Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Review
The reason I’m writing about the Scary Stories Treasury is due to the recent changes in the book’s format. These books have been on book banning lists for years. Although I’d never condone a book being banned, I can see why parents are concerned. The stories are dark, scary, and sometimes morbid… but they truly are scary stories to tell in the dark.
Before I get to the stories, though, I’d like to comment on the changes I mentioned earlier. New publications are being released this year (just in time for Halloween) with completely different illustrations. Stephen Gammell’s dark depictions have been the staple of the scary stories for me. Everything is stringy, distorted, and morose. The new illustrations are barely disturbing at all, and border on realistic. Take a look for yourself:
I don’t know about you, but I prefer the original cover. If you’re reading scary stories, you deserve scary illustrations.
Anyway, The Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Treasury is an amazing compilation of some of the scariest stories every told. Schwartz has done a superb job in retelling them in a manner that is to-the-point and spooky. He doesn’t litter the stories with unnecessary exposition or gory details. The language doesn’t employ long sentences - everything is told straightforward and the stories are better for it.
Many of them are less than a page long - there isn’t time to over-think the situations or apply logic. Here’s an example. Granted, this isn’t a very scary one, but it shows how a complete story can be told in three tiny paragraphs.
The girl was late getting home for supper. So she took a shortcut through the cemetery. But, oh, it made her nervous. When she saw another girl ahead of her, she hurried to catch up.
“Do you mind if I walk with you?” she asked. “Walking through the cemetery at night scares me.”
“I know what you mean,” the other girl said. “I used to feel that way myself when I was alive.”
Again, this isn’t the scariest story in the book (it’s not even close), but it shows the direct and quick paced storytelling that Schwartz has mastered.
If you haven’t read these books, I highly recommend them. There are three of them, and you can still get the hardcover treasury (it includes all three books) for only $8.95. I ordered mine - I want this classic with these illustrations before it goes out of print!
If you’ve read these as a kid, too, let me know what you thought of them in the comments below. Should children be reading these? I don’t see why not.