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The Mother-in-Law Cure by Farha Z. Hasan


A young unassuming wife lives in the shadow of her powerful mother-in-law’s household. 

Rather sinister and bittersweet, The Mother in Law Cure captures the ways of a matriarch wielding authority over sons, husband and anyone who gets in the way of her wishes.

It started off with Humara’s story when she was younger and beset by a hunger filled by an unexplained dark magic and with it, she was able to sway events to her ends. But somewhere along the way it becomes Miriam’s as she gradually shines from the background with her quiet ways and hidden wit. Gentle Miriam treated with indifference by her husband and mother-in-law but who may yet hold the power to rise above them all.

The contrast between the two women sets the temper of the writing and becomes groundwork for half-veiled battle of wills. Humara’s presence seeps into the pages like bold strokes of ink, corrupted and unavoidable. Miriam, with her impenetrable mask, could be a bit unpredictable. She glides on unnoticed and yet this sense of invisibility appears to make her far knowing.

More often, I’d gravitate, if not with grudging admiration, to the obvious formidable character but here Hasan brought an appealing subtle strength in Miriam, catching my attention to what she will do next. Other characters only served as background music it seems, or more specifically just Humara’s play things, but it was interesting how these figures turn the plot out.

The little glimpse of the nuances in the Pakistani community resonate in most cultures as of marriage, family and roles of women. But the book gives a window to break some tradition. Its flowing prose fits best the scenes of Lahore and the Middle East while the darker tinge of the story matches the gloomy Chicago atmosphere.   

I think the urban fantasy touch on it adds a sharp flavor. And despite its sinister nature, the unhurried pace lets readers savor everything even the most unpleasant. Not all fairy tales, even modern day ones, end up the way it ought to be and this is a noteworthy quality in Hasan's debut novel.

Summary

The Mother-in-Law Cure is a modern day fairy tale that chronicles the rise of the book's central character, Humara from orphan to power matriarch in an affluent family. Humara's influence spans generations and continents, but things are seldom as they appear. Humara's prosperity is not simply good fortune but stems from something dark and sinister - as those who encounter her quickly begin to realize. It seems that nothing can stand in Humara's way as she pulls the strings of those around her, until she meets the unlikeliest of nemesis. Another young orphan whose status in the household is little more than a servant will be the instrument of Humara's demise. The Mother-in-Law Cure is an urban fantasy that takes you from Pakistan to the Middle East and back to the United States.

Title: The Mother-in-Law Cure
Author: Farha Z. Hasan
Genre: Women Fiction, Contemporary
Published: September 2013
Publisher: Createspace
Rating: ♨♨♨ (3 cups - A modern dark almost fairy tale.) 

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