Book title – Trail XIII, the path to perdition
Publisher – The Hive publishers
Pages – 237 Language – English
Author – An anthology by 13 authors
Available on – Amazon.in
For years I had equated horror stories with paranormal stories. Because that’s what I grew up on. My notion about horror changed when I started associating with The Hive. It opened the wide range of unexplored territory of gore, splatter, psychological horror. It taught me how horror can inflict upon regular life. Trail XIII: The Path to Perdition, their latest presentation, is a motley of thirteen spine chilling stories written by thirteen authors. The brilliance of each one of these stories lies in the deviation from the familiar tropes, thereby avoiding the much worn-out clichés. Being a part of its earlier horror venture, I can safely say this one flares up gory fare many notches. While Route 13 had a more traditional horror feel, Path XIII travels deeper into the hell, with newer and varied subgenres. And add many more gut-wrenching moments. And if you have a weak heart like me I would suggest you skim through some grisly descriptions.
The stories have all the elements a horror world can comprise of – witches, haunted houses, ghastly serial killers, occult, ancient myths and folklores, weird cults, monsters, the dark demons lurking behind the deepest fears of the mind. Most of the stories are good, some better than others. So here I mention a few of my favourite ones. This doesn’t mean the others are in anyways less but were just too gory for my taste.
1. Look into my eyes by Anshu Bhojnagarwala – Since I am a fan of atmospheric horror this story appealed to me the most. A family drama in a haunted house. Natasha and Sid along with their children Adi and Dia move into a spacious house which lands them in mortal danger. And though in the end, all seems well, is it true? The narration is the biggest takeaway from the story.
2. The Voice by Priya Bajpai – A fig tree intercepts relatively harmless trekking by the two friends, Kiara and Sabrina. Whose fruit of sin is it? Another story championing the narrative style.
3. Mother Promise by Prachi Sharma – In retrospect, this is the story that disturbed me the most. Probably the premise is so different from what we usually read in Indian literature which always upholds mother figures in an unbelievable god-like stature. The characterization and the dubious mind games steal the show.
4. Naani and the shadows by Ell P – An engaging tale that is on this list for its brilliant use of the prompt. The chilly Kaziranga, the grandma’s tale and the spooky tale grab the reader’s attention. Though this is not this author’s best work, one of the best in the book in my opinion.
5. Insidious Thoughts by Angel Whelan – The story appears towards the end of the book but in my opinion the best in the series. The psychological disintegration that leads to a shocking climax keeps one hooked to the core.
The other two stories which piqued my intrigue are Click, Click…bang, bang by Shankar Housagoudar with its old-world charm and The Dante House by Varadharajan Ramesh with its brilliant twists and surprises.
The attractive cover, the page quality, the tight editing and the cleverly placed stories add to the pleasure of reading. The book starts with a soft punch and with each story starts to increase the heat by a few degrees until it reaches the inferno.
This delectable delight will please any horror aficionado. But, someone with a lesser appetite might find a few instances unnerving. Just a word of caution – the book boasts a trigger warning at the beginning. Believe that completely.
Do I recommend this book? Hell yes.