I have always been a huge fan of Novoneel Chakraborty’s books. He is the only Indian writer who predominantly writes from a female perspective and his novels can be said to be feministic in nature. With strong female leads, unexpected twists and not to mention ‘strangers’ who turn the protagonists’ life towards a different direction, he always leaves the reader wanting more.
When you take pain for someone,you start belonging to that person.- Novoneel Chakraborty.
His recent book ‘Roses are Blood Red‘ was marketed as a dark romance thriller; where we hear about Vanav Thakur a supposedly perfect boyfriend or Mr Right, who gifts Aarisha Shergill with a perfect relationship and a perfect love story. He is painted as someone who does not have a hint of male ‘chauvinism’, who does not objectify Aarisha and is very progressive as well!
My first impression of this book’s idea was that isn’t it too good to be true? and where is this book going to take us? My questions were answered in the book DUH! but I was not expecting the answers to be this crazy. I will give you a little hint the word ‘Blood’ in itself solves the mystery of the book.
The book is set in Tosh, Himachal Pradesh; New Delhi and Ajmer. It is divided into three mini-books in itself: The Present, The Past and again The Present. Something I also observed in ‘Black Suits You’. So before I move on to talk about the protagonists, I would like to discuss the antagonists: Binny and Samiha. Binny is Vanav’s childhood friend who has a not-so-secret crush on him. I would have wanted to read more about her perspective of Vanav and why she liked him. Binny is the only character who has been Vanav’s constant in both past and present. Their friendship is however not the focal point in the novel so it is understandable that we do not get to know her in-depth.
While Samiha, is someone Vanav cares for, she has a serious case of Agoraphobia (fear of social situations or going outdoors) which I found interesting. Very few authors have characters living or rather surviving through mental illnesses. She has the habit of sketching Vanav and capturing his expression when he talks about ‘her’ i.e Aarisha. Vanav views what Samiha drew as unchanging while Samiha explains to him that it’s always slightly different. This can be seen as a metaphor for Vanav’s constant unending love for Aarisha and Samiha’s growing hurt and pain, as she loses Vanav to Aarisha every time. Vanav usually filled colours in Samiha’s sketches as if he is agreeing to Samiha’s interpretation and adding his own ideas to it.
Aarisha is constantly referred to as ‘her’ by both Binny and Samiha, which symbolises that what Vanav felt for ‘her’ was very common yet very uncommon, as he constantly chooses ‘her’ over Binny or Samiha. It can also be perceived as irony.
Moving on to Aarisha Shergill, who lives with her parents and is suffering from amnesia after an “incident” occurs. The incident is described in the prologue of the novel. She finds it difficult to know who she really was before the “incident”, and keeps reading her previous diary entries about Vanav and her. Vanav keeps calling her Ranisa (queen) endearingly. Her parents seem completely fine with her relationship with Vanav despite their major age gap. Her friend Pragya is her complete opposite.
Vanav gives very specific gifts such as a “Nose Ring” and “Ghunghroo” to Aarisha and always keeps her in a distance from him, which is very odd considering how much he claims to love her. Aarisha also runs a cafe called ‘Words and Whims: A Creator’s Cafe’. In a quest to find who she really is, Aarisha goes to a great length and her life is left in shambles towards the end of the novel. Just like the character of Binny, the name “Aarisha Shergill” and the nickname “Ranisha” are constant in both Vanav’s past and present. (To know why I suggest you read the novel :))
Vanav Thakur is a very complex character, who instantly gives us an impression that he is hiding something and is leading a very distorted life. He is a surgeon and works in the army. In his childhood days, he is shown as someone who is much more mature than his age and somewhat troubled. He hurts himself with the sharp end of a compass, which I found very disturbing. Vanav goes to great lengths to avenge Aarisha from anyone who tries to harm or harass her. (He reminds me of Joe Goldberg from YOU, but Vanav seems a little more reasonable).
Vanav Thakur was no ordinary man.He was soul-deep in love with a girl.And he was a man with a plan.
He seems like a writer or a controller of his and Aarisha’s love story. Vanav is well-aware that his relationship with Aarisha wouldn’t last long towards the end.
In conclusion, the main genre of ‘Roses are Blood Red‘ is ‘thriller’ as it is a book the fills the reader with anticipation, a sense of anxiety, excitement and startles them. The Dark Romance sub-genre is a facet of this novel which one cannot understand in one reading.
My Rating: 3/5
Since I would like to know more about the character of Vanav, get really under his skin. Novoneel does not give-away much about Vanav and Binny’s friendship.
Do I recommend this book?
This book is not for everyone if you are more of a romance novel fan you will not find much of a love story in ‘Roses are Blood Red‘. However, for thriller fans, this book will be a great read.