Friday, May 4, 2012

Haunted Houses

Haunted Houses (Are You Scared Yet? #1)
Robert San Souci, illustrated by Kelly Murphy and Antoine Revoy
Christy Ottaviano, 2010
$17.99, Hardcover
April 1st, 2012

Genre: Horror
Age: 9+
Description: San Souci begins a new series (sadly with no second book in sight yet) of horror stories—these all focusing on creepy haunted houses. In 10 stories, he offers up various chills and thrills of differing degree. “Chimera House” features a haunted house attraction where if you can make it through all five levels you’ll get your money back. “Webs” features a vacation lodge and a forest overrun with spiders. “Dollhouse” is the traditional evil dollhouse story. “Tea House” is a fun take on Japanese horror with a true The Ring feel to it with the creepiest ghost in the entire book. “Dust Creatures” involves murderous dust bunnies (I know right?), while “Many” was an Ouija board story. One of my favorite stories was “The Lodge” in which a young girl helps put two ghosts to rest. “La Casa de la Muertes” features a boy who doesn’t know he’s dead. “Doghouse” features an animal ghost avenging his owner’s death and “Haunted Mansion” features two teens investigating a haunted house and the ghosts of star-crossed lovers.
Opinion: For the most part this was a solid collection of scary stories. The weakest were “La Casa de la Muertes” and “Haunted Mansion.” It featured a variety of stories in which some characters totally get screwed over while others just survive the scariness and end up helping the ghosts. The quality varied from story to story and there were some major age differences from each story and what age they would appeal too. For example, “Chimera House” featured inner city teens and the younger brother of one who inadvertently got another gang member murdered by sending him to his death (it was a set-up) and because of this he actually gets killed in the haunted house. There are references to violence, murder, and drug use. “Webs” is a little far-fetched because the main character is portrayed as being deathly scared of spiders yet the minute he is left alone he goes exploring in the woods in the middle of nowhere, which is not something I would do in an area that has been on the news as suffering from very bad spider infestations. Other errors include describing junior high kids having recess and in one story a boy is playing his handheld Xbox in the car (there is no portable type of Xbox system—there is only the normal gaming console which, you know, requires Internet and a TV to work).

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