Historical fantasy is a genre that can be very tricky to write. There’s so much to get right: historical events around the setting of the novel, people’s behaviors around the time, customs and traditions, accepted norms, and so much more. If done right, you’ll have a well-written, informative, entertaining book on your hands. But if even one thing goes wrong in this recipe, the end result could be a jarring complexity that could confuse you to no end.
Yashesh Rathod’s Frank Carter: The Complete Saga is a historical fantasy that, living up to its genre, has a fantastical premise, replete with time travel and the supernatural. This is the story of Frank Carter, who, along with his family, has moved to a new place. But when he ventures out into a place he shouldn’t be, grim discoveries await him. He finds out soon enough that his house, and its surrounding area, called the Yellow Lotus, is cursed, and he is now experiencing the backlash worth two centuries of this place’s cursed existence.
Now, Frank Carter is on a quest through time to find out what exactly it is that threatens to destroy his world. And when he does discover what it is, he has to join hands with the unlikeliest of allies and do things that demand everything of him. But does Frank Carter have the courage and the strength to go through with all of this?
The thing about Frank Carter: The Complete Saga is that the essence of the story is hidden under layers and layers of some obvious drawbacks. This essence, this plotline, you soon realize, is entertaining enough in what it promises. In the world that it traverses, both the present (which, in the story itself is centuries before today), and the past (which is two centuries before the story’s present) talk of warring kingdoms and conflicted peacemakers, exploring warriors and lost children, and so much more.
The story never goes to expected places. There’s always something beyond the far-flung horizon, as the author puts it, that keeps you on your toes. With the snappiness that it offers, Frank Carter: The Complete Saga is a good first effort in moulding a world that is too fantastical to exist and in making the past and the present work so much in tandem that you have the urge to ignore anything that is wrong with the book.
I must say that despite it being a good plotline for a debut author to explore, it soon becomes obvious that the author has bitten off more than he can chew. There’s a lot that remains to be done, more effort that needed to be put in to make this a well-written book, and chinks in the armor (that are more dents than chinks) that need to be straightened out with vigorous hammering. And as mentioned in the introduction to this review, getting some things right in a book as this is an absolute requirement. Historical events, customs, traditions, and behaviors – all of these NEED to be just right. But it misses the mark, although maybe a little more work on it could have gotten the author the result he was going for.
The book could have done with more editing and proofreading, especially since the writing is tedious and childish and unnecessarily draggy in many places. As an author myself, I can understand how writing one’s first book can be a pretty confusing task, especially since you want to describe everything you want to tell the reader in words. But one of the most important thumbs of rule of writing a good fiction is to show, not tell. And there’s a lot of telling in here, which seems rather telling about how the book remains half-baked.
However, I must say that this plotline, a rather ambitious one for a first-time author, is a great one to pick to launch oneself into the publishing world. For that, kudos to the author. I only wish that it had been worked upon more, and now hope that the author will take this forward, polish it, and bring it out in a format that will blow people’s socks off.