Book Review: Tales of the Anointed Skeletons and Love By Lahari Mahalanabish

The mundane life of a stay-at-home mom changes during a bus ride, a modern couple encounters a paranormal experience, a dentist in search of a ghost unearths a more terrifying situation, and a teenager finds out his single mother is running a bizarre science experiment in their study – Lahari Mahalanabish’s short story collection, Tales of the Anointed Skeletons and Love is a treat for short story lovers.

This short story collection was published by Ukiyoto in 2022 and contains 18 diverse stories. Each story in this collection stands out for its unique plot, rich settings and well-crafted characters. It’s a perfect combination of light-hearted stories like “The Attraction”, heart-warming stories like “Nowhere Else on Earth,” “The City of Gold,” and deeply unsettling stories like “The New Law” and “Towards the Gates.”

The book has stories that span different genres – sci-fi, drama, romance, and fantasy. I think the most remarkable feature of this collection is its diversity. There is no predictable pattern to these stories. I was pleasantly surprised by how the theme, characters and settings changed drastically from one story to the other. Every story in this collection is a deep and fulfilling experience.

You can dip into the story and find yourself entirely lost in its world for the time you are reading it. For example, when you read the story, The City of Gold, you’ll find yourself amongst a group of widows, repressed by society and damned to live a colourless life. Then you go on a trip with them and find out how they rekindle their love for a normal life.

When you read Dilemma, you’ll start empathizing with this woman with withered dreams trying to hold onto a straw of hope and excitement. We want her to find love and happiness, but we don’t know if she will. That’s the beauty of this story.

The new law is a story about a dystopian future without law and order. Even though it’s a speculative fiction story, it kept reminding me that we aren’t that away from this dystopian future. The story indeed terrified me.

Each story in this collection is written with a lot of attention to detail. Every character, main or sub, has a distinctive personality. The vivid descriptions of scenes take you into the fictional world, and you might find yourself lost in them. Each story has a deep dimension that demands the reader’s attention and time. Lahari’s grasp of language and vocabulary is extraordinary. As a writer, I found myself taking note of many new words.

This book isn’t a fast read, as each story and deep and long. A reader needs to spend time with each story to take it in slowly. I suggest this short story collection for everyone who wants to be lost in a rich and vivid fictional world. The book cost 249 rupees and is available on Amazon and other online stores.

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