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Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Last Witch Trial by Siddharth Nirwan

Title: The Last Witch Trial
Author: Siddharth Nirwan
Publisher: Notion Press

Genre: Fiction

Date:  2016

Price: INR 245/ Kindle-125.62

Pages: 258

Post success of Dan Brown internationally a lot of books are written in India around forgotten myths, mostly centered around religion. These stories are now gaining popularity and their writers increasing fame has encouraged many more to try a shot with their pen. However India is not just a rich but super-rich land as far as stories are concerned; the mystical land where time seems to have spread a blanket of dust over many of the.  However, if you ever visit small villages these stories surface time and again, sometimes entertaining you to terrifying you, for time has still not been able to cover them completely. Sadly therefore India also is rich in some orthodox practice's and beliefs which are non-existent in urban but like a venomous tree with roots too deep to dig out, in the rural these still exist. One such phenomenon is "Witch-hunt".

Though nobody knows if it's existence is really true and modern science doesn't approve of it as their has been no experiment to confirm it, wrongly many women are conducted for these trials and killed. If the statistics quoted in the book are correct the number of such executions is still in thousands. Even in corners of developed nations these myths/practice's are not unheard of, which for a race that put man on the moon is a stark contrast. This book as the title suggests reveals a fictional story around the craze that erupts now and then called "Witch-hunt?".

The writer begins by explaining the grave status of this situations by starting with facts and a few exemplary story, setting a life-like canvas for the story that later unfolds. Years post the last witch trial Ajay Thakur, the lead character while cleaning his house finds his diary. A diary that has witnessed everything in his life and as he begins to read it these events of these proceedings unfold. It was when his ailing uncle Raj Singh had called him to visit urgently as he was ailing. Being the last surviving member of Thakur clan all responsibilities had befallen on his shoulders. A broken hearted Ajay shakes himself out of his devdas-mode and begins to understand this new life. As if the sudden turn of events aren't enough to displace his mind,  sudden deaths of labourers at an upcoming steel plant shake the town. The gory displacement of a body post murder makes it evident it wasn't a common murder case. People blinded by faith and their do called servants, pandit's are convinced it is a witch called "Maya".

Ajay incapable of unravelling the story alone takes the help of his professor whose research interest has been occult practices throughout India. Together they try to unravel a secret spanning centuries. Is this truly a witch or some hoax? If so how would they get rid of her? Why is Ajay in middle of all this? To know answers to all of these points, read the book.

The book cover is attractive, yet it could still be better, more central to the theme then case specific.  The writing though has some spelling and grammatical errors the story is very captivating, majorly because witch hunting hasn't been explored widely in Indian literature so firstly it's a fresh story. The setting of a village, an age old secrecy, unfinished stories emerging time and again keep you wanting for more. Though a keen reader will be able to catch some and not all of the major twists and there are a some logical errors in the plot, the style of writing, revealing the story as recordings from a diary or tapes as first person account renders it effective. The climax has been done justice to and logically so which brings us to the conclusion of an age old adage of "all is well that ends well".
Overall a recommend read.

Rating: 3.5/5

About the author: Siddharth Nirwan is a ENT and Head & Neck Surgeon, who lives and practices in Jaipur. Apart from the world of medicine, his passions are photography, film-making and creative writing. He can be reached at

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