Song of Kali Hardcover – 1985
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"O terrible wife of Siva / Your tongue is drinking the blood, / O dark Mother! O unclad Mother." It is remarkable that prior to writing this first novel, Dan Simmons had spent only two and a half days in Calcutta, a city "too wicked to be suffered," his narrator says. Fortunately back in print after several years during which it was hard to obtain, this rich, bizarre novel practically reeks with atmosphere. The story concerns an American poet who travels with his Indian wife and their baby to Calcutta to pick up an epic poem cycle about the goddess Kali. The Bengali poet who wrote the poem cycle has disappeared under mysterious circumstances.
Horror critic Edward Bryant calls Song of Kali "an exactingly constructed, brutal, and uncompromising study of the degree to which an evil place may permeate and steep all that makes us human" and writes that it embodies "the stance of a psychologically violent novel about a violent society as a defensible and indisputably moral work of art." Song of Kali won a World Fantasy Award. --Fiona Webster --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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 --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
In addition, while the horrified-travelogue aspect of the book is effective, we never go any deeper than Luczack's ugly-American revulsion at a society he doesn't understand. Simmons seems content to paint most residents of Calcutta as potential gangsters or murderous fanatics, and leave it at that. The story only gets interesting (far too late in the book) when the Luczack character mercifully shuts up long enough to let some of the Indians tell their own stories. The storyline involving the Kali cult is genuinely, darkly fascinating and I wish Simmons had done more than scratch the surface of it.
The emotional climax could have been wrenching if only I'd been invested in the main character, and unfortunately the novel peters out with him descending into a world of self-pity for several chapters. Some really interesting horror material here, sandwiched into an otherwise boring novel.
Accepting all forms of worship as being equally valid is one of Hinduism and Buddhism’s most impressive philosophical tenets; but when one looks at India for what it is, and what it has been for centuries, it is logical that such a place is where openness would find its earliest proponents. As one of the world’s oldest civilizations, where East meets West, the place where all trade routes began, ended or passed through, religious adherents from every corner of the Old World would eventually collide in India. Tolerance was not so much a product of enlightened thinking as it was an absolute necessity; otherwise, Calcutta would become an endless, frozen explosion of holy wars.Read more ›
Yes, there are some flaws in the book, and for that reason you should ignore the hype and superlative praise showered on it. For starters, the narrator is not a particularly likeable character; he admits to having a short fuse and a quick temper that often seem out of proportion to even minor annoyances.
In addition, the author goes on for too long just setting up this tale, and nothing much of consequence actually happens for the first third of the story. Then there is the problem of the loose ends that do not answer the questions raised by a murder which serves as the emotional climax of the novel. My best guess is that Simmons deliberately left some things obscure to reflect the protagonist's own confused and frustrated inability to understand what prompted the killing, but - if such is the case - it still leaves the reader unsatisfied with the unresolved mystery of why certain events happened as they did.
Finally, "Song of Kali" suffers from a lack of editing and/or proofreading (at least in its paperback edition), as shown by the many typos in the manuscript. Ordinarily, this would not matter a great deal, but in a story that concerns itself with wordsmiths in one form or another (i.e., writers, editors, and a literary agent) the errors are glaring and disrupt the flow of the otherwise nicely nuanced text.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This truly an amazing book. I don't read many novels. But this was simply a pleasure read and scared the hell out of me. It truly is frightening tale. I'm reading it again.Published 19 months ago by Jazz Virk
As an avid reader of horror, fantasy and science fiction, I like to think that I'm immune to any lasting effects from the frightening images that emerge from those dark places... Read morePublished on May 10 2004 by David D. Warner
It's probably a huge mistake to include inflated words of hype on the cover of a horror book. "SHOCK TREATMENTS ABOUND! Read morePublished on Aug. 21 2003 by Subauthor
Another reviewer said that this book was missing something "Simmons" and I totally agree. Song of Kali is a very quick and easy read, and overall it's quite enjoyable. Read morePublished on Aug. 12 2003 by J. Resnick
SONG OF KALI is a brutal but also subtle and evocative novel of almost overwhelmingly intense horror. Read morePublished on July 20 2003 by cameron-vale
Friends and reviews sold me this book as an intense exercise in shock/weird horror. I am sorry to say this, but this book doesn't live up to any of those standards. Read morePublished on June 21 2003 by A. Tamez Elizondo
I must say that I truly enjoyed reading this book. Throughout the novel, there is a lot of mystery and encroaching horror. Read morePublished on April 2 2003 by Fry Boy
My first Simmons "horror" title after Endymion. This was a fun and creepy read -- enjoyable for the most part. Read morePublished on March 28 2003