Horror genre depends on either spectacular sound effects, gruesome visuals or a fear that stalks the victim. Young Blood employs all of these and comes out an entertainer that scares, engages and provokes the reader to contemplate.
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.
About the Author
Chandrima Das has a B.Tech in Computer Science from NIT Durgapur and an MBA from IIM Calcutta. After a decade-long career in management consulting, she followed her passion for writing. Her digital debut The Talking Dead was a bestseller in the horror category. She’s performed live at storytelling events with Tall Tales and Kommune, and was published in The Best Of Tall Tales.
When do we encounter ghost stories and rumours of hauntings? For most of us, it is during our later school years or colleges. The stories are told and retold in peer groups, informal cliques, carried on from batch to batch.
In India, many colleges have sprawling campuses, housed in British era buildings, with an atmosphere that lends to mystery. Add to this setting the youngsters, an element of exploration, of identity and relationships, the new-found freedom or the pressure to perform well because studying in a prestigious college is a culmination of their family’s dreams. The emotions that characterize youth are the base point of many stories as are the societal issues.
In Young Blood, horror is not merely the paranormal, it is also the normalised expectations and thinly veiled manipulative behaviour that our society condones.
The stories vary in location, setting and style. There are similar elements to the hauntings and horror episodes, the way the air goes still or cold, bodies that are at unnatural angles, shadows that appear or congregate, voices that only the protagonists can hear, wind and rain and full moon nights that contribute to the spooky environment. And yet, the horror isn’t only external. It stems from a person’s psyche, his trauma, his fears and anxieties and even societal expectations that exact a price from the individual.
After reading each story, I eagerly flipped to the back of the book to read the author notes. She has explained the lore surrounding a particular place, how she reimagined and fictionalised it and what were the main influences for that particular story. It was as close to a conversation with the author as could be. Including these notes is a wonderful touch.
In Good Girls, Bad Girls, there’s a hint of a paranormal sighting but the real horror arises from the threat of stalking and violence right in a ladies hostel. Combined with internalised patriarchal norms that women adhere to, it lends insecurity even in places they are supposed to be safe. I quite liked this one, because of the way it hits the message home.
The Sacrifice is notable for the characters, the young and curious Paul, and the wordly Roni with special powers. The interaction between the two, the testing of ground, the conflict of religion and faith, is very interesting, as is the mirroring of the political situation in Manipal.
Challenge Accepted is perhaps the most recognisable kind of horror story, mainly because the trope of a haunted building has been covered rather widely. But the story works well and is a good way to begin the book with.
I read Pen for Your Thoughts for St. Bede’s and Shimla, a place where I have spent many years. I know the icy winds, the slippery slopes, the looming pine trees and what they do to a terrified mind.
The Inner Door captured racism and an undercurrent of mistrust among students from different geographical areas very well.
The Benefits of Doubt uses vernacular to strike the terror home in the precincts of the hallowed IIT Kharagpur.
Ghost of a Chance is heartbreaking, as it focuses on student suicides over the years in IITs. Again, what makes the story stick to your mind is the exploration of themes like mental health and parental pressure.
Young Blood by Chandrima Das is an engaging set of stories, relatable, believable and racy. A must-read for horror genre afficinados.