My memories of being terrified of these books is so strong that I am not confident in my ability to read one of them today and not be creeped out.
oh god the illustrations
nightmarish hellscapes that can NEVER be scrubbed from the backs of your eyelids
stephen gammell you are probably actually satan
I loved. loved, loved these books when I was little. I actually have a distinct memory of reading them during church which now when I think about it is kind of METAL. Last summer I checked the first book out from our Childrens’ Library and brought it camping and none of my friends wanted to hear me read aloud from it! So I left it outside and it got poured on and ruined. But because of my distinct devotion to this book and my need to put it in the hands of children who will later be scared shitless, I bought the Library a new copy immediately with my own money. Also because I have Catholic guilt because my parents made me go to church. The end.
When the cover fell off of my copy of the original book, I framed it. I was in college at the time.
See also: Maria Leach’s The Thing at the Foot of the Bed, Freya Littledale’s Stories of Ghosts, Witches and Demons (especially the “Demon of Detroit” story*), and Daniel Cohen’s Ghostly Terrors. My grade school library carried the first two — and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark — even though I went to an Episcopal school. I’m not sure they knew the wonderfully satanic damage they were allowing to be done to us.
* I think Anita Baker’s “Sweet Love” must have been playing nearby when I first read the “Demon of Detroit,” because now whenever I hear that song I flash to elements of that story and get nervous.10 months ago