Reading through The Despised Souls, published by Paridhi Publications, no one would guess the age of the author, unless you see the photograph on the back cover. Barely 16 is Devadas R, who had started writing this novel when he was in Class 9. Written in a style that is quite ancient, the novel is based on the theme of the dreadful French Revolution. Set in the two cities of London and Paris, the book takes the reader on a journey through the lives of four friends as well as the course of history. It is indeed a bold attempt by a teenager to set his canvas in a foreign country. The story that begins on the London Bridge and ends on the London Bridge tells a tale of love, greed, truth and revenge. The novel portrays everyday events, which at times turn highly dramatic. That the story is set in a period in history has not however not hindered the story-writing skills of the young author. ‘’Once the idea of writing a novel struck me, I began pondering over a theme based on history. When I told my friends about it, they were quite enthusiastic and encouraged me. I went on developing the plot on wider dimensions and on one December morning I started writing my debut story,’’ says Devadas, now a Class XI student at Saraswathy Vidyalaya in Arappura, Vattiyoorkkavu. Devadas has woven a story revolving around the events in the lives of the four friends, which take them to the extremities of friendship, vengeance, love and grief. The young author has dedicated the book to his grandfather M Varadarajan, who recognised the flair for writing in his grandson, very early on. K Jayakumar, in the preface, has written: ‘’The Despised Souls is an ambitious and bold attempt by the young novelist Devadas R, who narrates a story of deceit, vengeance and retribution. Set in Paris and London in the background of the tumultuous French Revolution, the narrative weaves a fabric out of several strands of love, ambition and hatred.’’ He continued: ‘’Devadas is endowed with a natural skill to find the drama in human life and narrate it with the essential ingredients of a story-teller. Attempting a novel set in a background far removed from the known milieu of the writer in both time and place has its own challenges, limitations and rewards. Yet, he has managed to create a reality by the strength of his imagination. This is no mean achievement.’’ Devadas is the only son of V Ramakrishnan, an entrepreneur, and Anuradha P V, who works at the IHRD’s Engineering C o l l e g e . Apart from writing which he loves, Devadas is also interested in reading fiction (classics), playing ‘mridangam’ and listening to music.