WRITING: 2.5/5

I was on the hunt for a chilling horror short story collection for an Indian horror book recommendation video that I am planning for my YouTube channel. That is when I chanced upon Amitav Ganguly’s Twelve Paranormal Tales and decided to read it. Intrigued by its cover and the promise of some spine-chilling tales, I quickly dived into reading it.

What is the book all about?

At 128 pages, the book is a short read, which offers a quick dive into the genre of Indian horror. With most stories between 5 to 10 pages in length, it takes us on a short but unique adventure. While the characters and setting in each story are different to some extent, giving us some range in the supernatural experiences and the eerie encounters, there is an evident lack of variety in the book, as many of the stories seem to culminate in a similar fashion.

My review

I like picking up new voices in Indian literature and love to discover what new exciting voice I will find out. It was with this motivation and curiosity that I picked up this book too. The reviews seemed promising, and the cover looked scary enough for me to give it a read. However, my overall feelings about the book can be best termed as average.

When it comes to horror, a good writer is one who is able to evoke that spooky eerie feeling in the reader. Sadly, this is not the case here. Though the stories do show promise, there is much left to be desired in terms of delivering a truly haunting experience. The element of horror is quite underplayed, while the writing is amateurish at best. In many places, there is a lack of flow, and the writing feels choppy. I also didn’t like the fact that the book was poorly edited. This spoils much of the reading fun. The English too is mediocre at best and does not complement the writing style.

Some of the stories that appealed to me include “Ghoul to Girl” where a young college man is visited by the ghost of a mysterious woman who seems like wanting to say something yet stays away, leading to confusion and dread. The end reveals the purpose of the ghostly apparition, and we get to know the surprising connection between this young man and the old deceased woman.

“Broadcasting Ghost” is another story whose premise is unique and intriguing, it shows a scenario where radios mysteriously broadcast murders at specific frequencies and locations. Others too have interesting premises like the one where a real-life college couple is guided by a dead couple, while another one is about a man having to choose between a beautiful dead girl or her ugly living twin sister. One features the theme of ventriloquism, while another talks of a dead man superimposing his face on a living one leading to a supernatural identity theft.

There is promise in the premise of these stories, but the writing needs to catch up on the promise that each of these stories offers. In my humble opinion, the execution fails to deliver the full impact of these ideas.

In the end, ‘Twelve Paranormal Tales’ turned out to be a book I found suitable only for a single read. Despite many unique ideas and supernatural concepts, it fails to deliver that spine-chilling, nail-biting horror reading experience. As a horror enthusiast, I found myself unable to fully immerse in the stories because of the mediocre writing. It is a book that I wouldn’t be too keen on recommending to lovers of horror fiction.

Can’t wait to read it? You can buy your copy of Twelve Paranormal Tales using the link below.