Title: Route 13: Highway To Hell
Author: The Hive
Genre: Horror, Anthologies
No of Pages: 366
Price: Rs 149
Link for Purchase: Route 13: Highway To Hell
What happens when 13 writers of horror are trapped in a bus on a stormy night?
They try to outdo one another with blood-curdling, spine-chilling tales. Read these riveting, terrifying tales, where the authors themselves become the characters.
I have a habit of likening a book of anthologies to a buffet dinner or lunch. A book of love stories, in my opinion, is a buffet meal of sweet dishes and by analogy, I liken a book of horror stories to a buffet meal of spicy dishes. After reading this book (I read it in one go mostly) I found the dishes (read stories) have been written very imaginatively. The stories are hair raising and each story introduced a creepy feeling of fear into me. Many of the stories have a twist at the end and leave the reader gasping with mouths open. And to top it all there are a number of mini tales provided to us as dessert after the meal. I really enjoyed reading this book and as a first publication from The Hive and its members, I must say it is a really excellent effort.
All the stories are sufficiently spiced up with the essential ingredient horror, and stay in the reader’s mind for the fear quotient they evoke. Among the thirteen anthologies in the book, the ones I found particularly captivating are the following eight.
- Welcome by Sarveswari Sai Krishna – This is one of the two stories based on a phone in the book and had an element of lengthening suspense as the tale proceeds. The author has described the tale based on a time scale which leaves us constantly wondering what is going to happen next. The final twist at the end is also commendable.
- Pastel of the Past by Priya U Bajpai – This tale starts off with a tried and tested beginning and then over a couple of twists over night times it meanders its way tortuously to a heart-rending end. The story stays in the reader’s mind right till you finish reading the book. This tale struck me as one of the best tales in the book especially given the way it ends.
- Killing Murakami by Venkataraman Ganesan – This one is a genuine masterpiece. I was really left baffled and surprised by the ending. The story is built step by step clothed with layer after layer of suspense and finally ends on a terrifying note. It is a wonderful tale and genuinely brings in an element of unexpected surprise among the stories.
- Old MacDonald Had A Farm by Varadharajan Ramesh – I spoke of an anthology of horror stories being a buffet of spicy dishes. This story by my friend Varad is loaded with spice. And the spice comes in the form of violence and gore. This does not mean that the story does not have other elements of spice. The story is presented with the chapters jumbled up. And yet the entire story unfolds very clearly to the reader. It requires a great amount of writing skill to present a story lucidly with the chapters in jumbled order. And knowing my friend Varad’s phenomenal writing skills I am not at all surprised that he has done this with such aplomb.
- The Artist by Yatindra Tawde – The spice in this tale is the element of psychological terror that the author has introduced. The warped and twisted mind of the main character involved leaves one shivering in terror. An extremely fearful story which leaves a person frightened and thinking about how twisted a human mind can become.
- The Adventures of a Virgin by Tina Sequeira – This tale is slightly different from the rest in the sense that though there is violence and gore throughout the story the genuine feeling of fear seeps in only when you reach the end of the story. This is typically a tale in which the reader is left gasping in horror at the end. In other words, the element of surprise hits you on the face at the end. It has Tina’s stamp of writing namely subtlety. Altogether a very likeable story.
- Memory of a Face by Kanika G – This story chilled my bones. It is written with so much fear packed into the words. It also illustrates one of the anathemas of overusing technology. It is a really chilling tale and the end is truly horrifying in its psychological implications.
- The Case of the Seance by Ell P – This is another tale packed with a lot of violence and gore. In addition, there is an element of constant fear and suspense. A really likeable story that makes your flesh crawl.
I have listed the eight stories that left a lasting impression on my mind. This by no means indicates that the remaining five were not good. I have just mentioned the eight that topped my list.
In this buffet meal, the dessert that is provided in the form of short stories contains some real gems. The short stories are really good and show that the Hive has a lot of very talented writers.
Any negatives about this book? The only thing I can say is that in some of the tales the violence and the gore could have been reduced in favour of an element of subtle terror. Otherwise, all the tales are in excellent taste.
A definite yay! Do read this book if you are a horror fan like me.
I am tempted to reduce half a point for the overuse of gore and give a 4.5 out of 5. But what the hell! The book held my attention from beginning to end. So it is a 5/5 from me for ‘Route 13 – Highway to hell’.