‘The Demon Within’, the first from Sri Lankan Fantasy Fiction writer, Dilshani Yasodhya

Sep 25, 2022

Dark Fantasy Fiction is not a common genre in Sri Lankan literature, which is why Dilshani Yasodhya’s contribution is so invaluable. Her first novel, ‘The Demon Within’ takes the reader on a journey that explores and discovers a hidden world; a world that exists between the cracks of our imaginations; a world that can have the reader both astonished at its wonders and terrified at its monsters.

But does this world, these creatures, these characters truly personify our traditional thinking and accustomed predispositions of the supernatural? Are demons capable of looking past the brutality of their nature and comprehend human emotion? Are the entities of the netherworld capable of emotion other than monstrous rage and vile envy and their lust for power and dominance? Are they capable of setting aside what nature has predestined for the and accept – even emulate –empathy, forgiveness, and even… love?

Dilshani’s story is unique in the fact that she sheds new light on the old, makes you wonder whether than monster under your bed was not really there to grab at your feet, gut maybe to stand guard and to protect you. She enables her characters with unique characteristics that help them take on a life of their own. This is the true art of fantasy story-telling.

Dilshani embellishes her story with such detail that it is almost easy to believe that she is an actual witness to the adventures penned in the pages of her book. She says that she originally scripted her story as an Anime film, so detailed description of every scene was vital to bringing the story to life. In turning it into a novel, this attention to details serves only to add the necessary spark to one’s imagination; to see what she sees; to truly bring the story to life.

In this tale you are introduces to Darius, the demon prince, cast from his throne and vanquished in battle, his disembodied soul escaping to the human world. Here we meet a five-year-old girl, Maya Winters, who provides Darius with shelter within her own, unusually formidable psyche.

Fast forward thirteen years and Maya is a young, beautiful woman; awkward socially, and unsuspecting of the tumultuous events that are about to come to pass.

Auden, her elder brother, dotes on his sister and ill-appreciates the behaviour of his parents, who treat Maya more of an item, a trophy or sorts, rather than a human being. You also meet Vanvalear, the supernaturally handsome antagonist, who strikes an uneasy accord with Maya’s brother, Auden.

With Darius re-embodied and Maya now intricately intwined in his fate, they face demon assassins, supernatural wolves, zombies, ghosts and living mountains on their journey to reclaim Darius’ throne.

Discover the four realms of the Demons, the Elves, the Goblins and… yes… even the Dragons! This is a story betrayal and survival, of revenge and redemption, with twists and revelations enough to satisfy even the most seasoned fans of fantasy fiction. And Maya, the human, the weakest and most ill-equipped of them all, could maybe hold the key to unlocking one of the most powerful supernatural beings that ever existed.

In Dilshani’s own words, “Fantasy takes the human mind to places no human eye has ever seen, and allows us to meet with creatures that no human science has ever discovered. My love for fantasy bean with ‘Tarzan’. As a seven-year-old, I read all the Tarzan books which laid the foundation for the love for reading and writing, a passion fuelled by movies and animated series. I just knew that I needed to leave my mark among the many creators of the wonderful worlds I had discovered.”

Dilshani’s journey to becoming a published author has not been an easy one. Constantly being met with ridicule and contempt for her vivid imagination, from classmates, colleagues and her peers, the road took a dark turn – possible darker than anything she could have imagined in her stories. Depressions is a monster that destroys both heart and soul, and facing that on your own, with no one around you that understands or can help, is unimaginable. Dilshani was left alone to fight the darkness and…. this book was the result.

Dilshani wrote to escape depression and created the main character – Maya – based on herself. She instilled upon Maya everything she wished for herself and, after a while, her own character brought her out of the shadows. In a sense, the protagonist of her book turned out to be her own personal hero.

The author has a deep appreciate for other Sri Lankan authors. “Sri Lanka is a land of many wonderful authors, and I’m forever grateful to those legends who fed my imagination as a child and the nostalgia, even today, just at the mention of their names,” she says. “While this book is my tribute to them, I hope it will breech the boundaries of this small island and find a place in the outside world. Dark fantasy or fantasy fiction is not a new thing in Sri Lankan literature, but it sure is rare. If this book can take the name of Sri Lanka to the world of fantasy fiction and take the world by surprise, that will be my pride and joy.”

This is fantasy fiction at its best and the author, Dilshani Yasodhya, has just released the sequel on Amazon/Kindle, ‘Tainted Blood’ that promises to be even more engaging and engrossing than her first!

Jeremy Muller
Courtesy: Sunday Observer, 25 Sep 2022