Afterlife – Ghost Stories from Goa by Jessica Faleiro
Afterlife – Ghost Stories from Goa by Jessica Faleiro took me back to my childhood days. Those electricity-less days when we Kid’s used to gather around our grandmother. And ask her to tell us our favorite ghost stories. We knew most of the stories by heart, but it was her way of telling that created the ambiance of having ghosts around and made us feel the chill in our spines. Jessica creates a similar setting in her book Afterlife – Ghost Stories from Goa, as the various characters tell ghost stories from their past. The stories come from different members of an extended Fonseca family in Goa. And they are from various members of the family – the past, present or even future.
Since the time I have been living in Goa, I have heard about the presence of ghosts here. Most road accidents on the road next to my house are attributed to ghosts rather than human or mechanical failure. So I was very keen to read some of those age-old stories from Goa. Well, I think most of the stories have come from author’s imagination coupled with the ghost stories she heard sometime somewhere.
As I sat down to write this review, I tried thinking what makes a good ghost story? What are the ghost stories that a reader would enjoy? An unexpected twist in the end probably does the trick. If the story is building towards what becomes expected in the end, the story becomes a bit flat for a ghost story. Or the ghosts have to make a sudden appearance in an ordinary looking story – but since this book announces on its cover that these are ghost stories – you kind of expect a supernatural angle and that takes away a bit of mystery from these stories. However, it is towards the end I got the punch that I was looking for.
You can sense Jessica Faleiro’s fetish for earrings as she describes them at length for various characters in the stories. As a reader, I sometimes felt that description out of place. Sometimes she went overboard with architectural details of a house or detailed out a dress too much. Nothing wrong with the descriptions but they did not fit seamlessly with the stories and came in the way of the flow. At first, I thought there must be a link of this to the story, but later it felt like an element that author wanted to talk about somehow shoved it into the stories.
Jessica Faleiro has written simple stories. A family gathering binds the story well. It’s the end where the author redeems herself to an extent. I would have liked crisper ending to all the other stories too.
How much of Goa did I find in the book? Except for one anchor story, most other stories could have been based anywhere. I would have liked little more nuances of Goa, Goan families, and the life here. Especially since the author takes you across centuries and had the option of bringing out the landscape and the changes it saw. For example, I found the sea and the rivers conspicuously missing, so were the bazaars and everyday life.
Overall, a light bedtime read. Read one story at a time.
If you enjoy Ghost stories, you might enjoy this book.