Saturday, February 28, 2015


Title: Dreams Don't Lie
Author: Anusuya M
Publisher: Self-published
Pages: 252

Dreams don’t lie by Anusuya M, a novel of the paranormal thriller genre, is an unpolished debut novel that has a lot of potential.

Wasim Khan is a software engineer who lives in Bombay with his mother Rubina, and younger siblings Karim and Sarina. His father, Shakir, works in the Gulf. Wasim is plagued by the same recurring nightmare in which he sees a woman with a baby fleeing for her life, before being attacked and killed by a knife-wielding attacker. 

Despite enjoying his job, he feels restless and longs for adventure. He joins a gang, managed by a man called Kranti. The gang undertakes dangerous adventures for the purpose of doing good.

While on an assignment for this group, he witnesses the death of his father, and becomes aware that his father is not his father. He also learns the truth about his own identity, that he is actually Shiv Dayanand, the scion of an extremely wealthy family from Shanpur and heir to a huge fortune. He also learns that his parents were murdered, betrayed by a family member. Determined to avenge his parents’ deaths, he visits Shanpur. 

But nothing is as it appears. Wasim/Shiv will need every ounce of his courage, besides some help from beyond the grave, if he is to solve the mystery.

Very soon, you find yourself drawn into the world that Anusuya creates. Steadily but relentlessly, she piles up one devastating realization upon another, as we, and Wasim, slowly come to terms with the kind of person that Aditya, his father, was. The author packs it thick with all the revelations, and just when you think that you could not take any more, the paranormal element kicks in.

I liked the character of the girl, Neha, Wasim’s colleague, who is infatuated with him. She is feisty and vivacious and has the confidence to go after what she wants.

Anusuya does an equally good job with the other characters too. Even though we are not given descriptions to most of them, the characters grow on us through their interactions, which come across as believable.

Bonus points to her for pulling off the challenge of the pace so effectively. Shuffling her chapters between Wasim’s love life to his secret life in Kranti’s group to his home life, she ends each chapter well, leaving you wanting to know more.

I liked the way that Anusuya unraveled the truth about Aditya, bit by bit, through his father’s journals and his own investigations. I also liked the way in which she led Wasim down through various investigations and then brought him to a dead-end. It heightened the excitement of the plot.

If only she had managed to get the technicalities of the writing under control. At many points through the novel, it was distracting when the point of view shifted between paragraphs in the same chapter.

The story of Ankita, Neha’s roommate emerges as a subplot that did not fit in very well with Wasim’s story.

The novel is riddled with grammatical errors. It badly needed a good editor to comb through it. At various points, there are pronouns missing, as seen in four consecutive sentences in the Prologue that began with the words, The guest house.

The Prologue began with the first person account of a woman, presumably Anjali, who speaks of her husband, Aditya. Midway through the account, without warning, it changes to the third person perspective. The shift is most disconcerting.

There were times when the tense changed from one sentence to another in the same paragraph. All these errors exist in the Prologue. All in all, it contained the worst writing in the book. Thereafter the writing began to get better as if the author were beginning to ease into her craft and enjoy it to the fullest.

The rest of the novel suffers from questionable punctuation, particularly when the author employs direct speech. There are spelling errors too, for instance, leceherous instead of lecherous, and burgers who steal instead of burglars. I had to make a conscious effort to put these issues out of my mind, and concentrate on the plot which, to her credit, Anusuya pulls off superbly.

There are some continuity issues too, Wasim tells Kranti about Sharath Bejwa, but some pages later when mention of him crops up again, Kranti asks Wasim who the man is, and Wasim explains all over again, forgetting that he has already explained once.

In another instance, Aditya writes in his journal that Anjali’s mother died during her birth. But when he visits her home, there are pictures of the parents with her as a baby.

Despite having an attacker sneak up on him to kill him, Wasim still does not lock his room.

Certain conventions are flouted with impunity. When the scorpion tattoo is spoken of, Wasim remembers having seen it before. Even though we’ve trailed him for most of the book, we don’t know anything about this tattoo. According to the conventions of the genre, if a thing is critical, it must be introduced to the reader beforehand.

The dialogue too could have done with a little more work.

If Anusuya takes care to avoid all these issues, I think we can expect even better from her in her next book, which is most certainly on its way. Dreams don’t lie ends with the carrot of an impending sequel, an excerpt of which is included at the end of the book as a teaser.

(I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair review.)

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