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I have grown up watching Zee horror show, movies like Viraana where the ghosts were blister faced and women inevitably encountered them in shower. The coffins opened, custard frothed from the blisters, the heads turned 360 degrees, sometimes without the bodies. Gross, I know but that was the horror served hot on the plate that I would gobble without thinking twice. Then entered the Stephen King’s novels, the real potion. Horror didn’t remain confined to old abandoned bungalows. It plagued the cities, found in the shops, wandered on the highways. A step closer. Though it was just written word, not a movie playing scene by scene, it would make the hairs stand at the back of the neck. The sensation, the adrenaline rush unmatchable.

Indian ghost stories, somehow, have usually been limited to churails, old chowkidars, haunted hills like Mussorie, Shimla, unable to meddle in the daily life. Ruskin Bond’s few stories come to my mind but since they have been set in the hills, they spook me when I am on a holiday. The other ghost stories do provide an eerie setting in the night but never frightening enough to make you feel that someone might be standing right behind you, in spirit, probably seeing every word you are typing on your laptop.

‘Frankly Spooking’ does that.

It brings the ghost to the dinner table, at the places we identify with like malls, classrooms, office, colleagues, your own home that you have been living in for many years. This book is a collection of short stories in the horror genre where ear phones have a life of their own, dead have social gatherings, tattoos breathe. The imagination is uncontainable, running amok at times; the spook it generates is spine chilling.

The scenarios in most of the stories are unsuspecting, people going about their regular work and the ghosts just make their presence felt. A distinct feeling that you get when you read this book is that you are never alone, anywhere. That is a remarkable feat on the part of the author.

He plays with your subconscious mind to generate a reaction, of shock, disbelief and chill. The ghosts don’t have a back story, they are unapologetic and love scaring people. The good part is that the tales are never gory, they scare you but the ghosts don’t gurgle blood or squash you against the walls to create a visual impact. Few of my favorites are Director’s cut, Wall of Silence, Dada’s house, Inked, Together in it.

I think writing in horror genre is very difficult. The length has to be right, the suspense has to be maintained, the chill has to be introduced just at the right moment. A person reading a ghost story knows that a ghost will appear but it is a matter of how and when, the unpredictability, that takes you by surprise. Sriramana does that effortlessly in most of the stories. Apart from one or two, each story stands tall claiming the top spot. Some stories are really short. I wish that they were longer to spook me a bit more. Nonetheless, a treat for the horror lovers.

If you enjoy horror or you are the one who watches a horror flick through the curtain of your own fingers, loving and still not loving, give the ghosts in ‘Frankly Spooking’ a chance. They will scare the hell out of you.

Author: Sriramana Muliya

Publisher: Harper Collins

Genre: Horror, Fiction

Price: 299/ –