Vanished. That’s the only way I can describe the plot at the beginning of this book. There was not one to be found. The writing was descriptive and detailed, and there were hints about what the story might be, but it was hard to find as the book was starting. But towards the middle of the book, it started to reveal itself, just as Neela starts to find clues to the location of her missing instrument. As the book got developed, it got very good. Neela’s character really came out and that was more interesting.
This mystery, VANISHED, by Sheela Chari, tells the story of a girl named Neela and her search for her missing veena, her traditional Indian instrument. Neela’s grandmother gave her the instrument that she prized for many years. Although that seems very normal to pass along a valued heirloom, this veena is much more complicated than that. It is not just an ordinary piece, it brings with it curses, thieves, and a series of suspicions.
The only criticism that I have is that initially the plot was like a triangle. The point is the opening of the book — not much there. Narrow and small. I could not really relate to Neela. Neela is 11 years old, just like me. You know how you are not supposed to go off with strangers? Your parents or an adult (or your own common sense!) warn you about them. Well, Neela follows a stranger into a church! Even though that is where she picks up the trail towards her veena, I still think it makes no sense in the real world. Would you do that?
But then, like a triangle gets wider and takes up more space, as the book went on, it got more depth. The mysteries, the clues, the characters–everything got more three-dimensional. In the end, I was really pulled into Neela herself and her search and really liked the book.
I would definitely recommend it, if you are willing to give it a chance to warm up.
Ready to give this unusual mystery chance?