The First Vampire - Vickram E Diwan

Edition Details:
Format: E-book | Page Count: 188 | Publisher: Book Cafe Publications | ASIN: B086KZL67V
Book Link: Kindle

Book Review: The First Vampire by Vickram E Diwan


First Sentence:
Ramjeewan never aspired to become a naked corpse, hanging upside down from a Pipal tree in a thick jungle.

Story:

It's 1818 AD and India is under British rule. Johnathon Smith is the highest british official in the central provinces (the current madhya pradesh) and the locals have come to him for help.

There is a mysterious creature roaming in the jungle that is killing the villagers. According to the villagers the creature drinks blood from it's victims and after draining them out hangs their dead bodies from the trees. They think it's something supernatural.

Johnathon Smith is a man of reason. He doesn't believe in these superstitions of the natives. He has decided to hunt the creature and put an end to this terror.

Erlene is an anthropologist who had come to india to study local people and their customs. She is living with Johnathon's as his guest. When villagers come to Johnathon for help, she gets intrigued with the case and joins the hunt.

What was it that was killing the local villagers?
Why was it killing the villagers?
Was it really something supernatural?
Was Jonathan able to kill the being? What role did Erlene play into this?

Major Characters:
Laddu or Ramjeevan -  A vegetable seller who was killed by Pisachini
Subedar Jagannath Chaklader - a british soldier who hated british's rule in india
Captain Johnathon Smith - Highest official in the central province of india in 1818
Lt Justin Mark - Jonathan's deputy
Jeewanlal - orderly to the captain
Guniya - a local boy that had been brought as guide to lead an expedition
Erlene - a british anthropologist that had come to India
Ameer Khaki - Erlene's grand father
Nilofar - Erlene's mother
Sufi Delvezi - a sufi in Persia in 1800
Sholay Khaki - Erlene's grandmother
Aghori baba - a tantrik 
Tamaskumar - Aghori baba's assitant
Soundarya Bala - a  farmer girl who lived in Avanti in 460 BC
Hariya - a farmer's son and lover of Soundarya Bala
Visakhayupa - king of Avanti
Divya - dark lord
Unlgimal - one of the thugs 

My Views:

The first vampire is a paranormal thriller written by Mr Vickram Diwan. In this book the author has taken the vampiric lore and has tried to establish it in India. 

In 'The First Vampire' the author has given a taut tale of thrill and suspense which manages to hold the interest from the begining and keeps it there till the end. Who is this pisachini that is haunting the jungles? How will Johnathon and his party be able to deal with this creature? These are some of the questions that would prod a reader to keep on reading this book.

Coming to characters in the book,the book has three major characters viz Erlene, Pisachini amd Captain Jonathan Smith.

Erlene and Pischani seem to be the novel's central characters. They occupy most of the space in the book  and the reader is shown `their stories via backflashes. These stories are interesting and help the reader in understanding the life and thought process of the two characters. They make you  feel more connected to them.. 

Captain Jonathan Smith is another major character. He is not a likable person but is a good solider. I think it was an interesting choice by the author to create such a character. As a reader it puts you in  a confusing situation. You know he's an despicable person but then he is helping the villagers and so you don't know whether to root for him or to wish the Pisachini devours him. I liked feeling this way. I think if Captain would have been goody two shoes then the story would have been more bland.

The other characters in the book that i really liked were Divya and Unglimal. These two characters have very brief presence in this story but i would really love to read longer works featuring them or works woven around them. 

I liked most of the story but there were few issues in the book that i felt if would not have been there then the book would have been a much better read. I would really liked to talk about them.

First thing that bothered me was lack of proof reading and editing in the book. There are many sentences where wrong words are used which completely alter the meaning or make no sense. Then there  is a big chunk of chapter which is repeated. These things mar the reading experience of the book. I think book should have been properly edited and proof read.

Another thing that bothered me was the character of Erlene. She is one of the  major characters in the book and her life stories occupy as much space as that of the vampire. Her storyline is interesting and i didn't mind reading it. But truth is she doesn't really do much for the story. She and the Pisachini does seem to share a bond but in the end we don't see much relevance of Erlene. She doesn't play major role in capturing the Piscahini and doesn't play much role after it. Yes she hears what Pisachini has to say but how does that help the story. It doesn't justify the amout of space that is given to her. It made me wonder what would happen to the story if Erlene would not have been present in it.And the only answer that came to me was that the book just would have less number of pages. I think some important part must have been given to her which would have justified the space that was alloted to her. Or the author could have refrained from using so much space for her. 

There were also few sequences in the last few chapters that ended up confusing me.

In chapter 19 in Pisachini's captive we are told intially that Erlene sees Mark and Captain Smith hanging from the pipal tree and in this chapter's second part we see Chaklader, Mark and Smith sitting beside the fire. 

