The Witch in the Peepul Tree By Arefa Tehsin- Book Review

The Witch in the Peepul Tree By Arefa Tehsin – A Dark and Thrilling Murder Mystery  


Books that address a social issue through a nail-biting murder mystery are extremely rare. Add some elements of the supernatural, and such books become even more difficult to find. 

Combining so many elements without losing track of the original plot and also maintaining the suspense is a difficult feat to achieve. But Afera Tehsin has managed to do in her latest book The Witch in the Peepul Tree, proving her genius as an exceptional writer once again.

Premise – The Witch in the Peepul Tree

On the auspicious occasion of Makar Sankranti,Ahad finds the dead body of his 16-year-old sister in their father Dada Bhai’s house. As the police start investigating the murder, there are several suspects they need to clear. These include the cruel zamindar of Singhgarh, Rao Sahib, the intensely immoral Hariharan, Nathu, and the immensely attractive night Parijat, who is a night soil worker. Then there is the young Bhil Nathu, who had come to Dada Bhai’s house from his remote tribal village to update him about the killing of a leopard. The list of suspects also includes Sugra, the sharp-tongued widow, who keeps rolling her rosary beads while wishing for the witch of the Peepul tree to be her confidante. Is one of the suspects the murderer or is there something more evil walking the corridors of the grand house of Dada Bhai.

Character Development – The Witch in the Peepul Tree

The author needs to be applauded presenting the characters in depth by delving into their social status and their behaviors. She has done it in a layered manner to help the readers understand the intricacies of human nature and mind. She has also highlighted the impact of culture, religion, socio-political activities of the time, and racism and casteism on the various characters.   

Plot – The Witch in the Peepul Tree

The story is set in 1950, in Udaipur in Rajasthan, at a time when India had just gained freedom from British rule. The rich history and mystical aura of the city provide the perfect setting for the events. Even though the events occur only over 24 hours, the author has followed a slow pace of narration to enable the readers to savor the tale.  

Writing Style – The Witch in the Peepul Tree

The author has used lucid and captivating language to narrate the story and even when the plot becomes sad and disgusting, she has managed to avoid using expletive language. Most importantly she has managed to keep the twist hidden till the very end and used each chapter to reveal something new.

The cover page design is simple and interesting but does not reveal the theme of the book in any way.

Final Verdict: The Witch in the Peepul Tree

The Witch in the Peepul Tree genre-bending tale that keeps the readers on their toes till the end and I give it a rating of 4.5/5.

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