Dan Simmons’ novel was a great experience for me, mostly because I didn’t expect much from the book. I hadn’t read the critiques or cared much for the awards it won; all I cared about was the pull quote on the cover about it being the scariest book ever written. And, if you are someone like me, who must buy or rent any book or movie that had such a quote on the cover only to inevitably be disappointed later…well, you stop getting your hopes up.
Luckily for me, Song of Kali is scary. The story follows an American poet who travels to Calcutta with his wife and baby to secure a poem by a poet who was believed to be dead. From there, the story enters some pretty dark territory, made easier by Simmons’ gift of making Calcutta a character in itself. If I have any reservations about traveling to Calcutta, it’s all because of this book. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if tourism there has dropped significantly since the publication of this book.
Anyway, there are two major scenes in the book to look out for. The first involves the protagonist being put into a large dark room to discover that he isn’t alone. When he finally lights a match, what he sees is chilling. And it sounds awful when I describe it like that in my attempt to avoid spoilers, but in Simmons’ hands, this scene will have you leaving a light on when you go to sleep for a night or two. And the second scene is in an airport, a scene that is as heartbreaking as it is terrifying.
To say anything more would be a disservice to the story. This book is the real deal.
This has been