Maya’s New Husband is an Indian horror story by Niel D’Silva. Published this year, it is the first story in the author’s Beast Within trilogy. While I am not a horror reader at all (I cringe even when a hero punches the villain), I was drawn to the book by the cover. It has the face of a bride with blood smeared on her head instead of the vermilion. Having started reading it fully aware that it was a horror story, I must say I still wasn’t prepared for the emotional, gory and nerve-racking story that it turned out to be.
The book begins with the story of Maya, a 32 year old widow who teaches biology in a school. Maya is a simple and beautiful woman with loving friends and a close knit family. She lives with her mother and younger sister. The mother worries about her two daughters, especially the younger one Namrata who works till late in the night as there is a serial killer on the prowl. Widowed for 2 years now, Maya finds herself drawn to Bhaskar, the school’s art teacher and decides to marry him. Her decision shocks her friends and family because Bhaskar is an uncouth and ugly man who almost everybody hates. While her mother tries to reason with Maya she eventually relents and agrees to the union.
It’s after the wedding that Maya’s nightmares start. Something about Bhaskar makes her uncomfortable. She feels trapped inside the house with no visitors or friends. As days go by she starts stumbling upon information about her husband which scare her.
Amidst all this, we have people vanishing from the streets of Mumbai never to be found again and then one day Maya’s friend, who was on her way to meet her, vanishes and at the same time Maya’s mother accidently follows Bhaskar into a desolate garage and then loses him. That is when Maya takes it upon herself to find her friend and the truth about her husband.
The author enthrals me with his vivid descriptions. His attention to every detail, in the way he describes a scene or a character or what they say is like someone drawing it out for you to see. So you can imagine my plight when the author describes how the serial killer [and mind you the serial killer here is a cannibal) tortures his victims. I have to admit that I had to take several breaks while reading this because it is definitely not for the faint hearted.To the credit of the author however the story is so riveting that you would keep thinking about ‘what next’ till you get back to it again.
The plot is very believable, his characters are relate-able and though he pretty clearly etches out the villain right at the outset, you still want to read to the last page. My favourite part of the book is the last chapter, it is written brilliantly, is power-packed and is like watching a feature film. And yes a piece of advice to the readers, DO NOT read the epilogue at night in a dark room alone [I was reading on a kindle] and even if you do, not do step into the bathroom after that and if you do that too, please don’t make the mistake of looking into the mirror, lest you hear it say ‘Atone. You have to atone’