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The Rupa Book of Haunted House Paperback – 1 February 2003
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About the Author
Ruskin Bond's first novel, The Room on the Roof, written when he was seventeen, won the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize in 1957. Since then he has written several novels (including Vagrants in the Valley, A Flight of Pigeons and Delhi Is Not Far), essays, poems and children's books, many of which have been published by Penguin India.
He has also written over 500 short stories and articles that have appeared in a number of magazines and anthologies.
He received the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1993 and the Padma Shri in 1999.
- ASIN : 8129106094
- Publisher : Rupa (1 February 2003)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 252 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9788129106094
- ISBN-13 : 978-8129106094
- Item Weight : 210 g
- Dimensions : 20.3 x 25.4 x 4.7 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: #138,920 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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In this anthology edited by Ruskin Bond, he shares some of his favourite ghost stories. Stories of ghosts who either resided or frequented and haunted certain houses. It starts with an introduction by the celebrated author and is a collection of short stories which begins and ends with a poem each, as well as a poem and a story by the author himself.
Now, when we say Ruskin Bond's favourite ghost stories, don't expect them to be scary. At least not blood-curdling, hair raising scary, not all of them. In fact, the initial stories are rather a damp squib, and the latter ones too. Meanwhile, this was my first read of Mr Bond's. Because previously I have only read his Sunday columns in the Times of India, but never his stories. I don't know, maybe the opportunity never presented itself. Or maybe there was a story or two in our school textbooks which I obviously don't remember. The magic of the haunting starts from Bram Stoker's 'The Judges House', while the first five stories appeared to be pretty staid for me. And the devilry stops at E. and H. Heron 'The Story of the Spaniards, Hammersmith'.
"No matter how modern or advanced a man may claim to be, some taint of superstition lingers in his blood, inherited from ancestors who had a strong affinity with the supernatural."
The stories are as follows:
The Ghost by Walter de la Mare
Poetry isn't my forte, and it sailed right over my head, meaning I couldn't at all understand the spook quotient of this poem.
A Pair of Hands by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch (1910)
More than ghostly, it is a rather cute story. A haunted house indeed. But, will you still want to live in a home with a pair of hands?
"Few women, I dare to say, were ever so completely wrapped around with love as we were during those three years. It ran through my waking life like a song: it smoothed my pillow, touched and made me table comely, in summer lifted the heads of the flowers as I passed, and in winter watched the fire with me and kept it bright."
A School Story by M.R. James (1911)
As the title suggests, this one has a narrator telling an unnamed friend about an incident that happened at his school. Is their present somehow linked with something that happened in the past? This didn't make much sense, as to what exactly happened. Some unspeakable horror, apparently.
The Room by Eleanor Scott (1923)
A rather long-ish short story about six wannabe ghostbusters who experience scary things after each of them spends a night alone in an eerie room. What is it exactly that they experience? And why is one of them not at all affected? For all that was left unsaid, there is nothing much to go on to provide the chills in this story.
Nobody's House by A.M. Burrage (1927)
This one is about a haunted library where shots are heard by the housekeeper. What does one prospective buyer discover when he decides to stay in one night? This one was more like a tale of ghostly redemption. It is, after all, Nobody's house.
The Judge's House by Bram Stoker (1914)
This one is a part of Stoker's short story collection 'Dracula's Guest and Other Weird Stories'. It follows Malcolm Malcolmson, a Math student, who seeks a quiet place to himself to study for his exams. He finds just the right place, a former judge's house, but not without its own history of horror. Does he take heed to other's warnings or suffers the same fate as many before him? And, oh, damn! This is one scary horror story. It made my hairs stand on end! It gave me the creeps and why not, it is one of the Bram Stoker's stories. It is the stuff nightmares are made of.
In the Crowd at the Station by Ruskin Bond
A short and frightening poem. Completely Bond style.
The Decoy by Algernon Blackwood (1919)
John Burley inherits a desolate house which comes along with its own superstitions, its previous owners had committed suicide. And on his wife's insistence, he takes it up as a challenge to debunk that myth, by staying there for one night, though it is to be a three people affair. But, he isn't without his own superstitions:
"No man exists without some taint of superstition in his blood; the racial heritage is too rich to be escaped entirely."
But, is it the superstition of something lurking in that haunted house, or is it entirely a man-made problem.
