The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

#BookReview
Fantasy | Fiction | Life | Hope | Philosophical

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig is one of the most popular books published in the year 2020 so I decided to give this one a read. Also, because the title sounded pretty interesting to me. Now, who wouldn’t love spending the night in a library reading books? Even though this book is nothing of that sort, I wasn’t disappointed. The story is about a woman named Nora Seed who finds herself in a library lingering between life and death. There are innumerable books in the library that allow Nora to undo her regrets, explore parallel lives, and choose a life which she would love to be in. Will she give up her present life and choose one that she always dreamed of? 

“Minds can’t see what they can’t handle.”

Matt Haig

The Midnight Library is a book that opens up a passage for us to explore different lives, it answers the question which we often ask ourselves – What if? What if I had decided to become a sports player instead of becoming an engineer? What if I pursued my childhood dream then where would I be now? What if I listened to my parents and followed the path that they wanted me to be on, then what would I be doing now? Somehow this book feels personal, it’s more like a self-help book, where it answers those questions that we sometimes have about our unfulfilled dreams. Would life be better than it is now? 

“Because a pawn is never just a pawn. A pawn is a queen-in-waiting.”

Matt Haig

The year 2020 was a terrible year for all of us. I feel this book was released at the right time when most of us were lost and going through a difficult phase in life. Depression and grief were the two predominant emotions. This book was like a ray of hope for those who were leaning towards the red line where giving up on life seemed to be the easiest way out of problems. This book can pull you right back out of the darkness and show you that there’s more to life than you’ve already seen. When you are given the chance to change your life and make it better, would you take it or let it go? 

The Midnight Library has received mixed reviews where many immensely loved it and many were super disappointed. If you picked this book up solely on the basis of its rave reviews, remember that expectation is the thief of joy. I guess it also depends on the state of mind in which you are while reading the book. If your life is perfect and you don’t need a helping hand then give it a pass. But if you are feeling low or if you know somebody who is out of sorts then this book can be a great distraction to keep yourself busy and it might lift your spirits by the end of it. Who knows, this book can be a reason to get back on your feet and experience something that you’ve been putting off for a long time. Coz, why not? After all, books can be a guiding light at times when we cannot find our path. I enjoyed reading the book and would definitely recommend it. 

‘If one advances confidently’, Thoreau had written in Walden, ‘in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with unexpected success in common hours.’ He’d also observed that part of this success was the product of being alone. ‘I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.’

Matt Haig

By Her Side

I am not a dragon,
I do not have a horde.
I am trapped inside this empty dark cave
With no shiny heaps of gold.

I wander aimlessly in the darkness with no real goal.
I wonder what’s in my destiny,
Is there a purpose for this existence?
I curl up in a corner and sleep like every other day.
But, who’s here today?
A little boy has walked into the cave.

He stands in front of me fearlessly and smiles.
I snarl, smoke rises from my nostrils.
He steps forward cautiously, his hand reaching towards me.
I curl deeper into the cave.
He waits patiently, his soul emitting an aura of kindness.
I rise up and breathe fire.
The boy as small as a shrimp near my feet,
Watched me in awe with no fear.
The cave was no ordinary one,
The fire melted the layer of soot away and revealed walls of gold.
The cave shone like the sun in the darkness of the night,
With a mighty dragon queen and a little boy as a guiding star by her side. 

The Champion by Wayne Rajah

#BookReview
Fiction | Fantasy | Relationships |

A painfully sweet story of a mother and a child set in a fantasy world of monsters and magic

The Champion is a fantasy fiction novel written by author Wayne Rajah. The protagonist of this story is a twelve-year-old boy named Calvin with a superpower that allows him to fly. Calvin’s mother, Miss Khumalo is diagnosed with a terminal illness. When he finds out that his mother is suffering, Calvin uses his superpower and the help of his mentor, Athwall, and decides to take his mother on a mythical journey in an attempt to save her life.

The story begins with Calvin waking up after seeing a dreadful nightmare. As we proceed further into the story, we realize that Calvin is haunted by a series of these disturbing nightmares and they have become a constant in his life. 

“The room shakes! Oscillates! Now a frenzy of seismic activity and an earthquake! It feels like the tremor is inside my head! My head hurts! My head always hurts! My body hurts! A flash of light in the distance, lightning! And then a thunderous roar! My skull splits open, the hemispheres of my brain part. My body was violently shaken, side to side, side to side! The earthquake continues!”

