Book Review: Syahi - Power of the Pen

I got a tremendous opportunity of reviewing the latest short story anthology - "Syahi - Power of the Pen", published by Triumph Publishing and edited by Aman Sharma and Nehali Lalwani. The book is an amazing collection of stories of different genres written by very talented budding authors coming from varied backgrounds. It is a positive trend in the publishing industry of giving new authors a golden opportunity like this to be published at a nation-wide level.

I am hereby posting my story-wise review along with an individual grading of each story on the scale of 5. I would not play the spoiler and will not be revealing the plot of any story to let the readers enjoy it themselves.

Disclaimer: I will be very honest in my reviews, but that anyhow does not mean that any writer is bad. A negative review just means that there is a scope of improvement and the one I got to read, was not the magnum opus of that writer. All writers in this world are gifted people with a weapon in hand! ;)

1. Inspiration, An Odyssey of Discovering Life... Again - By Apoorva Arora
The writer in this story, had a beautiful message to tell regarding raising of a child by a single parent. But unfortunately, the complex story and the weird turn of events leading to that message was totally not required. The story had loads of grammatical errors which made it very difficult to grasp the story and made it monotonous to reach the end. The story could have been shorter and still the strong message could have been put forward. I am sure the writer has some beautiful thoughts in her mind, which can be expressed in abridged and simple forms.
Rating: 1.5/5

2. Better Late than Never - By Hitakshi Bawa
The story is very simple and beautifully written. It is a well written adolescent love story with some nice lines which will leave a lovely impact on the reader. The descriptions in the story are nicely done and the writer deserves a clap for expressing a girl's thoughts in such a nice manner.
Rating: 2.5/5

3. Letting Go - By Aman Sharma
It is a very heart warming story which will make you feel the pain of meeting your ex-lover after your breakup. The awkwardness, the silence, the thoughts, the coldness that you experience on such a meeting have been beautifully described. The supposed monologue in the end of the story is also very emotional and you can literally experience what the protagonist must have gone through. The best part I liked about this story was how the writer has explained the importance of "letting go".
Rating: 3/5

4. 26/11, A Dark Twilight - By Nehali Lalwani
It is a very sad story expressing the unthinkable loss of someone who loses their loved ones in a terrorist attack. However, I just feel that so much has been written about 26/11 already, that it would take something path breaking to gather a reader's attention now. The story is simple, but lacks on emotions a little. The story is long enough but lacks warmth. On this premise, something much more heart-wrenching could have been woven.
Rating: 2/5

5. Life, A Vague Mystery! - By Khushi Gupta
Here is a writer who never fails to astound me. When an 11th standard student, writes amazingly about the feelings and thoughts of a neglected child in a broken home, it has to amaze you. The expressions are flawless, the use of words is perfect and the ending just leaves you in awe (or maybe 'aww' :p ). I would particularly like to mention the scene in the park towards the end, just seems so believable and yet very soothing and of course the epilogue - mind blowing! Kudos to the young writer!
Rating: 4/5

6. Shattered Tatters - By Ayush Agarwal
There are average writers who sometimes come out with awesome stuff and leave you amazed, and then there are awesome writers who maintain their record. Ayush Agarwal comes in the latter category. I had high expectations from the story of Ayush and undoubtedly, he fulfilled them. A very moving story of a little kid Keshav living in jhuggis, Ayush makes it into a riveting tale of loss, social ills, thrill and a thoughtful ending. It is one of those stories, after which you remain absorbed in thoughts for a few hours. A special mention to the scene describing child abuse - only a writer with great talent can pull off such a scene with such level of intensity.
Rating: 4.5/5

7. Sometimes it's not simple - By Neoni D'Souza
This story is an unimpressive tale which tries very hard to keep the reader engrossed, but fails. The ending has been made into a sudden twist but with a weak backdrop and premises, the twist fails to leave any impact.
Rating: 1.5/5

8. The Survivor, U'Khand Flood Disaster - By Omung Goyal
This story is a shocking tale of a survivor of the unfortunate Uttarakhand floods which created havoc in June 2013 taking lives of thousands of people. The writer amazingly expresses the journey of survival of the protagonist. I really do not know if this was a real personal account of the writer or someone close to him, but he does make it sound very believable and captivating. The imageries are poignant and disturbing, but very nicely created. However, only had the grammatical errors been fewer and dialogue composition been better, the story could have simply been one of the best written accounts of the disaster.
Rating: 3.5/5

