Monday, November 4, 2013

Book Review: The Disappearance of Tejas Sharma and other hauntings

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Book: The Disappearance of Tejas Sharma…And other hauntings
Author: Manish Mahajan
Publisher: Cinnamonteal Publishing (
Genre: Horror
Price: Rs 250
Pages: 83
My rating: 4 out of 5

Review: You know what a great cover illustration can do to a book, even if it happens to be a really shoddy piece of a novel. As you can see above, this stunning cover design is the stuff dreams are made of (rather, nightmares are made of). And to add to that, if I tell you that far from being a shoddy work, this book is simply brilliant, then your curiosity is bound to pique.

‘The Disappearance of Tejas Sharma…and other hauntings’ is a collection of short stories which travel through the various sub-genres of the horror genre. Being the greatest fan of spooky things that I am, this book is a treasured object for me. With barely 83 pages in its urn, this book is quite skinny (though the fat price of Rs 250 more than makes up for its skinniness). The tales are all extremely short, some barely lasting a couple of pages. But they are good, really good. The horror can be subtle in one story and gory in the other. The author Manish Mahajan, who makes a debut into the world of literature, has taken help of very few words to cast his presence on the literary podium and to make me look at him with respect, bordering on reverence.

Here is what I jotted down at the end of each story the moment I read them:

The peepal tree of Lachhmangarh
An arresting tale of a haunted tree, this story draws inspiration from myths, hearsays and rumors that have always revolved around the much-feared ‘Peepal’. Manish Mahajan unleashes his fiery imagination, takes you along and dumps you right before this tree where you are left alone with one Mr. Rathore, our vengeful protagonist.

13, Church Street
Hmmm..makes for a good read. Ends too soon to leave a deep impact! The quaint settings offer a nostalgic touch.

Begunkodor Ghost Station
Once again, the author amalgamates imagination and reality to weave a tale which is not entirely fictitious. ‘Why does a dead woman knock at the door of a railway station master on duty?’ To find out, read this chilling account that relives the horrors of 1967.

Her Unkept promise
Brilliant plot, chilling climax! What can happen if an author’s stories begin to come true one by one? This tale gives you the answer.

The secret in the photograph
Oh my God (make it omfg). What a deep, disturbing and original plot. This is the story that makes you marvel at the ingenuity of the author. A photograph that has a unique secret to it!

Valley of the Dead
A story of flash fiction genre which is engaging but lacks the punch. Setting is eerie, language offers detailing….

Raag Bhimpalasi
Another fresh story, unique plot, gripping and chilling execution. ‘Raag Bhimpalasi’ is about a room that emanates flute music every Sunday morning. What’s the secret? Read and find out.

Strefford’s Roll Call
Though the story keeps you hooked and promises some astonishing revelation towards the end, that moment of climax never arrives. The plot churned around ‘crossings’ and ‘ticks’ over graves is fresh, but the story ends on a cryptic note. An unsolved mystery whose beauty lies in staying unsolved…

The Disappearance of Tejas Sharma
This story has an Edgar Allan Poe-esque narrative. The 1st person account of a friend’s disappearance, marked by a sharp vocabulary, makes this a classy story. If you pine for classics (the way I do), then this story will bring back reminiscences of Holmes and Poe.

This is a pretty ordinary story, an anomaly to this-otherwise wonderful book. Narrative is weak as compared to the rest and the plot has nothing exceptional to offer.

Burn the old papers
This story is very chilling, despite the cliché in the plot. Narrative has an arresting quality and though the end is predictable, the story does offer its share of goose bumps.

The greatest dare of all time
It is a typical old Indian ghost story. No subtlety here. Skulls, corpses, apparitions do show up, drumming up fear and chaos. Not the best story of the book, but an engaging tale nevertheless. Rustic setting adds authenticity and the author’s narrative does the rest.

Final verdict: Do buy the book or else cajole the author to send you a free review copy or try stealing it from me (that would be the greatest dare of all time)  *wink wink*

~Ritesh Agarwal

PS- This Review has been done in association with The Tales Pensieve. These guys are funny. They send you free books and then request you to write a few words on them, which is like giving Tendulkar a new bat and then requesting him to play some shots with it. He is going to do it anyhow.   ;)

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  1. [ Smiles ] That is a great book, but I wouldn't want to have it read to me as a bedtime story.

    1. Bedtime and horror walk hand in hand......i will try reading it to you on some thunderstorm night ;)

  2. More than the review, I loved the reference to Tendulkar :-P

  3. deep review :) liked the way of reviewing and ending a review on a funny note :) will consider it for buying once current lot is completed :P

  4. Thanks....hehe, I can understand that sometimes we have a lot more at hand than we can chew....Personally, I have around 30-40 unread books sitting with me :/

  5. Ritesh, this is an incredible review. Trust me I have had several till now but this is the first one which has actually rated each story individually. Thanks for the effort and interest in reading the book. Incidentally, I happen to agree with most of your ratings as well!
    Sharing your review on FB. Cheers:-)


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