Book Review: Doppelgänger

Doppelgänger by Madhavi S. Mahadevan offers eighteen such stories

There are some books that, when writing about, leave one kind of wordless. They might be extremely good, hardly giving a need to write about them; or extremely bad, making it impossible to find something to admire. The third kind would be those books that tick the right boxes in the right amount, leaving me mesmerized. A collection of stories, each with its own characters, settings, nuances…for each story to have a common thread, yet stand out on its own, that is a challenging prospect, I feel. Doppelgänger by Madhavi S. Mahadevan offers eighteen such stories to the reader.

The dictionary defines Doppelganger as ‘an apparition or double of a living person‘. Usually, one looks at that and imagines a physical double, like a twin; but not someone who we may chance upon suddenly and realize the striking similarity to a person we know. The stories in this collection does not necessarily take the meaning literally, but metaphorically; and talk about the striking similarities between the person and the doppelgänger. The seen and the unseen, emotions that come rushing back with the memories… anger, frustration, regret, lost love, and even a longing to complete what once could not be.

The stories are fictional, but they might not be, for reading them, at times I felt a familiarity that was eerie. The characters have their problems, but the thoughts of how similar yet different the problems are, those thoughts and emotions are felt even if not literally expressed. In the face of that problem, they take action that may not be the best course. They might stay silent and compare or remain in denial, they may take on a life that is not their own and continue to act the fake they know they are. And it is expressed very simply.

Begum Sahiba is a story I enjoyed reading, but I couldn’t have predicted that it would end the way it ended. The sahiba’s character feels believable, and at the end, I wonder if by staying with someone for a long time, one inadvertently imbibes the qualities, good and bad, of the person. It leaves me with questions though, a thread that still remains incomplete, and the reader in me doesn’t know what to make of it. Stone Man leaves me wondering about some things too. The identity of Stone Man seems known, yet on a level, I still have my doubts. The doppelganger by character is something I expected, and that happened, as was the reaction. But the back story to the same seems a little unclear yet.

Was the cover art beautiful? Yes. Engaging stories? Yes, absolutely. Interesting character sketches? Without a doubt. Would I read it again? I will be. These eighteen stories shine in the light of life, and in them, there are things to remember and contemplate after reading.

Title: Doppelgänger: Short Stories
Authors: Madhavi S Mahadevan
Publisher/ Imprint: Alchemy Publishers
Pages: 308
Genre/ Sub-Genre: Fiction/ Short Stories
Rating: 4.25 of 5.00
Reviewed for: Publisher

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