I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.
It’s been a while since I read fantasy that I enjoyed. As a person who reads (and loves) a diverse set of genres, it’s always annoyed me that I don’t like SFF as much as other genres. Urban and low fantasy, I can stand, but high fantasy sends me running to the hills faster than you can say “epic”.
When Krishna first reached out to me about reviewing this book, I was a little sceptical. I do like urban fantasy, but it’s been a good few years since I read a book of the genre. But any doubt I had disappeared once I read the blurb.
Mumbai! Werelions! Murder!
If she had asked me if I’d read it in person, I’d have wrenched the book out of her hands in less than a second.
It was always the same dream, a dream that began with darkness and blood.’
When Assistant Commissioner of Police Aditi Kashyap is called upon to solve a gruesome triple homicide in a Mumbai suburb, she is dragged into the terrifying world of the Saimhas-werelions-who have lived alongside humans, hiding amongst them, since ancient times.
Faced with the unbelievable, Aditi has no choice but to join hands with Prithvi, an Enforcer called in to hunt down this seemingly otherworldly murderer.
But can Prithvi overcome the nightmarish burdens of his dark and violent past to unravel the mystery hidden deep within this secret world of werelions? Can he be trusted to save lives, or will he choose to serve a different, more powerful, master?
Read on, as Aditi and Prithvi race through the dark underbelly of Mumbai-from quiet suburbs to gritty brothels, from forgotten colonial tunnels to the lights and glamour of the inner city-in search of a dangerous truth.
In search of a monster.
A gruesome triple homicide takes place in suburban Mumbai and ACP Aditi Kashyap is called in to investigate it. As she starts digging deeper into the case, she realises there’s been a whole new secret set of species called Saimahs (werelions) living side by side with humans since the beginning of time itself. How she joins hands with a Saimah Enforcer to solve this crime forms the rest of the story.
Beast is a compelling urban fantasy/thriller novel that will have you at the edge of your seat, wondering both about what comes next and what happened in the past. Krishna Udayasankar has a strong writing voice and is no novice at writing unique characters. While the plot in itself is intriguing, these strong characters and the excellent writing drive the story forward at a brisk pace.
While the blurb makes it seem like Aditi is the main character, it’s Prithvi who takes up more page space. Prithvi’s own past life is strongly tied to the story and it is his past and its consequences that dominate the rest of the story.
Speaking of Prithvi’s past, I initially assumed he was into men too. I thought this was just me, but a close friend who read the book also confirmed that she assumed the same. Despite not being canon, Beast has given us the big gay Indian ship we deserve and we just can’t stop talking about it!
Beast is a fast-paced, intriguing thriller that strikes a beautiful balance between life as we know it and some aspects of Indian mythology. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who loves urban fantasy, books set in Mumbai, and Indian mythology.
Rating: 4 out of 5