Goodreads blurb: Rudrakshapalem lies a few kilometers East of Godavari in the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. At first glance, it looks like just another sleepy little village. But as you walk along its borders and peer into the lives of its people, you will find that deep within its breast are hidden some dark secrets.
– In the temple compound roams a crazy man named Chander. He hugs a gold pendant and sings lullabies to it every night. What is his story?
– Subbarao, one of Palem’s richest men, came up the hard way, having started life as the poor son of a snack seller. But what is the secret that gives him sleepless nights?
– A young couple dealing with loss stand in front of the road to Palem, and there is a seller of mirrors on the sidewalk, welcoming them in. Will they heed his words, or will they run away?
– How much are happiness and peace worth to Rama Shastri, the priest of Palem’s Shiva temple? And to what extent will he go to ensure the well-being of his daughter?
In these ten delightful stories, Sharath Komarraju takes you by the hand and gives you a fully guided tour of Palem and its people. But don’t fear, he will bring you back home safe and sound, long before it’s dark.
Regular readers of my blog will know that I am quite a big fan of Sharath Komarraju and his work. In fact I would go far enough to call myself a die-hard fan of his work, and it therefore is quite a travesty that it took me so long to get around to reading The Narrow Road to Palem, his collection of supernatural stories. And given that it is a collection of short stories, I have gone ahead and penned down a couple of sentences about each of them below.
Subbai and his Ace of Clovers – Kind of guessable story, but intriguing nevertheless and the ending takes the cake for sure.
Malli – A more conventional edge of seat thriller with quite an unexpected ending.
Round and Round – As seems to be the norm with all the stories in this book, the ending is brilliant. What I particularly liked about this book was the role that the setting and the environment had to play, it was almost like I was there when the action was happening.
The Milk is sour – Now this story truly takes the cake so far, especially with the choice of the unlikeliest of antagonists.
The Narrow Road to Palem – This eponymous story is probably not as good as the ones preceding it, but has enough intrigue and insight into the human psyche. And I personally didn’t quite see the ending coming the way it did.
The Sitarist of Palem – Now this story was a bit more ‘classic horror’ in its treatment and quite a departure from the way the rest of the stories in this anthology have been written with in terms of style and treatment of the subject.
Peaceful are the dead – An extremely grim tale following the classic tenets of a horror story, at least in my opinion. Although you could see the end coming, the way the author has dealt with it is quite nice.
The barber and the milkmaid – This one is quite a chilling tale. It deals with the limits that a man goes to when driven by insanity and unfulfilled desires.
Dear House – This has to be one of the most ‘completely cuckoo’ stories that I have read in a while. The premise of the story is something that doesn’t quite grab you by the throat but slowly creeps up on you, just like all good story plots should.
No yellow in my rainbow – This story kind of seems like a culmination of the rest of the stories in this wonderful collection. I kind of find it hard to classify this story into any of the other genres in this book, but it just felt right to end this book with this story.
To wrap up, I wouldn’t slot this book in the classical horror genre but would rather put it in the psychological thriller genre. One way or the other, fans of the horror genre of books would surely enjoy it quite a bit.
Click here to purchase the book from Amazon [Link].
Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided to me by the author, however, the above review and opinions are honest and unbiased.