Wayne Rajah

Usually, after the nightmares, Calvin puts on his cape and flies out of the window of his room into the night sky. He enjoys flying high in the darkness of the night when the rest of the world is asleep. He recalls the vivid nightmares and often wonders if they could possibly be true. But, the cold breeze helps him calm down and he uses this time to observe the world below him by admiring the countryside, the Crown River, and the moon that he addresses as Cynthia. 

Calvin’s ancient protector, Athwall – who has lived a thousand years – is Calvin’s only friend and protector. According to Athwall, Calvin is the Chosen one and someday Athwall will reveal the special task that only Calvin can perform. 

“I start to fly, out of my control! Hurtling into the sinister abyss, not knowing where I am going or in what direction, just hurtling on ahead. There is space out there even if I cannot see it. What speed! Immense speed! My heart flutters, races!”

Calvin has looked at his mother as a hardworking and active woman who is always on her feet. But when he notices that lately, his mother has been looking weak and exhausted, he starts worrying. Until one day, his mother faints on the ground and he finds out that his mother only has a little time to survive. Will Calvin be able to save his mother? Will he complete the task that Athwall has set out for him?

This story is a journey of a young boy trying his best to save his mother from dying by seeking help from his mentor, Athwall. The story discusses all the struggles that Calvin, Athwall, and Miss Khumalo go through and the difficult choices that they need to make on this journey. This involves crossing treacherous paths and fighting tremendous monsters on the way to their destination. When they finally reach their destination, the story takes an unexpected twist.

“Athwall says that he will reveal everything to me in a good time. He tells me that I am special, that I am the Chosen. For now, I’m just trying to enjoy everything. Who else in this world can say they can fly? Athwall says it only happens once every hundred years. My ancient protector has lived long enough to see them all, over a thousand years. He says that there is always a special task for the Chosen.” 

The book started off on a good note and got me hooked into the storyline. The reason I found it interesting was that the story started with a letter that was addressed by a doctor to his patient. Personally, I love reading stories that have letter communications between the characters. However, I was quickly disappointed when the letters never made an appearance after the first chapter. I found the book needlessly long and felt like it could have dropped a few pages, especially the graphic description of the recurring nightmares. I also felt like the long journey was invalidated by the surprise reveal at the end which left me a disappointed. I was a little confused with the turn of events and I had to go through the entire story again in my head to understand what just happened.

The story is well-written by debut author Wayne Rajah, the message that the author is trying to share is noble. As a pediatrician, he has created a fictional story about parents and children that he sees on a daily basis. He is inspired by the struggles and sacrifices that are made by both parents and children and has captured this in an entirely fictional universe of his creation.

“Letting go takes courage. Their story is one of true struggle, courage, strength and overcoming adversity.”

Wayne Rajah

Also, find my review on the website: Reedsy

Relatable Quotes #3

A man’s emotions are what define him and control is the hallmark of true strength. To lack feelings is to be dead, but to act on every feeling is to be a child.

– Brandon Sanderson, Way of Kings ❤

This line was like an awakening for me where I had to tell myself out loud, “See, did you read that. It’s ok to have so many emotions but stop being a child.” The Stormlight Archive has my heart and soul.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

#Book Review
Fantasy Fiction|Thrilling|War|Magic

This book was on my Want to Read list for really long, I finally decided to read it and I am glad I did. Uprooted by Naomi Novik is a fantasy novel that will take you on a magical journey through a homely village, a Dragon’s cold tower, warring kingdoms, and the corrupted Wood.

The protagonist of this story is Agnieszka, a 17-year old girl, who loves her village – Dvernik, her family, and her beautiful friend Kasia. The villagers of Dvernik always live in a certain kind of fear, the Wood surrounds the village and many of them have lost a loved one to the Wood. It is not that the people get lost in the forest, the Wood is pure evil and whoever enters the Wood encounters horror and death.

“There was a song in this forest, too, but it was a savage song, whispering of madness and tearing and rage.”

