Shaun Thomas's Reviews > Song of Kali

Song of Kali by Dan Simmons
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's review
Feb 13, 2010

really liked it

Simmons wrote one book to start his career, and it won a World Fantasy Award at a ceremony he barely managed to attend. That he did this and still had trouble finding a publisher should be a sobering wakeup call to every aspiring writer out there. As a first novel, it's very solid writing, and even in Calcutta, swarming with presence and full to bursting with human activity, he manages to make the characters and the reader feel isolated and wary. What should have been an uneventful trip to India to interview a poet becomes something much more sinister, and Simmons peels away the human psyche as he attacks every weak spot we seem to have.

Kali is needlessly cruel. The seemingly nonsensical way she gets revenge for being thwarted is both imaginative and pointless, just as a Goddess might act to swat a pest. I spent the whole book hoping the characters would somehow escape India unscathed, knowing such a thing was impossible, but not really understanding the mechanism of their destruction until long after the last page turned. There are some scares, but this is mostly a psychological horror novel, and Simmons accomplishes through inference what most writers need to fully explain. It reminded me again why I love his writing.

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