Here’s my take on Haunted: Terrifying Real-life Encounters with Ghosts and Spirits by Jay Alani and Neil D’Silva.
An entire town that was abandoned overnight
A fort that fell to ruins due to a curse
Mines where twenty thousand miners were trapped and perished
A village where black magic is a way of life
A fair where exorcisms are performed in public
Such are the locations dotting the colourful paranormal map of India. Intrepid adventurers and regular tourists alike have often dared to visit these places to experience for themselves their fascinating lure, and to see if ghosts truly haunt these regions. However, those who have ventured there have often returned with more questions than answers-if at all they have returned.
Haunted chronicles the real-life adventures of paranormal investigator Jay Alani in ten of the spookiest locations in India. Co-authored by Neil D’Silva, these exploits provide a ringside view of these hair-raising paranormal journeys for everyone who has an interest in exploring the dark side of the normal.
Haunted is based on the real life experience of India’s leading paranormal investigator, Jay Alani. With the help of Neil D’silva’s writing prowess, Jay Alani has brought his experiences into words for us to read and go through that same feeling which he went through while exploring the places he’d been to. Do ghosts really exist? Are those places really haunted? Read the book to find out everything and more.
Coming to the review, Haunted is a collection of 10 intriguing real-life paranormal stories. Let me break down my review story-wise and then come to a conclusion later.
The Lost Child of Kuldhara: This is the first story in the book. Jay and his friend meet a child on a highway. The child claims that he got separated from his parents and is lost. Jay takes upon himself to find his parents which leads to the popular haunted site of India – ‘Village of Kuldhara’. As the story progresses Jay finds the boy suspicious. As the first story of the book, this story sets the mood. It has the right amount of scariness and thrill. I really like the ending of the story. It will leave you with an afterthought and an ounce of sadness.
The Voice in the Hostel: This is the second story in the book and an important one too because through this story we come to know how Jay entered into the world of paranormal. This story took place in the Darjeeling Hostel where Jay studied as a kid. An eleven-year-old Jay had his first encounter with the paranormal world when his friend Ashish had died unusually in the forest behind the hostel. After his death Ashish tried to contact Jay. The story gave me goosebumps. A dorm full of children experiencing ghostly activities is something to keep you awake at night.
The Salt Witch of the Lambi Dehar Mines: This story takes place in the outskirts of Mussoorie, Uttrakhand. Jay, on a request of a dealer, goes to Mussoorie to see a plot to check whether it is really haunted or not. It is heard about the mines of Lambi Dehar that 20,000 people were mysteriously trapped in these mines and eventually died. People around it believed that a witch possessed that place and no one should mess up with her. Jay himself has terrifying encounter in the mines of Lambi Dehar. After reading the first two stories I expected more from it still I really enjoyed this one too. I had goosebumps while reading it and was relieved when Jay came out from the mines.
The Forbidden Fort of Bhangarh: As soon as I had this book in my possession and I read its index (yes, I do that) I was really excited to read this chapter because let’s face it, everyone of us has heard about the Bhangarh fort at least once in our lifetime and all the stories revolving around it. It is considered one of the most haunted places in India. Well, as the story progressed, I was really shocked by the revelation made by Jay Alani. This chapter really came as a shock to me but it is a superbly-written chapter. I had a firm grip on the book as I read this chapter. I’m glad some of the mystery got cleared by the end of it.
The Tragic Ghost of Vas Villa: For a book that is filled with scary ghost stories I find this one kinda sweet. It has its element of ghost and paranormal activity but this story will not make you scream as loud. It is not mandatory for ghosts to make you scream, isn’t it? Although it did get me feeling sad for the ghost.
Also read: Book review of Yakshini by Neil D’Silva
Mayong, the Birthplace of Black Magic: I found this the most disappointing story in Haunted. This story takes place in the village of mayong, Assam. This village is considered as the birthplace of black magic. I was really excited about the history behind the black magic but all I got was harsh truth.
A Carnival of Ghosts: Well as the name suggests it is about a ghost fair. Ghost fair sounds scary, right? Well, hear me on this – sometimes people are scarier than ghosts.
The Royal Spirits of the Three Kings Chapel: When one thinks about Goa he/she/they would think of beaches and casinos but one would rarely think of ghosts. This story is about the ghosts of three kings who possess the body of a man and Jay Alani helps him to get rid of the ghosts. Neil D’Silva definitely managed to change my view about Goa.
The Headless Boy of Mussoorie: This story takes us back to Mussoorie where Jay Alani comes across the story of a headless boy. More than the ghost of the story, the story of how the boy became a ghost was heartbreaking.
Temple of Exorcism: Jay Alani has kept the name of temple secret so this story is narrated without revealing the name of the temple. This temple claims to be topmost when it comes to exorcism. Are they really the top authority related to this matter? Or is all of this just a scam? You ought to read the story to find out.
The book is well-written. The stories are well-narrated and will leave you with goosebumps. Kudos to Neil D’Silva for that! The best part about Haunted is that every story makes you think. This book changed my perspective towards ghosts and black magic. This book made me more open in my thoughts regarding the paranormal and supernatural worlds.
I would like to give this book 4 stars out of five.
Some stories were moderate. I expected much more from those stories. Other than that, my only honest complaint is that the book lacked the bigger share of stories about ghosts and spirits; I needed more of them.
If the worlds of ghosts and black magic intrigue you like it does to me and you want to know about all the inside things, then this book is a must read for you. Haunted is a page turner and a quick read. All the stories are unique in their own way and the end of the book will leave you wanting for more.
I hope there is a sequel coming to this book.
Thank you and regards,