The first look at "Rafflesia: The Banished Princess" by Gautam gave me an impression of a fantasy genre. And blurb was somewhat unclear of what the Story could. 400 pages long book has friction in beginning but smoothens out once you catch the storyline.
RAFFLESIA The Banished Princess The curtains draw up. Lights are dimmed. The musical is about to begin. As the beautiful princess descends on stage, the mythical creatures from her kingdom come alive. Flickers of brilliant colours blaze across as mesmerizing music pulsates from one corner of the theatre to the other. A fairy tale is about to unfold... As young children, we often come across things that stay in our hearts forever. For Appu, it is a fairy tale about a beautiful princess.He lives with her in a world ﬁlled with the magical creatures from her kingdom until the real world beckons. A reluctant Appu steps into it as a striking young man and struggles to ﬁnd his place. What follows is an evocative tale of love and loss, friendship and betrayal, as the story travels through the snow-peaked mountains of Arunachal to the golden deserts of Jaisalmer, the tulip gardens of Holland to the lush greens of Kerala. Does Appu ﬁnd what he had set out for? The answer lies in Rafﬂesia - The Banished Princess because in her story, lay his!
Rafflesia is the story of Apurva Sharma, a shy and undemonstrative boy from a poor family. He spent his entire childhood and teenage in and around Guwahati. Poverty and misery had taken a heavy toll on his family. His family's only hope was Appu and his good grades. Appu considered his struggle and sorrow would ruin others' life. He had even created a wall around him to protect his beliefs. Unable to open up in front of others became his biggest weakness. Even his best friends and his family members were not exceptions. Appu's mother and grandmother always tensed for Appu's wellbeing. Small happiness factor in their family was Rahul, son of Aabir's friend Vikram. Rahul considered Appu's family as his own. The bond between Rahul and Appu was the main theme of the story. The story is divided into various phases of Appu's life. And each part has Rahul in it. Apart from Rahul, each part has a supporting character who understands Appu. Life was cruel towards Appu but at the same time friends he made in his life were a great boon. The irony of the story was the relation between the storyline and the title. "Raffalesia - the Banished Princess" is shown as fairy tale book in the story. And it was Appu's favorite book from childhood, he has collected multiple editions of the book. But his life was nowhere near to fairy tale.
There are ways to portray characters. Gautam has used other characters to portray Appu's personality. Each character has its own importance in the story, barring few extreme side characters. The book is not made for fast-track, entertainment-oriented readers. The story evolved very slowly. The author has taken enough freedom to create the plot around Appu. I admit that it took me more than 100 pages to get grip on story. Though at some point I felt the author could have reduced the number of pages by removing few extreme side characters. I liked the fairy tale of Rafflesia a lot. I wish Gautam can give more emphasis on that and make a small novella for a fantasy genre people like me.
I am not sure whether my copy was advance review copy or not, but I found many formatting errors in the book.
Talking about ratings:
- Cover Page : 4/5
- Characters: 4/5
- Storyline : 3/5
- Content: 3/5
- Overall: 3.5/5
Reviews from other readers can be found at Goodreads