Title: The Historian and The Hunter
Author: Zeenat Mahal
Publisher: Amazon Asia-Pacific Holdings Private Limited
Date of Publication: 28 February 2018
‘We are the guardians of Good. We are the Paladins. We are the Majlis-e-Shamsheer, the Secret Council, and we guard the world against monsters.’
Lahore. The city of Gardens. The marble cupolas of the Lahore Fort and the Badshahi Mosque add to the night time beauty of the city that was once dear to this dark male figure. Destined to live in exile paying the price of the choice that one man made eons ago, he broods over his fate as the last of the blood line.
Shirin, a hunter is on the trail of a nau-guzzah; a giant since the first child had gone missing. With a swish of her sword she chops its head off and Shirin and pehelwan understand that this is a giant people have not seen in many years and that it fed on children. They pack it up and take it with them.
The gruesome incident leads to a council meeting of various members from different religious and ethnic backgrounds regarding the issue of nau-guzzah graves and the discreet events of animal or child sacrifice caused by rampant giants. Laila and Shirin are the only female duo in this profession and it is delightful to see them working their way out of the mysteries with wit, intelligence and grace. These daring sisters are upfront in their task of catching death red handed.
Laila’s thirst for knowledge combined with Shirin’s thirst for thrills lead to a deadly combination of adventures that make up the rest of the plot of the novel. With an unusual education and upbringing, it is revealed that these sisters are also twins who’ve grown up in a brothel. Despite their differences Laila does share a taste for adventure and Shirin is equally knowledgeable too.
The language of the novel is simple and though it is a full length novel, it is a fitting read for young adults too. Through the bed time stories they hear, they learn of several different places and people, the noble men and warriors of the past and these historical events lead them towards the hidden histories within their own city. The book beautifully carves out the various places and sights in and around Lahore. Like in any other city across the world, Lahore has several haunted sights, spooky rooms and narrow alley ways.
The girls carefully and slowly discover all these places and their significance while learning a lot about themselves, their place and the world on the whole. These discoveries make them mature and shape their growth as individuals. Full of allusive ideas, the pace of the narrative is moderate and smooth. There aren’t too many ups and downs or sudden revelations. One chapter flows into the other with several small climaxes that culminate into the epilogue. There is unity in the narrative and the circularity within the story returns to the battle of bloodlines but this time with a male set of twins: Shameer and Rustam Khan. The book also comes with an index of all the Urdu words that have been used in the story alongside their English meanings.
From the the #1 bestselling romance author of She Loves Me He Loves Me Not, Haveli, The Accidental Fiancee, Twice Upon a Time and The Contract comes yet another enthralling story revolving around two dynamic female protagonists.
Intense, valiant and delectable.