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Unsettled: The Search for Love and Meaning

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The hundred-room house is a rich tapestry of memories and hidden secrets, a dark, forbidding place rumoured to be haunted by a vengeful Yakshi. Propelled by a desire to save their marriage, Divya and Raghav journey to the haunted mansion in search of the mythical Scrolls of Love.

Written five hundred years ago by the banished court poet Shankara, they are fabled to have the power to heal and reignite lost love. Is this just a legend, or are the couple heading towards a chilling destiny?

86 pages, ebook

First published June 12, 2013

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About the author

Neelima Vinod

4 books25 followers
Neelima Vinod is a writer, editor, and mentor.

She creates worlds when she is not at work and reads when she does not write. The yakshi spirit she writes about is an amalgamation of the oppressed voices of women and her love for poetry.

Neelima has several publications in literary journals and newspapers and two books including a fantasy novella to her credit. She works as an editor and teaches students the nuances of writing at the Young Author Program, a writing program she runs in Bangalore.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 31 reviews
Profile Image for Claire.
665 reviews284 followers
November 1, 2013
I wasn't really even sure what I was to encounter with this book, with its reference to supernatural/paranormal but coming from the story telling heritage of southern India. Also the dichotomy of a romantic title and what seemed to me to be a dark and foreboding cover. Unsettling indeed.

It is a novella, so a relatively quick read and starts out as a contemporary love story, or should I say a "they may have fallen out of love" story. To heal their relationship the young couple Divya and Raghav see a therapist who encourages them to seek out ancient Scrolls of Love from an old abandoned house about which many stories have been told and which no one wishes to enter, in fear of what it is possessed by.

Simultaneously, we read the story of the poet Shankara, banished from the kingdom of Cherakad five centuries ago after falling out of favour with one of the King's concubines Meenakshi. Shankara wanders without purpose until he encounters a woman in white, Thathri, the woman Divya has been dreaming of, whose story had been told to her by her own Grandmother when she was a child.

I am already familiar with the poetry of the author Neelima Vinod, having been following her blog neelthemuse for more than a year, so I was intrigued to read her book, which I hadn't been aware she was writing until its release.

Well written, it's an enjoyable read and one that requires paying attention, in order to make all the connection clear. I am sure there are things I am not aware of, I wondered if Shankara was based on a real poet and whether this fable aspect has some connection to stories already told and passed down through families and villages. I may have to reread it to see what else I pick up.

Another alternative ghost story perhaps, one to read for All Souls Day.

It is a story of unrequited love and the pain of obsessive love.
Profile Image for Sundari Venkatraman.
Author 80 books220 followers
February 2, 2014
I somehow feel that Black Clove is going to be one of the favourite series of books on Indireads. It deals with the supernatural and hence is quite fascinating to the public. Although I am a great fan of JK Rowling's Harry Potter Series, I am rather wary of reading the genre.

But I have to mention here that I just loved reading UNSETTLED by Neelima Vinod. The book was totally fascinating and well researched.

Divya and Raghav's married life appears to be going down the drain. When Divya visits the psychiatric Dr. Ray, he convinces her to bring Raghav over to the clinic. That's when Dr. Ray persuades the couple to go on a quest to find the mythical Scrolls of Love. Unable to refuse, the two of them set out on a strange quest which brings them in touch with a Yakshi. Will the Yakshi agree to give them what they need? And what about their relationship? Is it possible for them to get back to a normal life? You will have to read the book to find out what happens.

An unusual book well put together. I thoroughly enjoyed travelling into this supernatural world. Keep up the good work, Neelima Vinod.
November 6, 2013
The novella “unsettled” is like Poetry. Beautifully written and fill us with love and fantasy. The events are so woven as thread in fabrics. A Good read and expect more from Neelima Vinod. See below from “unsettled”

