WRITING STYLE: 3/5
ENTERTAINMENT QUOTIENT: 3.5/5
A month back I was in the beautiful hill city of Shimla. At the railway station, I came across a bookshop selling a dozen or so book on Shimla. It was here I saw the book, More Ghost Stories of Shimla Hills and bought it immediately. After having read the preface I got to know that it is the second in the series and the moment I got acquainted with this fact, I immediately began my search for the prequel. Finally, my quest landed me at Mall road and it was here that I bought this book.
Ghost Stories of Shimla Hills is a collection of all things supernatural in and around the Shimla hills, be it haunted bauris, mansions or benches, churails or spirits of English men and women who once walked the city of Shimla. It is a collection of stories of various encounters of citizens of Shimla (including tourists) with the many spirits which have made their abode in these hills. The author does not express her views in terms of whether she believes or does not believe in what is written, but surely by the sole virtue of her narrations, makes us believe in all the stories that form this book. The foreword by the famous author Ruskin Bond further adds to the credibility of the research and of the book itself. It was a pleasure reading Ruskin Bond marvelling at the “generous sprinkling of ghosts” in Shimla.
The chapters vary widely, with “The Angrez Chudail”, “The Sanjauli Fruit Seller”, “The Ghost on the Railway Line”, “The Grave of an English Lady”, “The Lady on the Rickshaw” and “The Prince with the Red Rose” among the scariest ones. My favourite among the lot are “The Prince with the Red Rose” and “The Lady on the Rickshaw”. The “Price with the Red Rose” is about a pretty young girl Maria and how she is chosen as the beloved of the ghost of an English prince who every year on November 13th or Friday the 13th comes to a school to choose the prettiest girl for his royal self. The next, “The Lady on the Rickshaw”, is about the ghost of an English Lady who roams the streets of Shimla at night, not because she is bound to the place by some personal tragedy, but because she simply can’t let go of the past.
The Ghost Stories of Shimla Hills is a mixed bag of scary and friendly ghosts, some of them being helpful, like in the stories “Ghosts Don’t Exist” and “The Grave of an English Lady”, while some being scary like the ones in “The Walk Back” and the “Sanjauli Fruit Seller”. In addition to this, there are also stories on revengeful ghosts like in “The Spirit Takes Revenge” and “Enduring Love”. Altogether, the book is a good read and I would recommend it to anybody with an interest in “folklore” horror.
Caution: Don’t count yourself in for a good dose of spine-chilling and nerve-racking horror, for this surely isn’t the book you are looking for. However, if you do like what I call “folklore” stories of ghosts in and around a real place, this is the book of your calling.