The Puffin book of spooky ghost stories

I seem to have discovered a veritable treasure trove of ghost stories recently! While I haven’t written about the rest yet I figured I’d do this one first. First, because it’s the freshest and second, because in its way this is something new to me – probably, technically, the first book of ghost stories for kids that I’ve read. Seems odd somehow.

I don’t quite know how that came to be. I mean, I’m sure that like most kids I had quite an appetite for the macabre. And yet most of the ghost stories for kids I read is now! And I must say these writers take spookiness very seriously! In fact, at times I wondered if the book wasn’t too much for the fertile imagination of kids. Even I found some of the images summoned hard to shake!

And then I find there are these other very curious things about ghost stories written for kids. There’s a strange sort of… innocence running through them that makes them even more chilling. The stories seem to assume the existence of haunted houses and possessions by the underworld and demonic creatures. And if you as the unbelieving reader scoff, more fool you. It’s your problem! And then there’s the writing which seems to strip away every other kind of pretence too; only dealing with facts of human nature that must be obvious to anybody with half a brain! There’s no talk of misplaced altruism or rationalizing. You hurt somebody because it makes you feel powerful and superior. And that’s that. Kids relish in the macabre and ghost stories for them revel in that. Making for a delicious read!

So, for completely selfish reasons I’m completely in favour of the book! I do like it when you can get into a story irrespective of the age of the audience it was intended for, don’t you?

An anthology of short ghost stories by Indian writers, the book is topped by a rather well written introduction by Jerry Pinto and succeeded by equally well written stories. In fact, it’s usually hard to find an anthology in which it’s hard to pick at least one blah story.

But of course, there will still be favourites! Though it’s hard to decide between the one where a rich though stingy man gets his somewhat unexpected just desserts, or the one where a teenager finds an odd swing near her house, or a Goddess who demands a blood sacrifice (that one was truly scary), or the one about the beautiful doll once given as a childhood gift. There’s much to relish in this spooky gem… Though I’m still not sure about kids.

But for me, a resounding 5!

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