Mad Sisters of Esi by Tashan Mehta
Review,  Science-Fiction

Mad Sisters of Esi by Tashan Mehta – complicated and confusing sci-fi

Mad Sisters of Esi is imaginary literary sci-fi with beautiful descriptions and complicated world, but for me it was confusing, tedious, and too slow-paced.

Mad Sisters of Esi

Mad Sisters of Esi by Tashan Mehta

Publication Date : September 29, 2023

Publisher : HarperCollins India

Read Date : November 4,2023

Pages : 510

Genre : Fantasy

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Disclaimer – Many thanks to the publisher for review copy as part of Blogchatter review program.
This post contains affiliate links.

Synopsis

Myung and Laleh are keepers of the whale of babel. They roam within its cosmic chambers, speak folktales of themselves, and pray to an enigmatic figure they know only as ‘Great Wisa’. To Laleh, this is everything. For Myung, it is not enough.

When Myung flees the whale, she stumbles into a new universe where shapeshifting islands and ancient maps hold sway. There, she sets off on an adventure that is both tragic and transformative, for her and Laleh. For at the heart of her quest lies a mystery that has confounded scholars for centuries: the truth about the mad sisters of Esi.

Fables, dreams and myths come together in this masterful work of fantasy by acclaimed author Tashan Mehta, sweeping across three landscapes, and featuring a museum of collective memory and a festival of madness. At its core, it asks: In the devastating chaos of this world, where all is in flux and the truth ever-changing, what will you choose to hold on to?

Review of Mad Sisters of Esi

Mad Sisters of Esi is the story of two sisters, Myung and Laleh living in The Whale of Babel. Unlike Laleh Myung isn’t happy living in the Whale, she is free-spirited and thinks there might be people like her in the world so she leaves the Whale and Laleh, exploring different islands of the Black Sea but never finding her way back to the Whale and Laleh. On her quest to find the Whale of Babel back, she tries to get the story of Wisa- Laleh and Myung and Whale’s creator- that leads her to the island called Odja which leads to the story of another estranged sisters like them- Wisa and Magli.

It is interesting to see how the past and present story will connect, what Laleh and Myung will discover about Wisa, where Wisa disappeared, and if both sisters – Wisa and Magli and Laleh and Myung- can find their way back to each other.

Writing is lyrical, poetic, and beautiful. Some passages feel decorative while other feels deep. Plot is confusing and meandering. For the first 100 pages, I didn’t get the point of the whole world and story. It’s convoluted and beautifully written, and yet it failed to make me mesmerized with words and I couldn’t stop thinking ‘what exactly I’m reading’ until I actually got to the point that says Wisa and Magli are sisters.

The back story of Magli and her connection with Wisa is interesting. One thing I agree with all readers is, the connection between sisters and theme of sisterhood is well-written. There are also layers of loneliness, belongingness, family bonds, loss, grief, and madness.

I didn’t like the narrative format. There are some research articles by some fantasy academy that was related to the main plot but I didn’t see why it was required when everything said in the articles was also pointed out in the main plot. I liked some of Myung’s diary entries, especially her journey through the Black Sea and how she reached Odja. I also loved reading her thoughts and confession.

World of Esi island, Whale of Babel (sentient universe), and Odja (sentient island) are beautifully described. I was more impressed by Whale of Babels and its many chambers. Odja is different but was just as fascinating. As for the Esi, while I liked the description of Bazzar, travelers, and its forest, I couldn’t get all the talk about its festival of madness. It often left me confused.

As for the characters, I didn’t feel for any of them. There was lots of telling than feeling. One person I feel for most is Blajin and also the ghosts of the Kilta family. The burden of responsibility of something huge, bound to an island without any clear explanation, not leaving the island, and living alone with the cruelty of a sentient island isn’t something one would want for life. Even after listening whole of Magli’s story, it felt wrong to bind all her descendants to an island for something even she wasn’t sure would happen.

Everything that happened after the climax wasn’t exactly how I was expecting. What happened to Wisa within the whale was sad. It was very similar to how Blajin felt and later Laleh felt. I had a little idea how Laleh and Myung came into existence and I was right up to some extent.

All characters’ feelings, reactions, and decisions they made perfectly portray human nature. The end is sad and tragic. After going through this confusing plot and narrative with tedious slow progress, that end feels even more disappointing.

Overall, Mad Sisters of Esi is imaginary literary sci-fi with beautiful descriptions and complicated world but for me it was confusing, tedious, and too slow-paced. There is a sure audience for this kind of literary sci-fi, but I’mย notย oneย of them.

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Hi, I'm Yesha, an Indian book blogger. Avid and eclectic reader who loves to read with a cup of tea. Not born reader but I don't think Iโ€™m going to stop reading books in this life. โ€œYou can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.โ€

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