Kaleidoscope is a collection of twenty five short stories of different genres that were collected and judged as part of a contest done by Springtide and Parlance Publishers. It is a mixed bag of few authors who have already been published before, as well as some debutants.
Thoughts on the cover:
I like toned-down designs and colors, but I feel it could have had a much better cover. For a book of multi genre stories, the cover mainly had sms, and magnifying glass, and musical note etc. I like the arrangement in the shape of the world though. Maybe if it was more to life than just virtual life, it might have been better.
Thoughts on the stories:
Fair warning to readers, there might be spoilers in this part.
I’m going to be giving my short thoughts on each individual story, so this might be a very long review; kindly bear with me. Since it is a multi genre anthology, an overall review might not be justifiable. As always, it is in my order of reading, rather than the order in the book.
01. The Hike to the Temple (by Prasanna Rao): I liked the attempt. But the ending didn’t work as well as it should have. The monster didn’t come across as scary. I couldn’t understand why a character would go on the expedition if they already knew of the rumors, and if that character was affected by the spirits, why would that character act the way he did.
02. Secret of the Murderous Wood (by Sanhita Baruah): The ending was a little predictable, therefore lost the horror it could have got. I think tinkering between the past and present, or maybe doing it from different points of view maybe could have got it out better. Just a suggestion though.
03. Chaos (by Rahul Biswas): I liked the twist, it was different, and for the most part I didn’t see that coming. Though I couldn’t understand how someone who was held down and maybe crucified had as much energy as he did, to do what he did. That part might have been a little more thought out.
04. The White Dress (by Garima Nowal): It is a good story from the viewpoint of a young girl. The thoughts of insecurity and then trust are brought out well, but I could see the ending coming. I also think the title could have been something else. I think “probability of more than 0.5” sounds out of place when it is in thoughts, and the protagonist is worried.
05. The House (by Deboshree Bhattacharjee): I liked the starting, but the build up and ending was interesting, but also confusing. I couldn’t get it immediately.
06. The Boy Who Sold Books (by Anurag Bhatt): I like the thought behind the story, and the helpful nature of the protagonist, but the plot was predictable. A major mistake in this was the confusion between names. First the character is shown as Rajat, and then later as Raghav. In one part of the ending, the protagonist is called by his name, and then suddenly with a term of respect suffixed. It could have been avoided.
07. I Love You Too (by Khushi Gupta): I think the ending was known without the trip to the past, because the last line before the flashback kind of set it up. The idea was good, but maybe the flashback should have started much earlier, or done a different way, to build the ending up.
08. The Domino Effect (by Deepa Duraisamy): I like the idea, to show how one thing sets another rolling, and was almost seamlessly executed. I think if the ending was completely in third person, and didn’t have a line or two in first person, this could have been perfect.
09. The Tale of the Knitting Yarn (by Nabanita Dhar): The narration brings the story to life, but I still feel something lacking. The ending was predictable as well.
10. The Hunter (by Vivek Banerjee): Really loved the flow and till the last paragraph, the twist is not revealed. The twist also blends into the narration making it well written. No particular flaws to point out.
11. The Journey of My Life (by Shishir Dhingra): Feel good love story, but the ending is given away by a combination of the title and part of the flashback. Another thing that I feel didn’t work was the mixed narration. It could have been completely a story type narration, or completely in dialogues. And even in dialogues, “She -” and “Me -” sound out of place.
12. Karma is a Bitch (by Rafaa Dalvi): The story transcends from a little philosophy, to touching erotica a little and then suspense. The erotica was predictable from the way the story it began, but the ending was not. A good story.
13. I ‘Operated’ (by Smriti Mahale): Subtle humor was there through the story, and it worked for me. The worry of the protagonist also came through, but I didn’t quite get the ending. Maybe if I read it again a few times, I might understand.
14. Redemption (by Harihar Adarsh): A fantasy tale, about the effect of power on young minds, and not being taught well. It was a good story, albeit a little rushed in its execution.
15. Happy Puppet (by Bhavya Kaushik): A sad condition to be stuck in, and the ending isn’t predictable. The narration of that predicament was brought out well.
16. The Star That Shines On Me (by Parul Tyagi): A very different story, and an interesting way to deal with a tough situation. This is a story that’s difficult for me to tell whether I liked or not. It was a little here and there. It’s not bad though.
17. Voice Male (by Renuka Vishwanathan): Totally predictable from the title itself, and an ending reminiscent of an episode from The Big Bang Theory. The infatuation was brought out well, but not one of my favorite stories.
18. The Unknown Destination (by Aniruddh Naik): I liked the technique used to create interest in the history involved, because historical events when narrated blandly don’t hold interest. That being said, the ending was rushed and I felt it wasn’t done justice. A good attempt that could have been better.
19. Food (by Vaibhav Mukhim): Sci-fi is not always my cup of tea, and this tale didn’t help sweeten the tea either. Hazy plot, and though the beginning got the suspense element going, it didn’t hold till the end.
20. First Contact (by Aman Mathur): Second sci-fi I read. I felt the beginning to be drawn out, and the ending unpredictable. Good buildup as well. Interesting read indeed.
21. Theory of Evolution (by Balaganesh Pitchai): Very rarely does my random order of reading end up with three similar genres back-to-back. The names and narration were perfectly in tune with the genre. A good read.
22. Crazy Scarf (by Prabhat Singh): Got a chuckle at the ending, though it was a sad one. However, the ending was predictable from the place of residence.
23. Alive Inside (by Nehali Lalwani): I like the idea, though it is not new and the plot line is predictable. Though I don’t know if anyone stuck in a strange place for the night would willingly start to interact with their hosts and ask them personal questions. I for one would just be looking for the night to get over and get out of there as quickly as possible.
24. When Love Oozed Out Blood (by Ayush Agarwal): The start took it into suspense genre, the middle and the end took the suspense out and it ended up being no particular genre, maybe love or cultural or a bit of both at most. The conclusion thought, which is what he wanted to show, could’ve come out a lot better.
25. The Last Date (by Saravana Kumar Murugan): I think the story is a good one, but it could be a lot better. The love between the couple is shown well, but I feel that the ending was overcooked. It needn’t have been taken to such an extreme to justify why it was a “last date”.
I’ve put across thoughts on each story. But what I found lacking most in the collection overall was editing. When presented well, without typos and grammatical mistakes, an average story can still pull above its weight. In a similar way, when a great story is presented shoddily, it falls below that mark. Most stories here are simple in plotting, so this lack of editing pulls it down. Even in general areas, there were mistakes, like an author’s name being published with a typo, or the title of a story being published different in the contents page. Avoiding these would’ve made it a lot better.
Authors: Multiple Authors
Editor: Pawas Jain, Springtide
Genre: Multiple Genre
Publishers: Parlance Publishers
Price: INR. 150
(July 10th, 2013)