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Song of Kali (FANTASY MASTERWORKS) Paperback – 10 Mar 2005

4.1 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (10 Mar. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575076593
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575076594
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 2.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,401,779 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

One of the most terrifying books ever written. 'Song of Kali' transcends any cheap thrills you get from a Stephen King novel, Dan Simmons' vision of horror set in the claustrophobic heat of India is fierce and unrelenting. (Aberdeen Evening Express)

Book Description

The World Fantasy Award-winning masterpiece of dark fantasy

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4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As with other novels by Dan Simmons, the worst horror is the reality so movingly depicted. The real monster is Calcutta, a city dedicated to Kali, goddess of death, with its open morgues and its fresh dead on the morning streets - something that should be dead, but putrefyingly persists. This is not the only source of horror, however - at least one scene in an unlit room had me reading with my hand over my mouth in fear. And the ending is heartbreakingly desolate. As Mr Simmons says, don't blame him that his books are marketed as horror, and don't blame him for the artwork. He is a highly literate author whose novels are driven by character, not incident. A satisfyingly frightening and surprisingly moving read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Originally published in 1985, winner of the 1986 World Fantasy Award, and the only Dan Simmons novel I hadn't read.

This is old style horror written with literary skill and a great sense of plotting. It's slow to build and fascinating to read. Robert Luzcak, writer/journalist, is driven to the point of insanity as he becomes involved with the darkly beating heart of the mysterious Calcutta. On his journey to discover the works of a dead poet, M. Das, Luzcak becomes embroiled in a series of twists and turns forcing him deeper into a mysterious journey involving the Goddess Kali, ancient ritual, the living dead, disease and esoteric writings. Calcutta is the monster at the heart of the story. Everything springs from her and she's in no rush to forgive. Add the collision of two very different cultures, a great sense of insanity v reality played out against a beautifully drawn background - you're in for a treat.

Because 'Song of Kali' hails from the 1980s, and Calcutta lies mostly hidden under modern development, there are times when some themes and attitudes become old fashioned. Don't let that put you off. Be prepared to let go and go with it. I'd recommend this novel to any fan of horror fiction looking for something outside of the current crop of contemporary writers. Well worth a download.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
When published American poet Robert Luczack accepts an assignment from Tattler magazine to travel to Calcutta to investigate the authenticity of poems by an Indian poet, M Das, thought deceased eight years ago, he doesn't realise how he is being drawn close to a dangerous and horrifying cult sect of worshippers of the goddess Kali.

Simmons uses the intimidating aspects of the busy city of Calcutta in the mid 70s to give this book a malevolent air and is not original in the use of Kali as an evil entity (think Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom).

I think he may have alienated many Calcuttians after he executed this horror read in his portrayal of the city and its inhabitants. However, you have to bear in mind he wrote this in 1985 about being in Calcutta in 1977. Things change and with time more is understood and accepted about other cultures on the whole.

As a horror read though, this one will definitely give you nightmares as the perceived terrible goddess seeps into your subconscious.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'll admit that I bought and read this novel expecting it to be more of a pacy bestseller style read. Instead, the book I discovered had more of a literary air to it - although plenty of chills and gripping episodes were included - in a read that proved quick and enthralling.

Yes, as other reviews on this site point out, the plotting is very minimal, but in my opinion nonetheless engaging for all of that. One of Simmons' strengths as a writer is his rendering of atmospherics and place - he uses the backdrop of Calcutta to instill a nagging sense of misery and unease in the reader - the perfect backdrop to his central motif of the goddess of death and destruction. But he is also aware enough to address the problematics of a Western perspective on India, including wry - and not dry - discussions about this within the body of the text.

Without going into the details of plot, the narrative follows a downwards spiral which is quite compelling for the reader in its bleakness - in the way that say, Stephen King's Pet Semetary is. Rather than follow that well trodden path into the void however, Simmons ultimately, is able to produce a quiet, hopeful ending that lifts the book above run of the mill horror shockers.
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Format: Paperback
I first read this book in 1989. I found it unputtdownable then. Now, twenty years later I got hold of copy on ebay and lent it to a friend. My friend was also spellbound and finished it in three days.

The book brings Calcutta alive in way that I have not seen any author do. The story is well paced. There is mystery and suspense. The brooding, evil underside of Calcutta is really well structured. Not that Calcutta is like that - but its a fictional device that works very well.

The shock ending really got me - I was truely suprised and upset - so I won't spoil it for you.

The way he creates M Das as a student of Tagore is entirely believeable. The character Krishna leaves many unanswered questions. I would LOVE to see a sequel to this book.

I would recommend this books to anyone interested in India / Kali.
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