The Golden Key of Gangotri

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Harley Green was just twelve years old when her father disappeared while on an expedition in the Himalayas. He was searching for the source of the Ganges River and, when last heard of, had made it to the town of Gangotri, one of four sites on the Chota Char Dham pilgrimage circuit. It was from there that he wrote a last letter to Harley, enclosing a small golden key that had her name engraved on the back in Sanskrit. Her family was later told that her father had set out to explore an ice cave but never returned. Although searches took place, no trace of him was ever found.

Eight years later and Harley, who still wears the golden key as a pendant, is now a student at Columbia University in New York. A chance remark by Professor Mark Shelby during a lecture on Eastern cultures––just one word really, Gangotri––triggers a memory of Harley’s father and leaves her with an all-consuming desire to embark on her own adventurous expedition, to travel to the Himalayas and discover the truth about her father’s disappearance. Despite initially facing opposition from both her mother and Professor Selby, Harley manages to organize a trip to New Delhi with the help of a classmate and from there sets out alone to trek to Gangotri, following in her father’s footsteps toward the fateful ice cave.

Although it begins with Harley’s quest to find her missing father, The Golden Key of Gangotri is more of a meditative exploration of purpose and identity than a rip-roaring adventure story. There’s certainly some action and a pinch of danger, but the book is a quieter affair than might be expected based on the blurb. As Harley muses on her past and while she travels in India, she experiences a series of signs and prophetic dreams that seem to be guiding her to a deeper understanding. She may have set out to solve one mystery, but she ends up discovering a much deeper truth.

Eyal N. Danon is clearly deeply interested and well versed in Eastern mysticism, and he weaves numerous spiritual aspects into the story. In particular, Professor Shelby dedicates considerable time to explaining to Harley the Principle of Eighteen––“Every eighteen years or so you need to go through a new stage, a fresh start”––a novel aspect that could actually have been expanded on further. (Readers intrigued by the Principle of Eighteen should check out Danon’s forthcoming book on the concept, Principle of 18.) Unsurprisingly, keys, both literal and metaphorical, are also hugely important to the story. For example, as Harley remembers:

“This key, if you can find it, will bring you the biggest gift life can provide––freedom from all of your fears. It will also show you how to be happy, regardless of what other people think of you.”

While it would have been nice to read more detail about the journey from Rishikesh to Gangotri and beyond, Danon does manage to evoke the atmosphere of the area, highlighting the beauty and danger of the Himalayas. A tribute to Hindu culture and philosophy, The Golden Key of Gangotri is a short but thought-provoking story about the journey of self-discovery.

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Author Eyal N. Danon
Star Count 4/5
Format Trade
Page Count 200 pages
Publish Date 18-Aug-2021
ISBN 9781736299432
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue August 2021
Category Popular Fiction