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Book Review : The Demon Hunter of Chottanikkara by S. V. Sujatha

27th July, 2017

The Demon Hunter of Chottanikkara by S. V. Sujatha

A girl and her lion hunts demons to keep the village a safe and happy place.

In Brief

In the village of Chottanikkara, Kerala, lives Devi whose mission in life is to slay demons. She hunts for them with her companion, a lion named Ugra, and kills them mercilessly. When a new demon frequents the village and stays unharmed by Devi’s counter strikes, she gets curious. Thus she discovers the history of the village as well as her own which might force her to sacrifice more than she ever thought she would need to.

The Good

The words ‘Chottanikkara’ and ‘demon-hunter’ grabbed my attention. I have not read a fantasy book set in Kerala and what could be better than the fact that the demon hunter is a young girl? Also, her companion is a lion! (Yes!) This was an excellent setting for a fantasy read. It was refreshing to note that the other females in the book (Meenamma, Ela, Miricha) are equally empowered and stand their ground. They are keen on defending themselves and improving their skills, be it hunting or farming. I loved that there is no clichéd love interest in the book and the whole story is led by one badass heroine.

The Demon Hunter of Chottanikkara by S. V. Sujatha

The Bad

I was grossly disappointed for almost seventy or so pages that I was contemplating not reading further. The pace was slow and did not grab my attention. It seemed dull to read a praise list of the things Devi had accomplished rather than the beginning to a story.

Another big problem I had with the book was that different words from different languages (of India) were used intermittently. Being set in Chottanikkara, I was expecting Malayalam words to be used in the book. But the book mixes Malayalam and Tamil words into the story that irked me. For example, marubhoomi (Malayalam), pei (Tamil), pretha and vriksha (vriksha is Hindi. It should be pretham and vriksham in Malayalam), are few of the words used. I think this might not bother a non-Indian or even a north Indian, but might not sound right to a South Indian.

The book mentions many different kind of ghosts and demons. It was nice if there had been more world building around them. I also wish the cover designer had shown a female on the cover than a silhouette that looks more like a boy. We definitely need books that empower young girls and since the book is about a girl warrior, it only makes sense to put a girl on the cover.

Final Verdict :

After an initial hiccup, the story picked pace and was enjoyable to read. The plot was predictable but charming nevertheless. I feel the novel would be more appreciated by middle graders (I have rated it as a Middle Grade read as well) more than young adults and it would be an inspiring one to read, especially for little girls.

If you are looking for more fantasy reads from India, check out Dark Things by Sukanya Venkatraghavan.

Title : The Demon Hunter of Chottanikkara
Author : S. V. Sujatha
Publisher : Aleph
Publication: 2017
Language : English
Pages : 190
Rating : 3/5

Disclaimer : Much thanks to Aleph for a copy of the book. All opinions are my own.

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The Demon Hunter of Chottanikkara
This Post Has 16 Comments
  1. Oh, the language thing sounds very annoying. OK, I wouldn’t know if it was wrong if it was just me reading it, but now I know it’s wrong, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the book. I wonder why they did that!

    1. Yes, that really bothered me. I was a little unsure whether I was over thinking it because I might be mitsaken about the other languages that are not my mother tongue.. So I checked with readers (whose mothertongues make them more proficient in the respective language) and sadly it is true. Different words are from the different languages.

    2. The language thing really bugged me. The usage of the words lessens after seventy pages or something which is when I began enjoying the book. You are right – another person who is not familiar with the languages might easily be able to override this small technicality.

  2. I was almost pumping my fist in the air, when I read the title. I have been to Chottanikkara, and I was thinking this would be atmospheric. And I totally agree with you on the cover. So many covers look like videogames these days.

  3. Sorry to hear this wasn’t a better read for you. I agree with you about the cover too. My son walked in and saw your photo. He thought it looked amazing, but immediately asked if “that boy” was going to fight the monster.

  4. As a Sri Lankan myself who can’t read in tamil, I have to say that the whole language thing would’ve annoyed me greatly. I do like the premise of this book though, it sounds like something that would be greatly entertaining if it weren’t for all those hiccups, as you say. 😀

  5. You’re right, the premise sounds great– but it looks like execution was off. As an American, I can’t really relate to the idea of different words from different languages or dialects being tossed in to writing, but that must have been really distracting! Do you think that is something MG or YA readers would notice?

    1. Since it is a language based problem, it depends on if the YA or MG knows the particular language or not. But probably they would be more interested in the story than such details as this.

  6. How very different from “Anna Karénine”. 🙂 You do seem to have varied tastes.
    I am putting together my first Amazon shopping list. (Following your advice)
    Besides English and Hindi, what other languages do you speak? Malayalam? Gujrati?
    (Curiosity killed the cat I know, but I am soooo fascinated with languages…)
    Be good

    1. Ah, yes! I read across the genres. I do not know Hindi very well. I can just manage a conversation somehow. But I can read and write in Hindi. My mother tongue is Malayalam in which I can read, write and speak. I can read Arabic, but I cannot understand it or understand what I am reading or have a conversation in the language.

      1. Across genres, I had noticed. 🙂
        Now the language “thing” is fascinating. Malayalam I di not know about (I may have told you I learned Urdu before French or English. Forgot it all) So, if you live in Bombay, what is your everyday language? English? 🙂

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