Sanaah Mehra
THE BOOK OF STAMPS by By Vidya Math Olympia Publishers, London, 2022, 108 pp., INR 459.00
November 2023, volume 47, No 11

The Book of Stamps is a fantasy novel that brims with enchantment. The narrative unfolds through the eyes of Othelia. Each night, her parents read to her from a book titled The Book of Stamps. This shared title between her storybook and our reality sets the tone for a story where everything feels interwoven and interconnected. The author skillfully keeps readers engaged and enchanted by the mystical Land of Zohor.
The central plot of the story revolves around eliminating the hunters from the Zohor Kingdom and having good triumph over evil. Math has woven the story in such a seamless way that the reader, until the very end, is left wondering, ‘How does Harry know things about Othelia?’ ‘How are their worlds interconnected?’ and so on. The reader is expected to pick up on hints throughout the story, which makes the book engaging and fun.
The novel opens with Othelia reading her bedtime storybook about the king, the shepherd, the dancing girl, and the hunters of the land of Zohor. She brings these characters to life through the embossed pictures in the storybook and with the help of her imaginary (or real?) companion, Harry. What follows is our devouring of the book with just as much enthusiasm as Othelia. The reader is constantly intrigued by the enchanting, fast-paced nature of the book. The events happening in the story that Othelia reads and her experiences with Harry have an effect on her real life. In addition to being an engaging adventure and fantasy novel, it also offers a sense of freshness through its characters and storylines. The prince’s character stands out as exceptionally unique and refreshing. He is allowed to be soft, delicate, kind-hearted and scared rather than being compelled to conform to a rough, fearless and ‘masculine’ image.
Written in a non-preachy yet impactful way, the book imparts essential life lessons in a rather subtle manner, making use of positive and reinforcing dialogues like: ‘That is why we must do our best for the good of all’, and ‘One day, all things that ever went wrong…are put right.’
The Book of Stamps can be a bit confusing at times. But hang on tight. The author has intentionally crafted it this way, and she doesn’t ever leave us alone; instead, she guides us to unravel its mysteries.