The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff #BookReview #DomesticThriller #WomensFiction

Five years ago, Geeta lost her no-good husband. As in, she actually lost him—he walked out on her and she has no idea where he is. But in her remote village in India, rumor has it that Geeta killed him. And it’s a rumor that just won’t die.

It turns out that being known as a “self-made” widow comes with some perks. No one messes with her, harasses her, or tries to control (ahem, marry) her. It’s even been good for business; no one dares to not buy her jewelry.

Freedom must look good on Geeta, because now other women are asking for her“expertise,” making her an unwitting consultant for husband disposal.

And not all of them are asking nicely.

With Geeta’s dangerous reputation becoming a double-edged sword, she has to find a way to protect the life she’s built—but even the best-laid plans of would-be widows tend to go awry. What happens next sets in motion a chain of events that will change everything, not just for Geeta, but for all the women in their village.

Filled with clever criminals, second chances, and wry and witty women, Parini Shroff’s The Bandit Queens is a razor-sharp debut of humor and heart that readers won’t soon forget.

What’s it about (in a nutshell):

The Bandit Queens by Parini Schroff is the story of the injustices women in India have to endure and how a group of women’s combined strength brought change to one small village.

Actual Reading Experience:

First, I loved the dark humor threaded throughout this story. The tale covers so many atrocities that dark humor must balance intensity with lightness. And I loved how universal the humor is – even when I couldn’t understand something from a cultural standpoint, I always got the dark humor. Humor is something that bonds all people together.

Women empowerment stories are among my favorites, and I felt that The Bandit Queens showed the necessity of women working together to empower and improve one another’s lives. So often, women take an “every woman for themselves” attitude, but then all they do is empower themselves by trodding over others. If change is to happen, women must stick together and build each other up for the benefit of all women.

Lastly, I loved getting such a detailed look at rural India’s small village culture. I never realized women lived as they do or the realities of such a misogynistic culture. The culture represented in this story is so dark and oppressive that it’s almost incomprehensible.

Characters:

Geeta is an independent woman in the village, and as such, she has been labeled a witch. Her husband ran off five years prior. He is presumed dead, and Geeta is the suspected murderer though no charges have been brought against her. I loved her quiet inner strength and how she displayed it reluctantly. This felt so incredibly genuine to me. I also loved how letting Bandit into her life changed her profoundly.

Narration & Pacing:

The narration was written in the third person but focused on Geeta. This mix of omniscience and personal gave the story a depth that could not be achieved with any other type of narration. The pacing is relatively quick, with lags around the middle where the story seems to stand still for whole sections. In my opinion, suspense is kept at relatively high levels, but there are no unexpected twists and turns.

Setting:

A small village in India is the setting for this story. Typically (around the world), people in small villages tend to stick to the old ways more than people in large cities, who are often exposed to other cultures and traditions. In that regard, this setting is perfect for the story being told. But, small villages are more difficult for people unfamiliar with that culture to understand and relate. That is the downside of the setting in terms of the book’s readers. I love learning about other cultures and gleaned a great deal of useful cultural information. Still, there were also components that I did not understand, such as the concept of loan groups, everything surrounding nose rings, etc. I wish that those components had been better explained.

Read if you like:

  • Cultural explorations
  • Woman empowerment stories 
  • Dark humor and mystery

Overall Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Originality8
Writing Quality10
Pace10
Character Development8
‘Couldn’t Put It Down’-ness10
Use of Setting10
All scores, except the overall rating, are on a scale of 1-10. The overall rating is converted to the standard 5-point system.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for a free copy of the book to review.

14 Replies to “The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff #BookReview #DomesticThriller #WomensFiction”

  1. Great review, Tessa. This sounds like a very strong women’s empowerment book. The character of Geeta is intriguing. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I just finished this book yesterday while we were driving to SC. Loved the dark humor, but I was horrified at learning how women are treated. Great review, Tessa!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The older generation is misogynist for sure but it is seen more in less or non-educated people or household. People still try for another baby after first baby Is girl in hope of having son. They still believe son carries legacy and only son can run the house, daughters to wed and someone else’s responsibility after that. It will take my kid’ generation to actually make some good change.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve been on the fence about this book and you’ve helped to push me closer. Indian culture intrigued me, especially its patriarchal views that can be misogynistic. Interesting that the village/large city contrasts make such a difference. Excellent review, Tessa💜

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s very interesting. All of the women from India that I know are so strong that I would have never guessed that it is like this. So eye-opening.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great review–I also loved this book!! I had so much fun reading and reviewing it.

    Liked by 1 person

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