Tuesday 18 October 2011

Review: Fear Edited By R.L. Stine

I was drawn to this book by nostalgia.

I loved R.L. Stine's Goosebumps series as a kid, so it was his name that initially caught my attention. Then, when I discovered it was a collection of scary short stories, I got even more excited, coz I used to devour these types of books, too.* Fear, a Middle Grade collection of 13 stories linked by the common theme of fear, was an entertaining read but sadly not all that frightening (maybe because, y'know, I'm an adult now). All the stories were well-written, interesting and totally unique. But much to my chagrin,** none of them really instilled any fear in me. In fact, many were more suspense/action stories than horror (there's even a touch of romance in there, thanks to Meg Cabot and her "Night Hunter"), but although they weren't what I was expecting, they were still a good read.

Of course, like any short story collection, I enjoyed some tales more than others. My favourite was definitely "Tagger" by James Rollins, about a girl whose graffiti tag has powers of protection, until the day a demon comes knocking.*** I was amazed at the strong characters, plot and world that Rollins built in such a small space, and I'd actually love to read a full-length novel set in this world. But the story that creeped me out the most had to be "The Perfects" by Jennifer Allison, about a babysitter whose charges are a bit... off. There are some icky dolls thrown in for good measure.****

Covering everything from aliens and vampires to petty thieves and mass murderers, the stories varied greatly on the topics they covered and the feelings they evoked. Each kept me interested and worked on its own as well as within the flow of Fear. It's a good book to pick up if you enjoy short stories and want a quick, easy read served with a (small) side of thrills.*****

*There was one series in particular that I was addicted to, but I can't for the life of me remember what it was called. I vaguely remember that each book in the series had a number of short stories in it, and they all frightened the bejeezus out of me. There was one in particular, about a creepy doll who, like, set fire to things or something, that really freaked me out (I think it may have had something to do with the porcelain doll collection in my room). Another story was related to a shower or bathroom and it made me afraid to shower for a long time (I still did, but I did it SCARED). That's all the details I can come up with. Anyone have any idea what I'm talking about? Anyone? Anyone?
**Every time I use the word chagrin (which is not very often) I think of Twilight. That's sad, isn't it?
***This reminded me of another story I read when I was young, about magic graffiti that allowed people to travel through to this alternate universe, and people got stuck there or went missing... or something. Again, I'm vague on the details and can't remember the name of it. Anyone got any ideas? Anyone? Anyone?
****Again, with the dolls. How creepy are dolls?! I can't believe I used to collect the suckers. No wonder I have sleep issues.
*****This is just a note to say how much I love footnotes. Can you tell? OK, I may have gone overboard in this review. Ahem...

Rating: 3/5

Fine Print
Published: 2010, Random House
Get It: Fishpond


  1. Every time someone pinches the bridge of their nose I think of twilight. LOL

    Love your footnotes. Oh, and I was a huge Goosebumps fan as a kid. Tagged sounds great and the concept of the story seems really unique.

  2. Oh you have me reminiscing over here. I was a fan of his Fear Street series. My little sister was into Goosebumps. And I saw this in the store the other day and contemplated getting it just for old times sakes as well. But I feared it would be exactly as you said, that I wouldn't truly be frightened because I'm an adult now. Still the book sounds interesting. I might get it anyway. That tagging story sounds pretty good. Great review.

  3. @Missie - That's so funny! Now that's going to happen to me too lol.

    @Jade - Thanks! It definitely brought back memories.

  4. Oh this sounds good. Especially the one about the tagger. I'm going to have to see if they have it here!

  5. @Melissa - I'm sure it would be on sale in the US! It's all US authors after all :)

  6. Dude, in my teens it was either Baby-Sitters Club or Goosebumps. I saw you reading this book on Goodreads and jumped when I read "R.L Stine" that was "the man" back then, I had to add it! I'm glad overall you liked it and Tagger sounds awesome!

    In regards to your footnote, I loved and read "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark" there are 3 books in total all with short scary children's stories. Is that the one you meant? The illustrations alone creeped me out... In fact I bought the whole set recently to add to my collection because I have no idea what happened to my copies from childhood :(

  7. @Mimi - YES, it was all about the BSC and Goosebumps for me, too! Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark sounds VERY familiar, that just might be it! I'll have to hunt down a copy and see if it's the series I'm thinking of. Thanks!