“There is only this much that I can do to stop my girl, Thatri. Your grandmother never told you how my heart bleeds for her (I have listened to her tell our stories). Wouldn’t any heart ache, knowing how she was found dead? She never understood that love is not for her – She pulls it out of passers-by. She makes a mockery of herself because she looks for warmth and not for blood. Is this thing called a love freebie that comes knocking at your door? It is only may be once in a couple of centuries, that the love between a man and woman takes shape”
Profile Image for Shweta Kumar.
Author 12 books130 followers
June 29, 2013
Bone-chilling and eerily beautiful Neelima’s Unsettled is poetry in verse. A beautifully written novella on the gradual crumbling of a marriage and the deepest darkest motivations of men and women, the book will stay with you for a long time to come. With lyrical descriptions and sentences that slither seamlessly across the pages, Neelima proves her prowess as a writer whose name should be bookmarked for the future.
A book not only for those who are interested in the supernatural genre but also those who love to read beautiful prose.
A note however on the book cover. Beautifully done as it is, it does not reflect the rural, mystical Kerala or the architecture where the book is set.
Profile Image for Sumeetha Manikandan.
Author 11 books133 followers
June 30, 2013
A royal court, a beautiful courtesan and a poet! The story begins with Divya and Raghavan, a warring couple on the brink of a divorce. Their marriage counsellor Dr Ray want them to search for the scrolls of love, the beautiful poem written by Shankara, the banished poet. But the scrolls are guarded by thathri, a Yakshini of immense power.

I loved the lyrical quality of Neelima’s writing. Perfectly structured, each word seems to be at its right place. The supernatural aspect of the Yakshini’s love has been brought very well. Well researched and beautifully written novella.
Profile Image for Ananya Deol.
10 reviews18 followers
August 5, 2013
An unparalleled and a one of its kind novella, ‘Unsettled’ is an enchanting and a gripping read. It ‘ll captivate you, charm you , enthrall you and make you yearn for more. The story is carved beautifully and the magic adds that extra tinge of spice to it. While love being the focal point, it is not one of those cliched love stories you would be tired of reading, it is something magical, something ‘out of the box’. I applaud Neelima’s ability to make the supernatural so believable and for so smoothly hooking the readers’ interest till the end.
Profile Image for Shuchi Kalra.
Author 7 books127 followers
February 10, 2014
The best thing about Unsettled is that is SO BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN! I went through some of the passages over and over again just to soak in the lyrical beauty of the prose. A modern-day couple battling marital problems, a mysterious doctor, a royal poet from centuries ago and the sad seductress Tathri – the book has everything that will fascinate readers of paranormal romances. Clearly, a lot of research has gone into the story and Neelima pulls off the genre with rare aplomb. UNSETTLED is a delightful read for lovers of good literature.
Profile Image for Roopa Raveendran Menon.
Author 1 book4 followers
July 26, 2013
In Unsettled, Neelima Vinod takes the reader down the labyrinthine lanes of the supernatural, myths and love in a writing style that stirs you to the core. Elegant lyrical prose, an engaging plotline, soulful characters and an understated sexiness swirls around this book. This is an absolutely memorable read!
Profile Image for Riaz Mulla.
4 reviews1 follower
February 13, 2014
Loved the way Unsettled moves between the past and the present, between prose and poetry and between love and mystery and though it is about paranormal romance it gets just rightly 'horrific.'

Specially beautiful are the passages of poetry constructed in between the prose and the lyrical quality of some of the statements. Makes you read them more than a couple of times.
Profile Image for Jigar Doshi.
123 reviews9 followers
February 19, 2014
brilliant writing. short (70 pages) but a riveting read. often, makes you want to re-read certain portions just to soak in that beauty of writing. two stories run in parallel and both stories have been well developed in spite of being a novella.
whole review : http://jigar-doshi.com/2014/02/unsett...
Profile Image for Anuradha Prasad.
39 reviews
February 26, 2019
Neelima Vinod's "Unsettled" is a novella that can be finished in a single sitting. The author's lyrical prose carries you through time and realms into what is a haunting love story, and a quest for love and closure. The author's facility with language deserves applause. It compels you to experience the ordinary through extraordinary and magical lens.
Profile Image for Dola Singh.
Author 4 books13 followers
July 29, 2016
Unsettled is a tale of love. True love that makes people face the impossible as well as the dark unrequited love that makes them haunt a place forever.

