Inspired by the contributions to the genre by Alvin Schwartz and presented by the Horror Writers Association, this anthology features 35 original spooky tales.
Ghosts, graveyards, a fatal disease, a creepy old house: Well-loved horror tropes aplenty are found within these pages alongside new, unusual scares like a haunted washing machine and a terrifying man who is said to capture children out after dark and turn them into umbrellas. While some stories are eerie and some are macabre and gross, others provide heart-pounding thrills. The prolific and popular R.L. Stine goes for funny with a side of spook in his story told from the perspective of a ghost living in a boy’s closet. A couple of stories embrace contemporary life and showcase technology and social media–based horror. Descriptions of race or culture are largely absent; notable exceptions include Courtney Alameda’s “The Weeping Woman,” a spin on the Mexican folklore legend of La Llorona, and “The Painted Skin,” by Jamie Ford, with its Chinese setting and characters. With a wide variety of tones and styles, the collection as a whole has broad appeal, but read cover to cover it can also feel disjointed and uneven. While a couple of stories are more “eh” than “AHH!” there are enough gems to make the anthology worthwhile. Compiet’s ink wash, graphite, and charcoal illustrations are gloriously evocative, adding delicious thrills.
Bite-sized treats for young horror aficionados; best enjoyed on a dark night. (Horror anthology. 9-13)