Book Review – Agony by Kshitij

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Blurb: “A cold lonely life, paralyzed by sickening nightmares; that’s what Kewy, a young Irish teacher, started to experience. And then the abrupt knockings at her door established that the time has come. Things buried in her past, found a way to communicate with her- the dreams, which always receive her at a god forsaken place dwelled with evil and surrounded by death, fear and hopelessness. 
The past was agonizing but the part of her still believes she could erase it. In her quest, Kewy was joined by two concurring beings; both of which found a reason to live, in her struggle. Together the three walked through that dark, disturbed and desolated land. 
And what waited for them in those deadwoods was more than just a plain and ordinary fear…” 

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Review:

Though it says Horror, Agony is really an occult/supernatural experience. It does have ghost elements in it but as a die hard horror fan, the fear-factor in this novel is more psychological than anything else. There are scenes of cult practices as well as some where people drink blood and stuff, but I didn’t feel it to be too gory. The horror is the right mix between psychology and gore.

 

The main character, Kewy, felt shallow to me in the beginning. She is plagued by nightmares and can’t sleep and must embark on a journey to the place where it started. She convinces one of her students and a potential boyfriend to go on that journey with her, even though she knows how dangerous it can be. Then, she refuses to tell them how it all started till the time they reach the point of no return in an isolated resort in the county. However, it was heartening to see her growing better as a person throughout the story since that is what a story is about, how a character changes due to circumstances. Kewy’s college friends were also a bit of a let down. They all go on a professional escapade but once they reach their destination, nobody is interested in doing the actual work anymore. Kewy’s other friends, Eineen and Kasper were well thought-of and sketched. Especially Eineen came across as a real strong person.

 

The plot is great but the telling of the story is a bit lacking and so the reader has to plod through unnecessary information to reach the actual story. Everything, and I mean everything, has been described to the minutest detail, leaving absolutely nothing to the reader’s imagination, as if the author doesn’t trust the reader to ‘get it’. The language needs professional editing. I wish authors like Kshitij who self publish their novels would first hire the services of a professional editor, especially if it’s a debut since the first impression you make on a reader would carry forward in their minds.

 

I did enjoy reading Agony once I went past the language barrier and I think the plot has the right bit of depth and intrigue. I especially liked the climax and the ending where good wins over evil. I would rate this story 3 out of 5 stars.

 

Book Review – The Revenge Of Kaivalya by Sumana Khan

REVIEW:

The Revenge Of Kaivalya opens with the story of Kencha, a forest dweller who tags cobras in the Western Ghats, when he dies under mysterious circumstances with some words branded on his skin in an ancient Kannada script. On the other hand, in modern-day Bangalore, young Neel wakes up from a nightmare and a sickening smell of charred flesh and realizes he has wet his bed. I felt the first pang of fear when I realized that the smell was not just in the nightmare; Neel’s servants and his friend VJ felt it too! Then comes Shivaranjini of the Kudala Sangama estate who ventures into the deepest parts of the Sakleshpura forest and comes back with a pendant. She soon experiences a devastating seizure and emerges with a dangerous new personality. Though she has a history of panic attacks, this one reads different; it’s almost like a possession!

Right from the first chapter, the author captured my interest as the story kept moving at a fast pace. Many simultaneous threads in this one but all culminate to a single point of contact – Kaivalya, who has risen from the dead on the eve of the Tsunami to seek revenge from someone. But who is that someone? It couldn’t be Kencha since he was the first one to fall as a victim. Is it Neel who saw her in the nightmare? Or is it Shivaranjini whose body the enraged soul has possessed? And the most important question of all – who is Kaivalya and why does she want revenge? You must pick up the book my dear friends to know the answers to these questions and believe me, you won’t be disappointed.

The author used immaculate language in this book and painted the scene in front of my eyes. I consider any story that can evoke an emotional reaction from the reader to be brilliant and The Revenge Of Kaivalya does just that. I devour horror and thriller stories and there’s not much I haven’t seen done but this book left my pulse racing and the fear factor was a definite turn-on. Not only did I read the story, I smelt the charred flesh, listened to the deafening silence or the howling winds and claps of thunder and tasted the rice idli with melting butter on top. The author has been successful in evoking all my senses as a reader and that’s brilliant.