Divya suspects her husband Raghav of cheating on her with his childhood friend. Plagued by vivid dreams and determined to save her marriage, she consults Dr. Ray, a notable therapist suggested by her friend Emily. When he suggests that they visit her village Cherakad in search of the Scrolls of Love which will help bring love back into their marriage, Raghav, though reluctant, agrees. But not all is as easy as it seems. The Scrolls of Love is hidden somewhere in the hundred-roomed Big House and is fiercely guarded by a Yakshi, Thathri. Will they be able to get it or will they fall prey to the Yakshi? Will they be successful in salvaging their marriage? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

What captured my interest from the very beginning is the absolutely beautiful lyrical quality of the prose. Each page is a play on emotions, especially the scenes of Thathri and the poet Shankara. The plot is engaging with two threads running simultaneously, the marriage problems of our contemporary couple and the unrequited love of Thathri. It’s surely a page turner with beautiful verses strewn in between and cliffhanger moments. Both the female characters have been sketched vividly by the author but IMO the male characters would’ve benefited with a li’l more attention.

Overall, It’s a short and sweet read, and recommended for anyone who loves beautiful prose. Believe me, you won’t be disappointed. Neelima Vinod is surely an author to watch out for!
Profile Image for Nabanita.
Author 4 books32 followers
February 7, 2014
Unsettled is a tale of love lost and found, a tale of salvaging a dying relationship through a miracle of the past. When Divya chances upon her husband Raghav consoling his childhood friend Anu in a manner too close for comfort her harshest fears are realized. Her doubts about him having an affair seem valid after his growing proximity with Anu. Raghav on the other hand is exhausted with Divya’s prying questions and constant scrutiny. What they had, their rapport and love, is on the brink of collapse. But then Divya meets a counsellor Dr. Ray as a last attempt to salvage her marriage and her life as a whole. Strangely though he points her towards Cherakad, her village, to seek answers, to heal the wounded relationship she is in.

Dr. Ray takes Divya back through clouds of memories into Cherkad where there is an ancient house, a big house, which according to legend is haunted by a yakshi, Thathri. The answer Dr. Ray says lies in the five hundred year old scrolls of love that Thathri guards. He nudges Divya and later Raghav to travel together, take a break from their lives and visit Cherkad to find the answer to their problems, the scrolls of love. Reluctantly and with questions in their minds, they travel to get the scrolls which has been guarded by a spirit. Are they successful? Do they get back their love? Well I can’t tell you that, can I? But I say this for sure that you’ll find the answers in the pages of Unsettled.

Read the complete review here: http://nabanita-blacknwhite.blogspot....
Profile Image for Gayathri Manikandan.
35 reviews10 followers
January 12, 2014
Unsettled, the story of a couple and their visit to a haunted house in hopes of saving their marriage is an excellent read. Just few pages into it and am convinced I have a good read at hand and with every page I feel that it is surpassing my expectations. As the story progresses, am just traveling with it, eager to find what the story is all about. Both the story of the couple and that of the yakshi are convincingly narrated. Considering that it is a novella, the Author gets across the characters emotions crisply.
She wanted to trust, to forgive his transgressions, not because she was a doormat but because their love compensated for all foibles
She was like the words he(a poet) chased elusive yet necessary
The author's brilliance is reflected in her narration. Few samples that I really enjoyed,
Their love was sweet and young and cut unripened
Death had only magnified his presence as though he were broken shards of glass everywhere
...Quicksand is not good bedding
Libraries as large as the folds of our brain
Overall, its a very satiating read.Just one trivial point, I would have preferred a better title!
More @ http://beinggaya3.blogspot.com/2014/0...
Profile Image for Pamela Fernandes.
Author 32 books86 followers
July 19, 2014
lovely read. I don't know why I didn't start this book earlier,but once I did it was hard to stop. Plus with all the rains n thunder pages from the book came to life. Raghav n his wife are having marital trouble, so they travel to Cherakad to find the scrolls of love. the scrolls have recorded some of the most beautiful poetry from Shankara who is my fav character here.
the best part of the book is the poetry, even Thathri who claims to be unschooled speaks so poetically,that it flows into song. Very nice n quick read
Profile Image for Shevlin Sebastian.
Author 9 books4 followers
January 20, 2014
‘Unsettled’ is a good read. The story moves forward smoothly; sometimes we are in contemporary times, with Divya and Raghav and the typical problems faced by a young couple, at other times, we are with Shankara and Thatri during their intense love affair. Neelima’s depiction of the inner life of her female characters is exceptional, although she could do better with the men. Nevertheless, this is a promising debut.
Profile Image for Bhavya.
Author 2 books9 followers
March 5, 2014
Since it is a novella, it doesn’t consume much of your time and can be finished off in one sitting; but during that time the book takes you to the place where the story is set. You can literally see the odd-eyed cat that stares at you through the broken glass window.

Full review here:
59 reviews13 followers
March 26, 2014
Unsettled is a story which mixes past and present. In present Divya’s marriage is crumbling all around her. To salvage her relationship, she goes to a marriage counselor, Dr. Ray, who tells her that solution to her problem lies in the old haunted house of her childhood, whose story still lingers in her dreams. He convinces Raghav and Divya to go to that house, where the legend says that the scroll of love is hidden.

That’s how we move to the story of Tathri, a Yakshi or a vampire seductress who haunts the house and guards those scrolls. As the pages pass, we encounter different faces of Tathri– a lonely woman searching for love, a scorned woman trying to find her lover in words, a daughter worrying her mother, and a female yearning for companionship.

What I liked

Language of the book: This book is so lyrical that without reading the author’s bio, I knew that it’s written by a poet. I won’t say that the book is perfect in every aspect, but then the words are so engrossing that one won’t be too hard-pressed to notice the problems.

I loved many parts of the book, but my absolute favorite was the description of broken marriage in the beginning.

The couple hadn’t said the D word yet. She had written the word down on pieces of paper (then crumpled it up, too schoolgirlish), typed it into an email (then deleted it, in case he forwarded it to Anu), texted it into her mobile (but it looked ridiculous in the confines of the smaller-than-her-palm screen).

Another sentence which stayed in my mind long after finishing the book was

He had read somewhere that when you fall out of love with your spouse, you fall out of love with your house too.

Tathri: I know Yakshis are legends, but until I read the book, I wasn’t aware about the beliefs regarding them. But as I read through the pages, I could see her in a sari, trying to seduce the males to fulfill her needs. The character, in itself, is interesting, and the author’s treatment of her is superb.

What irked me

Loose threads of the story: Even though the story is intriguing, there were a few portions which left me feeling unsatisfied. They were hinted at, but not closed by the end. Like Dr. Ray. I wanted to know what was he, and who he really was, but what I get in the end was only a hint of what he could be! Similarly Tathri’s death in past was left open. I never could really get what made her a Yakshi.

Fast forwarded confrontations: This might not be everybody’s complaints, but I felt that the scenes between Raghav and Tathri happened too fast. I didn’t get the time to savor their closeness. Even the proximity between Divya and Raghav felt a bit rushed towards the ending.

Overall Opinion

This book could have been better if the plot was tightened a bit, but despite this flaw, it’s a treat to read because of the language and feelings poured in the words. Its words has power to transport a reader into an absolutely different world.
Profile Image for Dhivya Balaji.
Author 14 books15 followers
July 12, 2015
Unsettled is tagged as ‘A Search for Love and Meaning’. It is a tale that combines a touch of fantasy / history and modern day problems. Divya is a Keralite who has married a Maharashtrian Raghav. She has a happy life until she starts suspecting that her husband is in an affair with his old flame, Anu. Doubt starts eating her mind as she sees Raghav talking with Anu one day, standing close to her.

Unable to concentrate on her work and feeling bad about her marriage, she consults a psychiatrist who advises her to take a vacation. Divya heeds his advice to spend a few days in her ancestral house in Cherakad, Kerala. But before that, she convinces Raghav to attend one session with her. As the doctor sees Raghav, he pulls him aside and asks a favour from him, to which he agrees.

Alternate chapters of this story are written in the past, like a legend / myth handed down over centuries. It follows the life of Shankara Sastry, a poet and his life with a yakshi, who lives in the big house in Cherakad (the house of Divya’s grandmother in the present). The Yakshi looks for love, unable to grasp the fact that souls in the spirit world do not merge well with humans with mortal bodies. She traps Shankara in her web and tries to elicit love from him via lust. But Shankara realises his folly after some time and tries to escape the place. But outsmarting him, the Yakshi traps his words and poems in ‘Scrolls of Love’ in the big house, leaving him as a shell of the man he was.

Raghav and Divya arrive at the big house and are amazed and frightened by its size and wild growth. But once they go inside, they’re entranced by the sheer magic of the house, and are trapped by the Yakshi, who lusts after Raghav. How they escape the house and how they save their failing marriage forms the rest of the story.

