Goodreads Review: Rakasha

Rakasha: Legend of the Hindi Tiger DemonRakasha: Legend of the Hindi Tiger Demon by Robert Davis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Most people who know me suspect there’s something deeply wrong with me. When given the choice between reading an uplifting tale of hope and love, or reading something terrifying and/or blood-splattered, I’ll take the ghosts and gore nearly every time. That’s somewhat problematic of late, as the pickings have been slim for such content. Then I was exposed to this.

A series of short pieces dealing with the rakasha, a tiger-demon that makes its home in the jungles of India – though the stories themselves cover a much wider hunting ground – Rakasha connects early with the unfortunate end of a foul-mouthed, drug-dealing biker on the run. Despite the short length of the pieces, each of the characters felt as fleshed out, if not more so, than those appearing in much longer fiction. From our unnamed biker friend who serves as our introduction to Jeff the church-appointed monster-slayer, every one of them had some amusing dialogue snippets and at least one aspect to love them for (or love to hate them for, in the case of the Rakasha her/itself.) The settings were interesting and varied, and the description sold me on the oppressive claustrophobia of the jungles and the aura of mistrust and poverty surrounding the small villages where the rakasha hunt and play.

The book as a whole was very vivid and visual in nature, providing some great “mental movies” as I cast actors and considered what it’d be like to see it on the big screen. Most of my reading time is spent fretting about dialogue and individual connections, the intangibles that often end up difficult to translate into film or television, but Rakasha felt almost like a screenplay, begging to put in an appearance on late-night television or on the silver screen.

There’s really not much negative to be said about this one; it’s certainly one of the more enjoyable things that have crossed my reading shelf in some time. If anything, it’s that I want more. Further expansion on the mysterious monster-hunting order, more background on Jeff and his priestly pal, perhaps the continued exploits of the younger Rakasha. Not that it doesn’t feel complete as is, just would like more. There’s a couple of awkward sentences, but overall they fit the “voice” of the book, and the meaning is still clear so no major worries there.

Overall, if you’re a fan of old Clive Barker and Bentley Little (think Books of Blood/Hellbound Heart, or The Return) or had a love of the more gruesome aspects of Lumley’s whamphyri, or are just looking for a good gore-soaked romp, do yourself a favor and check this one out. I suspect you’ll be pleased.

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