It is said that if the smell of the Himalayas creeps into a man’s blood, he will return to the hills again and again, and will strive to live amongst them always. Ruskin Bond, master storyteller and connoisseur of the mysterious and macabre, shows how this love may persist to death and beyond. The stories in this collection are set amidst the mists and mellow magic of Bond’s beloved mountains. The agents of the supernatural may be gentle like the fairy folk in ‘On Fairy Hill’, or malevolent like the well-dressed diners of ‘The Prize’; humorous like the very proper witch, Miss Bellows, in ‘The Black Cat’, or tragic like the haunting Gulabi in ‘Wilson’s Bridge’. ‘The Rakshasas’ harks back to traditional hill spirits, while ‘The Night of the Millennium’ poises us tantalizingly on the brink of the future. Bond aficionados will meet familiar faces in ‘Reunion at the Regal’. Rounding off this collection is a gripping mystery, ‘Who Killed the Rani?’, which is evocative of life in hill stations some twenty years ago. And over all the stories looms the benevolent or brooding presence of the Himalayas, described with Bond’s inimitable lyricism.
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