Moumita Dutta posted under Book Review on 2022-03-14

“Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly.”  -Sir Francis Bacon Shattered is one of those few books. A collection of 19 short stories written by 18 writers that will pierce your heart, poke your senses and tug at your heartstrings. The synopsis of each story was weaved thoughtfully, in a rhythmic way to make the readers ponder for quite a while. Each story is unique, with intriguing plots and complimented the title perfectly. A wonderfully composed anthology that will keep you hooked till the last line of the last story. In between, you’ll feel overwhelmed and happy;  shattered and yet, you will find peace through the bitter-sweet closures.  Collateral Fractures  One of the best stories of this anthology, the story complimented the title perfectly and vice versa. Each character got their due space; each had a  significant role to play. The story was set on a familiar premise, but the plot was an out-of-the-box idea. The author Sanjukta Ghosal built the story gradually but didn’t miss to prepare the readers for the shattering events that befell henceforth. The story emphasizes on how a bizarre incident caused mayhem and shattered lives; how a regular day turned out to be fatal for many and yet, life goes on despite the trauma one faces. Krishna and Kanak’s story wrenched my heart. The taut narration kept me connected to the sequence of events. Not for a moment did I lose track or feel bored. In fact, I finished the story in one go and then heaved...not a sigh of relief though. The description of the post incident events, the life stories of each character was carefully handled. A well woven and well concluded story.  Splintered Souls I was left speechless after reading this story. The author Supriya Bansal is a gem of a writer and she has proved her mastery through this story. The first paragraph itself is very inviting, especially if one enjoys reading murder mystery and thriller stories. Inspector Bhuvan’s character was well etched; consider it as the author’s fine observation skills or excellent storytelling ability. A revenge story that’ll shock you with the twist and turn of events. It all started when a few kids, studying at a boarding school, commit criminal acts. Their ill-deeds shatter lives until the brother of the victim return to avenge the wrong-doers. The readers will surely empathize with Tapan, the victims brother and the real hero of this story (purely my perspective). The lucid language, taut narration and intriguing plot kept me hooked till the end. The splintered souls not only invited trouble for themselves, but they burnt down the hopes and aspirations of a few others. You’ll love every bit of the story. Anastasis Set in Shillong, India, the story got a special place in my heart. The language, descriptions, the way the characters were etched, interested me from the start. The author Alpna Das Sharma, brought each character alive through her excellent storytelling. The plot, the spot she chose, the back stories of each character, the descriptions, the situations- everything was so well taken care of. The gradual built-up was quite inviting. The author gave enough time to get comfortable with her characters while preparing the readers for the upcoming thrill. “Socioemotional conditioning,”- quite a relatable thought. A hobby class that oriented three distraught souls, helped them to revisit their past and refine their present. Nina’s dialogues were carefully entwined, not just to teach but to send thoughtful messages. What I liked best is the way the author handled the narration- we hear about their past while staying connected to the present scenario. What an amazing way to teach; to show with the example of Kintsugi. “As they mended, they healed.”– Loved this thought. Oh, I got goosebumps when I came to know about Anna’s truth. An unexpected twist that is sure to surprise the readers. Well-timed, it was! And finally, the author tied the loose ends very thoughtfully. Shattered souls found solace - what can be more pleasant than that. The ending was simply heart-warming. Read it, to feel it! Sundarpur Chronicles An interesting story about a writer suffering from Schizophrenia. The first half of the story was an account of his hallucinations and was well narrated by the author Nilutpal Gohain. The second half had the twist and disclosed the details about the truth of his mental condition, his death and how he injured his son with a chain that he assumed to be a snake. Hints of conspiracy and foul play was added to give the story a murder mystery angle. The narration, plot, descriptions, language, was well taken care of by the author. One persons sufferings and unstable mental condition shattered lives, especially of a young boy who wasn’t at fault. Overall, a nice to read story.   