Home > 2012 Reading List, Books, Fiction, Other People's Stuff, Something Like a Review, Writing > Something Like a Review – Song of Kali by Dan Simmons

Something Like a Review – Song of Kali by Dan Simmons

I could mince words, but it would be a waste of both of our time. Succinctly put, this was a very disturbing, disorienting book. It was recommended reading somewhere along the line, but the source escapes me. I was intrigued by its rave reviews and the assurance that it was brilliant and terrifying.

A few disclaimers  –

* I’ve read a lot of horror (some of it REALLY bad).
* I’ve read a lot of captivating stories (some that make me want to quit writing because I feel as though I’ll never measure up).
* I’m picky about what I like reading and getting pickier.
* I am not a parent.

Simmons has crafted an incredible story and it twists and winds it way from normalcy to chaos and confusion. It feels like a nightmare tangled in the oppressive heat and chaos of the subcontinent. What got me most was the disorientation and the fear of the idea of being in a country where I couldn’t function well (not speaking the language, not understanding the culture) and being caught up in overwhelming trouble. This was the scariest part for me, however I understand where the stomach-curdling terror comes in for a large part of the population. I will not, however, give in to the temptation to spoil the story. This twist was something I had vague premonition of , but the resolution of it was not something I expected and I don’t want to ruin it. My caveat is that this will freak out parents. Bad. Never-gonna-let-the-kid-out-of-the-house freaked out. I would say that the freak out is totally worth it for the quality of the writing and the quality of the story, but YMMV.

I understand why this was an immediate sensation, and why this won the World Fantasy Award the minute it was published. I can’t imagine how hard a sophomore effort would be after that kind of splash into the shark tank. I will definitely be looking for more of Simmons’s work after reading this.

Medium: Dead-tree version from a long gone brick & mortar. Still makes me sad. I almost left the sticker on it for the sake of nostalgia.

Other: Multiple versions also available from Amazon.com.

Overall rating: 4 stars

Potential re-read: Most likely, even if only to figure out how the hell he did it.

Dead-tree worthy?: Depends on the reader and what they’re after. A good scare and one to revisit? Sure. Looking to ride the crest of one big bad scare and then get it out of the house so it can’t be revisited? Probably not. I have to say this is one I can’t make a sweeping judgment on. Sample it first, or get it from the library and see how deep the hook goes. Beware, though. The gotcha is close to the end of the story…after you think “this can’t get any trippier…”

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