Horror in India: As Death Stared Back by Ajinkya Bhasme (2019)

“I feared the dark until I smiled in the fire that burnt me; now the dark fears me.”

Sanjana and Punit are a happily married couple. However, trouble arises when their son Manu is born. A premature child, Manu is weak and frail. For the physically fit, Punit, who wants his son to be as active as him, this is quite difficult to bear. He feels Sanjana mollycoddles Manu making him weaker still. Going to the other extreme, he turns too strict towards Manu making the little boy fear his father.

And then quite suddenly Punit dies. Sanjana is distraught with grief but makes an effort to bring up Manu single-handedly. Things are not easy however especially as both mother and son start having similar nightmares in which Punit appears and seems to threaten Manu. Sanjana takes psychiatric help and slowly things start improving. A decade after Punit’s death when Manu is 15 and the bond between mother and son is stronger than ever, Punit reappears. What death? he claims. He was always alive.

Sanjana tries to hold on to her sanity but how can she prove this man is an imposter? Her in-laws show no surprise at their son being alive, her own parents seem to have disappeared, the police disbelieve her, the death certificate is charred to ashes. And so the man with the burnt hand continues to live in the house, re-enacting scenes of the past, and stirring desire in Sanjana. Could it be that Punit had survived? During his cremation, Sanjana had felt his hand beckoning to her from the pyre and his voice calling out to her.

Sanjana contacts a pair of private detectives to expose the imposter but as they begin their investigation, they realise that all this is part of a much wider conspiracy and that Sanjana herself is hiding secrets. What really happened on the day of the funeral?

The book has a good premise but is not too successful in the execution. The writing is amateurish and there are quite a few typos. Sanjana is an unlikeable heroine. That said, the book does have its moments and there are quite a few twists and turns.

*

First Line: Sanjana lay in her bathtub with just her face above the dark tar-like water.

Publication Details: Papertown, 2019

First Published: 2019

Pages: 184

Other Opinions: My Book n All

*

Second Read for the #20Books of Summer21

5 thoughts on “Horror in India: As Death Stared Back by Ajinkya Bhasme (2019)

  1. It sounds as though this book has a lot of promise, but doesn’t live up to it, Neeru. A shame, too, because the premise is eerily fascinating. I know what you mean about typos and other editing errors, though. That sort of thing really distracts me. And it’s hard to love a book if you don’t care for the main character…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the premise is very good, Margot but unfortunately the book doesn’t deliver. And going by a few books I have read lately, I wonder if books, esp those published in ebook format, even have an editor!

      Liked by 1 person

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