The Garden of Delights, by Amal Singh

24 May 2024

The Book

The Garden of Delights
Pages: 383
Age Group: Adult
Published on 14 May 2024
Publisher: Flame Tree Press


In the city of Sirvassa, where petals are currency and flowers are magic, the Caretaker tends to the Garden of Delights. He imparts temporary magical abilities to the citizens of Sirvassa, while battling a curse of eternal old age. No Delight could uplift his curse, and so he must seek out a mythical figure. A god. When a Delight allows a young girl an ability to change reality, the Caretaker believes he’s at the end of his search. But soon a magical rot takes root in his Garden, and the Caretaker must join forces with the girl and stop it from spreading. Even as he battles a different rot that plagues Sirvassa, he learns that Delights are always a precursor to Sorrows.

My Review

The Garden of Delights is an excellent fantasy novel, evocative and thought-provoking, written by Amal Singh, and published by Flame Tree Press. Some classic fantasy elements are blended together into a gorgeous world which doesn't hide its Indian inspiration, together with great characters whose arcs will be used to create a marvelous story.

In the city of Sirvassa, petals are currency and flowers are magic. There, the Caretaker tends the Garden of Delights, and imparts brief temporal magic abilities to the inhabitants of this city that come asking for his Delights; however, he's afflicted by a curse that his Delights are unable to lift, needing the help of a mythical figure if he wants to recover the youngness he lost a fateful day.
To the city of Sirvassa, Iyena Mastafar has moved following the steps of his father, a powerful politician. Her first encounter with the Garden will soon show that her interaction with Delights is special, as she's able to shape reality; but with Delights, Sorrows are tied. Dangers hover over the Garden.

The Garden of Delights is a hard book to classify, as while we have some classic genre elements, Singh is not afraid to run far from them and give them a modern layer; but without losing that evocative sensation that you could get with a book of myths. The story is intimately tied together with our two main characters: The Caretaker and Iyena.
The Caretaker is certainly enigmatic, a figure that represents wisdom, and also with a kind heart; he's giving his Delights with the best of intentions, and even if at some points magic can be seen as a curse more than as a boon, he doesn't want to let it go. A person that has been marked by the past, but which at same time, represents the tradition of Sirvassa against the politics that aspire to change it.
Iyena's could be traced as the heroine of a coming of age story; she's intelligent but naive. On her side of the story, we also have traces of idealism, but they are our way to understand Sirvassa from the point of colonization and the clash of cultures. The outsider that once she tries the Delights becomes an important figure in our story.

Singh's worldbuilding is another of the aspects that stands out in The Garden of Delights. Not only the magic system is original and well balanced, but Sirvassa itself is a city rooted in tradition; a tradition that is fought by those political movements that with a colonizer mentality want to change that for new ideas.
While at some points we might find ourselves confused, trust me when I say that Singh uses this sensation masterfully to slowly build the complex aspects of this world; at the end of the novel, you have a big picture with a ton of subtle nuances. Together with a gorgeous prose, we have an excellent reading experience.

The Garden of Delights is a ride of read; a thought-provoking novel that has space to admire the beauty of its world, without forgetting its Indian inspiration. I'm grateful for having had the opportunity of reading and reviewing this title.

The Author/s

Amal Singh

Amal Singh

Amal Singh is an author of Science Fiction and Fantasy. He lives with his cat in Mumbai, India. His short fiction has been published in multiple venues. He is also a screenwriter, with experience in writing web-shows and comedy sketches.