Bite-sized treats for young horror aficionados; best enjoyed on a dark night.

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)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-287767-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020


From the Lockwood & Co. series , Vol. 1

A heartily satisfying string of entertaining near-catastrophes, replete with narrow squeaks and spectral howls.

Three young ghost trappers take on deadly wraiths and solve an old murder case in the bargain to kick off Stroud’s new post-Bartimaeus series.

Narrator Lucy Carlyle hopes to put her unusual sensitivity to supernatural sounds to good use by joining Lockwood & Co.—one of several firms that have risen to cope with the serious ghost Problem that has afflicted England in recent years. As its third member, she teams with glib, ambitious Anthony Lockwood and slovenly-but-capable scholar George Cubbins to entrap malign spirits for hire. The work is fraught with peril, not only because a ghost’s merest touch is generally fatal, but also, as it turns out, as none of the three is particularly good at careful planning and preparation. All are, however, resourceful and quick on their feet, which stands them in good stead when they inadvertently set fire to a house while discovering a murder victim’s desiccated corpse. It comes in handy again when they later rashly agree to clear Combe Carey Hall, renowned for centuries of sudden deaths and regarded as one of England’s most haunted manors. Despite being well-stocked with scream-worthy ghastlies, this lively opener makes a light alternative for readers who find the likes of Joseph Delaney’s Last Apprentice series too grim and creepy for comfort.

A heartily satisfying string of entertaining near-catastrophes, replete with narrow squeaks and spectral howls. (Ghost adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4231-6491-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013


From the Small Spaces series , Vol. 4

A thrilling and chilling end to a standard-setting series.

Arden’s quartet of seasonal horrors concludes with sinister clowns at a carnival.

A dry summer in East Evansburg sends friends Brian, Coco, and Phil to Lethe Creek to cool off. But there’s been an Ollie-shaped hole in everyone’s lives since the dastardly “smiling man” took her. The smiling man releases one of his other trapped children to deliver a message: they’ll need three hidden keys to win Ollie back. Meanwhile, Ollie—traveling with the smiling man and his carnival—tries to figure out a way to escape him on her own. When the carnival moves to East Evansburg, the stage is set for the final showdown. By day, it’s a fun-filled paradise. By night, the carnival’s clowns hunt wayward children to turn into dolls. Without the keys, Ollie and friends will be next. While predatory clowns and humans-turned-dolls are far from new territory, Arden once again flexes her gift for atmospheric writing to envelop readers in the story’s eerie mist. The expert use of pacing and sensory cues—sights, sounds, and smells—helps heighten the genuinely terrifying chase scenes. Chess matches and conversations between Ollie and the smiling man humanize the shape-shifting villain, exposing just enough of his motives to wrap up unanswered questions. Earlier volumes establish that most characters are White and Brian is Black.

A thrilling and chilling end to a standard-setting series. (Horror. 9-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-10918-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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