Grabber by Jehan Zachary and Nirmal Pulickal
My take on the book:
In a remote Indian village during the British Era, a prophecy comes true when Blood moon eclipses this village on a sunny day, hence awakening an evil soul that has been banished for centuries. Within hours, a young child is stolen by this evil soul and Baldev, the headman of the village goes after it along with other villagers.
Nuru the young lad of Baldev who is curious about such folklore, befriended a friendly Djinn Mumtaz, who helped him acquire magical skills. During one such adventure in the deep forests, Nuru meets Jack a soldier from the British army, as both escape from being hunted by the devil.
How is the legend of a Black Taj, the haunted twin of the magnificent Taj Mahal related to what is happening in Nuru’s village? Will Nuru and Jack be able to join hands to end this otherworldly creature forms the rest of the story.
The story mixes fantasy and horror in a folktale set many centuries ago, with a ghoulish invincible creature at the center of the story. The author has well imagined a fictional story against the backdrop of the Black Taj, while sprinkling many interesting elements like a friendly Djinn, superpowers attained by using mantras, Blood Moon and such prophecies.
Young Adult books in fantasy and horror genre are very less in Indian context and even those generally fail to deliver. This book is however an exception, as the author weaves a taut narrative, which culminates in a smashing climax. The description of the dense forests transport the readers to a fantasy world.
The illustrations are on point and will further help young readers in imagining a thrilling world. Along with kids, the book is sure to entertain adults as well. I would have liked Jack’s character also had equal footage as Nuru.
If you want your kids to stay engaged with books this summer, look no further and pick a copy of Grabber right away. Given the story idea originated from the author’s son, hope such stories inspire more young minds to narrate engaging ideas.