I was quite taken by the variety of praise that this book had received, but that was not the reason why I bought the book. I had been totally bowled over by "The alchemy of Desire", and when I saw "The valley of masks" on the shelf, I just had to buy it and read it. I was also highly intrigued by the brilliantly done cover, and it fired my curiosity. I began reading the book on a flight, and was totally sucked in by the power of Tejpal's imagery, by the vivid landscapes and people, all so real and yet belonging to a world of fantasy. This novel takes you on a tour of a world of conceived perfection, beyond imagination, a world that seems so real that you can see yourself in it. You experience elation and camaraderie as you get entwined in the very fabric of the plot and then it drops you into an abyss of vicissitudes and leaves you feeling numb and paranoid. It takes you on a journey through human souls and makes into peep into yourself with a throbbing heart. You are an observer, and a perpetrator in this mesh of ideas that transcend all boundaries, social, cultural and religious, and leave basic human nature naked for scrutiny. The journalist in Tejpal has spoken through the unspoken words that he shouts out to the world in this book. It is a haunting, mesmerizing and painful experience that leaves a deep impact on your mind, returning to knock at your sensibilities for a long time and making you peer closer into the mirror at least once.