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Jose Thekkumthala
Amballore Thoma Second Edition

An extraordinary story of ordinary people!

That is what this book offers with many shades and hues of everyday life, all the way from cradle to grave and beyond. In these pages, you will find blend of humility and arrogance, gratitude and greed, and loyalty and betrayal. You will encounter life in its raw form, carved out of the innocence of childhood, fantasies of youth’s dream factory, slippery slopes of middle age, and surrender to the Providence at old age.

Just to keep living is hazardous, as Thoma and Ann can attest as they are wrung through cycles of life starting with Riches-to-Rags and ending in Rags-to-Riches. The Death Man arrives in the evening of their lives to haul them to Outer Space. Thoma’s long arm reaches out from beyond the grave to serve justice to Gang of Four, his ungrateful younger children.

Chettiar, the landlord, a distortion in the four- dimensional space continuum, plants his seed in Thoma’s household, taking control of his life in a wider scheme of preservation of werewolf dynasty. Ann deploys the weapon of prayer to steer the family out of the chaos, but to no avail. Josh steps in to solve the supernatural mystery plaguing the family.

The novel embraces multiple genres to present a gripping story of horror and suspense. It seamlessly delves into surreal elements, draping the story in magical realism, seemingly acknowledging the need of the supernatural to explain the life’s riddle.

Thekkumthala weaves the supernatural with tense familial bonds in his harrowing follow up to Amballore House. Thoma and his new bride, Ann, open the story with their 1939 wedding celebration in Amballore, India, but after losing his land and wealth to the ungrateful siblings he helped raise, Thoma and his family are forced to flee his ancestral land, leaving them poverty stricken and homeless. While India works to gain complete independence from Britain, the family wanders from rental to rental before finally settling in Mannuthy, where Thoma takes on odd jobs to survive and dreams of someday returning to Amballore.

On the surface, Thoma and Ann form a somewhat sturdy foundation for a large family down on their luck, but an undercurrent runs throughout that casts a pall on the household. Thoma’s rough treatment of Ann doesn’t stop her total dependence on him, though his ongoing domestic violence and alcoholism eventually spill over onto other relationships, including his explosive fights with his landlord over the unpaid rent, which end in disastrous consequences for Ann. As the family grows, so do their troubles—some of the children are born with otherworldly gifts, including twin Jaygust, whose brutal conception leads to his superhuman strength and murderous intent from the cradle.

Thekkumthala smoothly blends the many intricate storylines and neatly resolves the book’s complex layers by its conclusion, scattering fragments of horror throughout the landscape of family drama. In the process, he manages to spotlight the family’s loyalty despite their chaotic and destructive tendencies to fracture when money and greed take root. The constant flow of plot twists and supernatural elements (think werewolves, phantom men, and goddesses spun into a family’s daily life) are well-balanced by Thekkumthala’s strong character development, resulting in an engaging and fast-paced novel that will blur genre lines and disquiet readers.

Takeaway: A resonant family drama shrouded in mystery and the supernatural.

Great for fans of: Sarah Rees Brennan’s The Demon’s Lexicon; Tashan Mehta’s The Liar’s Weave.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: NA
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A