Casting Shadows: The Further Misadventures of a Vision Painter

Casting Shadows: The Further Misadventures of a Vision Painter - R.J. Samuel This is both a sequel and a prequel to Falling Colours. In the first book, the background behind Kiran’s vision painting talent was only cursorily touched upon and seemed a little lacking. Its all here though, in all its Indian glory. If you like the first book, definitely dive into this for the backstory and the history of vision painting. It is not as straightforward or as boring as it seems.

Rather than just blabber on about the history, the author weaves a terrifying mystery that Kiran needs to solve and in the process unearth more about her past. The people closest to her heart are struck down and put in grave danger by a seemingly rogue vision painter. Kiran rushes back to the place where it all started--in Kerala, India. But she is up against a 200-year tradition of silence, obedience and prejudice against women.

The story alternates between two timelines: Kiran’s rush to solve the mystery and save her loved ones and her parents’ forbidden love--a fortuitous event that set the whole chain of events in motion over 30 years ago.

In the first book and the start of the second book, Kiran’s father Ji comes off as somewhat of an annoying know-it-all prick who only cares about politics and his own reputation. But he is redeemed in this second book as Kiran discovers what really went downand how much he sacrificed again and again for his love of Elizabeth and for Kiran. Kiran’s parents’ love story is a compelling read. Ji, Kiran’s father, a prominent ‘chosen’ son and anointed successor to the vision painting throne, falls in love with Elizabeth, an illegitimate daughter of a disgraced Irish priest and an Indian woman. Against everyone's advice and order, Ji choses love over duty while other forces conspire to keep him from his place in the council.

Just like in the first book, the author’s prose is again very descriptive and incredibly immersive. I can almost sweat while Kiran rushes about in Kerala as I shivered with her in the first book which was mostly set in Ireland. The intrigue is again, well done and the revelation of the mystery vision painter was a bit of a surprise (didn’t see that coming). A lot of the strange rules about vision painting are cleared up here--such as the ‘men only’ rule (omg!!); how negative painting can happen and how the history we learned is often the uber-sanitized version of things and carefully manipulated to fit a certain 'truth'.

A caveat (again) for romance readers: If you’re expecting more Kiran/Ashley than the first book, prepare to be disappointed. They spend most of the book apart. Quality time rather than quantity time here. If you can take that, and hot Indian afternoons, go for this book!

P.S. I find that I enjoyed the first book more--mainly because of the lighter and somewhat irreverent tone. This is a much more serious read.