- Title : The Speaking Stone
- Author : Ratnadip Acharya
- Book Type : Novel
- Genre : Historical fiction, Thriller
- Edition : Paperback
- Publisher : Aksora Publications
- Year of Publication : 2019
- Number of Pages : 296
— Blurb of the Book —
Can a piece of stone reveal a great story buried in the best of forgotten history?
A young man found a piece of ancient-looking stone with strange images and Sanskrit inscriptions. A quest to discover the origin of the stone brought him to the distant part of the country where he met a vivacious young lady, pursuing her dissertation proposal.
Their search from the city museum to a far-flung rock mountain revealed a century-old story of a seductive danseuse, her enigmatic lover, w string of her admirers, a painter with a photographic memory, a bird that could speak in many voices, a benevolent king and a gruesome conspiracy. And the most important clue to decide the final secret was with the missing part of…
“THE SPEAKING STONE”
But in the process of unearthing the old secrets their lives were also in danger…
— Lady Bookamore‘s Views —
Firstly, I convey my sincere gratitude to the author for giving me an opportunity to review his recent work of historical fiction in the guise of a thriller.
The Speaking Stone is that one book which is based on a great concept and a good storyline, but built on a weak foundation on plot and character. The novel explores historical events and entwines them with fiction in a nice way indeed. Unfortunately, the product that comes into being is a lacklustre plot with certain mainstream elements.
Coming to the positive points of the book; The Speaking Stone starts with a context, typical of thriller novels. Most books of this genre have a tendency to bring in flashbacks from the past in order to align the subplot of the present time in the novel. Unlike others, The Speaking Stone does not mess up with the timeline in the plot, which is actually a good thing. Most of all, the book synchronises the past with the present in a very neat manner, often bringing forth multiple instances of similarity and commonality between the two timelines. While most elements of the past tend to recur in the present timeline in a not-so-subtle manner, The Speaking Stone does not make it seem as an oddity in the book. Considering the fact that the book deals with a royal dynasty, The Speaking Stone utilises these similarities in a frank and straightforward way of storytelling. No coincidences, no accidents. A direct connection of the past to the present. However, the one thing I liked most about the book is how it weaves a thriller from two almost disparate elements — royalty and geography. The story transcends from one region to another, and these sudden changes in the setting do not actually make the story tedious, but instead makes it even more exciting. Also, the developments happening in the royal household add to the intensity of the thriller.
Unfortunately, there were quite a number of p(l)otholes in The Speaking Stone which drained the book of its potential to be quite good. Firstly, the depiction of the prominent characters in present timeline was a huge let-down. The chemistry of the two protagonists seemed either as inspired from the mainstream Bollywood flicks, or as a sexist depiction of the female protagonist. (*spoiler warning*) It is indeed unnatural to see a History student, desperately pursuing a PhD, fall head over heels for a stranger and try to pursue the same man while abandoning her dissertation proposal. This fantastical presentation goes to a whole new level when the book presents the male protagonist (the son of a businessman who claims to be an unemployed spendthrift person) as a more knowledgeable person in History than his female counterpart. It neither made enough sense, not did their backgrounds coincide with their attitudes. Students pursuing PhD are always one step ahead when it comes to research and presenting a thesis. Even if this duo was to be a pair remotel inspired from that of Sherlock-Watson, it still wouldn’t have made any sense either. The Sherlock-Watson relationship is complementary. Both the characters play the role of a Foil for one another. Although Sherlock’s ability of deduction maybe completely absent from Watson’s merits, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle compensated it by bestowing upon Watson the ability of panoramic vision and observation which is absent in Sherlock. So, if there was no Watson, there wouldn’t have been anyone to document Sherlock’s adventures and cases. Similarly, if there were no Sherlock, Watson would’ve never been famous as a great storyteller. Hence, this complementary relationship is completely absent in the case of the leading duo in The Speaking Stone. Moreover, the language of the book was a little inconsistent. While it is understandable that changes in the manner of narration would depend upon the setting and time, the language seemed hasty as far as descriptions and introspection is concerned. At some points, there were extremely detailed descriptions of the itinerary of the leading duo, while descriptions in some parts of the past timeline at times seemed too little.
Every attempt is considered to be one step closer to perfection. It is with every endeavour that we learn our strengths and weaknesses. Even though Dali proclaimed that perfection is unachievable, it is still believable. To aim at perfection, and to stop not till the goal is reached, is what makes us and our work better. I convert my best wishes to the author for his future endeavours.
Lady Bookamore rates this book 💙💙💙/5