Confessions on an Island is the debut novel of Ayan Pal. Published by Readomania, this 2016 novel is a thriller set in a picturesque island, where a girl has been held captive. As she grapples to find the reason behind her abduction and captivation, the novel takes us on a journey far and wide across India and into the lives of both the captor and the captive.
What is most interesting about the novel is the narration style. The suspense unfolds in the form of several stories [much like the Russian Matryoshka Dolls, the little dolls that mysteriously appear one after the other from a single doll], stories that the captor and captive tell each other. While the abductor chooses his stories carefully, the girl is left with a bunch of newspapers and the previous story with which she needs to weave a new one while being beaten and abused. She struggles, like the readers, to make sense of it all, to discover the reason for her captivity, to try and put together plans for escape, wondering what her next punishment is going to be. But the author skillfully keeps her and the readers guessing. As the suspense unfolds, right at the end, you are taken aback. Even till the last story you are left clueless as to where all this is leading to.
As suspenseful as the journey is, even the end takes you by surprise [though you might find it a little bollywoodish with the love angle thrown in ;-)]. While a couple of the stories did leave me a little unimpressed, yet the author deserves appreciation for trying out a new style of storytelling.
What I also found interesting was how the author uses the island beautifully as the third angle in the narrative, taking us deep into the minds of both the captive and the captor.
I must however warn you that the abuse and violence at certain instances is very hard hitting. There were parts which grossed me out completely. If that’s what the author aimed at achieving, well, I must say he was successful.
Overall however it’s a worthy debut, fresh and innovative storytelling powered by a fast paced and skillfully woven tale of suspense, this is a roller coaster of a novel, which with it many highs and despite some rare lows, packs quite a punch