The book does seem a little bit slack towards the middle and perhaps a bit more wordy than usual but the language is fresh and flowing and leaves a strong impression. The climax, however, left me a bit disillusioned. Without giving away any spoilers let me just say that I’d have liked it better if the protagonists had got rid of the spirit themselves without ‘divine intervention’.

Overall, This is a must-pickup-to-read book if you love the paranormal genre or if you are just looking to get a little (or a lot) spooked. I thoroughly enjoyed the book think that this is a brilliant effort for a debutante.

Disclaimer: This book was provided by the author in exchange of an honest review.

 

The Revenge of Kaivalya by Sumana Khan

 

 

 

The Blurb

 

Deep within the womb-like forests of the Western Ghats, an entity manifests itself at the malevolent moment when the ocean rises to devour hundreds of thousands. Kencha, an unwitting witness to Its birth, is soon found dead – his body branded with a strange message written in HaLegannada, an ancient version of modern Kannada. Even as Dhruv Kaveriappa, Chief Conservator of Forests – Hassan division investigates Kencha’s death, he senses an unseen danger in the forests of Kukke, Bisle and Sakleshpura. Animals drop dead; plants wither away and just as he feared, the forest claims its first victim. Shivaranjini, on vacation in Sakleshpura, suffers a devastating tonic-clonic seizure moments after she returns from a visit to the forest. Soon, she begins to exhibit a bizarre personality disorder. Perhaps there is an outbreak of an unknown rabies-like disease? Or, as ridiculous as it seems, could it be a case of tantric witchcraft? 

 

The truth unfolds in a dizzying maelstrom of events – a truth far too terrifying to comprehend…

 

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Meet the author

 

 

The Author’s Thoughts

 

In the early stages of my manuscript, I knew the title of my novel had to be the name of the principal character. And it could not be just any name. It had to fit into the storyline – from a time perspective, as well as setting the atmosphere. It had to sound ancient and also define the character. Tall order!

As I read up on the history of Vijayanagara, I hoped to come across a good, strong name…but history, largely, is about men and their wars and conquests. I hoped to select a name from our puranas. But nothing clicked. What about our stotras? Maybe the lalitha sahasranama? Or ashtalakshmi stotra? One evening I sat mulling on ‘Kausalya’…thanks to the most famous line ‘Kausalya supraja Rama purva sandhya pravarthathe’ from the Suprabhata 🙂 I went to bed with that line in my head.

The next morning, somehow, ‘Kausalya’ had transformed to ‘Kaivalya’. I did not remember coming across the name in any of my previous research. Curious, I looked up what ‘Kaivalya’ stood for. And was fascinated.   Read More ……..

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The Necklace

Ravi couldn’t believe his luck as he eyed the necklace lying under the rotten garbage. His eyes glistened with greed and he moved his tongue over his lower lip. He didn’t mind the putrid smell that invaded his nostrils. Neither did he mind the maggots swarming the bin and moving up his arms. He moved aside a few polythene bags and dove his hand deep into the bin to rescue the piece of jewelry. A grunt escaped his mouth with the effort but he smiled as his fingers hit the chain.

Siya will be so happy to see this. Bet she would even forgive me for forgetting our anniversary, he smirked.

Taking a tissue, he wiped the delicate golden chain carefully, all the while admiring the teardrop pendant. It was blood red in color and was sparkling like a ruby. He couldn’t help but think how it must have cost a fortune.

Pleased that his cleaning efforts gave very desirable results, he pocketed the necklace, walked up to the garbage truck and drove away, daydreaming about the expression on his wife’s face when she would see the necklace.

When he got home Siya was busy cooking dinner and didn’t pay him much mind until she felt him slide something on her neck. She touched the golden chain and exclaimed at the sparkling pendant.

“Oh my God! This must have cost a fortune! How did you afford this?”

“It looks beautiful on you”, Ravi sidestepped the question.

She smiled and nestled against his arms, feeling his strong muscles hold her close.

They forgot all about dinner and rushed to the bedroom.

As Ravi undressed he heard Siya curse loudly. Strange. She never curses, he thought.

“Honey, Please help me take this necklace off”, Siya called after him.

He went to the bathroom, wishing to take off more than just the necklace.

“Shoot! The clasp’s broken”, he exclaimed as he examined it.

“You have to take this off”, Siya panicked, “It is getting tighter by the moment!”

Ravi struggled with the clasp some more but finally gave up. He tried to pry the necklace off his wife’s neck but the chain that had looked delicate proved to be as strong as a vice.

