Book Review of A Season of Ghosts
by Geetashree Chatterjee
(Review of “A Season of Ghosts” by Ruskin Bond)
Flipkart Price: Rs. 235/-
ISBN Code: 0140287841
This year Winter had been especially harsh on the capital. Grey days bleakly stretched as one died to have a mere glimpse of the sun, however, short lived. The nights were colder and one would not want to come out of the rajai even if the greatest urgency prevailed. How best to perk one up in such an arresting weather than to catch up on unfinished reading with innumerable cups of steaming hot chai. I did right that. Ruskin Bond’s anthology of ghost stories, aptly titled A Season Of Ghosts, became my companion once again as brooding dark clouds stooped low and robbed colour off the face of the earth.
It has always been a pleasure reading Ruskin Bond. Set in the majestic mountains of the Himalayas the collection includes nine short stories and one novella. Mr. Bond writes for all age groups – children, young adults and adults. All his writings have equal universal appeal. His narration is simple, straight forward yet gripping allowing an almost cinematic visualization as the story unfolds. Ruskin knows how to create the atmosphere and transport the readers to the “precipitous mountains” or the twisty paths down the vale or up the steep curves of the hills.
Be it the writer’s sensuous sojourn to the Fairy Hill (On Fairy Hill) or the chilling trips to the cemetery up the hill (Whistling In The Dark) or getting irresistibly drawn to the haunted old wooden
bridge (Wilson’s Bridge) or waiting at the Regal Theatre to get a glimpse of an old friend long dead (Reunion At The Regal), Ruskin’s masterly word craft makes the most incredible credible.
But my favourite is Mrs. Bellow and her black cat (The Black Cat), a kind of a bed-time story which one would like to recount to one’s children and grand-children. While Something In The Water is a creepy, crawly tale of something spookily indefinable which leaves the reader squirmy in the stomach, The Prize, though nightmarish, has a wickedly humorous angle to it. In The Night Of The Millennium Ruskin has the last laugh on the modern day go-getters for whom “the unknown was just something waiting to be discovered”.
Rakshasa is again a story based on the folk tales of the hills. However, it is the novella, Who Killed The Rani, a gripping murder mystery, which takes us a few decades back to the sleepy hills - a peek into the sedentary lives of the inhabitants, the love-hate relationship between neighbours and the uncommon, humane angle to resolving a gruesome murder – is a classic by itself.
Ruskin Bond once again proves that ghost stories are not only ghostly but there may be different shades to these which can at times give goose bumps and at others also bring a smile to the readers’ lips, make them reminiscent of olden days or even leave their eyes moist.
As usual an enjoyable read, a page turner, to which you can go back again and again and again…