Title: Case files of the dead
Publisher: Author’s Ink
Cover ratings: 4/5
Brought together by a ubiquitous desire to unearth and justify the existence of the unseen spirit, soul and Atma as some call it, Case files of the dead is a mishmash of stories from a host of authors from different genres today. The collection opens with a tale by the Suhail Mathur which sets an appropriate eerie tone for the book.
The first writer offers ‘The Haunting Tale’, a story I believe is reiterated by the Author based on a true incident coming down his own lineage. Suhail tells of a young boy suffering on his death bed, who exorcises his real, the devilwho resided within and the desperate attempts by his family to free him from the spirit who hosted his body. There is an unexpected chilly twist right at the end that sets an appropriate lead to an anthology.
In the case of ‘Lie Thy Soul Speak’ the theme is well represented, but its straightforward approach is dated. Combined with Jonali’s clipped dialogue within “”, there’s little here to prop up an otherwise okay-ish narrative,leaving the reader wondering what was real. Too many characters in the tale also confuse the script and makes one go back and reread to identify the characters. Otherwisethe atmosphere of this tale does give one an uncomfortable shiver if you read it post dark. All in all Jonali, purpose solved!
Of this subset of stories, many are set in worlds and feature characters that the authors have made from the real like Nilkil Uprety’s ‘The Fragerance´ brings back the tale of the hostel suicides that every hosteller can relate to of having heard once in lifetime. It also leaves you creeping at the thought that how a fragrance can compel so many girls in the same room to commit suicide.
‘A Secret Diary’ by Surbhi Sareen is about a haunting female spirit who compels a woman to take her husband’s life; fulfilling the revenge that the spirit sought for. Yet another tale that gave me a disturbing dream. Surbhi’s attempt to create the mist even in the offer of limited words is commendable, Her effort to twine the tale was seamless and beautifully conveyed.
Ever wondered why few roads are seldom travelled? ‘The White Maruti’ may have an answer to it. Everytime a vehicle travels the 80km stretch from Hindon to Mandrail, it breaks down half way and starts again, some confess to have sighted a white maruti with no driver, a shastri tells about some unusual events in the temple but no human is debilitated. The suspense remains and the truth will never be known. This story by Manish Mahajan reestablished my faith in souls that always don’t have evil intentions.
A collation of two short accounts of horror by Samridhi Sharma, ‘The Dead Shadows’ reaffirms that there always exist the omnipresent. If God exists, so does the evil. If you can’t see one it doesn’t negate its presence. The two flashes of incidents about a haunted house and how the spirits in the house killed the family that resided in it and will leave you baffled in the mere existence of spirits.
A couple found dead with their throat slit, each held a scissor in their hands, a cursed mirror, two friends , sobbing crying…and the omen of death. A perfect plot for a horror flash. Finan Mohamed was surprisingly able to hold my breath until the last bleak of darkness in his tale of ‘23 Minutes’. This was an effortless thrill and eerie sensation delivered to the reader in the most lucid narration.
Ruchi Chopra’s ‘Awoke’ was fascinating yet it didn’t deliver the standard it set in the initial buildup of the tale. A young girl who comes new house has no friends yet but for those who have departed, she discovers new friends and play things with those who live beyond, she wishes to be with them and soon becomes one. The story in the beginning creates an unexpected tremor and the pace remains throughout, however what the Author tried to convey seemed a little abrupt to me at the end. Nonetheless I was so creeped out that I displaced my childhood toys from my room the next morning!
A jogger, in an effort to avoid crowed at his regular jogging track decides to go an hour before the park time, while jogging he senses someone following him and gradually and involuntarily his pace increases as though someone’s pushing him, however there isn’t anyone behind. Soon when he is about to exit he encounters the horror. He is warned by the park guard but the next moment there wasn’t any. Sriramana Muliya’s ‘Be on time’ is a fast pace horror script and keeps the reader engaged until one loses breath. There is a slight scope of spicing up the tale; however it was clean and sober. While ‘Be on time’ is a compact script, the Author’s ‘Preying Guest’ is another very intriguing piece. In his second story, the Author has narrated and incident that Sagarika, the only living character in the story comes across when hunting for a PG. A mystique mansion and a deadly encounter with the dead residents of the mansion that traps her from leaving the mansion. This Author also has to his credit another story, ‘Happy Birthday’ yet again a very simple, and eerie tale of a birthday party. Gives a chill when you reach the end. It’s good enough to say that the Author has a knack of crisp and compact writing conveying and delivering what the genre demand.