Naomi Novik

The Dragon, a powerful wizard, protects the villagers and keeps the corruption of the Wood under control. However, the people pay a terrible price for the Dragon’s help. Every ten years, the Dragon takes a young girl from the village to serve him. This year everyone was sure that Kasia would be chosen as she was an ideal choice – young, beautiful, well-mannered, and she could manage all the household tasks. Agnieszka on the other hand was a messy tomboy. Agnieszka knew the Dragon would never choose her but she feared for her dearest childhood friend, Kasia. When the day of choosing arrived, everyone was surprised with the Dragon’s choice.

Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true..

Naomi Novik

Now, this is not a story about a Dragon and a girl, it is a lot more! That was just the beginning, honestly I couldn’t believe that a book with around 450-pages could have such a dense plot line. Just when you start thinking, “Alright, now this is where the story is going to build up, bam, mystery solved!” I guess, this is something that makes the book all the more interesting to read. The story keeps you going, it isn’t boring, and it doesn’t feel rushed. In fact, the story is super descriptive. You can vividly imagine how it must feel like to be in the Dragon’s tower, Agnieszka’s room, Prince Marek’s mythical kingdom of Polnya, and the dark, creepy forest.

Every day I could watch the Spindle running riotous white with melted ice, and a band of open grass widening from the lowlands, chasing the snow up into the mountains on either side. Rain swept over the valley in silver curtains.

Naomi Novik

Uprooted is a story that has magic, magic spells – Vanastalem being one of my favorites. It is about a strong bond of friendship, romance, war between kingdoms, and the ultimate war with the evil Wood. The only part where I felt slightly let down was how the book ended, I found it way too convenient and more like a happy ending of a movie, but I still enjoyed reading it.

I recommend that you definitely read, Uprooted, if you want to escape reality and enter into a realm of fantasy. Somehow, it even feels real and believable. It’s easy to get absorbed into the story, I loved the character growth of Agnieszka, and the fantastic world-building. The underlying theme of being uprooted affects not only the protagonist but also the other important characters involved in the story.

I was a glaring blot on the perfection. But I didn’t care: I didn’t feel I owed him beauty.

Naomi Novik

They come and go like seasons, the winter that gives no thought to the spring.

Noami Novik

Dustful Dreams

Yesterday, he called me in my dreams

Strolling in the dark green meadows

I turned around to look at him

Then walked away.

Next thing I know,

He is by my side

Giggling and questioning me with his eyes.

So I stop and ask, “Who are you?”

To which he replied “Your daemon.”

I’m a 7-year old.

I picked a book from the library and excitedly ran all the way home.

I locked myself in the tiny closet and sat down on the floor.

Eagerly, I opened the book and the words were waiting for me.

Looking up at me curiously.

Two little strangers would embark on a new journey.

Slowly and patiently from one word to another I rolled.

The words started revealing a story like I hadn’t read before.

This time it took me into a forest dense and green.

I escaped from the reality and lost myself in this picture serene.

I was a Merman and a white-winged divine horse accompanied me.

A heaviness in the air,

An adventure was on its way.

A mystery to reveal.

I got absorbed in it so fast that I had forgotten to eat.

My mind raced..

Word by word, page by page.

I travelled in my mystical world

while being seated in my tiny unkempt home.

And just like this, everyday

I traverse into my world of fantasy

Away from the pain, fear, anger, brutality and poverty. 

I go lands away just by coursing through the page

and I escape my reality.

Snow, Glass, Apples – Neil Gaiman

#BookReview

Who would have imagined that the fairy tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs could be rewritten with a spine-chilling twist?!

Screen Shot 2020-01-12 at 5.40.51 PM

Snow, Glass, Apples is nothing that I expected it to be. It is dark, bizarre and it is a story that shows the flip side of fairy tales. Fabulously narrated by Neil Gaiman, this classic story is familiar yet so unfamiliar.

This dark-themed fantasy fairy tale is a story of a queen who tries to save her kingdom from her blood-thirsty vampiric stepdaughter. The story is grim, terrifying and gripping, making it impossible for the readers to put down the book once they get into its enchanting world.

The graphic images in the book are a work of art. They are intricate, intriguing and impressive which add more depth to the narration and captivate the reader’s imagination by bringing the words of the story to life.

This book is decorative and a stylish piece of art which is a must-read for all graphic novel fans and bookworms as it will take their world of imagination to a whole new level.