Nada Marjanovic, professor of Sanskrit at the University of Zagreb, has spent more than twenty years translating an obscure text on the vetala, a parasitic, vampire-like being that possesses the bodies of his victims. When her mentor and collaborator in the Indian city of Pune dies, she finds herself face-to-face with the undead that the text describes, an evil which long ago killed her lover – and set her on the path of an obsessive scholarly revenge. She must rely on her intellect, mythic lore, and even dreams to piece together the mystery of the manuscript.
The vetala’s opposition grows increasingly violent as Nada nears the book’s conclusion, and with the help of two colleagues, struggles to decipher its climactic secret, which would allow her to exorcise the demon at last – freeing not only the mysterious man whom he has possessed for centuries, but also, perhaps, her own imprisoned and forgotten love. Suspenseful and unforgettable, Phillip Ernest’s debut novel captures the most universal elements of human experience – even the monsters we face.
Born in 1970, Phillip Ernest grew up in New Liskeard, Ontario. Fleeing home at fifteen, he lived on Toronto’s skid row until he was twenty-eight. He learned Sanskrit from the book Teach Yourself Sanskrit, and later earned a BA in South Asian Studies from the University of Toronto and a PhD in Sanskrit from Cambridge University. Besides two articles and a book review in the Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, this is his first publication. He lives with his wife in Bengaluru, India. [Photo: David Ernest]