Pietra Angolare Dell’Universo This story was an lovely treat for me, since I’m a sci-fi fan. This story is based on scientific experiments, about those hushed, secret researches, that happen behind closed walls. A totally different take of the shattered concept and very different from the rest of the stories. The narration kept me hooked as every moment I waited to know what’s next. The theories, though fictional, seemed true. The author Olinda Braganza has done a tremendous job and kudos to her research which is prominent from the descriptions and the language used. A master storyteller, the authors narration will make you hold your breath; will make you look forward to know the future of such an experiment. The protagonists character was smartly etched. Her curiosity nudged her to seek the truth behind those strange incidents around her, but finally, she too fell prey. This story is bound to keep you engrossed. One need to read the story to understand and perceive it in their own way. All I can say is that, this is a brilliant, intelligent piece of work.  Wings A story of two generations- a mother carrying the burden of her shattered dreams, and a daughter, who mustered courage so as not to let her dreams shatter. A mother who stood strong, supporting her daughter at every step, while fighting her own battles. A mother who finally made peace with a truth that she feared would doom their family. This is the story of oppression, the burdens that society dumps on a gild child, and how few parents opt to go with the flow; in fear of losing their status in the society. In the same story, the author Archie Iyer has very carefully portrayed the flip side- where another girl child, get her wings to fly. Where, despite all odds, the mother stands firm with her daughter knowing that it will fetch harsh consequences. There is a fine balance between the two segments of this story. Ruma’s strength was challenged, but she fought through the odds. The rest of the characters were given their due space and was well-etched. The author is a fine writer who loves cats, and writes awesome humorous stories. A well-narrated, inspiring story, with a heart-warming end. A must read. Scarlet Skies Chandra Sundeep is an amazing writer, whose stories come with a message. Be it a fairy tale, or a story based on social issues, she never fails to ace them. What I liked best in this story is that she painted Shatter in many hues; both bright and dull. While on one side, the protagonists fears and insecurities shattered; on the other, her dreams, hopes and aspirations shattered. The becoming of Selena from Isabella was carefully jotted. The author composed that journey finely, keeping the minute, yet important details for us to see and feel. Well, I did! The authors taut narration and fine characterization will make every ready empathize with Isabella. Miguel, the man who came as a ray of hope, her first love, lit a fire within her, only to burn her down. The descriptions were beautifully penned. They took me on a tour of Mexico and New York. The use of Spanish dialects gave the story an authentic flavour. A story of love and deceit; shattering dreams and beliefs that will keep you hooked, wanting for more. Some stories stay with us for long, and this one is one of those. Read the book to believe it.  Beneath the Golden Seams The story starts with an interesting thought about the art of Kintsugi. This is the authors second story from the book and it is an equally extraordinary story as the other one- Collateral Fractures. Trust me, the story is bound to keep you hooked. Excellent narration, a fresh plot, the descriptions, the twists and surprises will make you feel as if you are watching a murder mystery series. Feel the thrill and watch your goosebumps react. This is the story of shattered relationships and beliefs. Each character was perfectly etched. Their entry and exit was well-timed. While the mother-daughter duo mastered the art of Kintsugi, they were bereaved of the opportunity to mend the shattered pieces of their lives. My heart went out for Noelle and Daria. The past is better forgotten. But the author Sanjukta Ghosal has given an interesting turn to the plot. A heart-wrenching story where you’ll find traces of humanity and evil; the latter being dominant throughout. An out-of-the-box murder plan, for which I applaud the author. Excellent research and a well-sequenced storyline. “I wish they had added my name in the family-tree. No, not as Shyam’s daughter, but as something the wind blew in.- Daria/Dahlia.” These lines touched me.“Dahlia’s sufferings seemed too personal”- to me too. Phew! My heart’s heavy. It isn’t just another revenge story. It’s a story of survival and realisation; about seeking solace through repentance. Yet, I wish, the ending was different. Loved the way the author weaved the cop’s character. What an end! What a story! Wow!“Kintsugi is worked on pieces from a clean break, not on pulverized crumbs.”