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Song of Kali Paperback – January 15, 1998
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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
“The best novel in the genre I can remember. Dan Simmons is brilliant!” ―Dean R. Koontz
“Song of Kali is as harrowing and ghoulish as anyone could wish. Simmons makes the stuff of nightmares very real indeed.” ―Locus
“Dan Simmons understands terror and what it does to readers. Where Stephen King flinches, Simmons doesn't.” ―Edward Byrant, Mile High Futures
“Shock treatments abound!” ―The Chattanooga Times, Tennessee
“An absolutely harrowing experience.” ―F. Paul Wilson
Top Customer Reviews
Opinion: I'm kind of in between on this book. At points I am amazed and disgusted by the imagery and the squalor of Calcutta. At other points I find myself just skimming to get on with the story. Simmons does a good job overall painting the city as this almost black hole of misfortune, horror, and evil. Much of it based on cult worshiping of the goddess Kali. I was impressed at how far he took the things that could and did happen in this book. Far past where a weaker author would have maybe spared us a little. Then things got a little out of character after the climax of the book. There is hope after all we are led to believe. The characters were all decently written including the city which is the main character of this horror story. I can't say how well this portrays Calcutta because I don't know anyone who has been there, but it was very vivid for me from the book that I wouldn't want to.
Recommendation: I would recommend this to Simmons fans because he is a good writer and the story is pretty good. I would not suggest this as your first Simmons book though as I think his Hyperion and Ilium stories are much better. I rate it 3.5 out of 5 overall.
The point that makes _The Song of Kali_ so intensely readable is that Simmons doesn't make the mistake of avoiding the cultural politics of a horror novel about a foreign deity...nor does he make the greater mistake of beating one over the head with relativistic blather. In one of the novel's most derailing passages, a character describes the differences between India and the west as the difference between Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometry...irreconcilable, nearly inconceivable.
_The Song of Kali_ has its flaws, but under the poisonous gleam of Simmons's Calcutta and even under the personal disaster that shatters the protagonist's life, there is an awareness of the darkness of an age where unspeakable violence is truly commonplace. That awareness, combined with the chilling thought that we have not, perhaps, chosen the right geometry, make reading this novel an experience that you will not -- and should not -- soon forget.
Apparently he only spent two and a half days there, but Calcutta must have made one hell of an impression on Dan Simmons. I don't know if his portrayal of it is accurate, but he's presented a dark, dirty, frightening city -- a place I've visited in my nightmares many times since reading "Song of Kali."
This is a novel that really stuck with me. In fact, after reading it I had to get rid of my copy, because it freaked me out so much. It's a thoroughly engaging story -- part of why it was so upsetting is that I believed the protagonists (a writer and his wife and baby) so completely.
Lots of writers have approached the subject of bad places -- mostly in the form of haunted houses (Shirley Jackon's classic "The Haunting of Hill House," Richard Matheson's "Hell House," and Stephen King's "The Shining" all come to mind). This is the first example of a *city* as bad place that I've seen. It's also the first book in a long time that's really scared me.
The novel feeds on our (inherent?) xenophobia, our fear of women (manifested in the devouring goddess of Kali), our passion for violence, and the all-too-real fear of our children taken from us. "All violence is power," the poet Das says. "Sometimes there is no hope. Sometimes there is only pain."
THAT, friends and neighbors, is the true crux of all great horror fiction, and Simmons doesn't hesitate to take us as far down the river at the heart of darkness. His knowledge of classic poetry, particularly Yeats, and Luczak's wife's knowledge of geometry, infuses this novel with an intelligence and moral weight most horror writers either fake or never bother with in the first place. And India has such a vast and bizarre mythology I'm surprised no one explored it before like this.
I love this book, and even picking it up again to write this review I'm tempted to read it a third time. Anyone with any knowledge of India's myths will find it all the more disturbing.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Song of Kali is about an American magazine editor named Robert Luczak who is sent to Calcutta(Kolkata) to locate some poetry. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Steve
Started off really great with a wonderful and intriguing look into Calcutta. Petered out as the climax approached. After that lost interest.Published 1 month ago by Christine P.
Reviews state this is the scariest book ever. I didn't find that to be so. Guess I've read too much Dean Koontz.Published 2 months ago by Jm Johns
I am not a Dan Simmons fan. I tried Simmons The Terror (2007) an 800-page inventive bloat that became more and more unbelievable as it spun off in odd story directions. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Walt Morton
I don't post reviews often, but I saw that Song of Kali only has 3 and half stars. Absolutely ridiculous. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
Really well-written, but... shudder. I love Dan Simmons; this particular novel just wasn't to my taste because it was so dark.Published 6 months ago by Ne_Philim
Good book but not Simmons best. That said I enjoyed it. Reminded me of what Robert E Howard may have written if he hadn't cut himself off at such a young age.Published 6 months ago by Ignatius Malibu