Bookworm Infested #3

(Q.L. Pearce)

Sometimes, I wonder if the fact that I really, really enjoy reading children's horror novels is a symptom of some peremptory mental illness.  Am I a tottering convalescent?  More to the point, am I a fucking yo-yo?  It's possible that these books are fun, easy ways to pass time in a spiteful world of agony.  As you can deduce, this is the third volume in an anthology series called Scary Stories for Sleepovers.  It was published as a literary antiphon to Harper & Row's Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.  Because of the tongue-in-cheek covers and the tame illustrations, I remembered Sleepovers to be a flossy, harmless set of tomes.  I mean, I knew it didn't approach the pants-shitting nightmare fuel of Tell in the Dark.

While the tone is lightweight - it's a touch more appropriate for youngsters - these stories imply grisly goddamn death.  The key word is "imply."  Almost every bite-sized tale ends with a substantial suggestion.  Another key word is "death."  Author Q.L. Pearce stops writing right before the campers are maimed, the parents are devoured alive or the genial, buddy-buddy neighbor is evulsed by dire wolves.  That actually happens.  The two main characters in "All the Time in the World" leave the poor bastard to meet his horrid, artery-cleaving demise.  Did I forget to mention that this particular yarn also features a time machine?  And a saber-toothed cat?

"The Storm" is probably the best story here, and strangely enough, it doesn't climax with barbarous bloodshed.  Pearce sticks to a simple, accessible style.  That's not necessarily a bad thing.  I will say that the kindergarten reading level contrasts with the mean-spirited nature of the plots.  Even a couple of the protagonists are complete assholes.  See "Household Help" where a girl uses voodoo juju to excel in school and on the softball field.  Then again, you could just as easily say that it's a parable warning of karma.  I sound like a concerned teacher.  Ha!  Obviously, I enjoy piles upon piles of dead sucklings.  The victims are too old, I say!  Kill toddlers!  KILL TODDLERS!

That should be the last sentence of this review.  But it's not.  Still More Scary Stories for Sleepovers flaunts a multifarious multiplicity of monsters.  We get alien babysitters, zombie cowboys, slime mutants and a Kii-Kwan (a werewolf, basically).  Nothing mind-bending, but I consider it to be a diverting read.  KILL TODDLERS!  Erm, sorry.

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