“Quick”, Siya panted, out of breath. “Ï can’t breathe!”

Ravi realized that the chain was getting tighter and it was now cutting into his wife’s neck even though she was clutching it with both her hands. He joined in her efforts and sliding a finger under the chain, tried to break it. He had expected the chain to snap at this but it didn’t. Grunting, he applied a bit more pressure and suddenly yelped as the chain cut through his finger. Siya shrieked as she saw his finger fall to the ground and the blood spurted on her face and neck. Horrified, they saw the blood move towards the pendant and disappear as if the pendant was sucking it up.

Panicking, Siya doubled her efforts to break the chain even as her husband stood in a corner horrified at the sight. Her voice was sore with all the screaming and her breath came in pants. Blood started dripping from the cut on her neck. She fell to the ground with the effort as the cut now became deeper and blood started squirting from her neck. There was no mess though because the pendant drank it all up as it increased in size and shone more brightly.

Punishment

Bobby felt an elbow poking him on the side and heard his friend whisper, “Get up, Bobby! Mr. Jones is looking at you.”

It took huge will power to open his eyes and as soon as he did, he stared right into Mr. Jones’ eyes. Bobby squirmed, shifted in his seat muttering a ‘Sorry, Mr. Jones’ and looked down at his open book. History was his least favorite subject and add to it Mr. Jones’ boring drone of a voice. Of course, the tiredness due to last night’s party was no help either. Bobby felt his eyelids droop as he listened to the events leading to the Battle of Plassey.

“Get up, Bobby. Class is over. We have to go and make the project. ” He felt another poke at his ribs and grunted. “Get up!” He felt Sid shaking him. “Okay, okay I’m coming!” He shouted at Sid with his eyes still closed. Bobby heard Sid walk away showering the choicest expletives at him. I’ll get up in just a minute, he thought, as he allowed the quiet room envelop him into bliss.

A coughing fit woke him up. He cursed under his breath and reached for the water jug on his bedside table. Wait. There is no bedside table. Puzzled, he tried to get up but fell on the ground as he hit something. “Shit!”, he exclaimed as his eyes got accustomed to the dark. I am in the classroom,he thought.

He suddenly felt weak in the knees, and his heart seemed to jump out of his body. He ran to the front of the classroom, hitting the occasional bench now and then, and turned on the light switch. Nothing. He flipped the switch several times with the same result. He then ran to the door and turned the handle over and over again. Locked. He banged his fists on the door and shouted, “Help! Is anybody there? Please help me!” He kept on shouting and banging the door, sometimes with his fist, at other times with his feet. He started to cough again with all the shouting and grabbed the teacher’s table for support when he thought of the windows.

He walked over to them and opened the glass panes. A breath of fresh air entered the class and with it some light. He looked down at the grounds as a thought of escape came to his mind. Can I jump? No, It’ll probably be my death. He sighed and brushed that thought aside. He shouted again, several times in fact, for help. Maybe the gatekeeper or the gardener will hear me. How come the peon never saw me sleeping in the class, he wondered. He must have forgotten to look here. He cursed the wretched peon under his breath and concentrated on shouting for help. He didn’t see a light or hear any sound. Crying, he slid to the ground and sat sobbing for a long time. Mum, Dad. Please come looking for me, he prayed.

A sudden noise startled him, and he got up to his feet in a jiffy. He ran to the door and started shouting again. “Help! Please! Anybody there? I’m stuck in the History room.” He heard the shuffling of feet as somebody walked toward him. Relief washed over him as he heard the sound and banged the door again to let the person know where he was.

He heard a key turn in the lock and the door opened. Bobby blinked several times as the light from a heavy duty torch hit him in the eyes. Shielding his eyes with his hand, Bobby looked at his rescuer.

“Mr. Jones! I am so glad to see you! The fucking peon forgot to look in the class, and I was trapped here for ages. Thank God you’re here!”

“He often does that. Forgets to look in the classes, I mean,” the history teacher offered.

“He should be punished for that, don’t you think? I mean, what if I had died here?”

“Yeah. Maybe. Talking of punishments, Bobby, don’t you think you ought to be punished for sleeping in my class?” asked Mr. Jones as he revealed a butcher’s knife in his right hand.

“You must be joking, right?” Bobby panicked and began to back off from the teacher.

“No, I’m not”, said Mr. Jones as he struck with the knife.