WRITING STYLE: 5/5
ENTERTAINMENT QUOTIENT: 5/5
Beyond the realms of men, there is a world; a world where the unknown and the unexplained resides, a world which information and education can’t reasonably explain, a world where the existentialism is not bound by mere carnal presence. Not necessarily horrifying or scary, this world, also widely known as the paranormal, is definitely eerie and creepy and does invoke in our normal human selves a fear of the “other”. Whether actual or mere figment of the imagination, the unknown surely attracts and fascinates many of us. It is this fascination which the author Manish Mahajan caters to in this book, and I must say that he has definitely done a great job of it.
An author, if passionate, can change mere words to swords or make battlegrounds turn into gardens of peace and vice-versa. If anything can be ascertained about the author from this book, then it his passion for the supernatural which shapes itself beautifully in his words and his stories. True, as the preface goes, the genre is a difficult one to write and even a harder one to convince the readers about. To add to the uphill task is the constraint posed by a short story. That is to say, writing short stories and that too horror ones is anything but a cakewalk and to say that the author has done a good job of it would be a colossal understatement. For he has done it most skilfully as a pro.
My favourite among the 12 short stories is the ‘Begunkodur Ghost Station’ for the sheer brilliance of the horror it created and the havoc it wrecked on my scared self, the night I read it. ‘13, Church Street’ and ‘The Peepal Tree of Lachhmangarh’ were also scary to the core and made me restless with fear for what seemed like a long time. I also enjoyed the non-scary-rather-mysterious-ones like ‘The Secret in the Photograph’, ‘Lost’ and ‘Raag Bhimpalasi’. These were remarkably different and gave an added dimension to the book.
The writing style of the author is unique and accomplished with perfection. Each story is exclusive, distinct and narrated in the eeriest and spine chilling way. From medieval Bengal to modern day Pune, from rusty graveyards to magnificent Havelis, the background and theme of each story are unique, which makes the book much like a potpourri of supernatural fiction. The characters are all strong and there is a depth to each one of them in spite of the limitation of words posed in the writing of short stories. The language is impeccable and of a level which is rarely expected of a debut Indian author of today. To add further to the mystery, the cover and the title are an added bonus. The cover gives away such eerie vibes, which not many of us may have the ability to resist. The stories, the words, the cover…. Ohh..!! I am still trapped in its charms.