Part family saga and part mesh of sci-fi, paranormal, horror and off-beat humor, this is a story of Kerala civilization in the town of Amballore, India, an unusual community with a dark history.
The despicably negligent Thoma and saintly Ann are parents to ten children, all of whom play a role in contributing to familial discord and dysfunction. Thoma’s parents Vareed and Eli disappeared without a trace years prior, and are part of a companion story line which takes place in Amballore House, a haunted mansion in which horrors, bloodshed and paranormal occurrences are commonplace.
The story of Amballore House, the title’s namesake, is told in segmented pieces from the perspective of multiple characters. The ten children of Thoma and Ann give insight into Kerala history, customs and folklore and tell the tale of their poverty-stricken childhood in a home ruled hand and fist by a violent father and a refreshingly comedic parrot. The story moves backwards a generation then, to the characters of Vareed and Eli and their mysterious, unexplained disappearance. After this, Amballore House itself takes center stage with a horrific depiction of its paranormal activities, extra-terrestrial occupants, and fantastical role in the mayhem and crimes witnessed by residents of Kerala.
AMBALLORE HOUSE is an intricate, long story, and ambitiously spans events occurring over the course of thousands of years leading up to the present and dipping once again into the past. At many junctures, the sequencing of the novel is confusing and disjointed. The writing style is primarily third-person, but has jaunty, distracting interludes of first person narrative. Additionally, there is a noticeable absence of dialogue; learning of characters and events via narrative instead of dialogue and character actions contributes to a monotony that detracts from the story’s ability to capture the reader’s imagination. The novel lacks a distinct plot, developed points of conflict and a satisfying resolution. For example, long chapters and passages tell stories of individual characters who are never tied into the overarching theme of the story and seem, ultimately, unnecessary. The marriage of horror, comedy, paranormal, memoir, sci-fi, and court case elements is an ambitious combination; AMBALLORE HOUSE falls short of dove-tailing these disparate elements in an engaging way.
Where stylistic elements and plot design detracts from the ability to create a memorable novel, AMBALLORE HOUSE succeeds in providing a unique perspective of Indian mythology and folklore which is nothing short of fascinating. Additionally, the characters of this novel are fresh and unique, completely un-cliché, and imaginative. The sci-fi plot twists will keep readers guessing until the very end, and a few poignant passages provide witty and insightful commentary on human nature.
AMBALLORE HOUSE is a unique blend of story-telling styles and genres, a non-stop unfolding of history and events, and a creative mixture of delightful and atrocious characters facing bizarre circumstances.