Route – 13 – Highway To Hell – Book Review

Route - 13 - Highway to Hell Cover Page

Route 13 – Highway to Hell – Book Review

Book: Route 13 – Highway to Hell

Author: An Anthology (The Hive)

Reviewed By: Manas Mukul

Publisher: The Hive (March 2020)

Pages: 366 (Kindle Edition)

Price: 149 INR

ASIN: B085RQ4WM2

Language: English

Genre: Horror

My rating: 3.5/5

Horror, just like comedy, is a difficult genre to attempt. More often than not it ends up not working. Most of the times when we read or view anything from the genre, we end up witnessing a similar storyline and milieu. Indian horror writing scene has always been bleak with certain exceptions. The Hive tries to change this with their horror anthology – ‘Route 13 – Highway to Hell.’

Before I begin I have some personal news to share with you all. My blog ‘The Contemplation Of a Joker’ has secured the 14th spot in the Top 100 Lifestyle blogs by Feedspot. I am really happy to share it with you all as it is all because of you. I would like to express my gratitude towards The Hive and Srivalli Rekha for considering me this book review. This is special as this is my first review from the horror genre.

About The Hive

The Hive is a dedicated platform for publishing anthologies of short stories, a category, the feel, typically underestimated by traditional publishers. They aim to bring out anthologies of short stories, every year starting this year (2020). Route 13 – Highway to Hell is their first project that contains 13 stories from 13 amazing writers. The book also has a collection of mini-tales at the end.  

My Review

The cover page is black & white image with a Matador Van on the road with a cloudy background, which aptly compliments the title. The Title is nicely chosen, given the background and the connotation attached to the number ‘13’ in various cultures. There is a wonderful foreword by Neil D’Silva, India’s bestselling horror writer.

The Hive says it is an anthology with 13 short stories but I would differ with that – It is an anthology with 14 stories. There is one more important story that binds all the other ones together with a twist in the end. It begins when a group of writers are traveling together through treacherous weather and winding roads where they end up sharing horror stories. It is difficult to review an anthology from a single author’s perspective as every writer is different with different strengths, hence I would be writing two lines for every story.

The Purple Grave by Jaya Pillai­ – A medieval tale of obsession of extraordinary proportions. Well-written, wiith a hint of horror the story sets up nicely for what is to follow.

Welcome by Sarveswari Sai Krishna – A breath taking thrilling horror night where a mobile phone takes away more than mere peace. This one does proper justice to the genre.

Pastel of the Past by Priya U Bajpai – When the past comes back to haunt you in supernatural ways and ends up taking more than you bargained for. A good read.

Ill Conceived by Meha Sharma – A ghost story around social evils that are running through the veins of our society since forever. Decent one.

Killing Murakami by Venkataraman Ganesan – A fresh take in this genre where one gets obsessed with a contemporary writer and how he plans to take revenge on him.

The Silver Beast by Srivalli Rekha – A story about a mother and her unholy grotesque son, who feeds on humans. If one is a fan of the horror genre then I feel you might find this a little predictable.

Old McDonald had a Farm by Varadharajan Ramesh – A complete one in true sense. One of the biggest stories of the book. You will find all the ingredients that one can associate with horror. The numbering of the subsections is smartly done and it will take a little while to get hold of it. Compliments to the author for this one. Nursery rhymes are not going to remain the same after this one.

The Haveli by Anshu B – A story where an ancient mansion is a witness to a crime, which causes the future generations of the dwellers to watch it convert into ruins.

The Artist by Yatindra Tawde – This one is less of a horror and more of on the lines of split personality disorder. It has similarities to the ‘Perfume – the story of a murderer’. A decent one.

The Adventures of a Virgin by Tina Siqueira – A horror tale of a girl who forever remains a virgin even after giving birth. It’s interesting isn’t it.

Macabre Melody by Sreeparna Sen – A story about a haunted house where the ghost are in love with music and that’s your only way to save yourself. No it’s not a spoof. Creative concept yet felt it was a little rushed.

Memory of a Face by Kanika G – A psychological disorder story about a girl who feels that a mobile phone is the root cause of all evil.

The Case of the Séance by Ell P – This is a twisted tale of Ouija board gone wrong with small sub-chapters. I am a fan of saw movie series and hence liked the detailing of gore elements. Must read.  

Route - 13 - Highway to Hell - Book review

Hits

Overall the vocabulary and language is of the highest order. A couple of stories had me looking for dictionary even, which is always a good learning. No two stories are inter-connected, so you can read any story in any order. All the stories are fast-paced and if you are a horror aficionado you may very well finish it in one sitting. A good horror story is what makes one cringe and makes one uncomfortable – on that note the writers have done a good job.

Misses

The binding story is predictable and could have been more detailed. Some stories are a bit rushed and some could have fared well with better editing. A couple of them, for me, don’t fall into the horror category.

Verdict

Like in any anthology, not every story would be excellent; similarly in Route – 13 – Highway to Hell, there are some excellent ones, few good ones and a couple of average ones. From an Indian Horror anthology perspective it is a refreshing start. I am going with three and a half stars for Route – 13 – Highway to Hell by The Hive. Grab a copy this lockdown season and get ready for some chills’n’thrills.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

Trigger warning: This book contains scenes of abuse, violence, death, rape, and swearing. It includes instances of children being harmed.

You can read all the previous Book Reviews here.

This review was done as a friendly gesture but with a promise for an honest review. If you liked the review, do subscribe and do share your views in the comments section.

My side of the bargain – an honest review – Find the Book here on Goodreads and Amazon.

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7 Responses

  1. Rashi Roy says:

    That’s an awesome review and the anthology looks interesting too. Loved how you wrote a line for every story and I believe that is how it should be reviewed. Keep sharing your honest reviews with us 🙂

  2. Archana says:

    Your review pushing me to grab the back as soon as earliest, I like the little intro of every story, Thanks Manas for your honest review, I am learning these skills from you.

  3. Abha says:

    I am not a big fan of horror stories but would like to read this one as you said some stories are good. Thanks for your honest review.

    • Manas Mukul says:

      Thank you for appreciating the honesty. I always try to achieve that while reviewing 🙂

Love your feedback!