Aarti and the Blue Gods

Aarti and Aunt live in a state of anxious self-sufficiency on Aunt’s Scottish island. Aunt apparently rescued orphaned Aarti, and took her to safety away from ‘a world full of bad, cruel things.’

Aarti is inquisitive, kind-hearted, and hardy. She is as soaked in mystery as she occasionally is in rain: her memory of her past life is as fragmentary as her knowledge of the island which she patchily maps, she never knows what to expect from her volatile guardian. When circumstances change dramatically, Aarti is forced to consider leaving the island, but, until she rescues Euan from the sea, she does not know how.

The story itself is one of self-discovery, and the resolution of the mysteries of Aarti, Euan, and especially Aunt, are a little glib. What works very well is the subtle handling of the experience of mysteriousness – its uncomfortable imprecision but its undisputed equality with ‘reality’, the use of blue as the colour of uncanniness. The island is a perfect setting for this atmosphere. The natural descriptions are glorious and precise. They offer miniature portraits of a complex environment at every change of the day, in every weather, from cliff-top to sea-shore, bright sea-samphire to robust puffins, gentle winds to thrashing, rising tides. Two of Jasbinder Bilan’s ‘wishes’ for the book were that it be set on a wild Scottish island, and that it investigate links between Eastern and Western mythology. The most rewarding way to read the book is in light of these wishes.

Aarti and the Blue Gods Cover Image
Publication Date
September 2021