STILL MORE SCARY STORIES FOR SLEEPOVERS #3
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.