Review

Fear: 13 Stories of Suspense and Horror

by R. L. Stine

R. L. Stine, often called the Stephen King of children’s literature, has called upon the best and brightest young adult authors to contribute to FEAR. With stories by Meg Cabot, Heather Brewer and others, FEAR is sure to have you begging for a nightlight and checking under the bed, twice, before you even think of closing your eyes. Thirteen original stories await that will keep you turning pages and looking over your shoulder.

What if shadows came to life? Heather Brewer explores this question in “Shadow Children.” Dax was convinced that his little brother, Jon, was overreacting when he begged for his nightlight. Jon insisted that the shadows would get him, and Dax didn’t believe him until he saw Jon being pulled through the closet floor by shadow people. Dax and Jon were quickly sucked into a large cavern where a horrible truth awaited. The shadow children informed the brothers that they tired of the darkness and wanted to live where normal humans live --- by feeding on human souls. Filled with horror, Dax and Jon desperately try to find their way back home before it’s too late.

Jennifer Allison puts an interesting spin on good old-fashioned babysitting in “The Perfects.” Hannah is new to Entrails, Michigan, and is surprised that she is offered a babysitting job right away from her neighbors next door, the Perfect family. Hannah has spied the two children and baby in the backyard and thinks she can handle them. Most kids like Hannah, after all. Upon her arrival, Hannah is confused when Mrs. Perfect tells her there is no baby, just the two children. She is even more perplexed when the youngsters insist on watching surgeries and other television programs that deal with the carving and cutting of the human body. What sends Hannah off the deep end, though, is when she hears a baby crying and tries to find her. She soon discovers that the Perfect family likes their babysitters --- for dinner!

Wilbur’s dreams come to life in “Jeepers Peepers”by Ryan Brown. Elizabeth Nolan is disgusted to find that her latest babysitting job is located in the swamp. She’s even more put off when she learns that the boy she’s babysitting, Wilbur, wakes up with horrible nightmares. As Elizabeth tries to calm Wilbur by having him talk about his dream, he loses control and imagines the creepers. And once he starts to imagine things, they come to life. Soon the creepers come knocking --- and they won’t leave!

Other stories look at the complex relationship between werewolves and vampires, the supernatural power associated with ancient symbols, and a kidnapping rescue by a rather extraordinary caped crusader. Some of the tales aren’t for the faint of heart, some deal with the intricacies of what science can do, and some are just plain creepy. Whatever your preference is for thrills and chills, FEAR has something for everyone. Before you read, I suggest you make sure your front door is locked, you leave some lights on, and check the phone line. FEAR will get to you!

Reviewed by Benjamin Boche on September 2, 2010

Fear: 13 Stories of Suspense and Horror
by R. L. Stine