When you think of ghost stories it brings back stereotypical images of spooky characters. However, what happens when the horror we all see around us, that is, the horror of daily contemporary life, mixes with ‘real’ horror? What happens when ghosts are placed in contemporary settings and situations. Well, be ready for a dark and spooky ride, twisted plots and thrills and chills! Dark Tales: Ghost stories from India by Venita Coelho (Penguin) will have you thrilled and terrified at the same time.
This collection of eleven hair-raising tales will take you through a gamut of settings where different kinds of horrors merge. The stories are mostly set in contemporary India- in the cities, small towns, and villages, each area offering a different and unique background for the horror to play out.
At one level, there is something about the setting and the situation that leaves the reader unsettled with the way things are. Whether it is the case of two terrorists as they build bombs; young murdered children; a village simpleton who is illtreated by his own family; a young girl gone missing…the horror of the callousness of contemporary life makes it presence felt. And then there is the ‘real’ horror. Yes, even more chilling is the spooky sauce…. the ghosts, the ‘churail’, the zombie, the vampire and the fantastical beasts and the spirits that we are familiar with. Mix these two elements and you’ve got a deadly cocktail!
For some of the stories, I felt they also highlighted a certain social evil. Some underscored how normal life could be a horror replay as well. But all give the reader a good old scare. A couple of them mix an element of humour as well! For me, being immersed in a fast-paced thriller or horror story is not only great entertainment but also something that helps me cope with the current pandemic! Somehow, this book also allows the reader to safely escape into a different realm.
Dark Tales: Ghost stories from India by Venita Coelho will appeal to horror fiction lovers, both adults as well as young adults. Get set to be spooked out of your wits! And yes, if you like the genre of horror you be also enjoy reading Tooth and Nail, Fur and Scale that is about different Indian ‘horror’ creatures. If the horror and mystery genre in Bollywood fascinates you, you could refer to A Touch of Evil by Dhruv Somani