Collections of ‘spooky’ short stories for middle-grade readers are easy to come by, but you don’t frequently happen upon a collection for kids that features 19th century classic horror writers. We were unbelievably excited to find this volume while cruising our local bookstore!
The book features 21 classic horror stories by a plethora of famous writers: The Murders in the Rue Morgue and The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe; The Outsider by H.P. Lovecraft; The Vampire by John William Polidori; and The Hand by Guy de Maupassant, to name just a few. The tales are separated into four sections: Death, Disease and Madness; The Power of the Mind; and Evil.
Abridged and adapted by Alissa Heyman, the stories have been trimmed down to a few pages apiece, but do a pretty good job of keeping the mood and language of the originals intact. I have to say that the book’s layout is excellent – the text is broken up by the illustrations and there are wide margins and a little more space than usual between the lines, which keeps it from looking too dense or overwhelming to younger readers.
The illustrations lend the book a great macabre atmosphere, and the design is really awesome overall. From the introduction to the ‘Brave Readers Book Club’ inside the front cover to the gravestones featuring biographical information about all the writers at the back, it’s filled with great visual details.
I know some people take issue with abridgments, but it’s my opinion that a kid who reads classic writers in a format like this will have the confidence to pick up and enjoy the originals a few years down the road. All in all, this is a great introduction to classic horror for middle-grade children!