Lost Girl: Book Review by Asha Seth

Author: Sana Shetty | Genre: Crime Thriller | Pages: 309 | Publisher: Harper Collins

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In the nondescript town of Fagu, a few kilometres from Shimla, retired police officer Vanessa and her husband Aidan are coasting through a blissful post-retirement life and running their quaint cafe. One day, on their usual morning trek in the mountains, they notice something in the bushes, something that shouldn’t be there. At the end of a hidden track, there’s a young girl, barely in her twenties, badly hurt and unconscious.

Two years later, the lost girl is now called Shanaya, and she helps out at her foster parents’ cafe. Every resident of Fagu is aware of the mystery behind Shanaya’s past, but she herself remembers nothing of it.

The residents of Fagu have kept Shanaya’s secret, and protected her from harm. She is one of them, and her life is peaceful, until a stranger arrives in town, triggering within Shanaya a flood of memories and nightmares. Determined to learn the truth about her past, Shanaya lets the stranger lead her on a dangerous path of discovery. 

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This is the story of Shanaya, who was rescued by the Josephs and is now living and working with them until the secret of her past starts to unfold in the form of strangers who start to show up two years later and suddenly multiple lives find themselves threatened by the whirlwind of unpleasant events unleashed upon them. Now the task for Vanessa and Aiden, her foster parents, is not only ensuring her safety but also unearthing the hidden secret that has come to the fore in riddles. The plot is fairly simple and written with even drama to keep one to the edge of their seat, whilst also seemingly predictable in sorts. The main character, Shanaya, is in lime light but not so well built as the protagonist ought to be, and despite all she’s gone through she fails to evoke reader’s interest or sympathies with her constant lying, recklessness, and lame attempts at finding her own truth putting others in peril. Of all the other characters, Aiden and Vanessa were likeable and so was Shanaya’s close friend, Phavit, who went out of their way to keep her safe.

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‘Lost Girl’ is quite fast-paced as a novel as scenes after scenes unfold with precision, tying loose ends, piece by piece. The author has a keen eye for details evident from her sharp detailing of either the scenes, the subplots, or the characters. That said, some scenes had tedious narration that made it too taxing for the brain to remain focused on the past history of Shanaya, her sister Megha, friend Nima, the fiancé Yug, and how they were connected. The dialogues, at times, tend to run ahead of you, for the sheer volume of them, and that was a turn off for me. There were periodic jibes at the incompetency and leniency of police force which felt relevant and those were well depicted too.

Despite it all, what I liked most was the author’s hold over the language, her prowess at the art of novel writing, character development, which were commendable, and a rare treat coming from new authors. The twist toward the end was unforeseen and hinted at how the author’s creativity could be inspired from real-life incidents stemming from family feuds, politics, and all. All in all, a well-written thriller, way better than most in the league of contemporary thrillers, but could’ve been so much more.

Have you read ‘Lost Girl’? Do share your thoughts in the comments below.

Happy reading till we meet next. Until then, carpe diem! 

P.S.: I received a review copy from the publisher but the review remains unbiased.

*****