"… with the fall of night, … as shadow called to shadow and the kingdom of darkness gathered power."
Another hair-raising tale, this. It is creepy and will make you turn your back to look into the darkness (provided you're reading this in the dead of the night). Also, what an ingenious title.
The Story of Yand Manor House by E. and H. Heron (1898)
Written by a mother-son duo, Kate O'Brien Ryall Prichard and Hesketh Vernon Prichard, this follows the journey of a fictional character by the name of Flaxman Low, said to be the first psychic detective of fiction, the Sherlock Holmes of the supernatural. He has been requested by Sir George Blackburton of the Yand Manor House to look into some ghostly activities, namely an unknown entity whom you can only feel and taste. What a slimy, macabre tale. It will make you gag.
The Story of the Spaniards, Hammersmith by E. and H. Heron (1898)
Both the tales mentioned above first appeared in a collection called 'Ghost Stories' in the year 1899. This one is about Lieutenant Roderick Houston whose relative left him a large house 'The Spaniards' in Hammersmith, London. A house where no one can stay more than one or two weeks, such is the haunting factor. And hence, who would Roderick turn to but his school friend, Flaxman Low, whom he comes to know now delves in psychical subjects. In the story, the psychical detective admits of being scared whatever it is that haunts that house. One can only imagine what an icky read it may be for a reader of the story then. Another horror inducing story from the mother-son duo.
The Haunted Doll's House by M.R. James (1923)
It has an interesting beginning, with the object of haunting not being mentioned verbally. That which must not be named, eh? A Mr Dillet acquires a dollhouse from a collector, Mr Chittenden, who and his spouse are relieved for finally selling it. Because, when the clock strikes one, the inmates of the doll's house gain life…
The Gardener by E.F. Benson (1922)
The narrator's friend and the latter's wife invited him to stay with them for a fortnight at a holiday home they rented. But, the cottage situated on the land of that estate is suspicious. It looked like a gardener's house, with no one in sight and having a desolate look about it yet seemed at times to be occupied. When the wife starts using the planchette, there is an indication of a sinister presence which seems cold to the touch when 'it' brushes by but cannot be seen. It's time to be really, really scared of that unknown entity…
The Staircase by Hugh Walpole (1933)
This house is not so much haunted as it is animated! Yes, it converses with the humans in their own way. It has life. It breathes. And though in the end, it performs a dastardly act, the staircase particularly, it all seems to be in good faith. And hence, not scary at all, almost like a fairy godmother. But, there is that lingering doubt as to if someone were to cross the house, then they would have to face its wrath.
"It is surprising how completely one human being can convince another of incompetence, ignorance, and silly vanity if they be often alone together."
Thurnley Abbey by Perceval Landon (1908)
The narrator meets one Alastair Colvin during one of his many voyages where the latter insists on sharing a cabin and then unfurls a story behind his peculiar request. That story consists of the Broughtons of Thurnley Abbey and the superstitions about ghosts that Mr Broughton had acquired during his stay in India, which even his practical nature couldn't disbelieve of. But, there is something that lurks that house, what is it?
"…and my brains turned dry and hot in my head."
The Unbolted Door by Mrs Belloc Lowndes (1929)
Anne Torquil's only son was declared 'missing' in the war and her husband ordered a particular door that the young lad frequented as a child to be kept unbolted, always, in the hope that someday like other returnees his son may also return through that very same door.
"It is the little rift within the lute
That by and by will make the music mute."
-Alfred Lord Tennyson
Again, what I would say is that this is a non-ghost story.
Gone Fishing by Ruskin Bond
There are ghosts, for sure, but nothing like in a haunted house, and nor are they sinister.
Nothing By Walter de la Mare
A short and sweet poem, it gave me the idea of wind than a ghost.
P.S. There are so many typos all throughout the book that reading it started to seem like a chore before I finished even half of the book. I kind of dragged through it for the most part. All of the stories, barring Bond's own, belong to the immediate either pre- or post-World War I era and are the works of English authors, except Stoker who was Irish. My overall experience was neutral, maybe because I was expecting too much from it. The ones that I found brilliant – which are only five in number – I am going to search for the author's other works and read through them. Most of them are available for free as e-books in Project Gutenberg's websites.
Originally posted on:
My Blog @ Shaina's Musings