-exist in a somewhat fragile relationship was a masterstroke by the author. The richness of the author’s imagination clearly shines through in her description of the goings-on without having to resort to time-tried and tested tropes such as providing vivid descriptions of the environment, the cities, the people etc, but using easier-to-read techniques such as setting the story amidst the everyday lives of the characters themselves.
Suffice to say I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am more than sure you will too, provided you are willing to set aside all your disbeliefs and treat this book as a fantasy fiction one which is where it strictly belongs. Although, be warned, and the blurb also states this – this book is for ‘mature readers’ only, meaning it has more than enough lust, blood, gore, swearing to make ‘regular readers’ cringe if they are not mentally prepared for the same.
Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was offered to me by the publishers in return for a honest and unbiased review of the same.