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The Elephant Girl by Chitta Ranjan

Publisher: Leadstart Publishing Pvt Ltd
Pages: 308
Price: Rs. 349 INR(Paperback), Rs. 122 INR (Kindle Edition)
ISBN: 978–9352019243
Buy here: https://amzn.to/39696Ui

The forests of Eastern India, during the late years of the British Raj, were rife with stories about a mythical maiden riding a wild pachyderm. On a train ride through these deep jungles, a series of strange events unfold to pique the curiosity of Raj Narayan, the crown prince of Paschim Behar. Two attempts on Raj’s life as well as the murder of his father, the Maharajah and his favorite brother in the Royal Palace seem to be linked to a conspiracy to shroud the legend of the elephant girl in secrecy. What starts as a short trip soon hurtles crown prince Raj into a roller-coaster ride of adventure as he becomes obsessed to get to the bottom of the mystery of the elephant girl. Torn between his urge to seek out the mysterious maiden notwithstanding the advanced pregnancy of his wife and the evolving intrigues around succession amongst the brothers and his beautiful step mother, he finds himself in the maze of royal intrigue with the players shuttling between the opulent royal palace and deep dark forest with royal secrets. Will he betray his loving wife’s trust to be with the maiden? Will he find the murderer? Will he survive the savage mysterious forests and live to tell his tale?

About the author:

Ranjan is an engineer by profession, who lives in Perth, Western Australia with his wife and two children. His childhood spent in the verdant north-eastern corner of India sparked his fascination for nature and wildlife. On completing his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, he moved to New Delhi for work. He has since completed his master’s degree in process engineering with Monash University. He has lived in Kuala Lumpur, Abu Dhabi and Paris before coming to Australia in 2005.

Ranjan is widely travelled and his hobbies include bird watching and reading.
His passion for bird watching combined with his love of nature have culminated in extensive exploration of the forests of India, particularly in the remote north-eastern corner. He has organised many bird watching camps in numerous tiger reserves in India. His love for the jungles of India coupled with his interest in the history of the princely states under British India have culminated in his first novel; The Elephant Girl.

My take on the book:

In early 1930s, during the British Raj in India, Prince Raj Narayan, the eldest son of the King of Paschim Behar meets a forest official Jenkin and upon his invite goes to take a train ride in the remote forests between Assam and Bhutan. One situation quickly leads to other and the Prince finds himself intrigued by tales of a mysterious young woman seen in white robes atop a wild elephant. However, Raj had to suddenly return due to his father’s untimely death leaving his expedition half-way. Does this elephant girl really exist or is only a figment of imagination of the locals? With the other conspiracies happening at his palace, is this a clever trap that Raj is voluntarily walking into or does such a woman indeed exists forms the rest of the story.

Set in the backdrop of pre-independence India, this story gives all the vintage feels from the word go. Added to that is the location where the story takes place, with the author’s vivid description of these locales adding to the narration. The reader is sure to be transported to a bygone era of princely states and to those lovely forests with trams running through them. The characters are all well-established be it the main ones or even the side characters and the ones which come and go. The writing style is amazing as the author keeps the suspense intact while throwing in few clues and details every few pages. The mystery is well built as the reader would keep guessing and keep suspecting each of the characters while looking forward to what happens next.

The author builds a gripping narrative with a solid story plot while adding rich imaginative scenes. It is worth applauding the author for building a suspense thriller around the time when technology was not in use, which the author handles smartly by using the characters and the locations to the right effect. For a debut, the author displays amazing promise and confidence by picking a story which is not the usual one we come across. 

Pick this one to read a well narrated suspense thriller as this is sure to appeal to all nature and animal lovers an d especially if you always missed remarkable writing among Indian authors.

My rating: