Nitya Ravi’s debut novel, The Woman Within, is a psychological thriller that explores themes such as betrayal, heartbreak, and childhood trauma. The plot revolves around two individuals, Abid and Zia, who reconnect as adults after having briefly been friends in school. Through multiple points of view narrations, the author stitches together how the past comes to haunt these characters and those around them. Abid is seemingly attracted to Zia, but his wheelchair-bound twin sister Tania and his mother Reena both seem to have their own objections about the romantic pairing.
It’s clear from the prologue itself that the focus of the novel is not romance, but rather an exploration of how and why people behave a certain way. As the story unfolds, the author lays down a few breadcrumbs suggesting certain possibilities, and that compels the reader to keep turning the page. The tone and atmosphere of the book becomes increasingly creepy and claustrophobic in nature, hurtling us towards the climax.
A mark of any good thriller is the ability of the author to surprise and shock the reader with the way a story concludes. Nitya Ravi succeeds in that aspect; the plot points are laid out carefully, ensuring we are pulled in and unaware of the twist till the very end of the book.
The chapters are written primarily through either Zia’s first person or Abid’s third-person narrative. By deploying this technique, we get to really delve into the young lady’s mindset, understanding what makes her tick. Over the course of the novel, Zia is fleshed out as a confused woman with a heart that’s been broken many times before, desperately seeking love. Her voice feels authentic, her sometimes reckless and irrational actions understandable and true to her character.
However, the same effect doesn’t translate to Abid’s third-person narrative, where shades of the writing that made Zia feel real persist.
While the story is cleverly plotted, the writing leaves much to be desired. Seasoned readers may be put off by the at times clunky sentence structuring and redundant usage of words. Which would be a shame, because if you can look past that, the novel really picks up in the last third.
Ultimately, The Woman Within starts out as a seemingly ordinary domestic thriller, involving a man and a woman and the problems that are keeping them apart. But by the end of the story, this novel turns into a truly dark and creepy psychological thriller, one that will delight and shock most readers.
About The Author
Nitya Ravi, like many of us here, was raised in a middle-class NRI Malayali family. She spend most of her childhood in Dubai and as was the norm at that time, came down to India to complete her graduation. After completing her Master’s, she came back to Dubai where she works and stays with her family.
Nitya wrote The Woman Within during the COVID lockdown to distract herself from the real-world horror happening around her. She commented, “There was uncertainty, deaths, the rush to get vaccinated and the fear of losing your loved ones. Nothing was in my control, and it started taking a toll on my mental health, which lead to nightmares and sleepless nights. To snap out of it and to keep my mind busy, I started a few activities. Writing this story was one of them. It was a dark story but one which I was in control of.”
Speaking about her writing process, she shared, “I had a certain idea about the plot and the characters. But they were just the seeds. Once I started writing, the story and characters started developing and evolving. At times, it even took me by surprise. For example, the slight twist in the epilogue was not pre-planned. It formed on its own while I was writing.”
An ardent fan of mystery, crime, and thriller novels, Nitya has a driven passion to keep readers on the edge of their seats. She said, “I try to write something I feel I would love to read.”. When inspiration strikes, she pens down her thoughts. Sometimes, it turns into a novel or a series of short stories. Either way, she intends to write more and keep her readers enticed with thrill.