‘The Devil’s Gate: An Impossible Journey’ is a superb entry of Deepak Kripal into the world of writers. Before discussing the book, I must congratulate and admit my admiration for the author for such a fine piece of writing. In particular, I felt that the author has written dialogues very well. This book is a buzzing world of animals, their mischiefs, envies, anxieties, fears, wishes and wishful thoughts. The book has all the ingredients of a commercial animation movie, both in the maturity of the comic vision and in the writer’s artistic sophistication shown in the treatment of his theme.
The story is about Katy (the cat) and Dug (the dog) who are sent to an invisible island. This island becomes visible for a very short time on the night of the full moon and is believed to be inhabited by the demons. Katy and Dug are supposed to convince the demons to allow the animals inhabit this island as their natural habitats are plundered by humans. However, majority of animal community believe that interfering with the other world could bring devastation to the animal world. Katy and Dug stumble upon Billy (the owl) who also joins them on their adventurous journey.
Talking about the characters, the author has allowed his characters to express themselves by their activities. It is important to note here that characterisation, setting, story and style are related to each other if one wants to create an artistic unity. The author of this novel can be appreciated for creating such artistic unity in this novel. There is an unmistakable freshness of approach and insight in the presentation of some of the characters. Katy and Dug are unquestionably mature products of author’s art. They are viewed with a quick eye to the comic – a ridiculing yet affectionate glance which certainly lights up the hearts of the readers. The chemistry between these two is well portrayed. The dialogues between Katy and Dug were funny and amusing, and quite often brings smile on your face. Then there is Billy, a misguided philosopher. His entry in the story not only adds a certain charm but also helps the story to grow further. In addition, there are monsters and demons (lots of them). Most importantly, the characters and situations that lend themselves to comic treatment are the very stuff of author’s art.
Then I do feel there are areas which the author could have improved upon. I think the book cover could have been much better. Likewise, the font used for the title of the book could have been adjusted according to the background. I enjoyed the first part of the novel more than the end. I felt the climax was a bit rushed up and wrapped abruptly. One feels that it is just done to reduce the pages in the novel. This is definitely one of those books that you want to finish in a single sitting. It’s all there – great characters, a tight plot, pretty good writing and also the promise of a sequel. However, you are left with a sense of dissatisfaction once you are done and you feel that there was much more that could have been there.
However, being the first published book of the author, it is definitely a very good start. The plot certainly enthrals the readers and this is a book you will quote from. Let’s finish this review by looking on some of the quotes. And, keep in mind that these are just few examples.
“When others develop an aversion for your version, you are probably going in the right direction.” (p.55)
“Bravery without sword is like slavery without lord.” (p. 56)
“Bravery is like literature, if you want to make it sell, you gotta phrase it well.” (p. 57)
“When failure becomes inevitable, it is only then honour comes into the picture.” (p. 57)
(Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange of an honest review)