Book review of Mohini by Anuja Chandramouli

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Neelam Sharma, Booxoul



A must read for Mythological Fiction readers


Anuja Chandramouli has a masterful grasp over her craft and her storytelling abilities are commendable. Inside her prose, words swirl hypnotically into a congregation of beautiful prose and sense deep imagery, life comes into a full bloom as her gossamer sentences weave into the nectar of her deft narration style and even death sounds all the way more stomach churning when she knows which word to be used at which, all the way more polished, more close to the heart of the story.

In Mohini, Chandramouli excavates and amplifies the story of the heavenly enchantress for whom making life changing decisions rose from just a twirl in the hair or a wave of her voluptuous body. Devoid of love, caught in romantic trysts with even Shiva himself, life is but a quagmire for Mohini, craving for love but unable to find any. 

Chandramouli knows where to draw the line between fiction and philosophy, in her books the usage of metaphor itself demands the understanding of a philosophy. Reading doesn’t go all light and breezy, but heavy handed and touching, something that mythological fiction as a bridge between contemporary fiction and ancient mythology needs to have a balance of, a fulcrum to neutralize. At a time when ethnicity and purity of things have made even milks of religion and it’s holy spirituality to turn into the poison of communalism this is much needed and thus Anuja’s books teach you the very important lesson of inclusivity, may it be of women or of queer genders, that has been a part of our culture for the longest of historical times. 

What made Mohini not essentially stand out to me like any other Anuja Chandramouli book is it’s inability to contain the multiple scopes and storylines that it took upon itself to discover. Chandramouli is a gem at creating a perfect circle of a character arch, but quite frankly in Mohini this did not happen for me, that feeling of completeness that I felt after reading Ganga or Shakti.

But this also gives rise to the beauty of the plurality in our mythology, of fluid genders, gender shifting Gods, that of love triangles and of myriad stories of broken marriages to romantic trysts of mortals with celestial beings. There is so much to admire in the convoluted plotlines of Mohini, the story of how Mohini had to intervene in the war of Mahabharata by having a single night of marital bliss with Aravan, the son of Arjuna who had to sacrificed for victory in the war, of how Mohini had a role to play in the birth of Ayyappa and of her romantic adventure with Shiva in the due discourse of saving the world. 

Chandramouli much like many of her own genre writers is a master at humanization of these heavenly characters, whom till now we didn’t see much close but now do. Her fiction and even in Mohini is a testimony to her powers of painting a character may it be underrated like Ganga or overtly popular like Arjuna, in their best of colours.

Pick the book if
Age Group

16 years and above

Skip the book if

  • You don’t enjoy Mythological fiction.
  • Retellings
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