Dread by Aseem Rastogi: Book Review

Title: Dread
Author: Aseem Rastogi
Genre: Horror

Fear is the background of this collection of short stories. Dread explores the dark emotions that arise out of unexpected encounters and circumstances.

The Book

This collection explores fear and dread in a range of situations. A jungle safari for a tourist couple turns a nightmare because they are adventurous enough to venture into unsafe territory.

Book cover of Dread. Dark pathway with mist
Dread by Aseem Rastogi

A flight across continents becomes an air disaster and turns the life of the lone survivor upside down.

Modern corporate offices are not the safe and secure places they are nade out to be.

The fear of the night, dark places and being in secluded buildings is a very real one for many. And so are nightmares.

Lives can change in the blink of an eye. The author looks at how tragedies like an airplane crash or a bomb blast in a train can affect an ordinary person. The fear of being thrown in jail or being mistaken for a terrorist are all fears that we have had a brush with at sometime or the other.

Review

It’s a short book but packed with punch. The thing that leapt out of the pages was the original viewpoint which made it a good read.

The stories explore many scenarios of fear. The narration and pacing of the stories is good.

The characters are well developed in 3 of the stories. The Night That Was has the snapshot of an entire family. The flashbacks of memorable moments interspersed with the protagonist’s dark reality makes a very good contrast. It reads like the memory roll of a person about to die.

Dark Places and Into the Night are similar in tone and concept. However the modern reader can connect the story sequence and circumstances with his own life. Without using too much description, the author manages to induce fear. Empty office buildings at night are never going to feel the same again.

The Dark Secret of the Grasslands conveys the spirit of adventure adequately. The author has sketched the couple well, presenting the typical scenario in third world countries of a first world couple. This story has the potential to be developed further. Clues, action and what-happened-next can be extrapolated.

Flight or Fright shows how life can change in the blink of an eye.

What works well

The characters and backdrop are well etched in the stories. The reader can connect with the characters well. The language is good and the treatment of the subject feels very original.

The point of view of the characters is clear and the stories do not meander developing other threads or possible happenings.

What could be better

Some of the stories could be longer and the situations be better explored. The Dark Secret of the Grasslands can have more detail of the crime and the subsequent chase to get the criminals for a well rounded story. Into the Night and The Dark Places can also be developed further.

Verdict

A well written collection that chills without being macabre or overly fearsome.

The book is published for Blogchatter Ebook Carnival and is available for free download for a limited time. Read it here.

Ringa Ringa Roses by Neil D’Silva: Book Review

Title: Ringa Ringa Roses

Author: Neil D’Silva

Genre: Horror

Ringa Ringa Roses is a collection of 3 stories bound together by the element of horror, each having children as protagonists.

Book Cover of Ringa Ringa Roses

The Stories

Children of the Walls has precocious Nitya at the heart of the story, fighting demons all alone. The Clay Mother has an eerie replacement for lonely Nikhil’s dead mother. Two-tail is set in an orphanage with a bevy of children and odd characters fighting a mysterious two tailed monster.

The title of the book is taken from an innocuous sounding nursery rhyme which has chilling origins. It’s very reminiscent of disease and at a time when the world is grappling with a pandemic, strikes terror in the reader’s heart. The rhyme makes its appearance in at least 2 stories and the fading melody stays with you for a long time.

Review

These stories are meant to horrify with the supernatural but in fact, the very real emotions associated with parental neglect and absence is the central theme of these stories. It is the children who save the day; adults don’t rise to their duty or responsibility. The children do seem mature beyond their years, displaying remarkably quick thinking and courage in the face of threat and fear.

I somehow couldn’t miss the fact that all the child protagonists had similar sounding names. All of them also displayed courage in challenging situations.

Nitya could handle the strange boy in her room who was always drawing on the walls that seemed to portend something and save herself from the black demon that had inhabited the wall of her room for ages. The wire mesh and the nails were the most chilling part of the story, strange enough to strike terror in your heart.

Nikhil could manage to take revenge on his mother’s honour and save her from the cruel family who were hell-bent on crushing her yet again, in another lifetime.

Nihar and Nupur, the brother and sister duo with secrets of their own, move to Little Paradise which has bigger secrets and surprises in store. It is Nihar who strikes the final blow to the monster and solves the entire mystery of children disappearing from the orphanage, every once in a while.

What Works Well

The descriptive passages are a treat. Children of the Walls has Nitya’s mother in the kitchen, hurriedly cooking. The scene where the pressure cooker goes out of control is so commonplace but described so magnificently. In The Clay Mother, the dining table and the ritual of eating together is the wonderful part, the food, the flavours, the smells and the patriarchal behavior leaving an indelible mark.

What Could Be Better

The plots seem convoluted at times, especially in Two-tail where the story gets curioser and curioser, leaving me to wonder if the idea was only to put in the element of horror completely and in all ways.

The dialogue in The Clay Mother seems to be in a vaccum, with no accompanying visuals to support the conversation.

Verdict

Read it for the joy of storytelling and the fact that stories are meant to entertain. The horror element is thrilling yet not macabre. The imaginative scenes are sketched well enough for adolescent readers to give it a read.

This book review is written as part of Blogchatter Book Review Program.