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Darkness — by Ratnakar Matkari (Author), Vikrant Pande (Translator)

Publisher: HarperCollins India

Pages: 228

Price: Rs. 299 INR(Paperback), Rs. 225 INR (Kindle Edition)

ISBN: 978–9353573331

Buy here: https://amzn.to/2BwXJpl

A boy who can predict the exact date a person will die… An elderly woman who knows that death is close, but learns how to cheat it… A child with a dangerous friend who happens to be invisible… A ghost who can’t stop reliving his suicide over and over again… People you’ll wish you never have to meet, and stories you’ll never forget. Skilfully translated into English for the very first time, these chilling tales from master storyteller Ratnakar Matkari are bound to keep readers of all ages up at night. With every page you turn, you’ll be looking over your shoulder to make sure no one’s there. Look again. Maybe there is!

About the author:

Ratnakar Matkari(born 1938) is a Marathi writer, a movie and play producer/director and a self-taught artist. He worked as a columnist for newspapers and magazines in the 1970s. Matkari’s works this far include a number of plays, collections of one-act plays, books of his short stories, novels, and poems and plays for children. He has received 21 awards from different institutions including the Maharashtra State Government and the Sangeet Natak Akademi.

Vikrant Pande started translating from the Marathi with Ranjith Desai’s classic novel Raja Ravi Varma, the story of India’s most celebrated painter. He has since translated Milind Bokil’s Shala, N.S. Inamdar’s Rau: The Great Love Story of Bajirao Mastani and Shahenshah: The Life of Aurangzeb, Ranjit Desai’s Shivaji: The Great Maratha and Karna: The Great Warrior. He is currently a vice chancellor with TeamLease Skills University, Vadodara.

My take on the book:

Darkness is a collection of eighteen short stories all weaved around horror and mystery. Though all of them are translated from Marathi to English, the reader will never realize they are translations, kudos to Vikrant Pande, who translated them perfectly. The stories are a good mix of urban and rural backdrops and my personal favorites are those set up against rural, as they add to the theme with their rustic nature, huge empty bungalows and never-ending forests.  

A child who can tell the exact date of death of any person he meets, a ghost that can change form to lead life of a human, a child who comes alive from imagination and what-could-have-been situations, an old woman who predicts her date of death and plans to transfer it to others, future that plays in reverse order as though it is happening for real, a dead person who wants to relive his dead moments again and again, vampires, shape-shifting creatures, worms that can turn deadly — each story has a unique premise and horror element. 

The stories are so interesting that the reader cannot stop just with few stories. Though all of them are centered around the same theme, each of them have a different backdrop and a different ending, that keeps the reader guessing, especially since most of them have an inherent mystery inbuilt. Short stories are generally challenging for an author to sustain the reader’s interest and hence a bunch of horror stories are further challenging. The original author Ratnakar Matkari does a fabulous job with fine story telling. Unlike horror stories in recent times which try to cash on only on the sleaze factor, this collection steers away from such clichés. Pick ‘Darkness’ for a collection of spooky stories that are engaging and intriguing.

My rating: