Collections of short stories are always a mystery. Unlike a novel, these always carry an air of uncertainty, akin to a Pandora’s Box. One never knows what kind of stories one will encounter within it. From a reviewer’s perspective, one can never be sure what kind of writing one will find – ranging from excellent stories that one gobbles up, to those that make you want to throw the book down and throw up. The only saving grace – the reader can skip stories she/he doesn’t like.
Tushar Sen’s Pandora’s Box is a true example of this uncertainty. The second book of this banker turned writer is part-rehash (of stories from his earlier compilation – The Satanic Provocations) and part-fresh set of stories. The book starts out with a stories that follow a predictable pattern, most notably the use of an anti-climax or a plot twist in the end. By the time I reached the 6th story – The Cryptic Patient, I was practically flipping through and skipping pages. After the 7th story, the climaxes and twists start to grow on you and, if you are even slightly creative, you are able to start thinking as the author does, in essence, being able to predict the ends of the story. In this respect, some readers may find the predictability a tad boring. One soon realizes, however, that this is the whole point – the predictable unpredictability, the known surprises…this is the Pandora’s Box.
Where the author scores is the freshness of the topics, of being able to find the humor and creativity in life. A protagonist who is impaled on a (Spoiler Alert!) pole during an aerial war suddenly turns into a kite; a flying object hurtling down to its death from a height of 30,000 feet turns into a raindrop. By the end of the book, the reader is sure to start viewing every object around him differently. So don’t be surprised if you find yourself wondering what the squirrels in your garden think of you!
Pandora’s Box is indeed what the title promises it to be – a collection of surprises. Every story is a surprise. The cover is attractive and preserves the essence of mystery. The length of the book is ideal for a quick read. The editing is average at best and as a keen reader, this is what put me off the most. What is otherwise a brilliant collection of stories, that actually keeps the essence of the theme and title alive throughout, and to which I would have given 4 stars to, just dropped down a notch.
One can see the effort the author has put in to market his book as well. The book is well designed and is even supported by a video book trailer. Watch it here.
I recommend the book to anyone who is traveling, it is absolutely meant for that. If you love surprise endings and reading at your own pace, the short stories will keep you entertained.
Our Rating for Pandora’s Box: 3.2/5
GoodReads rating for Pandora’s Box: 3.9/5.0
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