Anshul Akhoury’s ‘Route 44’ is a true time suspense and fear gripping tale. His attempt to consolidate multitudes of emotion entrapping the characters Riddhima and Sujith is commendable. An unexpected twist structuring up since the opening of the story is quite a good work. Although the dialogue tone between the characters could have been better worked upon.
Despite Sonal Parmrar and Srika Gutam’s ‘The Three Night’ is a tale with moderate pace. It revolves around a murder in a farm house and the cover up. Three men kill e someone and burry him in a outyard of a farm house. The murderers are haunted and then brought to their own end in a gory and strange edge. Despite the intensity of the story, it didn’t really spook me, perhaps the language could have been a little more explicit of what the Author’s tried to convey. Agreeably an above average idea delivered typically.
‘I Am Prepared’ by Arushi Ohri, is yet again a likable tale. The story is a narration by a Prison inmate, once a vulnerable boy possessed by demon. He iterates a scene of mass murder he committed and his arrest. The story wraps with very wicked end. I loved that part!! A complete AAhat material. Great job with the language and the picturesque portrayal.
Biswadeep Ghosh Hazra, in his ‘The Right Hand’ has ensured that the reader doesn’t lose the eerie notion midway. His attempt seemed to take the tale to another level of a gory dream. And much so he was successful. His story about Rohan and his beginning a new journey of life with a job in a different town would sound very pacified in the initial. But the creep begins in his travel to Bangalore in company of a man with a prosthetic right hand belonging to a dead… it was enough to freak me. Huh! But that’s not it. The hand has its own evil mind as though the soul attached to the hand never departed and subsequently it killed Rohan. An average pace wisely narrated story. Appreciable.
One of the most intriguing stories in the lot was ‘The Trap’ by Kumar Vikrant. It’s a fast pace thriller tale interknitted by suspends and horror. I was taken into the story where a long lost lover calls Sidharth to save her from the shackles of Rajah Vikram who kept her for his and his friend’s pleasure in the palace of Kaalgarh but what remains unknown is that Vikram had abducted Ruchi 14 years ago and was killed long way back. Only her soul remained. Ruchi’s wish to be reunited with her lover Sid would only be true if he died and hence she sets a trap. An advice to the Author, as a reader; please jot a full-fledged novel to this plot will do great has a horror fiction.
Hina Chaudhary’s ‘Light and Darkness’ is a story that lacks an arc. It is a presumably window into a moment of Author’s life, which in the flow of the series I very much enjoyed, but one that fundamentally creates a lacuna as a piece of fiction. All the characters end as they begin, no different than before. A family with two kids, the son is haunted by a spirit, the exorcism, and a twist..an unexpected angle of the land of devine. All in all the story is enjoyable to read but there is a need to work on the language to display maturity in the concept and idea.
Sanjiban Nanda’s ‘Unsolved Mystery’ tells a self-contained story that captures a quality of a murder mystery , but leave enough wiggle room to provide the readers to create a more dynamic characters and/or settings that revolves around the unseen spirit. A standout entertainer. I would note that the story did not scare me to a bit given the genre it was meant for, but the flow of the story and a moment of dizzy in the end worked well for me. It is commendable how the Author created the background to launch the tale, a retired IPS Officer, an unsolved closed file a tale of two lovers who fought power of the civil but one was crushed to death. However their love remained eternal, the guy protected his love even behind the closed walls of the asylum.
