Published by Dial Books on August 18th 2015
Genres: Horror, Young Adult
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For fans of Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Lois Duncan, and Daphne Du Maurier comes a powerhouse anthology featuring some of the best writers of YA thrillers and horror
A host of the smartest young adult authors come together in this collection of scary stories and psychological thrillers curated by Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’s April Genevieve Tucholke.
Each story draws from a classic tale or two—sometimes of the horror genre, sometimes not—to inspire something new and fresh and terrifying. There are no superficial scares here; these are stories that will make you think even as they keep you on the edge of your seat. From bloody horror to supernatural creatures to unsettling, all-too-possible realism, this collection has something for any reader looking for a thrill.
What a fantastic anthology! Loved it. Some of the stories were phenomenal and there was only one I actively disliked. Overall, I’m very impressed with how original and strange some of these stories were. I feel like the authors really dared to do something different here. Although none of these short stories truly scared me, I still found them to be creepy and eerie. If you’re in the mood for something fitting for Halloween, definitely pick this one up.
The Birds of Azalea Street by Nova Ren Suma
What is there to say? I would read a grocery list if it was written by Nova Ren Suma; that’s how much I love her writing style. She sucks you in from the first page and only needs a few sentences to establish an eerie atmosphere. She is one of those authors whose stories just seem to have such character that distinguishes them from others. The story didn’t scare me but it did give me the chills. A great choice to have this as the first one since it immediately puts you in the right state of mind for the rest of the anthology.
In the Forest Dark and Deep by Carrie Ryan
This one was inspired by Alice in Wonderland and it was excellent. Well-written and creepy, it gives you what you want from a YA horror anthology. It’s quite strange and dark and I especially loved the psychological aspect of the story. It was quite disturbing! I’m not sure if the skipping between timelines was a good idea in regards to the length of the story, which in my opinion wasn’t long enough to warrant so much back and forth, but I really enjoyed it regardless.
Emmeline by Cat Winters
Reading this story just proved to me again that I really need to read one of Cat Winters’ novels. This story is set in France towards the end of the First World War and the setting and writing style was just perfect for what was being conveyed. Again, this story isn’t really scary but it’s sad and tragic in a quiet sort of way, which is always my favourite.
Verse Chorus Verse by Leigh Bardugo
I love Leigh Bardugo so I had to make sure I didn’t go into this one biased. The idea was very interesting and found myself impressed yet again by how quickly and expertly Leigh Bardugo is able to create believable, distinctive characters that stick in your mind. The story was well-written and definitely hit the mark in terms of creepiness, however, I found myself let down by the ending, which I didn’t really grasp and just didn’t give me enough to be satisfied. If this story had been longer and things would have been cleared up more, I think it could have been my favourite (or second favourite) in the anthology.
Hide-and-Seek by Megan Shepherd
If you’re going to start a story with a quote from a book of Appalachian folktales, you better know that my expectations are going to be high because myths, legends and folktales are always my cup of tea. Imagine my disappointment when an enthusiastic Google search wielded no results. So apparently, the quote and tale originated from Megan Shepherd’s own mind (please correct if I’m wrong) and I found the idea to be quite intriguing. I don’t think the concept was exhausted as much as I would have liked, but I still really enjoyed the story and was taken aback by the ending.
The Dark, Scary Parts and All by Danielle Paige
I really didn’t like this one. In my opinion, it’s the “rotten egg” in the collection, the only one I can actively remember disliking. It contains all your typical YA tropes with the super-smart but has no friends Mary Sue protagonist, the drop-dead-gorgeous love interest that suddenly shows interest out of the blue and the high school mean girls that don’t go beyond one dimension. Lack of originality, annoying characters and unnecessary angst and melodrama made this one hard to get through and it didn’t even remotely hit the mark of establishing something scary or creepy.
The Flicker, The Fingers, The Beat, The Sigh by April Genevieve Tucholke
Although it had some potential, this story fell short for me. I finished it feeling underwhelmed. The concept was unoriginal and because it felt like something I had read before, it never succeeded in scaring me or creeping me out. What should have been a tragic story ended up just being a bit of a rehash with little depth. Also, I didn’t like the way the story was written; it felt very disjointed and confusing without actually adding anything significant to the story.
Fat Girl With a Knife by Jonathan Maberry
I really liked Dahlia, the main character, for her strong and distinctive voice and appreciated the diversity aspect of the story. Dahlia was what made this story so readable. Unfortunately, the plot was very predictable and I didn’t find it to be even remotely scary. Like the story by Danielle Paige, this one felt quite young and the high school setting didn’t really do it for me.
Sleepless by Jay Kristoff
From what I’ve seen of other people’s reviews this one seems to be a favourite and I have to agree. The story was well-written, creepy, unpredictable and had me at the edge of my seat throughout. It was just the right amount of strange and twisted and still remained credible. This is one I would love to see as a full-length novel, although I thought the short story format suited it very well. I really want to read Jay Kristoff’s other works now that are sitting on my shelf.
M by Stefan Bachmann
I love Stefan Bachmann as an author (I had the fortune of meeting and talking to him in person) but I have yet to be convinced by his storytelling. He has a beautiful, poetic writing-style reminiscent of the period this story is set in, but the overall plot just didn’t have me completely hooked. It was interesting, it had potential, but unfortunately, it failed to wow me.
The Girl Without a Face by Marie Lu
Another excellent one. It wasn’t quite as memorable as Jay Kristoff’s story but I totally loved it. It was creepy and atmospheric and had some important underlying themes. I loved the way the whole thing played out, the characters were interesting and I read it in one go because I couldn’t put it down. I adored the ending; it was so gut-wrenching and frightening and really made me think about karma and what guilt can do to people.
A Girl Who Dreamed of Snow by McCormick Templeman
This one left me with a bit of a question mark. I’m not actually sure what this story was trying to achieve and I found it quite boring to be honest. Again, the mythology and snowy, unique setting had me excited but McCormick Templeman wasn’t able to sustain that initial suspense. After a couple of pages I just found myself confused and wanted to know what was going on already. When I lose patience with a story like that, especially a short story, it’s not a very good sign.
Stitches by A.G. Howard
If I’d have to describe this story in one word it would be strange. This story was so disturbing yet calmly told that it really was quite scary. It’s the most graphic and gory one of the bunch but I found that to be a strong point. The inspiration of Frankenstein was definitely very obvious but I still felt like the author made it her own. The story was engaging and A.G. Howard had my attention from the opening line, which perfectly set the tone for the rest of the story.
On the I-5 by Kendare Blake
Another interesting one. The author keeps you guessing throughout and I was constantly on my toes. The main character was intriguing and quite badass which made the whole story very enjoyable. Unfortunately, I did feel somewhat disconnected to what was happening; this might however, be due to the fact that this is the last story. I think that by the end I had kind of seen it all and twists didn’t surprise me as much, which is a shame. Also, I’m just not a fan of third person present tense; I find it to be quite jarring at times. Regardless, this was still a very creepy story that perfectly combined horror and sadness.
On the whole, this is a very enjoyable anthology and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys YA and is in the mood for something a little different.