The first thing she saw was the naked bodies of men hanging upside down from the Pipal treee in front of her. It took her a while to recognize tghem as captain Smith and Mark  who hung like helpless monkeys with their hands tied beind their bodies.
...
There was no sign of Guniya, Aghori baba or his disciples and Subedar Chaklader. sat with an impossible posture next to Erlene.

(Second part of chapter 19)

Captain Smith, mark and Subedar Chaklader were sitting with mournful faces around the dying embers of the bonfire.

After this in chapter 21 The Ambush and rescue we see Captain Smith planning with Aghori's disciple to ambush the pisachini. Also Subedar is the one that brought the disciple to Smith.

The subedar came back suprisingly within an hour with the dsiciple of the Aghori
..
Captain Johnathan Smith got up in a fit of rage and began to beat the man mercilessly. He thrashed him and put his boot on the cheek of the sadhu; who was heaving like a caged animal.

And then again in chapter 23 Hate the demon and love the demon we see Subedar still captured by pisachini and Smith still hanging up in the tree. We are also told the disciple had freed Mark that means he too was stiil in captivity. This makes you wonder who had called the disciple in the first place and why they were free in second part of chapter 19 and in chapter 21.

She summoned subedar chaklader on request of Erlene once they realized they could not communicate with each other's language which was alien to both.
.....
Next to him stood the Sadhu, a disciple of Aghori baba, who had somehow escaped Piscahini's net. He had reached that place unnoticed and cut the climbers by which mark has been tied and hung upside down from the tree.
.....
Mark kept stabbing her with the dagger sprinkled with holy water charged with  a powerful magical spell like a man possessed. His boss promted him from the tree, where he still hung upside down....

These whole sequence of events confused me and i think they needed to be properly edited to make sense. Since this is an ebook the author can easily do it and update the ebook. 

Another thing which is not an issue but  didn't gel with me was the title of the story.The book is called 'The first vampire' but that is not really the case here. This vampire was a girl which was turned into vampire by a creature called Divya in 460 BC. We are not told much about Divya but we can gauge that he's also undead. His body is described as being cold. He drinks the girl's blood to convert her and has supernatural strength akin to vampires. Also,the way he converts her doesn't look that he is doing it for the first time. He knows what's he doing so that makes you think whether the Pischani haunting the jungles of madhya pradesh was really the first one or one the many that he had converted. That's why IMHO the title doesn't really fits the story. The author should have chosen another appropriate title.

In the end i would just say that i enjoyed reading this paranormal thriller by the author. He has given an Indian twist to the Vampiric lore and that should be appreciated. The book has interesting characters and the story keeps you hooked till the end.

I also liked the way he has ended the book and brought new a character like Unglimal. This means he's planning more stories in Thuggee in British India series of which this novel is a part. I would really like stories set in this timeline. 

There are few minor issues with the book but they are mostly related to editing and proof reading. The author can easliy work on them and update this version of the book. If the author updates the book then it could be a good read to enjoy over the weekend. 

********

The first vampire also comes with two bonus stories. The stories present in the book are:

The Snake Princess 

First Sentence:
The old man with the overflowing grey beard was again telling her something.

Erlene has always been fascinated by the tattoo on her left arm. As far as she knows, the tattoo has always been there and she has wanted to know what that means. Now she's in India and some one has agreed to enlighten her. They seem to know what the tattoo means. 

Would Erlene finally find out who she is?

The snake princess is the first story of the series Thugee in british india. The story revolves around Erlene and her quest to find out the truth about her birthmark. 

I enjoyed  reading this story. It serves as a n introduction to the world of Thugs , during the time when British ruled India.The `story takes place in 1818 and shows you the glimpse of world that existed then. People have often seen India as a mystical place and hence it becomes easier for conmen to con them. 

Till today you see people getting conned and foreigners form an excellent victims to these type of cons. The story gives you a slight glimpse of the way these con jobs are often carried out. 

I enjoyed visiting this world and would love to read more stories set here. 

Strange love with a succubus demon

First Sentence:
Kusang was sitting on a wet iron bench in the park outside his house in Kurseong, a hill station in Darjeeling, India. 

Kusang is in trouble. He's in love with Uma and he knows he shouldn't be. Uma is a demon and hence he knows that if he continues doing what he's doing he going to be dead. That how the demons work. They take the life form out of you. 

That's why when Kusang's maid brings to him Shreyasi, a woman who can get rid of Uma, he happily accepts her service. 

Who's Shreyasi? Was she able to get rid of Uma? Did Kusang found who he was looking for? How did Kusang fell for Uma?

Strange love with Scubbus demon is an engaging read. The title aptly describes what's happening in the story and as a reader you want to know how this would end. The story is set in Darjeeling and i wish it was a little bit longer so that we could explore more of this beautiful place. I liked the way it ended. It makes you chuckle.

Book links:Kindle

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