Book Review – Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz

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Room for one more? In the most twisted children’s series to be splattered on paper? Oh, always.
I mean, how much can you really trust a kids book whose very first story is about cannibalism?A boy finds a human toe in the garden, brings it to his mother, and what does she say?
“It looks nice and plump. I’ll put it in the soup, and we’ll have it for supper.”

Brilliant. Needless to say, the undead corpse is more than disturbed that his big toe went to such use. But that’s what kind of book this is – the “protagonists” are just as sick as the monsters, if not more. If Scary Stories were a person, it’d be the person you’d go out of your way to avoid walking beside on the street. A person who sleeps in black overalls and has sunken zombie-eyes and sings nonsensical folk songs while drinking soup out of a skull. That’s exactly the person this book would be.

This person lives in a world where eating people is perfectly acceptable, all the clothes you buy are laced with embalming fluid, no random farmer is safe from the wrath of the dead, and if you’re wondering when an animal has an ominous feeling about something, you can ask and they’ll happily get up and divulge your doom to you.
It’s just that kind of place.

Gammell’s infamous illustrations… indescribably surreal. I’ve never seen the reprint’s artwork, but I don’t think it would be physically possible to top the sheer un-natural-ness of the original ink drawings. Deranged people in overcoats, ink-strings hanging from buildings suspended in midair, that one notorious portrait of a recently-deceased young lady. You know which one I mean.

And that wolf with the google-eyes…
“Draw a wolf for our kids book.” they said.
Wolf!? I’ll give them a wolf! says the illustrator.

Holy Jello-filled holiday socks… those eyes.

General Rating – 5/5

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