-guess so. A fantastic story from an unputdownable book. Don’t miss it. Grab the book, to know Daria’s story. The Best Man The story is set on different locations and the author has didn’t miss the detailed descriptions. Be it the food or the locales...her narration did take me on a tour. At the start, the author created a premise to let the readers familiarize with the characters and the event. And then very finely she brought in a twist. It all starts when the protagonist, Dominic disappears on the evening of a stag party. He was abducted, beaten and bruised but somehow he lives to discover the truth. This is the story of betrayal and deceit, and that too by the most trusted person-his friend; his best man. The truth shatter three lives, but Dominic and Elena choose to heal in their own way. I liked the old lady and her son as the author Fabienne Meyers portrayed them as helpful and empathetic. I appreciate the authors intention to portray a balanced world, where both good and evil exists. The end was justified with a touch of reality. Each character played their role well. The language, use of Spanish, the plot-all were well handled. Overall, a good to read story, not rushed, and will surely make you ponder. 1947- An Imprecation The title is enough to give the readers a hint of what lies ahead. But hey, do not take it as just another partition era story. This is the story of a family who bore the brunt of the political and religious outrage, post Swaraj. This is the story about the turmoil and savagery that the common mass went through; the price they paid for no fault of theirs. We have heard and read many stories about that mayhem, but this will tear your heart. You’ll feel the bile rising in your throat, only to gulp it down in helplessness. (Psst! Keep a bunch of tissues handy. You’ll need them.) The author Sonal Singh is a master storyteller and an excellent poet. The expressions, vivid descriptions, the language, the choice of words... they will take you on an emotional roller-coaster ride. You’ll empathize with Jogi the protagonist, and wonder if things could’ve been better. If only the seed of hatred wasn’t sown so deeply... This story, to me, was like a political and religious satire. The outrage shattered lives, ruined peace and uprooted people from their native land. Bauji’s prediction stands true –“If our identity is defined by our religion in future, then it won’t take long for our religion to become our greatest imprecation.” The authors narration is an excellent example of the ‘Show Don’t tell’ format. While my blood boiled with rage seeing the barbaric acts, I stood as a silent witness with a heavy heart. I felt relieved knowing that Jassi, Jogi’s little sister was alive; that she escaped the fury of those madmen. Like Jogi, I too, “sucked in a deep lungful of air.” The end warmed my heart. If only...I wished. At what I comforted myself with. Grab the book ‘cause you surely don’t wanna miss the chance to read this gut-wrenching tale. And utter a silent prayer for Jogi and Jassi. My Journey Beyond Life The story started on a beautiful note about our journey after death. I’m not a fan of mythology, but knowing the author’s excellent storytelling skills, I opted to read it. And I did...till the end. This story is a fine blend of realistic and mythic fiction. Through each female character, the author Shweta Mathur Lall put forth a bunch of questions that’ll make you think and wonder. The similarities drawn between Sita’s situation to that of the modern day women, is remarkable. I could connect with the questions of each character, for, somehow, I had the same queries. Sita, the goddess and princess paid the price for not standing up for her rights. And how her decisions made a difference to the lives of three common girls on earth. Sita bore the burden of their curse and her shattered soul awaits salvation. The author united the dots thoughtfully and built the connection with each character through stories that will tug at your heartstrings. Made me wonder if Sita was the culprit or a mere victim of patriarchy. Whether it would’ve made any difference to the earthlings, if she chose otherwise. “Every time the society muffles the cry of an ailing, suffering and tortured woman, my suffering grows manifold.” –says Sita. “This eternal wait for retribution, is my penance.”- Sita’s words were hard-hitting. She put forth an aspect that’ll make every reader feel for the goddess who wishes not to be epitomized. The message was loud and clear- we must voice out thoughts and wishes. Do not give in, but fight for your rights. For, our one wrong choice can set wrong examples to the future generations. I’m glad I read the story. Enjoyed every bit of it. The author has once again, proved her storytelling skills through her taut narration, choice of plot, the language, while connecting and balancing the events of the past and present. An outstanding story and a must-read.  Dialogues Across the Realm The author Sreemati Sen made me connect with the characters, from the very first chapter. The mention of paranormal activities made the plot interesting. Characterization was done carefully, the narration was lucid, and the easy language gave a smooth flow to the story. The story revolves around Ruhi, a teenager, and her dad. Ruhi lost her mother when she was hardly a year old. The father-daughter relationship was portrayed very beautifully, through dialogues and instances that the readers will easily connect with. At a fair, a gypsy gives an Ouija board to Ruhi, to connect to her mom. Much to her friends’ oppose, she decides to carry out the planchette. They argue on the idea of inviting spirits, but Ruhi was determined. She pined for her mother for years, and didn’t want to lose the chance to connect with her Maman. Eventually Ruhi connects with her mom. The story then tosses a twist- a grand revelation that shocks and troubles her mind. A face-off with her father, the reconciliation, the closure was indeed heart-warming. The author started the story on a familiar premise, took it to a peak, and then closed it on a peaceful note. Shattered relationships, ruined lives, but through Ruhi, the author tied the pieces together and gave the story a meaningful ending. I simply enjoyed reading it.  