Book review, Received for Review

Murder at Moonlight Cafe and Other Stories by Ishavasyam Dash


Format: Paperback

Length: 160 pages

Genre: Short Stories

Publisher: XPress Publishing (An imprint of Notion Press Publishers)

Date of Publication: 24th December, 2019

Rating: 5/5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review

I’m not usually a fan of short stories but there was something about this one that called out to me. When the author reached out about the possibility of a review, I took it up on a whim. I was so glad to see that my instinct was right this time. I would have missed out on a really well written book.

The Blurb

Omprakash and Dilip, police officers and best buddies, are catching up at one of Manali’s poshest bars, when a most unsettling murder is committed right under their noses…

Called upon by the gods to aid them in a losing battle, Parvati creates the immensely powerful Kali—but can she save herself from the hell she has unleashed in her own marriage?

A strange spectral presence haunts a man day and night, eating away years from his life, until he takes part in an unorthodox ritual and comes face-to-face with his tormentor…

Meet Mariam—a gentle, unassuming woman in her late fifties with a strange hobby—gatecrashing funerals…

By turns delightful, morbid and whimsical, this is a collection of eleven tales that will transport you to the myriad worlds of magic realism and murder, mythology and horror, millennial mania and post-modern angst. Made-to-order for those with a taste for inventive idiosyncrasy, this book promises to provoke and entertain in equal measure.

The Book

I find that short stories are sometimes a hit and a miss. They sometimes seem too short to establish a story-line that grabs the reader’s hearts and minds. But with this collection, every story was brilliantly worded and everything was wrapped up perfectly to make each story complete in its own right. The amount of research that has gone into the book is incredible. It is wonderful to see a new author who takes so much care about getting their facts right and then showing the flair required to convert those facts into a beautiful story. The crisp editing makes it a joy to read.

We see characters who could be just about any one of us. Addicted to their social media, we see them worry about their posts and interaction, we see them create content and also get influenced by other influencers much as we all do in our daily lives. Next, we have a young professional who has done what all of us longed to do in our teens- follow our passion and work in a field that we love rather than get a ‘safe’ job like our parents told us to. We see the protagonist struggle while putting on a brave face for his family. I loved how realistic his letters home were.

We see a widow who deals with death in her own unique way. Mental health is described in a quirky way that makes us chuckle but also makes us think of ways of dealing with trauma. We also see a young YouTuber who has recently discovered her sexual identity. I loved how non-judgemental each story was. The research into various sexual identities and the way that the facts were made into a story was beautiful. I loved the story of the creation of Goddess Kali and how vices are described in the story. There are a couple of stories with relatively open endings that I enjoyed. The stories of the Monk who believes that he is the chosen one, the man who believes that there is a creature that watches him at all hours of the day, the boy who’s hair keeps growing, the young man addicted to demon blood could all be interpreted in multiple ways and I spent quite a lot of time over them. Although each story is just a few pages on its own, the depth of the matter in them makes it hard to read the entire book in one sitting. I absolutely loved the book and I’m glad that I trusted my instincts about reading it.

The Author

Ishavasyam took a sabbatical from her career in marketing to fulfil her childhood dream of writing a book. Besides weaving tall tales, she loves playing board games and belly dancing. She is a hoarder of art supplies, and has an alarming number of incomplete DIY projects. Ishavasyam lives with her husband, whom she adores to bits, to the point where she may soon give in to his incessant plea to get a dog. 

TL;DR: A brilliant collection of stories that are well researched and beautifully edited

What are some short story collections that you like?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

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