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The Saint of Bright Doors

Book Review: ‘The Saint of Bright Doors’ by Vajra Chandrasekera

The Saint of Bright Doors

The Saint of Bright Doors by Vajra Chandrasekera is a wonderful and beguiling fantasy set in some indeterminate time and place. In this world, both location and era are often not what they seem as their reality can be shifted at a character’s whim. 

For example, Fetter, the novel’s main character, has always assumed he was born on a peninsula. However, his mother explains it used to be an island, but his father rearranged time and physical reality so not only did the island turn into its current form, but almost everyone believed it had always been in this shape.

Of course Fetter’s childhood was unusual to say the least. His childhood was spent learning the ways of an assassin. His mother, Mother of Glory Woman, was training him with the ultimate goal of killing his father, The Perfect and The Kind. Oh, and at some point early in his life Fetter’s mother had severed his shadow – but unlike Peter Pan, Fetter and his shadow are never reunited.

All of this information comes to us in the first chapter of The Saint of Bright Doors. We also learn that at the age of 13 Fetter had had enough and left his mother’s “tender” embrace to make his own way in the world, and travelled to the city-state of Luriat. While it’s not an ideal environment – they treat anyone not born within the borders of the city as suspect and subject to purges and imprisonments at the ruler’s whim – he still manages to lose himself within the population.

Unfortunately he can’t escape his heritage. His father is a modern-day prophet and saint with weird magical powers. His mother has access to different, but equally formidable, magic. While not as grandiose as her ex-partner’s, it does allow her the ability to see the demons and other creatures from beyond the veils of our world.

Fetter has inherited this mother’s sensitivity to the breaks in the barriers between the worlds. For not only does he see the same demons that she does, he discovers another talent after living in Luriat for a while. Scattered throughout the city are what are known as Bright Doors. They can’t be opened, and if you see the other side of the wall they are hung in you’ll notice they don’t even appear in that side of the wall.

Yet, when Fetter first approaches one of these Bright Doors he feels a cold wind as if from the other side. Then later, he sees a demon materializing through the door with its shape gradually pushing out of the very fabric of the barrier. What’s even more frightening for Fetter is that nobody else can see them.

Chandrasekera has created a wonderful and strange world populated by some very fascinating characters. While Fetter is doing his best to avoid the destiny his mother has created for him, the world seems to have other plans for him. He and his father are gradually pulled together with results that surprise both of them. 

The Saint of Bright Doors is witty, wise, and more than a little bit weird, an enthralling and engrossing read which will leave you captivated. You can’t help but be drawn into this wonderful world.

About Richard Marcus

Richard Marcus is the author of three books commissioned by Ulysses Press, "What Will Happen In Eragon IV?" (2009) and "The Unofficial Heroes Of Olympus Companion" and "Introduction to Greek Mythology For Kids". Aside from Blogcritics he contributes to Qantara.de and his work has appeared in the German edition of Rolling Stone Magazine and has been translated into numerous languages in multiple publications.

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