The Shattered Souls “Beyond the picket fences and oil wells, the happy endings, and the fairy tales, is the reality of shattered lives and broken dreams. But we must carry on.”  - This thought is the USP of this story. The story revolved around Nikunj and a few of his friends who died of unidentified causes. This story is about friendship, trust, shattered lives, a harsh reality, of realizations and finally, a peaceful closure. The shattered souls are those who gets ignored after death. The souls who are stuck and waiting to travel to the other realm. During the pandemic, many families lost the opportunity to bid a final goodbye. Many untold stories faded with the deceased. Once cherished by all, they got ignored after death. Their loved ones remained oblivious and continued to be in pain. Through this story, the author Kokila Das Gupta, tried to send a nice message for all of us. She made Nikunj understand the truth, and through him, the shattered souls found their peace. The plot, language, the flow, the storytelling and characterization all were handled very finely. The title did justice to the story and vice versa. The author eventually tied the loose ends and concluded the story in a heart-warming way. The bet, the incidents that unfolded henceforth, were all so thoughtfully done. I could visualise the scenes. At times I got goosebumps, and at times, my heart ached for those lost, shattered souls. Every reader will connect with the story. I felt for the characters and totally enjoyed reading the story.   The Street Without Cherries I liked the plot, the characterization and descriptions that took me to Cherry Street. Right from the start, I became a resident of that area. The author Trixiah Ann Gumba, made me connect with her characters easily. I wanted to know more about them. As the mysteries unfolded, I found the story interesting. The story revolved around three characters, Nayana, Walker and Teesha. They lived in the same neighbourhood.  Each had their shortcomings and blessings. In a beautiful way, the author brought together the three characters and used them to heal each other. Each one believed that their lives were shattered. Nayana ‘cause of her looks, Walker ‘cause of his illness and Teesha ‘cause of the family feud. But gradually, they turn out to be each other’s healer. I loved this thought- “Stepping outside our comfort zone wasn’t just for ourselves, but for those who needed us, too.”  The entire story was quite heart-touching. Each character was given their due space and they played their roles well. Each mustered their guts and broke free from thoughts that restricted and confined them. An inspiring tale of hope, friendship, beliefs and motivation. I liked the way the author concluded the story. An interesting read.  The Road To Hell  The attention-grabbing plot and Nur’s heart-wrenching story made this story a very interesting read. I loved the premise as it made way for what lies forth. The descriptions, language, characterization, narration, and the way the author Aradhna Shukla unfolded the events gradually, kept me hooked to the story. A thoughtful story that justified the title Shattered. A mother, separated from her kids and husband, tries to reunite with her family. The ruthlessness of the tormentors, the revelation of her son’s death, her struggles, emotional turmoil...all were well expressed by the writer. The visuals were clear and took me down to witness all and empathize with Nur. The authors storytelling made me wonder about the tortured humans; their pain and helplessness. The story had a touch of reality and the situations were presented in a justified way. The last few lines, the ending was penned skillfully. The tortured souls and their plight to survive. The hope to rise from the ashes and bloom. A riveting story , fresh take and a good read from the collection. One must read this book to feel the impact of the stories.  Each story was crafted carefully to keep the readers engaged. There are a few more in the collection, which are equally good reads. Fine editing, lucid language, unique plots, the array of stories, the different take on Shattered, simply amazed me. Each writer is an expert in their craft, and team Penmancy compiled and presented the book to enthrall various kinds of readers. I bet the booklovers will enjoy the stories thoroughly.  Grab your copy if you are yet to read the book. It’s a fantastic anthology and a must-add to your bookshelf. The book is available on Amazon. Do read and review to cheer the writers. ___________ Buy your copy here: