‘The Magic of Hobson-Jobson.’ by Soyna Owley

Magic is not always about pixies, fairies and godmothers. It’s also about prophecies, legends and soothsayers. And something similar was happening in the island of Dujipore. After years of happiness the sudden overcast, evil and ominous predictions were not helping to lift spirits at the festive season of Hobson Jobson. Thirteen-year-old twins Floyd and Farook Foxwallah born to Regent Foxwallah and Maya Foxwallah, were among the many to bear the brunt of these.

Pied-eyed Floyd had always been at the receiving end for something ominous his mother had done before his birth and having a green and a blue eye were not doing him any good when there was so much bad happening. This was a dampener on the festive season was with a record breaking 91 kidnappings and everyone telling Floyd that he was bringing in the bad luck.

Soon, his brother gets kidnapped and his life comes to a screeching halt. There are no clues as to where Farook could have disappeared. Floyd feels solely responsible for everything that’s happening around him and decides to set off on a solitary voyage into the unknown to bring back Farook and all the others before its too late. Another tragedy hangs over the island where he lives.

It is one wondrous ride as Floyd gets to know that he’s the chosen one and he finds out that he’s Yaksha as everyone addresses him. He meets several magical creatures Balsam, the tallest man he’s ever seen, Ela-the plant woman and Shaitana Salamandarin. He rides a flying dog and needs to ward off the Merrows — consummate evil, ancient, amphibious people who intend on taking over the forests and its dwellers the Ressuldars. Waterfalls, Forests all the way to Chandi Mountain Floyd has to save himself, make sure not to get caught and return

Soyna Owley’s debut novel is an adventure, a roller coaster ride you don’t want to miss out on. Her descriptions are vivid helping you visualise the forests and the people. Her characters seem so believable and the names familiar and easy to remember. Inclusion of songs from Bollywood, naming everything and the setting makes it an interesting read. It also allows you to conjure up images and places that you too can explore and visit. Written in simple language it makes for an easy, quick and a rather intriguing read.

The Magic of Hobson-Jobson, Soyna Owley, Penguin, New Delhi, 2013.

Reviewed by Shilpa Nair

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