In this unusual horror debut, Mukherjee delivers strange, mysterious tales of a British physician’s patients.
Although the book jacket promises a nostalgic look at the colorful characters who have touched the doctor’s life, the book is actually a collection of occult and horror stories. The author describes himself as a medical graduate from India who settled in England, and the book consists of short tales, framed as diary entries, recounting “episodes of paranormal incidents” related by his patients. These tales of psychological and spiritual terror tell of astral projection, ghosts, altered states caused by drug use or epilepsy, possession, Hindu mysticism, witchcraft and miraculous healings. Many of the stories finish with open-ended questions, clinical notes or philosophical musings. Some patients the doctor was unable to follow up on; others died suddenly and/or gruesomely, paying the price for their foray into the dark side. The book is aimed at aficionados of stories of the bizarre (such as those on the TV series The Twilight Zone or One Step Beyond). The collection moves along nicely, but several stories become incoherent or fragmented at their conclusions. In some cases, this effect is apparently meant to create suspense; in others, it seems to be simply loose technique. Overall, the book would have benefited from a stronger edit; for example, character names are sometimes spelled differently within the span of a few pages. However, readers who enjoy being frightened will likely relish these stories of the world beyond. As Mukherjee writes: “Whether you do or do not believe the patient is irrelevant. The story still ropes you in.”
An intriguing, if occasionally uneven, collection of supernatural tales.