Book: The Narrow Road to Palem
Author: Sharath Komarraju
Rudrakshapalem lies a few kilometers East of Godavari in the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. At first glance, it looks like just another sleepy little village. But as you walk along its borders and peer into the lives of its people, you will find that deep within its breast are hidden some dark secrets.
– In the temple compound roams a crazy man named Chander. He hugs a gold pendant and sings lullabies to it every night. What is his story?
– Subbarao, one of Palem’s richest men, came up the hard way, having started life as the poor son of a snack seller. But what is the secret that gives him sleepless nights?
– A young couple dealing with loss stand in front of the road to Palem, and there is a seller of mirrors on the sidewalk, welcoming them in. Will they heed his words, or will they run away?
– How much are happiness and peace worth to Rama Shastri, the priest of Palem’s Shiva temple? And to what extent will he go to ensure the well-being of his daughter?
In these ten delightful stories, Sharath Komarraju takes you by the hand and gives you a fully guided tour of Palem and its people. But don’t fear, he will bring you back home safe and sound, long before it’s dark.
‘The Narrow Road to Palem’ is an anthology of horror short stories written by Sharath Komarraju. This book is a Kindle edition which I received through a giveaway conducted by the author himself. Though I have heard about the author through his blog posts, I have never read any of his previous works. So when I started to read this book, I had no expectations at all. But behold! The very first story The Ace of Clubs captivated me right from the beginning. Sharath has created a fictional village by the name of Rudrakshapalem which is a trove of eerie secrets. The daily life of the villagers, their lifestyle, their familial discords, their problems and insecurities have been eminently portrayed by him.
There lies an undercurrent of horror in each tale. But this isn’t a book which consists of the stereotyped ghost stories. Sharath gracefully blends human psychology into every aspect of the stories, making them as psychological thrillers rather than horror stories. The endings of each tale will make you crave for more. Sharath’s poise narrative style makes sure that you are on the edge of your seat with every turning of the page. There are many nail-biting moments in the book which will give you an adrenaline rush. He also provides an earthy and raw dimension to each story that you will feel like living the life of the characters. Some stories even have the capacity to riddle you to such an extent that you’d immediately need answers to your puzzling questions. But a deeper sojourn into each tale will surely make you understand the underlying moral which Sharath has tried to convey.
My favorites in this book are Malli, Round and Round, The Narrow Road to Palem, Peaceful Are The Dead, Dear House and No Yellow in My Rainbow. I would recommend this book to all those who want to relish horror in its true essence. This spooky collection is sure to give you goosebumps and chills down your spine!
Sharath Komarraju is an author of fiction and nonfiction based in Bangalore, India. Once a software engineer, now he writes full-time, and on lazy days he watches cricket and talks to his wife (often at the same time). He runs a busy blog on his website which keeps him on his toes pretty much all of his waking hours. (Source: Goodreads)