The Wildings, Hundred Names of Darkness #1 by Nilanjana Roy

The Wildings - Nilanjana Roy

I enjoyed this one a lot, it seems to have fallen into the cracks in the United States. The edition I have was published by Random House Canada and it doesn't seem to have had a wide US-release except in an ebook edition which, please. This book deserves more than that. I bought it at a local bookstore new and in the United States, so it might have had some distribution stateside.


The Random House Canada edition features beautiful endpages and frontispieces by Prabha Malya. These and the deckle-edged pages signal this is an adult affair, but the style of the book reads as more teen or ya. The story follows a clan of wildings, street cats who live in Delhi, India. They are predators, but live harmoniously with the other animals, great and small, predator and prey, of the region. They have a culture and rules and can communicate telepathically through 'the link' which involves sending words and images to those far away.


The novel begins with the emergence of a powerful Sender - a cat who can communicate and send much greater distances than others - in the form of a young kitten who is also a house cat. Tradition has it that a true Sender only comes at a time of great need.


Roy, a prominent Indian journalist and critic, has written a book about animals that strikes a universal tone. 'The Wildings' is about community, family, war, compassion and justice. Her style never reaches the heights of 'Watership Down', but rests comfortably in that books territory. I appreciated the straight-forward prose and think it was a concious choice of the author to not wrap the animals - more than cats in here - in more fantasy than is required by the premise. There is a sequel, and I will keep my eyes open.


The Hundred Names of Darkness


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