Written in the simplest possible way, Ms. Radhika R. Dhariwal’s debut suspense novel, ‘The PetPost Secret’ is so absorbing that it was hard to leave my paperback copy before finishing the story. Even though, I read the story thrice in one day, the suspense at squirrel’s near death situations never ceased. Every time I read the book, my pulse rate always heightened when our little protagonist came across any life-threatening situation. His extraordinary adventures in the fictional towns based on the author’s imagination and her tours across the different parts of world always thrilled me to the bones. Fragments of the Protagonist’s (Squirrel’s) memories are supposedly hidden in the folds of his subconscious mind, as the cover shows, which when unfolded can lead him to discovering one of the worst possible power and his own name.
The author, Ms. Radhika Dhariwal, portrays on of the most adventurous days in the life of thirteen year old Squirrel, who, before the start of the adventure, was the only slave in the town of Bimmau and worked in the postal company –PetPost and was famous by the name, ‘the PetPost Slave.’ The beginning of the novel depicts the problems faced by the Squirrel as a slave concentrating on the fact that he was one of the most unlucky animals in his town. As the story starts forming, he has to fight all his fears and only if he succeeds could he get the treasure- the Brittle Key. Being a normal kid of thirteen, he had a lot of things to overcome before knowing his fate in the world.
The author is an Indian who got the chance to travel across the different parts of the world and to put her experiences and the exceptionalities of the various famous cities like Bimmau (Mumbai) Vegas (Gandgoon) and Darjeeling hills (Darling hills) in her debut novel. With the insightful knowledge, she was able to create a realistic but still fictional world of animals where they lived just like humans do. At places, animals and their human counterparts (in the real world) are shown having the same conflicting thoughts and feelings.
Being a major in psychology, she was able to concentrate on the various psychological processes that made the reading more interesting. She depicted the squirrel’s feelings as if they were universal truths, drawing us nearer to the lovable and kind character.
Overall, it is very hard to choose any one character as a favorite with brave Squirrel, friendly Des, promise-abiding Azulfa and helpful Mrs. Sox, all in the picture. Somehow the reason behind Des’ friendliness wasn’t explained clearly and Mrs. Sox’s character is a bit shady so as my favorite character, I may choose Squirrel or Azulfa but the competitions still tough so I’ll explain everyone’s position in the story clearly along with the negative characters.
As the lead protagonist of the story, he has a very important position in finding the truth from start to end. He needs to find the key and maybe the map in the next (supposed) parts. With his companions, he has to embark upon an unexpected adventure at the age of thirteen. His character is described as a normal teenager who has his own fears. But he never lets them cripple him and at the ending, he finally finds the truth of his role in the world.
Described as a friendly and strong friend, Des is a big foodie and never lets his friends down. He always supported Squirrel’s decision but wasn’t convinced when Squirrel blamed Azulfa of being a traitor. Somewhere down the line, his foolishness nearly costs his other companions their life when his mails to his family were discovered by the antagonist(s).
A friend in need and a promise keeper, that’s how we can describe our dear Azulfa, being a strong and practical person, she always protected Squirrel in times of dire needs. Even when Squirrel announced her to be a traitor, she never broke the promise she had once given to his mother to protect him when he needed her help the most. Even when she killed his Aunt, Squirrel forgave her but she never got to live a life less of guilt as she was killed just before the ending; her last image can be of her sleeping peacefully as a float carrying her towards the center of the world.
Leader of the Kowas and the unknown nemesis of Squirrel in the starting, she is a shady character and nothing much is known about her except that she hated Squirrel in the beginning as her invitation to Smitten’s wedding was given to him. Even later, the only reason she accompanied him was because Colonel was going to enslave her. Even if she sponsored Squirrel to the Pedipurr School, the last part makes the readers feel more confused about her reality.
Baron Dyer (Colonel)
Being the lead antagonist, he killed Mr. Falguny (an unknown character) and was after the Brittle’s Key. Nothing much is known about him and his point of view except that he’s supposedly the main negative character in the first book.
Other characters may include Bacchoo Banooose, Des’ family- Smitten, Cheska, Akbar, Bobby, Mr. and Mrs. Falguny, Crows, the Pedipurr society cats, Mrs. Natasha Blouse and the other helping characters of the different towns like Khoy, Nizza (or probably Nissa), the queen bee etc.
Suspense, fantasy, thriller, puzzle solving, mystery, kids and teens, fast paced and philosophical.
Revolving around the one and only nameless slave in the fictional town of Bimmau working for the all too familiar kind of boss- a mongoose, Bacchoo Banooose, the plot depicts the adventures of Squirrel as he comes to know of the puzzles in his brain in the form of poems from his dead mother hidden with the process of seclasion (definition in the book). As he comes across the various truths, he has to fight his own feelings for the various ‘friends’ and ‘frienemies.’ Accompanied by his friend, Des- the dog, and Azulfa- the crow, a shady creature from among the cruel group of Kowas, Squirrel embarks upon an adventure with an unknown ending. Describing everything in the best way possible, the author allows us to walk (and fly) with Squirrel towards the end. The ending was vague; most of the things are not described like the truth behind the Brittle’s map, Mrs. Falguny’s role, Colonel’s fiancée who died before the story hinting this book to be a part of a series.
The scenarios were planned and balanced allowing the ‘half-truth’ come out in the light in just the correct manner. Most of the funny things came between the suspense full parts like the definition of Kowas, the idealistically based ‘Pedipurr’ society etc. and etc. The charming ways of Mrs. Natasha Blouse were sometimes funny and sometimes too good to be true. The fictional towns were based on the real life towns like Mumbai, Vegas and Darjeeling (as I said before) increasing the excitement of the fantasy debut novel. Somehow, the various towns succeeded in depicting the real life towns making the reading more varied at every part and increasing the thrill.
Using witty phrases like ‘a frog’s leap away’ and ‘Three heartbeats later’ for measuring distance and time (respectively,) the author made the fictional world interesting and humorous. The city part I loved the most was of the Darling Hills, where everyone was very hardworking and never criticized anyone even if they were tormented to the hilts. The poems were so easy to understand that one could easily have known the truth if they had read them beforehand. But following a designed pattern, made the story more exhilarating.
The book is incredibly well planned and leaves the required space for the next supposed parts. The delightful poetical verses increase the reader’s interest and use of witty phrases further enhances the beauty of the novel. Many things are unwoven and I am sure that by the end of the trilogy (or series), every fact will be as clear as day light. Perfect for both tots and teens, this book has the capacity to be both funny and serious. Delightfully placed, the story can be summed up in one line- ‘You’re what you believe.’ Heightening the emotional appeal, this novel is just the best for any fantasy and thrill lover and can serve as an example for aspiring writers.