Category Archives: Humor

Scary Stories Treasury

Scary Stories Treasury
By Alvin Schwartz
Illustrated By Stephen Gammell

Synopsis: This is the collection of all three books in the “Scary Stories” series: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones. These books contain short stories collected from folklore, legend, and modern superstition and retold by the author in a manner that he considers suitable for children as young as age nine. The books contain stories of ghosts, monsters, witches, cannibalism, and other fear inspiring subjects. The books also contain black and white illustrations to go along with each story.

My Opinion: When Stephanie and I were in Boston this weekend we came across a rather large Borders Book Store so of course I had to go check it out. I had been looking in our local Borders for Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and hadn’t found it, but at this Borders in Boston I found not just the first book, but the whole series in one volume for only 10 bucks! Stephanie and I had talked about these books a couple weeks ago and I was feeling all nostalgic. Well, all things I remembered about the stories and the art were still true, even now, almost 20 years later. The stories are the kind of scary that leaves you wondering and uneasy with ghosts and dreams and a blur between reality and imagination. There is also a dose of humor in some of the stories. The illustrations are amazing. This book is worth buying just for the illustrations. If you don’t remember them as a kid then you should certainly check them out. If you DO remember those dark, dismal illustrations haunting your sleep then you will enjoy looking back through them.

Note: If I had a nine-year-old I would read through these books before handing them over. Some kids that young may do ok with these stories and illustrations, others may not be able to handle them.

FYI: The University of Maine, Orono was a large source of folklore information for Schwartz while writing all three of these books. He thanks the library staff there in each of the three books.

Scary Stories Treasury at amazon.com

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The Book Shelf: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
By Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

Synopsis: Essentially this is a retelling of the Austen classic, Pride and Prejudice, set in an alternate reality where zombies roam around England. Smith intertwines his words with much of the original story still intact. Much of the basic plot and character traits remain the same, but as the subtitle explains it now contains “ultra-violent zombie mayhem.”Elizabeth and her sisters have been trained to defend themselves from the undead, and as her love grows for Mr. Darcy she must overcome his aunt’s assassin ninja’s, her dear friend’s decent into zombification, and her desire to kill the man who has shown disrespect to her family.

My Opinion: Well, my wife is a huge Jane Austen fan, and I am a huge zombie fan, so it seemed to me that this book would be the bridge between our two worlds. Sadly, she would not give it a go, finding the cover itself too distasteful to even attempt to read the book. I can understand that. I did read it though and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The flow between Smith’s words and Austen’s words are nearly flawless (at least to an untrained guy like myself) and the story is both humorous and interesting. What better suits the strong and independent Elizabeth Bennett than possessing the skills to destroy the undead? The gimmick could easily wear thin but the story is good enough that it rises above the gimmick and becomes quite entertaining on it’s own merit. It has some great woodcut style art in it which are also pretty great.

FYI: According to wikipedia, Natalie Portmann is producing an upcoming film adaptation of the book.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies at amazon.com

Other books I’ve reviewed by Seth Grahame-Smith:
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter


Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
By Seth Grahame-Smith

Synopsis: The author is given a collection of Abraham Lincoln’s journals and letters which contain a look into his secret life as a vampire hunter. The life of Abraham Lincoln is retold with this new information and we see for the first time how vampires played a role in slavery, the Civil War, the death of many of Abraham’s loved ones, Abraham’s assassination, and the shaping of one of the most important people in American history.

My Opinion: I like Seth Grahame-Smith and he did not disappoint me with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. It was funny, but it was also surprisingly engrossing. The humor of the concept could have easily worn thin, but the book is interesting and suspenseful and at times I caught myself taking it WAY too seriously. You will be surprised how much you actually learn about Abraham Lincoln’s life in this book. I liked it a lot.

FYI: Seth used The Lincoln Log as a major source for historical information about Abraham Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter at amazon.com

Other books I’ve reviewed by Seth Grahame-Smith:
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies