Released today is horror author Dan Soule’s first foray into middle grade horror.
This collection of 17 super short stories is sure to delight children with its mixture of fun, silly, gross and thoughtful horror.
Aimed for the reluctant reader, each story is flash length and written simply, to encourage interest in the written word. A great primer of sorts to whet the appetite of the young horror fan and help them transition into horror novels.
The collection opens with The Junk Shop, which sees 12 year old Aaron while away a lonely summer in a mysterious shop.
Story two, The Spotless 6.66 is about a house cleaning device that sounds like a mother’s dream.
Counting Crows takes a leaf out of Du Maurier’s book and warns about the dangers of our feathered friends.
Footprints, one of my favorite stories, concerns a school trip looking for fossilized dinosaur footprints.
In Cranium Crunch (wouldn’t that be a great name for a breakfast cereal!), Malek hopes to overcome his dyslexia by reading a book on the powers of the mind.
Creaking Hinges is an atmospheric piece about spooky closets.
Hairy Hands continues Soule’s fascination with disembodied hands. I wonder if he finds Thing from The Addams Family scary?
Tomato Ketchup provides a compelling reason why you should never eat ketchup, or tomatoes.
Maggot Face is suitably gross and I think it will be a favorite with lots of readers. As a Harry Enfield fan, I loved that the soon to be teenage protagonist was named Kevin.
In the Arms of an Octopus is a thoughtful story, with a subtle lesson to children about what they should really fear.
Another of my favorites, The Dog Ate my Homework is a clever piece with a horror staple I love.
Reminiscent of Final Destination, Sick Day warns there is no escape from the class outing.
The Plastic Bag Man is another thoughtful, atmospheric piece.
Feeding Time at the Pool is pure wish fulfillment, or perhaps that’s just me.
Nearly a Sausage Apocalypse strays into horror comedy territory with great effect.
The Premonition sees Tom and his granddad hunting for treasure, but some things should stay buried.
Supermarket Zombies is my favorite story in the collection. It has horror, excitement, zombies, and a central idea that is gut punching genius.
At the end of the book, the author includes a note encouraging readers to write their own horror stories and offers advice on how to go about it. I thought this was a nice touch.
The Spooks, like many collections and anthologies, suffers from repetition in theme with most of the stories ending the same way. I also found the first three stories to be the weakest of the collection, both in concept and in failing to have a strong child point of view character.
However, this is a solid collection and most, if not all, of these ideas will be new to the intended audience. I think it is a great book to get children interested in reading more, and it speaks to the author’s talent that he managed to entertain this jaded old horror fan too.
I award The Spooks…
The Spooks is available for $4.13 ebook on Amazon.
I received an ARC from the author and I’m voluntarily leaving an honest review.