In times when anthologies dwell on prosaic romantic accounts, Fablery presents Ten Shades of Life. From a nail-biting thriller to a spine-chilling ghost story, an exquisite romance to an ingenious fantasy, an adventurous science-fiction to mirthful and remarkable experiences of salaried men, stories of heroes and philosophies of life – it attends to the preferences of all readers.
When anthologies contain stories of one genre, after reading a couple of stories they get predictable and fail to keep a reader’s interest until the end, but a multi-genre book has something to offer to everyone and many things to one reader.
The writing styles of all the writers whose stories are included in this book are grand and the plots so engaging that they will force you to read another page and one another before you finally close the book. The stories will take you on a roller coaster between reality and fiction.
I had picked up this book with huge expectations as the stories were award-winners at the Fablery Contest 2012. Hoping to dig into ten fabulous stories, I had to keep reading for more than half the book to find an interesting one. A multi-genre anthology can be a collectors’ item if the correct pieces of gems are picked, arrayed and glued together correctly. This one went wrong with the first few stories. Another instance of bad editing? Yes. Repetitive words in a sentence, which is the worst example of editing, can be found in this book. If you want to show them as an exhibit in an editing course, go ahead. And call me a grammar Nazi, for all I care.
Since this is an anthology, it deserves individual critique for all the stories. Here:
1. The Incarnadines – Too descriptive a story. I wished the author had concentrated on the plot instead of the narration. There are a few loopholes in the plot. It gives you an impression of a casually written, loose story. Not impressive at all.
2. Red and Gold – Perfectly brought out flavour of the era being written. Quite lucid writing from Monika Pant, I liked her choice of words, using Urdu terms as sweet raisins in a well cooked Pulao. The editor should have been really careful, there are two instances of repetitive words in a sentence in this story.
3. Harry’s Bluff – Punctuation errors and repetitive words again in this one. Here the form is better than the content. The plot isn’t great, but the writing is better. I’d expect better stories from the author in future.
4. Something Like That – Easy read with an O’Henryesque plot. Reminded me of vaguely similar stories in Bangla with a very predictable climax.
5. Weekend In That Country – This was the worst in the lot for me. Not up to the mark at all. The plot is weak and loosely held, the climax is too boring. I felt the author lost his way through the story.
6. Nootropic Egress – Grammatical and syntax errors, repetitive words have made the story worse than it actually is. Science fiction needs to be made interesting for people who don’t like the genre. The author didn’t bother much explanation for the jargon he used, ended with a very predictable climax, not making it better.
7. The Secret of Ahiraah – This is where the book starts getting interesting. There is a dearth of historical fiction and we need more stories like this. Reshmy Pillai captured my attention with ‘Sonar Killa’ as her keyword. Her research is good, though I’d like a little more elaboration about the Killa. Loved the climax. There’s one solitary typo or so I believe.
8. Where Did You Go? – Best of the lot for me. Deepa Duraisamy absolutely nailed her plot with a nice flair in writing. I liked her choice of words, her language, her climax. Easily the best story among all.
9. Barren Harvest – Simple story, well written, though the language could have been better. The plot is simple yet free-flowing. Again, having read similar stories in Bangla, I was anticipating some twist in this one.
10. A Good Day To Die – I would rate this one as second best in the basket. Racy, lucid, easy, complicated – all in one. I liked the climax, liked the language and the mini twists with the major one towards the climax. Good job, Rahul Biswas.
I had wanted more, will expect much better ones in Fablery’s next anthology. In this one, Deepa, Rahul, Reshmy and Monika stood out for me. Others, better luck next time.
My Rating: 2.75/5
Language: English, Genre: Fiction/Anthology
Author(s): Edited by Nethra, A, (Cheyenne Mitchell, Karthik, Monika Pant, Roshan Radhakrishnan, Shankar Raman A., Reshmy Pillai, Bruce Memblatt, Deepa Duraisamy, Rahul Biswas, Vinaya Swapnil Bhagat)
Publisher: Mahaveer, Year Published: 2013
Binding: Paperback, Edition: First, Pages: 240
ISBN-13: 9789350880418, ISBN-10: 9350880415
Reviewed for: Self