Styling themselves “curators,” four of horror fantasy’s newer stars share tales and correspondence related to an imaginary museum of creepy creatures and artifacts.
In addition to Bachmann, the authors include Katherine Catmull, Claire Legrand and Emma Trevayne. The letters, scattered throughout, record adventures in gathering the Cabinet’s eldritch collections or report allusively on them: “I just let them creep or wing about the place,” writes Curator Catmull, “and stretch their many, many, many legs. What jolly shouts I hear when the workers come across one!” The stories, most of which were previously published on the eponymous website, are taken from eight thematic drawers ranging from “Love” and “Tricks” to “Cake.” Along with a cast of evil magicians, oversized spiders and other reliable frights, the stories throw children into sinister situations in graveyards, deceptively quiet gardens or forests, their own bedrooms and similar likely settings. Said children are seldom exposed to gory or explicit violence and, except for horrid ones who deserve what they get, generally emerge from their experiences better and wiser—or at least alive. Jansson’s small black-and-white vignettes add scattered but appropriately enigmatic visual notes.
A hefty sheaf of chillers—all short enough to share aloud and expertly cast to entice unwary middle graders a step or two into the shadows. (index, not seen) (Horror/short stories. 10-13)