If one ignores the unknown and the unseen, its existence can still not be denied. The experience of the unseen and supernatural forces has found expression in the writing of different authors and also common folk from both cities and villages. The genre of “Haunted stories” remains of popular interest, despite the changes of generations from manual to automatic and tech-savvy. An influence of this interest reflects in “Dare Me and other Stories” by Benita Patnaik. It is interesting to observe how the author has picked up content from routine life and given it’s touches of the dark elements without letting the substance get affected.

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The readers are attracted to the book the moment they see the attractive book cover. The cover hints towards the dark undertones that the stories in the collection would carry, but the bright orange colour attracts the readers and invites them to indulge in reading the different stories that the author has planned for them. Each story in “Dare Me and other Stories” has a unique undertone and an engaging attraction about it. Every individual story has the potential to get the readers engrossed throughout till the end when the author gives unexpected twists and surprises the readers. These twists are completely unanticipated and unpredictable.

The element of unpredictability also gives thrill and chills to the readers as even though they know the nature of the book is horror, they can’t help but read it further to know what would happen next. Simultaneously, even if the book is written in the horror category, the spooky feelings do not exactly scare away the readers or make them scream. On the contrary, they may feel the sweats, and yet, they are unable to keep their eyes off the books. This is one of the key features of “Dare Me and other Stories,” which would make it popular among readers.

There may have been many books that have been written in the same category as Benita Patnaik’s creation, but the touches that the author gives her work make it unique and attractive. Firstly, she features human characters in it who have lives pretty much like the ordinary. Secondly, the unusual and supernatural events that occur are based on understandable reasons which can be practically explained. And thirdly, the impact of the spooky feeling remains on the minds of the readers much later after completing one story as they approach the next one. “Dare Me and other Stories” is a package where the stories are of a fine length, each featuring limited characters with their own stories to share, the victims of circumstances becoming the investigators of the reasons behind the mis happenings to them and the action being focused on driving towards the main event of finding the reason of why all those situations were occurring.

In its more than 300 pages length, “Dare Me and other Stories” features different stories like the one in the title, “The Girl Friend,” “The New Moon,” “Live Again,” and “An Eye for an Eye” which feature people who are victims of social pressures, part of society, they may at times be lonely and needing company or the sense of belongingness. Through this, the author also hints toward the sociological relevance of her creation and the psychological impacts it can have on the personality of a person and its development.

After her debut work, “Real Dreams,” the author Benita Patnaik shows a different facet of her writer’s personality in “Dare Me and other Stories” and re-introduces the readers to the artist she has in herself. While the earlier book features the real-day aspects like love, lust and retribution, which are routine in human lives, the second book features a universe that is distinctive, profound, and unique in itself. To add to the touches, the author uses her distinct style and adds elements that make her work both enjoyable and immortal. She also gives the readers another set of stories to discuss in their camping and bonfire sessions or even when they sit with the elders of their families.

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At the same time, “Dare Me and other Stories” spark the imagination of the readers and try to involve them in the imagination of the author and connect the events with their life. The undefined places and cities in the stories where they take place reinforce the fact that these are such events that could happen anywhere with any person. No factor like age, race, gender or sociological position can define what will happen to who. Stories like “The Muse” justify this at a different level where the protagonist is involved with a spirit who serves as his muse to help him become a bestselling author. Unlike its counterparts, every story is baffling, jaw-dropping, and gives the chills. Therefore, this book is suggested to all readers who look for refreshing yet spooky reading.

About The Author:

Benita Patnaik is a poet, blogger, and author. She has followed her debut novel “Real Dreams” (published in 2019 by The Write Place) with a collection of short stories “Dare Me and Other Stories” (Published in the year 2020 Amazon kdp and Notion Press). Recently her last novel “Weave Some More” was published in June 2022 by Notion Press.

Her fascination for the parallel world and her sixth sense brings out aspects of the paranormal in her stories, through her own experiences, coloured a little (or a lot) by her imagination.  Her passion for English literature found her in the world of academics for over a decade, helping students understand the nuances of the subject. Subsequently, she was on the Board of Directors (as Director of Education) at the Schutz American school, Alexandria for three years.

An alumna of Miranda House, University of Delhi, Benita has won the Urvashi Memorial Scholarship in her under-graduation level (English (Hons)) and followed it by completing her post-graduation in English Literature. She also holds a diploma in System Analysis which she completed simultaneously with her PG. Read more of her blogs, poetries, and her interests at lifeasitiswordpresscom.wordpress.com, importanceofbeingeme.benita.blogspot.com, and binny22.com.

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