A Journey Inward or Wayward: A Dark and Shiny Place by Pragati Deshmukh

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Book Review of A Dark and Shiny Place by Pragati Deshmukh

A Dark and Shiny Place

Rekha Bhagtani www.booxoul.com
Author: Pragati Deshmukh


Ever thought, What is the best-kept secret in the world? Simple. Mental health. Oh yeah, all of us, at some point in time, might have felt low and down in the dumps. And yet, all we might have done most of the time was sweep the feeling away, stash it under the carpet, or refuse to acknowledge, or for that matter, even believe, the “elephant” in the room. There are few books that have debilitated upon this issue, and Pragati Deshmukh’s book “A Dark and Shiny Place” is one such book that has the power of keeping the reader captivated amidst its intricate musings of the mind, taking all those who dabble in this fabulous story alongside the spine-chilling rigmarole of Maya’s life and her pursuits with demons that do exist.”

Do you know the scariest place to be on this Earth?

Well, the captivity of your mind. The Universe might be infinite, complete with its endless possibilities, and yet as one pauses and sits to imagine what and where things could go wrong, there is simply no limit at all. You may not realize it, but our mind, which happens to be one of the most powerful transmitters to our soul, can also turn forces and be unforgiving, and harsh upon our very own soul.

Hmm, I know you must be like, What’s up with her suddenly? Well, I had an experience last week to delve into. I call it an experience and not a book because, for me at least, it has been just that-not a mere great read or acquaintance, but rather a contact and involvement of sorts, leaving me befuddled yet thinking, filling my emotional cup to the brim, compelling me to pause and think—is this what I fathom it to be?

A Dark and Shiny Place, whose title is simple but highly evocative of life amidst its many layers. The story of Maya grapples with a lot more than the paranormal or psychological, as it suggests. Diving headlong into the strangely intense and somewhat haunting journey of Maya, her once-perfect life seems to take a harsh twist with the arrival of the pandemic. Having considered her marriage to be near perfect, when Maya begins struggling with the realities “existing” in her home, she is torn between being befuddled by their presence or the sheer “horror” she feels they could turn into. Carved into a kaleidoscope of sorts, it explores her mental conflicts, gradually taking the reader into a unidirectional pursuit alongside her, as she tries to decode what exactly it is that is real or what amount of it is just non-existent.

As Maya struggles with the “blur” between the paranormal and the psychological, the readers are truly left drenched and consumed by one single thought: whether she can stay firm and in control, identifying the bifurcations between this blur, in a bid to maintain a grip on her reality.

Written with an overview of getting mental health and related aspects to the forefront, Pragati has me completely choked up on this one here today. Yes, I so wanted to hold Maya’s hand at times, telling her that all was going to be okay. I could see why and how she pined away for Samar, her husband, in the depths of my mind too. When she developed the emotional connection with Tara and Isha, it felt so good personally that not for once did I falter, realizing it was all but in vain. And yet, at the cost of keeping it spoiler free, once I reached the climax, I could even begin to describe the way I was shattered to bits, seeing what Maya was going through, getting into her skin, and resonating with why she was feeling that particular way in that very minute.

You know, I have read quite a few intense pieces of writing. But, seriously, this one had a sort of clairvoyance that is simply unexplainable, and I am short of words to describe the pandemonium that stirred my heart when I delved amidst the empty walls of Maya’s “home”. The home, which is “alive”, the shadow, which very much exists,” and most importantly, Maya’s qualms and queries, which always had this uncanny ability to be eating at me from inside.

I could also resonate with Meera’s perspective in the latter part of the narrative since, once having come to terms with the entire scenario, I simply could not sit with the feeling of ice having been cascaded down my stomach, what with the revelations and facts (no spoilers), and was only plunging ahead with far more renewed vigour with the hope that I would get to see the end of the strange business with Maya eventually getting to what she wants to reach out to.

I was frazzled when I reached there, wasn’t I? I mean, here I am, supposed to be dishing out my views and thoughts on the style of writing, the sense of story plotting, the characters, and the overall narrative. And what do I have to be harping on for all this time now? Only about how I have practically glided alongside Maya, scaled strange corners, and scourged dank corridors, only to appreciate the “dark” aspect of this one.

Pragati is surely a highly gifted master storyteller, and I must congratulate her on this fantabulous, intense debut of hers. There are good books, and there are great books. And yet, there are profoundly deep and amazing books. For me, this one fell into the lattermost group, with Pragati having successfully wound me from start to finish so seamlessly in this one that I finished it, drenched in sweat myself, as if I happened to have experienced it akin to some sort of personal ordeal myself.

An excellent, deeply insightful story. Yes, Maya resides in many of us, and it is up to Meera amongst us to find them, pulling them out from the burning infernos, shaking them off harm, and pushing them away from these so-called “dark and shiny places”. A wake-up call asserting how mental health is very much a real thing, Pragati has smashed it completely out of the park with this one, and I strongly suggest you grab a copy today. If not for anything else, perhaps for your well-being and sanity, peeps!

In Summary:

  • I appreciated the way the novel explored the blurry line between the paranormal and the psychological. It made me think about how our minds can play tricks on us, and how difficult it can be to know what is real and what is not.
  • I also thought the novel did a good job of portraying the different stages of mental illness. Maya’s descent into madness was both believable and heartbreaking.
  • I loved the relationship between Maya and her sister, Meera. Meera was a strong and supportive character who was always there for Maya, even when she didn’t want to be.
  • Overall, I thought A Dark and Shiny Place was a thought-provoking and well-written novel. It is a must-read for anyone who enjoys a good thriller or wants to learn more about mental health.

Yes, care and self-love are super important, my dears; it’s high time we all realized it!

So, these were some of my random and somewhat bizarre thoughts on A Dark and Shiny Place by Pragati Deshmukh.

Do let me know in the comments what you think of it. Stay tuned with us right here at Booxoul for the best in the fields of entertainment, travel, food, fun, finance, fashion, tech, and gadgets, as well as all things bookish. We, Asia’s leading book blogs, only dish out the best for you all, always.

Adios Amigos!


Keywords: A Dark and Shiny Place by Pragati Deshmukh, Book Review, Book A Dark and Shiny Place by Pragati Deshmukh, Book Review

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