Source: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-piED3R2Kk40/UxJw8n7D3kI/AAAAAAAABxk/ozhzvQjGUyQ/s1600/71Fff4OzAmL._SL1500_.jpg

‘The Other Side’ is Faraaz Kazi’s 2nd book after the award winning “Truly Madly Deeply” published in 2010. Though I haven’t read his first one, I was quite keen to read the second one especially considering that it was one of the first books in the horror genre I had seen from a contemporary Indian writer. He’s written this one in collaboration with Vivek Banerjee whose a pediatrician by profession but a passionate writer as well. So does it work? Let’s check it out.

The blurb goes like this –

“A slow rasping sound made me turn. I jumped back, the cell phone leaving my hands and smashing against the concrete floor. Someone was seated on the chair, rocking back and forth. Through the fallen light, I could see those hands placed on the arms of the chair, two gruesome wrinkled limbs with ugly boils plastered over the black skin. The red bangles on its wrists shone in my eyes, momentarily blinding me. That thing and I call it a thing because I could sense it wasn’t human as no human could have such a hideous form, as vile an existence as the one seated opposite to my horrified self.”

From a honeymoon in the hill that goes horribly wrong to an obsessed lover who wants his first love in life and in death; From a mentally deranged man who collects body parts of various women to stitch together his dream girl to a skeptic who enters a mansion of horrors to win a bet and much more, this book is filled with scenarios that are guaranteed to give you goosebumps and sleepless nights.

The Other Side is a collection of thirteen tales of the paranormal; a world that our eyes refuse to see, our ears deny hearing and our senses ignore the feel of. This is a book for someone who is brave enough to take up this invitation to journey through uncharted waters along with the authors, who were inspired by some bizarre experiences to pen down this work where the lines of reality have been blurred by the footsteps of imagination.

Each story takes you on a tour de force of unadulterated horror and draws upon the deepest fear in the human mind- the fear of the Unknown!

The book has a pretty interesting cover with the use of dark colours thus giving the reader an idea of what to expect going forward. The font of the text, the page quality and the regular use of imagery throughout the book is done pretty well. The imagery brings the stories to life.

Horror is a genre which is rarely explored in the Indian literary industry. Whether it is the inexperience of the authors or the assumption of authors on audience’s lack of acceptance, I have rarely come across any novels in the horror genre among contemporary authors. And therefore, this one comes as a whiff of fresh air.

With short stories, there is a bit of a risk in a way that all of them aren’t always brilliant. While some are good, there are few which are mediocre. I for one love horror stories or movies. Though the stories generally didn’t scare me much personally, a few of them were surely written pretty well in terms of describing the characters, the stories and the surroundings. And that’s what’s important for this kind of genre, right?

My top 5 stories (Not in any particular order) –

– Dream Girl

– The Mark of the Beast

– That Fateful Night

– The Muse Comes Calling

– The Mystery Lake

For horror stories, it becomes even more important to make the reader lose himself or herself in the story. Faraaz and Vivek do that pretty well by having a strong narrative and maintaining a good pace throughout. None of the stories have any needless sequences which stretch them endlessly. The use of quotes by famous individuals before each story was interesting in the sense that it gave an idea of what to expect in the next story.

There is just one particular downside I could come across with respect to this book. The concepts in a few of the stories remind you of popular Indian serials like ‘Aahat”, ‘Zee Horror Show’ or movies by directors like Vikram Bhatt, RGV etc. Now for many that may not be necessarily a bad thing. But for me, it was a bit of a putdown. Though I do like a few of Vikram Bhatt’s movies, I would have loved slightly lesser influence of the Bhatt’s in a few of the stories.

All in all, for those who like to try something different, go for this one. It’s one of the rare books in this genre in India and the authors do a fairly good job at it.

Rating – 3.5/5