Title: Young Blood
Author: Chandrima Das
Price: Rs 236
Publisher: HarperCollins India
Link for purchase: Young Blood
Bored roommates use a planchette to contact a legendary ghost that haunts Pune University. Will she answer?
Is the abandoned Khairatabad Science College in Hyderabad really haunted? A gang of students break inside to investigate.
Nirav and Pavi love each other . . . most of the time. Will exploring a forbidden place inside IIT Kharagpur bring them closer?
From strange sightings to urban legends, from haunted buildings to not-so-friendly ghosts, colleges in India have their fair share of spine-tingling tales, be it Kasturba Medical College in Manipal, St. Bede’s College in Shimla or Delhi University. Young Blood is a collection of ten tales that reimagine college urban legends and true first-person accounts, that promises to terrify even die-hard fans of horror.
Generally, when it comes to writing a book in the “Horror” genre, the one most important thing to keep in mind is how to build an atmosphere of terror and suspense. This is usually easier to handle in a full-length novel than in an anthology. In anthologies the author finds herself/himself restricted by the smaller length per story, and this makes it very difficult to create the atmosphere of terror and tension needed to keep the reader hooked. Chandrima Das has excelled in managing this challenge very adeptly by using chilling language. Each one of the tales in this book manage to make the reader feel terrified.
Another factor in writing a horror anthology that has to be handled carefully is the order in which the stories are presented. This has to be done in such a way that the reader remains sufficiently interested right till the end. I will now comment on each one of the tales in this book, mainly keeping these two points in mind. Another thing I want to tell the readers of this review is that I have tried not to give away the story as far as possible. There are ten stories in this anthology. So here goes.
Challenge Accepted: This tale manages to pique the reader’s interest sufficiently and the author manages to establish a sufficient atmosphere of fear. In fact, the story is pretty chilling. It is a story about a group of college students who visit the haunted Khairatabad Science College. This visit is instigated by one student challenging another over the result of a debating competition. The winner of the competition, as well as the girl who stood second, are also involved in it. This is the correct tale to begin the book with.
Pen for your thoughts: In this story, the author has made an effort to make a simple tale frightening and she does manage to do that to a large extent. I found that this one is not as good as the opening story. Still, it is well above average and qualifies to be included in an anthology of horror stories. And the story does fulfill both the criteria I have chosen. In this story, there is a surprise at the end.
The Inner Door: This story is also quite a good one and did manage to establish an atmosphere and I really liked it. But in my opinion, this one does not qualify to be in position 3 on the list. It should have been placed at a later point but then that is my opinion. It is a story about two girls living in a hostel and there are some really strange things happening in the room they are staying in.
Who the fuck is Alice?: The author has shown quite a bit of imagination in writing this story. Four boys try to call the spirit of a dead woman using a planchette and all hell breaks loose. It leads to a terrifying end. Both the chill factor and the order in the list are correct.
The Benefits of Doubt: What I loved about this story is the ending. That is when the story strikes you right between the eyes. As I read it, I was wondering where the story was leading to, but the denouement is simply superb. In my opinion, this is the best story among them all.
The colors of a bruise: This tale was a bit of a let-down. It follows a rather cliched pattern. I could guess the end and it did not pack too much terror. This story also had a social message which I liked.
Final Possessions: I have mixed feelings about this tale. It is good enough to be in the list and the chill factor is also quite good. But we have a character in the story who has some special sensory abilities which sounded somewhat cliched, but then again this is a book belonging to the “Horror” genre and such things have to be taken at face value.
Ghost of a Chance: This story is about a suicide in IIT. This tale does pack a punch and is quite imaginatively written. It does carry a good amount of fear factor and there is a whacking surprise at the end. It is at position 8 which is fine, but after I had reached this point in the book, I was getting pretty much used to ghosts.
The sacrifice: This story is based in Meghalaya. This story is placed at position 9 which is as it should be. But this tale had suspense which is quite tasteful. But it is not what I would call chilling, but the reason for that was probably because I was almost nearing the end of the book and I was getting quite used to fear.
Good girls, bad girls: This tale is placed last in the order, and it deserves its position. The story is quite good, but I felt the author could have taken some more effort with it given the terrific imagination she has.
A big yay!!! The author has a terrific imagination, and she has used it fully to write an excellent anthology in the “Horror” genre. If you would like to read spine chilling short stories, this book is for you.
I go with a 4.5/5 for “Young Blood” by Chandrima Das. I am cutting off 0.5 points for the several reasons I have mentioned above.
This review has been written as part of the Blogchatter Book Review Program