Author – Payel Bhattacharya
Book – Midnight
Previous Works – The Adventures of Mum and Princess, A Warrior Dies Dancing
Mina Carter is a gifted child. She has an unusual ability. The power to see those spirits wandering on the margins of the world. The fabled sprites come to meet her, to play with her but this amazing ability makes her different. It doesn’t let her blend in with normal people. One day a vengeful spirit visits her and tells his story. The ghost was on a desperate quest of a murderous assassin to stop a crime against humanity when he fell into their trap and got killed. He seeks help from her to avenge his killers. Will Mina be able to help the ghost, or will the consequences of her ability be catastrophic? How will her unusual power affect her family? Will she be able to accomplish her purpose of helping the spirit?
Mina’s story is a heart-stopping thriller that will keep you awake until you read the last page.
Midnight by Payel Bhattacharya, is a fictional account of the life of Mina Carter, who fell prey to unusual gifts and terrible endings. Mina Carter seemed like a normal teenager till she disappeared all of a sudden. The search for her, led her mother Nina, to a diary that Mina wrote when she thought no one believed her anymore.
Mina had an unusual gift, she could see and communicate with the dead. A once cheerful kid, turned to the silent side when she couldn’t bear the burdens of the gift and eventually got her family worried. They had her talk to a psychiatrist, follow up on her every now and then, but that didn’t help her tell them everything. Things took an unfortunate turn when she was approached by a spirit to help him move through the borders of afterlife, by helping him get back at his killers.
The book starts with the family’s search for Mina and eventually the diary takes the role. Mina speaks to the readers through her diary and when halfway there, it turns into something of a spy thriller.
Starting the book, felt like Nina was part of a home where she was cared too much for. Moving forward with the chapters, showed the family’s loose ends. The start was short, so in my opinion, if the author focuses on that part and elaborates the family after Nina’s disappearance, it would be a great add on to the narrative.
The story highlights a certain aspect of diagnosing mental illness, the patient should always talk about it. No good ever came up from bottling up things inside.
With the paranormal diary entries taking a turn to the spy thriller, the author had also tried to express the feelings of an adolescent where she develops a soft spot for someone she couldn’t be with.
If I had to point out one single thing that I admire the most about, in this book, it would be the author Payel Bhattacharya’s writing skills. She is versatile and I could see the book change from being a spooky midnight tale into a gripping spy story. I was not expecting the kind of excellence she displayed at those parts of the book.
The beginning and the ending of the book were the best parts. Did not expect the book to end in a way it did.
Ratings- 3 stars out of 5
Even though the writing skills are something to be celebrated, the book has numerous editing errors which will stand out to the eyes of a seasoned reader. A round of developmental editing would do wonders for the book.
The narrative changes a lot, sometimes projecting the existence of having a narrator and sometimes seeming like the character is doing the narrating. Could have used some more clearance regarding who is talking and when.
The diary entries weren’t convincing enough. It seemed like Mina wasn’t seeking a confidante in the diary, rather she was writing for an audience.
The book is part paranormal and part spy thriller. It’s a two in one deal for anyone who loves both but if someone is looking only for the supernatural, they aren’t prepared for what’s next and might be unhappy.
There were also certain aspects of the book that were confusing. In a book describing supernatural presence, the meaning of a ghost, a demon, and a spirit are different and its advised to not use any of the terms in a figurative way rather than implying the literal meaning. Also it would have been better if it would have been clear that which is which.
There were certain parts of the plot that felt out of place. For example- Mina asking about mixed parentage after hearing the name “Harry”, which is weird because she is Mina Carter and she is talking to Robin Williams. One of the chapters say that the ghosts cannot touch anything worldly, and in another chapter, the spirits take her by her hand and sweep her along the wind during play. The mother’s reaction on finding out where her daughter was, was not a satisfactory response from a loving mother.
Reviewed by- Banaja Prakashini
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About the author
The author Payel Bhattacharya was born and raised in Kolkata but she currently resides in Delhi for the past decade. She was struck by a rare disease early on in her life known as VHL or von Hippel-Lindau disease. She underwent countless surgeries which intervened with her studies and acquiring degrees and getting herself established in life. She expressed herself and the turmoil she was in through her sketches and poetry.
After her diagnosis she wrote an article on VHL in natureasia.com. She wrote her first long poem “The Warrior Princess” to describe the way she is combating the dire situations. She has the rarest form of multiple brain tumors and took it as a challenge to write detective fiction. She has lost vision of her right eye due to an optic nerve tumor in brain and she writes with her one-eyed vision. “Mum and Princess go spying” is her first attempt to write mystery stories which was followed by the novelette “Sweeter than revenge”. Her autobiographical fictional account of life has been published by Sahitya Akademi’s bimonthly journal of the September- October issue 2018.