Excellent. Dan Simmons is fast on his way to becoming one of my favorite authors.
I felt horrified during most of the book, and saddened during a lot of it, but I like the way that it isn't totally and completely engulfed in despair. (Though pretty depressing enough.) I like the way that the protagonist decides to "fight back".
It's not "scary" as in "boo" but it is horrific in it's stark depiction of the horror lurking in the human soul.
The reason why I rated this so highly, is that it worked very well as a horror thriller for me.
I think there was enough foreshadowing to give one an idea that something bad was going to happen, but you kept hoping that what you think might happen, wouldn't happen--it develops into one of those thriller-type scenarios, where you keep thinking 'Oh, watch out! be careful, don't do that!'
..and yet, the author manages to be subtle enough for it not to be 'pat'.
It also managed to grip this cynical reader deeply enough to feel both horrified and sad.
That, for me is crucial, I guess - immersion, and this novel definitely did that for me, heck, I was gripping the edge of my seat all the way through.
I also liked that the end was sort of sad and senseless; - just like real life sometimes is.
I'll take away one star because of Simmon's rather unbalanced portrayal of Hindu culture, which is of course a rich and varied culture with many aspects to it, some of them wonderful and positive, as opposed to the negative aspects highlighted in this novel.
Though this specific view might have been quite representative of a Westerner's impression of Calcutta at that point in time, I do feel that Mr Simmons could have added a few of the more positive aspects of Hindu culture to balance out the negative aspects that are represented especially by for instance the Kali cults that feature in this narrative.
ETA- In retrospect, in view of the discussion below, I do think that perhaps the whole point of the horrific situation is that the protagonist originally romanticized his wife's background, and was totally unprepared and unequipped for the realities of the situation he had to come to grips with in Calcutta. So, i suppose the whole point was for the protagonist to be naive and not have a lot of street-smarts, so that at times, you actually felt like shaking him.