Among what’s left, next is an intense and fear griping tale by Nabeela Mahboob & Rumi Mohamed ‘Fear’. This story is nothing but a simple narration of a psychiatrist who once fell in love with his patient and lost her in an accident. An unusual end to their love story. But after years he found love again in Rudhra, he leads a normal life forgotten his past. Then comes back the sense of fear, spook and horror when he feels the same, just like the moment he lost his last girlfriend, while Rudhra’s existence is questioned. A good read; I loved how the flashback of the incident and how the author depicted the fear resurfacing. The language is fluidic and easy to convey and connect.
The only truly light-hearted story in the Case files of the Dead , ‘Pratiksha’ by Aashi Dahiya gives a solace and relief with her tale. All it goes to say is that fear is in our head. It’s the choice of the living to bestow their faith in evil or the divine. If there is god there is evil, the omni present can be determined when the present is trusted upon. In this tale a teen ager teaches how ones mere thought can shadow and darken the sense and grip fear. It’s a clever concept, executed with verve, but lightens the mood at a time the mood is adequately light tone.
Another appropriate story that infuses the fact that thoughts build image is ‘A Ghost From Memory’ by Jash Dahiya. For a young teenager to come up with such an interesting and wonderful plot is commendable. This one is a tale of siblings one who survived life he other who resides in grave. But the bond is such intense and strong the dead calls for the living. The story picks up a creaky start and ends in a very subtle manner. Jumping between two points of view, one the life and one of death, Vicky finds himself falling for what his dead sister his companion since birth tells her. Absolute praiseworthy attempt.
‘Fallen Leaves’ by Vivek Banerjee is a touching look into a tale of regret and fear of a young woman reliving the day she lost her husband. While his body left his soul remained to love her back, Sahir Simar’s dead husband seeks to find abort in her love and make his presence felt to her by Fallen leaves that breeze through the one seen. The story holds smoothness in language and the character portrayals called me in mind.
Shreelekha Chatterjee’s ‘Shadowy Twighlight’ is a moderately constructed story around a student who encounters events of horror. A college building that has seen two death, a Professor who also has felt the spirit of the dead in the building and a student who lives that moment too. But time passes Isha, the MSc dissertation student completes her degree peacefully. Soon after a year she retunes for her PhD meets her guide, the professor but is shaken to learn that the professor had died few months back. Then who was it that she just met? Was it another encounter with the dead? The story is tasteful and the plot is creative, but I believe there was room for making the story less stretchy and more involving for the reader. The incisive observation and the eye for the bits of the Author in this tale are commendable but it required a little stronger prose.
A young guy sees an unusual dream, it was a call of the dead, departed from earth but not liberated. There are very few who have the power to receive the calls of those who have not attained moksha. Dhruv was one such, in ‘The Dream Caster’ by Chandrapal Khasiya. This one is an unusual story, breaking the chain of ghost and spirits and evil. I liked the concept and the delivery splendid effort by the Author. A very interesting read.
Ghost, evil and spirits were one but Deepank Kanojia in his tale ‘Another World’ takes the reader to a world 100 ft beneath earth where no human can reach. A world of Genie, who live by choice with human. Sudha a genie falls in love with her classmate Laxman and takes him with her to her world the day he was about to get married to another human. The story is short and simple. It lacks some intensity and characterization but is lighter to ones heart. Quite a simple and not painfully scary tale.
‘The Prisoner’s Revenge’ by Akash Shrivastav revolves around a forest that was held by the spell of a soul of prisoner, who was encountered in a chase by an inspector who dies suspiciously too. The spirit of the prisoner Mangal Das and the inspectorraise on every Amavasya and disguise to kill while the inspector protects those who enter the forest from the evil spirit. The tale is intriguing and pumping, however the Author has erred in language, the story lacked consistency in character and the balance was lost midway. Too many characters also was a turn off for me, mostly because in short stories the plot should remain untouched and fluidic, multiple characters, I believe overshadows the strength of the plot. However I would say it was an out of the box thinking!
ALL IN ALL: Many of the stories contained within Case files of the dead riff on similar ideas, often leaving lacunas to the imagination of the readers.
To paraphrase the book is India’s first ever pure horror anthology, there are some good writers in here. Unfortunately, good writers and great subject do not make a perfectly great anthology, and Case files of the dead to me is a moderately above average book.
OVERALL RATING: 3.5/5