Monday, December 2, 2013

The Other Side by Faraaz Kazi - A Book Review

Tales of the paranormal are, almost invariably, associated with the horror genre. In other words, the reader expects to feel the delicious shuddery feeling of vicarious fear when he reads paranormal stories. This assumption, though, need not be entirely correct. Anne Rice's vampire tales, for example, are more literary fiction than horror fiction. The Twilight saga veers off into romance. It is, therefore, not entirely necessary for a paranormal tale to also be a horror story in order for it to be a good read.

"The Other Side" by Faraaz Kazi and Vivek Banerjee is a collection of thirteen paranormal stories. The blurb and excerpts seek to establish the collection as belonging to the horror genre. To me, though, not all stories are actually horror stories in the collection unless a reader feels that the very existence of the paranormal in the 'real' world is horrifying. That does not, of itself, detract from the reading experience.

In fact, most of the stories in the collection are a pretty decent read. A few of them end with a surprise twist and, in most of such stories, the twist is horrifying as well. In fact, one of the better things about these stories is the fact that the twist seems to arise naturally from the course of the story and does not appear to be an artificial imposition to shock the reader. The English was a pleasant surprise insofar as it pleased the purist in me for the most part. There were a few edit errors but not so many as to mar the book significantly.

I do need to point out a few areas where the book could have been better. One of the stories had a very appealing end and I would have relished the story much better had it not seemed to parallel the descriptions of possession from William Peter Blatty's "Exorcist" too closely. Where the stories were actually intended to be horrifying I found that the authors relied on graphic descriptions of the horrifying phenomenon. I have found that describing the impact on the person being horrified works much better. (As an aside, one story appealed to me mainly because it was centered around a trek to Roopkund - a trek which I attempted early this year only to be stranded by the Uttaranchal debacle)

Minor blemishes apart, the book is actually a pretty decent read. If the reader expects to be mystified more than horrified, he would derive more satisfaction. And, of course, there are quite a few stories which may be mystifyingly horrifying too.

Details of the book can be looked up here

The other side

20 comments:

  1. Seems like a good book, Suresh.

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  2. Hmmm...looks like it is hard to satisfy you. And I can relate to that 'purist' bit. Even I prefer a much more classic style of writing.

    Your review gives me an idea of what to expect when i finally snuggle up with my copy. Let's see if it can satisfy me, though I must say that half the job gets done if the language is good and if the genre is horror

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    1. I suppose it could well be Ritesh! Nearly 40 years of reading - so, yes, you do not get easily horrified :)

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  3. I missed going to the launch of this book...must pick it up.

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  4. I am scared of spooky stories :( mystifying or horrifying hi hi. Reminded me of our ifw exercise on horror.

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    1. Ah! Not all these tales are horror stories, Jaish.

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  5. That review was a pleasure to read, Suresh, for the beauty of its own. It is heartening to note the quality of average Indian writing inching up. I share your joy for well written stories just as I share your disappointment for stories that echo The Exorcist.

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  6. Looks like a good read for a lazy Sunday.

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  7. Should give it a try. Btw your reviews are detailed, maybe you should consider posting them on Goodreads as well :)

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    1. Me - detailed? I hardly ever refer to the story or quote things from the book - the former because I am too scared of writing spoilers and the latter because I am not too much of a 'quoting' sort of person :)

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  8. Thank you for reading the book and reviewing it. We are grateful.

    Vivek Banerjee

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  9. Thank you so much for agreeing to read the book and for reviewing it, Suresh. I appreciate you taking the time out to do both and kudos for being so quick with it! I know I'm stopping by late but now that I've read the book myself, I agree with what you've said in your review. Fabulous review!

    Sarika @ The Readdicts

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    1. Thanks Sarika! I must thank you and Faraaz for the opportunity though!

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