The Haunted Library – Now who does not love a good ghost story? On top of that, if the ghost story is set in a library or among books – it can but be a treat for the bibliophiles. Now, add to this the fact that most of these stories belong to early 20th CE – and you have another layer of mystique added.
All the 12 stories in this Ghost Story collection – The Haunted Library – are based either in libraries – public or personal. Sometimes they have a mysterious book, sometimes the book is a medium for the story and sometimes it is writing that is the key element of the story.
I liked the old world charm of these stories. Selector Tanya Kirk has given a brief profile of the author of each of these stories along with their literary works. She tells us whether the author primarily writes ghost stories or not. It reminded me of my Hindi textbooks in school, where we read about the author before reading about his or her works. That kind of put the work in a context. You knew who is writing and for whom. Since these are fairly old stories, that context is even more important – you have to take yourself back in time when people used to live in small towns, had no electronic connectivity and books and libraries were a part of their lives.
The language of the stories itself takes you back to the colonial times when everyone had a formal way of behaving and talking. It reminded me of school days in the 1980s when this kind of language was still used in formal environments. Even in the absence of a person, people used to speak respectfully about them. The crimes used to be simple or maybe we have grown up reading so much about them that we solve them easily along with the author’s storyline.
It took me some time to get into the groove of these stories. As I had to mentally walk back in time, get used to the language. It was by 3rd or 4th story that I was in the environment where I could flow with the stories.
I loved the story where a ghost keeps one of the two heirs of a will away from a book that contains the will. The last story where the book is a devil is the most stunning one. It leaves you with a suspense – what must have been in the book to make it so devilish. In another story, a ghost always makes its presence felt once it has done the damage. Before that, there is no way it will show itself. There is a ghost of a dead wife who can not share her husband with another woman even after her death. There are books that move in and out of the bookshelves.
Read More – Afterlife – Ghost Stories from Goa
A common thread that runs through the short stories apart from the ghosts, of course, is the books and libraries. Every home has a library. Every town and village has a public library with a staff that knows their books in and out. People always come looking for certain books.
Be warned, you may look at your library differently after you have seen this book. I hope the current day ghosts are not reading it. But then, I am not sure, if they like humans, find libraries interesting anymore.
I am wondering if all these stories are a figment of imagination? Or are there elements of reality in them. In India, I have never heard of a haunted library. Though we have our haunted places like Bhangarh and Kuldhara. Have you heard of one?
Buy this book The Haunted Library – Classic Ghost Stories by Tanya Kirk at Amazon.
If you like short stories or ghost stories or classic writing – go for it.