Sometime back I came across promotions on Facebook for a new horror book called “The Mine” by Arnab Ray. For those who don’t know, Arnab writes the fabulous blog – “Random Thoughts of a Demented Mind” and has also authored the sublimely superb “May I Hebb Your Attention Pliss”.

Since Arnab or Great Bong (as he is more popularly known) usually writes humor and satire, a horror novel written by him seemed like a huge deviation from the usual fare. Besides this the general plot of the book – “Experts/ Team sent in to a remote expedition to find out what went/ is going wrong” is pretty much my favorite kind of plot. Variations of the plot have given us such superb pieces like Jurassic Park, Sphere, Deep Storm and movies like Alien. So with somewhat tempered expectations I started reading the book.

The book follows a group of experts that are assembled in a highly secret mining facility under the Thar desert. The mine has uncovered an ancient structure with some disturbing carvings, deep underground. The experts are called in to make sense of this and the many maladies afflicting the miners. As usual things go wrong shortly after and that’s when the fun starts.

The book is fairly well written and the pace picks up after the initial slow start. It builds quite nicely on the claustrophobia of being trapped several kilometers under the surface of the earth. While there are number of gory scenes in the book, regular horror fans might find them a bit pedestrian. In addition to this while there are a number of innovative twists and turns in the book, most of them seem a bit derivative (Either that or I’ve seen / read way too much in that genre). Fans of other horror series like Saw, Hostel etc may be left with a sense of deja vu. In spite of these (imagined ??) shortcomings though, the author manages to keep the plot fairly taut and interesting.

While personally I was a tad disappointed (mainly cause it had a “been there done that” kind of feel to it), I would think its an excellent stab at the horror genre. If nothing else, its a welcome relief from the legions of “Chetan Bhagat” clones that have popped up all over. Definitely worth a try.

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