The Dead Smile (Short Stories on Wednesday)

I have read mostly horror novels this month, and not only for the R.I.P. Challenge and Wonderfully Wicked Read-a-thon! So to keep up with the Halloween spirit, I read a short story by American author Francis Marion Crawford. It is a gothic tale called The Dead Smile.

“It was a low-moaning voice, one that rose suddenly, like the scream of storm. Then it went from a moan to a wail, from a wail to a howl, and from a howl to the shriek of the tortured dead. He who has heard it before knows, and he can bear witness that the cry of the banshee is an evil cry to hear alone in the deep night.”

The themes of the story are lies, secrets and forbidden love, combined with the supernatural. The story is wonderfully written and has in every way the aethetic beauty of gothic literature. The descriptions are so vivid and at times, gruesome, that you can almost see the scenes unfold before your eyes. That being said, the plot is awfully predictable and riddled with loopholes. As long as you don’t try to make sense of every action, the story is a beautiful and touching read.
You can read it here. Short Stories on Wednesday is a bookish meme hosted at Risa’s Bread Crumb Reads.

The Phantom Rickshaw by Rudyard Kipling

“The weather in India is often sultry, and since the tale of bricks is always a fixed quantity, and the only liberty allowed is permission to work overtime and get no thanks, men occasionally break down and become as mixed as the metaphors in this sentence.”

The Phantom Rickshaw is a short story written by Rudyard Kipling and published in 1888 as a part of a collection called The Phantom Rickshaw and other Eerie Tales.

Set in Simla, a popular tourist destination in British India, the story is a first person account of a man named Jack who is haunted by his past. Literally.
This is undoubtedly one of the best ghost stories I have read. The story was slightly weak in places, but I loved how realistically the supernatural element is presented. I also liked the writing style; the combination of witty and eerie. You can (and you should!) read it here.

Short Stories on Wednesday is a weekly bookish meme (and the one thing I have to thank for my growing fascination with short stories) hosted at Risa’s Bread Crumb Reads.

Only Love by Erich Segal (Mini Review)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at MizB’s Should Be Reading. My teaser this week is from Erich Segal’s Only Love.

“There is a popular legend about a graduate student who entered the genetic engineering lab at Harvard twenty years ago and has never emerged. Some say he is still there, eyes welded to an electron microscope, desperately seeking a particularly fugitive gene.”

The story is about two doctors, Matthew and Silvia, who fall in love in Africa. It is a reality of their own, away from the rest of the world. Their perfect illusion breaks when they are driven apart during some bloodshed, and Matthew is left alone to mourn. Even today, Matthew Hiller, one of the best neurosurgeons ever, is haunted by the memories of his lover. He faces the worst time of his life, when he realizes that his new patient, a dying woman with a brain tumor is no stranger, after all.

I always stayed away from romance as a genre for fear of pseudo-intellectual, mushy, dramatic writing, designed to make people cry. Only Love by Erich Segal is the first love story I have ever dared to read. And I have to admit, I was mildly surprised. It didn’t have any of the drama I was expecting. It is a quick read. The book is funny and romantic and quite believable. I actually loved the fast paced writing style and the fact that it didn’t bring me to tears. This is what all love stories should be like, instead of the usual raging sob stories!

Mini Review!

Books I wish I read when I was a kid. Yes. I read it right now. Call me crazy…!

When I was little, I read an awesome book at my aunt’s place. It was something about some bunnies…I can’t remember what. And it’s killing me. Ugh. Anyway, I also read Matilda back then. By Roald Dahl, of course! And I love it. Of course. I didn’t read any other books by Dahl though – a very stupid thing to do.

Anyway. I’ve always (firmly) believed that it’s never too late to read a children’s book! With me, it’s totally okay to read (and love) a children’s book – even when you’re nineteen, that is. So. I did! You know, like I read the likes of the Graveyard book by Neil Gaiman and found them nice. Now I finally read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

It was like being a kid again. I mean, it did seem silly reading the book now – but I can see how I would have totally loved it as a kid. Blame my house full of Enid Blyton books.

Just a quick summary: Five lucky kids win a day trip to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory – the biggest and the best in the world! A day long tour with Mr. Wonka himself, and a lifetime’s supply of Wonka chocolates. Then things go very wrong, as they usually do. But everything turns out fine, as it usually does.

It is one of the funniest and most fascinatingly whimsical children’s books I have ever read! And the most delicious one too!! And you know, there is that whole dark side to it. I guess it’s more obvious in the movies.
The descriptions are magical and when the chocolate doesn’t seem delicious enough (which is never) there are absurd Oompa Loompa songs to crack you up!

Unless you’re ninety, in which case you might not like it just as much, read this book! Go, now!