Books by E. M. Gist

Released: Aug. 1, 2008

Bare Bones might have been an equally descriptive title for this collection of 22 tales. Drawn from diverse sources, many published in the 19th century, most of these stories will be unfamiliar to young readers. Of course, there are familiar motifs: malevolent ghosts, dire predictions and magic gone awry. Whether they feature shape-shifters, ghoulish monsters or just greedy and murderous humans, however, these brief tales are obviously intended to spook readers and listeners. Some succeed admirably. In others, the brevity and lack of embellishment that is the hallmark of a traditional tale weakens the impact, as gruesome events are described in a brisk, matter-of-fact fashion that drains them of effect. Ambiguity is both a strength and weakness. In some cases, not knowing exactly what will happen next produces a delighted shiver of fear; in others, having the details of plot and character remain unclear is merely frustrating. Despite these minor flaws, the collection seems destined to find an enthusiastic audience of listeners and tellers as did Olson and Schwartz's earlier collaboration, Ask the Bones (1999). (Folklore. 10 & up) Read full book review >