Originally posted on 01 Mar 2024

1 minute read

When you pick up a scifi/fantasy book, you typically have some sort of foundation on which to build. Happens in space? Swords and sorcery? Talking animals? OK, I know what these are. Even books based here on Earth but in different cultures usually come with some sort of grounding. US/Euro stuff is common (and therefore easy). Japan, Middle East, Nigeria, China, all these are areas with which I’m pretty comfortable now.

Then along comes The Saint of Bright Doors. It’s so different than anything I’ve read before that the first half of the book went slowly for me as I crept my way through this unfamiliar territory. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out what region Chandrasekera had based it on. It turns out that this is the first book I’ve read by a Sri Lankan author. Does it incorporate elements of Sri Lankan culture, one with which I’m not familiar? Maybe! I’ll have to read more Sri Lankan authors to know for sure.

That I lacked a foundation or grounding—and therefore the associated expectations—is certainly not the fault of the author. By halfway through the work I was feeling much more comfortable in the world he’d built and the rest of the book went quickly for me.

A large reason it went so quickly is that the story is just so damn intricate and interesting. Like the setting, it was an entirely new concept for me. It also was impeccably constructed and executed. It’s easily one of the most facinating and compelling stories I’ve read in the past year, which is to say: I loved it.

It seems Chandasekera is releasing his second novel in June of this year. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what he brings us next.