I returned to this novel for two reasons: 1) Because the film adaptation is coming out and 2) this book series scared me so much as a kid that I couldn’t sleep alone for a long time and wanted to prove to myself I was no longer a baby. On the plus side, these stories are no longer scary now that I’m an adult. On the bad side, they’re not scary anymore and the magic sauce feels like it’s missing. The illustrations by Stephen Gammell are gorgeously creepy (especially in “The Haunted House”), but that’s about as scary as these stories get. The instructions on how to scare the crap out of children pulled me out of the stories and dampened the horror even more than it already was. Sure, thinking about some of these scenarios is creepy, but as an adult (boo) you’ve encountered scarier things in life by now (like being AN ADULT. That’s the scariest thing in the world).
For a kid who wants to get into horror, I’d recommend these novels as a starting point. If you’re an adult who has never experienced these stories or are looking for a hit of nostalgia, though, you’ll probably be sorely disappointed. Some of the stories included in this first volume are urban legends that have circulated around so much that reading about them is a chore, and the “scary” instructions detract from the actual stories. I’m actually hoping the film is better than the books.