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  • Gareth Bennett

399. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (1981; Alvin Schwartz, Illustrator: Stephen Gammell; Short St

Updated: Aug 23, 2019


Today I was inspired by my incredible partner/lover/co-parent/goddess, Cara Pifko, to write here in my abandoned blog. So I’m brushing away the cobwebs, sweeping the floor and shaking out the sheets -- here’s the next installment of my journey down the descending staircase that is: the 400 Horrors!

I bought a copy of, “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” off Amazon (I was feeling flush, I guess.) It’s an okay collection of creepy-ish stories (the first of three), meant, very much for kids. It’s dozens of tiny “terrifying” tales -- a variety of campfire allegories, like dumb-downed E.C. Horror yarns. But the real star of this book are the creepy illustrations by illustrator, Stephen Gammell.

Just look at that image! The illustrations are more Marilyn Manson cover-art than children’s story but that's exactly why they’ve remained in the nightmare memory of so many for so long.

When ordering my copy, I had to make sure I got the version with the original artwork. In 2011 they reprinted these books with more kid-friendly artwork by Brett Helquist (‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’)! I feel that new artwork castrates the book of its power, leaving it limp and dull. But that’s moi.

I never read this book as a teen. I was still traumatized from reading, “Scary Poems For Rotten Kids” (cover below) under my sheets with a dying flashlight. That book’s art is also completely creepy and unsettling. Well worth a slot here on the 400 Horrors.


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