Title-The Other Side
Authors-Vivek Banerjee and Faraaz Kaazi
Source-review copy via a-lotofpages.com
I'm a huge fan of horror fiction.So when this book(a collection of Horror tales written by Faraaz Kaazi and Vivek Banerjee) came up for review,I didn't have to think twice before accepting it.The Other Side is an anthology of thirteen tales of the paranormal.Even though the book doesn't really manage to take the reader on a tour de force of unadulterated horror(as it's cover claims),it qualifies as a fun,time pass read.As in the case of any other anthology,not all the thirteen tales in this bunch are refreshing.Some of these stories are really good and partly succeed in drawing upon the fear of the unknown while quite a few of them are actually too silly and even plain boring.
Writing horror fiction can be tricky,especially in this era where the average reader is exposed to umpteen number of quality horror films from across the world.I must admit that both Faraaz and Vivek have managed to pack in the occassional twist which will take you by surprise.I would also like to congratulate the writers for coming up with innovative techniques like animated cover page for the marketing of the book.
'That fateful night' narrates the bizarre incidents happening in the life of a young doctor and his wife while 'The Long Weekend' is about a young couple Sachin and Shikha who plan a holiday in a hill station(this story also has an Ouija board angle thrown into it which unfortunately adds little to the narrative).The basic problem with both these stories is their predictability.Be it the setting,the characters or even the twists, all reek of familiarity and leaves nothing but a sense of dejavu in the mind of the readers.'Red bangles' starts off as a romantic tale but soon transforms to something else.Bland writing and cliched ending fails to salvage this story from the pits of mediocricity to which it eventually falls into.The 'Man who didn't fear' is the type of story which could have easily found it's place in Ram Gopal Varma's 'Darna Mana Hai' series.The tale has a predictable and a bit silly climax.'Mark of the Beast' chronicles the life journey of a newly married couple who decide to have a different kind of honey moon in the mountains.It's the interesting twist in the end which makes this story the pick of the lot.'Posession' will definitely remind you of a recent Hollywood Blockbuster.Neverthless,it ends up as an interesting take of a familiar theme.In 'Muse comes calling',a best selling author is startled when his muse suddenly pays him a surprise visit.The psychopath in 'Dream Girl' has traces of 'Buffalo Bill' in him.This bizarre story tries to blend elements of crime and horror and meets with considerable success.Among the rest, 'Strangers in the Night'(the usual tale of a hitchhiking gone wrong with the mandatory twist in the end)and 'The Lady In the Pub' are just about okay.The authors have even tried to bring in some freshness to the prelude and the epilogue which I believe is worth applauding.
Coming to the positives,this anthology is largely aimed at the young readers who don't wish to get weighed down by heavy duty literary stuff.Modestly priced at INR 150/-,I think it's only a matter of time that this book becomes the next 'National best-seller'!
On the downside,I felt that there were far too many cliched moments in majority of the stories.C'mmon,how many times have we seen and read about that 'newly married couple who decide to settle down in a huge haveli somewhere in the outskirts of the city?The writers' over-indulgence with stereotypes and metaphors do hamper the prospects of many stories which started off well.Another issue which I have this book is the style of writing-though at no point of time either Vivek or Faraaz try to pretend that they are writing anything more than a work of mass commercial horror fiction,the plainness in writing is sure to repulse the discerning reader on atleast a couple of occassions.(Now,please don't get me wrong,I never intended to say that the writing is un-imaginative and dumb-it just happens that the writing was too 'desi' for my liking!).On the whole, Vivek-Faraaz duo's debut attempt at horror fiction is a mixed bag.
Verdict-The Other Side is a time-pass read.Neither too good nor too bad.No harm in giving it a try.Rating-3/5