9. 3 Sins - By Salli Shah
This story is very disturbing as it expresses the weaker side of a woman. The story does not impress and tries to instill pity for a woman in the mind of the reader. The story has a depressing end, which seems to be totally mislead, almost expressing as if suicide is the only option and ends up making you feel sorry for a girl. It could have been a much better story, had it been focussed on women empowerment and discussing about bouncing back of the girl in the mainstream society even after having faced such hardships. The story is disappointing.
Rating: 1/5

10. It all started with a key - By Shrutee Parekh
It is a very disappointing story with an insensitive handling of an issue as delicate as AIDS. The story could have had a better premise. The story shows the protagonist deciding to marry a guy after a day of cheap stalking and without knowing the guy at all. For an AIDS infected patient, life is a challenge each day. It could have been shown with a lot more consciousness and delicacy. Moreover, the grammatical and spacing errors, and flawed placements of inverted comas in dialogues made it very difficult to keep a track in the story.
Rating: 1.5/5

11. It's never too Late - By Aman Sharma
This is a very old-school story line with nothing fresh to offer. It seems to be a bit immature at various points. The fact that a girl who is at the top of her career decides to return to her childhood romance, a guy who abandoned her after one fling of physical love making ages back, it all seems to be impractical and not in line with modern times. After the earlier story of Aman Sharma, the expectations were high but to some extent he fails to deliver. Had there been more of romance, heartbreak or flow of emotions, which seems to be Aman's forte, the story could have been really great.
Rating: 2.5/5

12. A Lesson for Life! By Nehali Lalwani
Reading this story was a real pleasure. It is one of those stories that make you feel very optimistic and blessed. Beautiful choice of words, soft turn of events, descriptions and images that leave you spellbound, are the features of this story. I finally found the typical-Nehali story which I had expected from a writer of her capability. This story was enriching and more of a learning experience.
Rating: 4/5

13. Un-destined Love By Salli Shah
This story is very naive and has been dragged with no content. With the premise that was being set-up in the beginning, the story seemed to have something interesting to offer. But the story disappoints towards the end when two people in love have to part ways owing to religious differences. This is one of those stories where you keep thinking that something is going to happen now, but nothing does.
Rating: 2/5

14. You Amaze Me - By Ayush Agarwal
This is a magical story more like a garland woven together with words. The development of the plot line, the premise, the expression, the turn of events, everything is very well thought and put forward in a beautiful way. This is a masterpiece of a story with an ending that leaves you with a smile, you don't know, is sad or happy. Very Moving! Hats off to Ayush Agarwal!
Rating: 4.5/5

15. That Night @12 By Neoni D'Souza
It is a fairly gripping story with a well thought storyline. Although not as spine chillingly horrifying as you would expect from the story build-up in the beginning, but still a fairly good attempt at a story with positive ghosts. With grammatical correctness and a little editing, this story could have been even more enjoyable.
Rating: 3/5

16. To be Hanged, Till Death - By Omung Goyal
This story is a very engrossing legal-crime thriller which ends up thrilling you even more. Very few writers can write crime-thrillers with that ease, but the writer has done a commendable job. Although, had the pace been a little faster and with a better editing, this story could have been a wonder! Nevertheless, a very fine attempt at crime thrillers where a boy is accused of murdering his parents. Read the story to find out if he comes out tainted or is buried with no charge.
Rating: 4/5

Best Writer (on the basis of writing style, choice of words, and grammatical correctness) - Ayush Agarwal
Best Story (storyline, development of story, story premise) - Life, A Vague Mystery By Khushi Gupta 
Most expressive story (with depth of thought, clarity, philosophy and concept) - A Lesson for Life By Nehali Lalwani

Overview - Syahi is an admirable collection of stories written by authors from different walks of life. Stories from different categories, flavours and moods have been put together. Having said that, I would mark the importance of grammatical correctness, because at some point, it does spoil the fun of reading and makes it monotonous. Nevertheless, it is a fun read with some very exceptional stories and after all I truly believe - every reader is a critic. So grab your hands and read for yourself as there is something to take away from every book you read in your life.

Final Grading (on scale of 10) - 

Grab your hands on this short story anthology here -;1



nehali lalwani said...

Thank you so much Pawas. :)

Ayush said...

Thanks for such an overwhelming review Pawas :)

Ben said...


Preeti said...

Well written review (y)

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