The terrible, scary and horrific side of society is explored in a new book, billed as the country's first tantrik detective novel, which also talks about the key issue of women's safety. Author-graphic novelist Shweta Taneja's "Cult of Chaos" is based in the supernatural underworld of Delhi. "Even though this is a fantasy fiction, and I could've made everything up, I wanted to stay a layer away from the real. That's the reason that I set up the world of 'Cult of Chaos' in contemporary Delhi, a real city, weaving supernatural elements and creatures within its bowels," she says. "The species in the book's world, as well as the tantrik magic that Anantya (the protagonist) wields, has been created after extensive research on tantrism, the occult and Shakta traditions in the country. I've delved deep into the folklores, folktales and the rituals of sorcery in villages," Taneja told PTI. Anantya Tantrist, a 23-year-old, is a completely inverted model of an ideal woman. "She smokes beedis, walks in Delhi at night, alone, has sex with all kinds of creatures, is fearless, has chosen a profession which is violent and bloody, and she doesn't care about what anyone thinks of her.
So the book is also about her reaction to the regressive tantrik society she belongs to and the abuse she has faced in her past," the Bangalore-based author says. "Even though the species and the creatures I've mentioned in the book are make-believe, the violence, the power-play, the abuse, the unfairness they suffer, is not. The feelings, the emotions, the reactions the book reflects are all real," she says. Anantya emerged from Taneja's first attempt of a novel, a revenge fantasy saga where a young girl is abused and seeks vengeance from those who've wronged her. That book never materialised but Anantya stayed as the author explored the possibility of combining two of her favourite genres - fantasy and detective. According to Taneja, some of the scenes in the book, published by HarperCollins India, were inspired by incidents in real life. "There were so many scenes in the book I wrote, where I wove incidents I'd just read in the newspaper, something a crass politician had said when yet another woman got raped; someone who had been demonised because of the way they looked or their surname.