Book Review: The Blotted Line by Mehreen Ahmed

17571017I previously became aware of Mehreen Ahmed’s work when she gave me a copy of her magnificent stream of consciousness piece, Moirae, in return for an honest review. While I enjoyed the book, and in fact gave it the full five stars, I did state that the style of the book makes a difficult read. Here, Mehreen takes us in a different direction, offering a series of short stories in a more recognisable prose style.

Mehreen has a very clear ‘feel’ to her writing, and this shines through in this collection. The blurb makes it clear that the stories are linked by a thematic feeling of loss, but don’t be fooled into thinking that this will mean that the tales cross-over. Each story is very much its own beast, and they are all given plenty of room to grow in their own way. In fact, outside the aforementioned theme, the only real link between them is Mehreen’s ability to craft an emotional tale. For me, this was most apparent in ‘The Anomalous Duo’, a tale of two lovers as the issues they face when one is forced into an arranged marriage. Regardless of whether such a situation is directly relevant to your own life, it’s hard not to empathise with the characters as they traverse what is an often controversially viewed tradition. Then, there are stories such as ‘Eye-Opener’, that show how life can sometimes provide us with unexpected, and undoubtedly unwelcome, surprises, even when in the company of those that we know well.

In all, I am very happy to have been offered a copy in return for an honest review, and I personally found it to be a rewarding read. Like any short story collection, there is every possibility that there will be a story or two that just don’t click with you, but that just makes it all the sweeter when you find the one that does. Mehreen’s talent is never in question, and there is such a good variety of tales on offer here, that most people should find something to enjoy therein. For that, it is deserving of another five stars.

Final Score: 5 / 5

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