The story and the plot are more a mix of whimsical and fantasy. There are abstract verses, the kind traditional poets wrote. The author has a clear poetic soul, but sometimes, a casual reader finds these not only distracting, but also way out of the necessary parts of the story. The characters are well etched in the present (the final chapter revealing the link of the past/present stories is so sudden). Read this book if you like your romance novels to be slightly exotic and eccentric.

For full review read: http://readmuse.blogspot.in/2014/08/u...
156 reviews22 followers
June 3, 2014
The novella – ‘Unsettled’ is a journey of unsettled souls to the ‘Scrolls of Love’. The author has very smartly and at the same time very beautifully connected her childhood folklore with the contemporary example of an unsettled couple of her creation.

The story begins as ‘Divya’ finds her husband – ‘Raghav’, consoling one of his old friends, whom she considers his girlfriend. The very sight of her husband embracing another woman takes her back to the old memory lane, when these were in deep true love with each other and leaves her – ‘Unsettled’.

Divya, has a belief that the ‘Scrolls of Love’ that are protected by a woman in white-sari, are hidden somewhere, in a 100-room house that is located in her maternal village – Cherakad, could save her endangered marriage. Her belief is, based on the folklore she heard from her maternal relatives during her childhood.

What is the basis of the folklore? Are there ghosts and a ghostly experience waiting to give a deadly turn to their lives? There are so many unsettling questions that make this novella a worthy read. Try on!

I liked how the author has made a perfect balance of two stories running parallel from different times – one originates from a village-based folklore while another is modern day story of an unsettled couple on quest of their lost love. She is a published poet and used her lyrical skills beautifully within the lines. In addition to the poetry, she has used her skills to create a thriller-haunting story she gives an eerie feeling.

She has not drafted a simple ghost-based story with haunting ghosts rather she has made a nerve-ranching story to re-ignite love in unsettled minds and unsettled love. She has respectfully made an attempt to give voice to the inner desire of a woman who is far away from the real world and is totally misunderstood. Kudos!

I recommend this novella everybody who feels unsettled – in love, in life, in heart or in thoughts. Are not we all unsettled in a way or another? Therefore, I recommend you to give it at-least a try to find answers to your unanswered questions.

Read complete review at: http://booksnewsindia.wordpress.com/2...
Profile Image for Inderpreet Uppal.
Author 3 books74 followers
June 17, 2014
I first read about the novella Unsettled on Indireads and was quite intrigued to say the least. Here is an Indian love story that spoke of love, longing and supernatural as the most natural of things.

After reading the novella I agree with the author that they do indeed go together. The premise of love changing a person and enduring suffering is not new for the path of true love is never easy.

The Yakshi and her magic, the images and mirages she creates are all spell binding, lending us an insight into a world we hesitate to enter. This love story with such a scary premise managed to pull me in and kept turning the pages. The love of the Yakshi, the poet Shankara, Divya and her husband Raghav and the love of all the others; some of it selfish and some of it true all come together beautifully in this novella.

I am not sure whether it was the mythical Yakshi’s magic or the love Divya felt for her husband but this tale makes you want more. You want to delve in to magical, mythical and melodious world of love. The writing style and poetry add a depth to the novella and substance to the story. Her writing style renders to the scary topic of spirits and witches a lyrical and soulful quality for a pleasant read.

Pick up this book to read about a love that lasts through the centuries and realise that the path of true love is never easy but it does prevail.
The book ends quite fast but managed to tie up all the threads, still I would have liked to read more about Shankara and his many loves…….
For me the story could have been longer; maybe a full length novel instead of a novella. I might be wrong but I liked the way Neelima Vinod weaved the story of Unsettled so I am eagerly waiting for her next book.

I had requested the author for a copy of the novella in exchange of the review.
- See more at: http://inderpreetkaur.blogspot.in/
237 reviews16 followers
April 23, 2014
A marriage gone sour, the knots ready to break free, a desperate wife, a love thirsty Yakshi, a lover entrapped in a haunted house wanting to break free from the Yakshi and regain his freedom , an apparition staying guard on the Yakshi and a psychiatrist wanting the fabled ancient ‘Scrolls of Love’ are the people, the elements that go into the making of ‘Unsettled.’

