The Wildings (Review)

As a child when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, my standard answer, though irrational, was that I wished to be a cat. There was something so majestic and regal about them that if there had existed a way to become one I would not be human now. They say that one should write the book one has always wanted to read. With her bestselling novel, The Wildings, Nilanjana Roy has done my job for me. This extraordinary book has the power to suspend reality and draw the reader into a world that is both similar to their own, and yet wonderfully different.

Roy’s simple yet compelling prose takes the reader into Old Delhi where the smells and sounds of the city come alive before our very eyes. Soon we are transported to the little old Sufi shrine where much of the story takes place. While most know India as a country flooded by people, this is not the India of Roy’s creation. To her the city belongs to the animals of the region— the birds, mice, dogs and most importantly, the cats of Old Delhi.

The book follows the adventures of the dargah cats who spend their days hunting for food and basking in the sun. But something sinister is looming on the horizon, threatening to tear their world apart, and only one cat has the power to save them— a little house kitten who has never stepped foot out of the apartment she lives in.
The Wildings is a story about the battle between good and evil. But more importantly, it’s about the nature of evil— the feral cats of the abandoned house skirting the territory may be the antagonists of the book, but Roy explains their development to the reader, making sure that we understand how evil is created. Nothing in this world is unconnected and when nature is thwarted there will be consequences for all, even those remotely involved. This is exactly what happens when the feral cats step out into the world for the first time, much to the chagrin of the animals of Old Delhi and the delight of the reader.

While promising to thrill readers of all ages, this book is perfect for young readers aged 12 and above. Not only does The Wildings provide readers with an adventure story like no other, nesting in the narrative are important truths about life in general. Whether explaining the importance of not caging nature, or focusing on the interconnectedness of all animals, even predator and prey, this is not merely a book about cats— it’s about human nature as well.
Somewhere between my childhood and the present day, I lost my desire to become a cat when I grew up, mainly because it isn’t the most feasible career choice. However, Nilanjana Roy has helped me realize my ambitions in the space of a few 300 pages, for which I am grateful and I can’t wait to continue the story in The Hundred Names of Darkness.

Maahliqa Qureshi

Maahliqa Qureshi

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