Title: The Other Side
Author: Faraaz Kazi and Vivek Banerjee
About the story: A collection of 13 short stories that promise to scare the living daylights out of the reader. Below is a short synopsis on each story.
1) That Fateful Night: A young couple, a doctor and his wife, go in search of a restaurant late in the night to celebrate their anniversary but they meet an old man who begs them to save his wife’s life. The doctor is able to cure the old woman but what happens the next day shocks him and leaves him dumbfounded.
2) The Long Weekend: When Shikha half-heartedly participates in a séance, she is confused and a little sad by a prophesy that she receives for herself in the planchette game. Nevertheless she rubbishes everything and goes for a vacation with her husband. Will the prophesy come true in Shikha’s life?
3) The Man Who Did Not Fear: Nirbhay claims that he does not believe in paranormal forces and accepts his friend’s challenge to spend a night in an apparently haunted bungalow. But that incident changes Nirbhay’s life irrevocably and forces him to alter his beliefs.
4) Strangers in the Night: One night a young man meets a beautiful lady near a graveyard and offers her a lift. The night holds a promise of something more exciting for him. Will this one night stand prove to be more dangerous than he had imagined?
5) The Muse comes Calling: Famous horror novel writer, Abhijith, is all set to write his new bestselling novel, when he is visited by several people who look eerily familiar to him.
6) The lady in the Pub: Salim, after observing fast for a month during Ramzaan, decides to hit the pub with his friend. He meets a beautiful and enigmatic girl, with whom he falls in love and hopes to marry but his dreams come crashing down when he comes to know the truth about the girl.
7) A Mother’s Love: A heartrending tale of a woman who mourns her inability to produce an offspring until she meets a small boy in her new home. Seeing the mysterious but adorable boy intensifies her desire to mother a child.
8) Red bangles: A spine chilling story of a man whose silent and unrequited love for a woman turns into a dangerous obsession.
9) The Mark of The Beast: A young couple, honeymooning in the mountains is saved by a beast but this beast, considered as ill-omened, leaves its mark of curse on the couple.
10) The Mystery Lake: After relentless episodes of dreaming about a mystery lake, Ravi decides to visit this place. But he is surprised to have a Déjà vu feeling when he finally visits the lake.
11) Possession: An imaginary play friend turns out to be a demonic spirit hell-bent on protecting her friend and maybe rectifying the evil things that she herself suffered as a child.
12) Unfulfilled Desires: A girl, who committed suicide, returns to haunt a young doctor, pleading for help and seeking answers to her questions. Will the kind doctor be able to help her before he loses his own sanity?
13) Dream Girl: A ghastly story about a young man who collects beautiful body pieces of women to create his own dream girl.
My Review: Horror is a genre that has been grossly ignored in the Indian literary circles, so this book was gladly received by me and I tucked myself in the night, with this book in hand, prepared to be led into a nerve-racking ride.
Now, horror is not a very easy sort to write. Believe me, because I have tried and failed miserably. It’s difficult to evoke fear and build a milieu that creates terror in the readers mind without using visuals. So this effort by two amazing authors is definitely applaud-worthy. But have they succeeded? Yes, to a certain level. If I had to rate the horror quotient in the 13 stories, I would give it 3/5.
Despite this most of the stories are still engrossing and the fact that I liked, is the book is a mixed bag of paranormal stories.
My grouse is that, in most of the stories the authors fall back on clichéd description of paranormal, like ghosts wearing white clothes or feet that are turned backwards. The surprise and shock factors reduce considerably because of the predictability of the stories.
The language and flow of narration are good and even though many stories failed to induce fear in my mind, I still found them to be generally interesting to read.
My favorite in the collection would be
Possession for the horror it manages to evoke even though its similarity to ‘Exorcist’ is evident.
The Muse comes calling for the unique concept that will surely make me think twice before I start penning a horror story.
Red Bangles for the revulsion and nausea it creates especially towards the climax with the love-making scene.
Dream Girl: Despite the gore and blood used to describe the scenes, this story left a vivid imprint in my mind and managed to conjure terror and disgust in equal measures.
Verdict: A mixed bag of stories that succeeds in riveting and grabbing the reader’s interest. Some of the stories even managed to give me some scary, sleepless moments in the night.