‘Unsettled’ is a novella, a paranormal story that delves into the supernatural. ‘Unsettled’ as the name suggests, deals with unsettled lives and unsettled relationships. Divya and Raghav are on the verge of a breakup after five years into marriage. As in most ‘breakup’ stories here too the suspicion, infidelity is the reason for the relationship going sour. Divya suspects Raghav of having an affair with his childhood friend Anu. Life becomes traumatic and meaningless for her. Eager to save the marriage she consults Dr. Roy. From here starts the story, the quest to retrieve the fabled ‘Scrolls of Love’ penned five centuries ago and the encounter with the famed love thirsty vengeful Yakshi of the haunted ‘Big house’ in Cherakad (Kerala). As the story progresses, one sees the story of Divya and Raghav getting entwined with the story of the fabled banished court poet Shankara and Thathri the Yakshi .

The plot is simple and interesting however the language seems heavy at places, confusing at times forcing one to reread certain portions to understand what the author wishes to convey or make connections clear . In short one needs to adjust one’s pace of reading as the story progresses.

‘Unsettled’ as the cover suggests is less of romance and more of the dark and foreboding. A good read I will give it three stars.
28 reviews1 follower
January 16, 2015
The novella unfolds with Divya ,the Keralite married to Maharastrian Raghav, whom she suspects is cheating on her, with his childhood friend Anu. Trying to save her marriage, Divya meets Dr.Ray, the marriage counselor.

After the second session with Divya and a sceptic Raghav ends, Dr.Ray suggests they should take a break, where else but Cherakad, the place haunting Divya and her dreams.

Divya and Raghav should now retrieve the Scrolls of Love from the haunted 100-roomed Big House, to save their marriage. How will that save their marriage, we wonder!

The only thing that could foil their plans is a Yakshi called Thathri who haunts the Big House protecting the Scrolls of Love.

Will Divya and Raghav succeed in bringing the scrolls? Will they save their marriage? What is the story behind Thathri? Is it all folklore or is it true?

Answers to the above questions are revealed as we read the novella.

An engaging read , it is one such stories which can’t be forgotten even in a hurry!

Read more here..
Profile Image for Pratibha Pandey.
Author 3 books48 followers
July 14, 2014
The longing of a Yakshi and the words of a young poet who lost all his poems and thoughts to this passionately possessive creature make for a great story of love , obsession , power and the final freedom that some times comes not from lovers but from others who pine with us.

I loved the writing of the book. The poetry mixed in the narration is lovely and so refreshing. the take the story forward and also give it a haunting voice. Long after you finish the book , you will feel the beauty of the mansion and the pleasures love can get.

More than that , it also gives a glimpse into modern relationships which often develop cracks due to lack of communication.
Profile Image for Tarang Sinha.
Author 9 books61 followers
March 12, 2014
The book is about finding and redefining love with a paranormal touch. Actually, two interesting stories flow simultaneously in Unsettled. The narration is lucid and writing style of the author is indeed beautiful. It was a quick and nice read!

Read the read full review on my blog: http://tarangsinha.blogspot.in/2014/0...
Profile Image for Vinay Leo.
978 reviews73 followers
September 9, 2016
3.5 stars

Review at A Bookworm’s Musing: http://wp.me/p2J8yh-2B5

The book and its plot is presented very well, giving due importance to both stories, that of the characters and of the mansion. It’s a breezy read, simple and enjoyable. For me, the story was quite predictable, but that may not be so in general. I’d say you can try this and decide.
Profile Image for Arti.
625 reviews102 followers
July 11, 2014
The book is beautifully written, with both poetry and prose complementing each other. The characters are life-like and Divya is a normal human being with reasonable emotions.

The story is mostly about Shankara Shastry and the Yaksh and Divya and Raghav are characters put in to bring the main story out.

Overall, a nice, eerie read.

More on http://wp.me/p3cEWT-l3
230 reviews27 followers
December 19, 2014
Interesting story carried by the lyrical prose. Good thing is that it is the right length. Doesn't rush and doesn't linger. At places, the writing does become unclear.

I loved the poem: one from the Scrolls of Love and the one that also anchors the story through out.

Do you know what loneliness is?
It's the cracking of the bone
And the hungry fire burning you from within.
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