Hey everyone! I’m finally getting around to this chat I’ve been wanting to have about this folk lore scary story collection!
For once, my Up Tomorrow Announcement didn’t lie!
So, I haven’t said much about exactly why I wanted to have this little chat, I’ve only been talking about having it. The reason for this post is because I recently found out that these books that contain these illustrations were discontinued. That’s right, the books and artwork that you are going to see in this post are no longer actively in print.
Which, coincidentally, is why I feel the need to talk about them. I’ll start at the beginning I guess. This is going to be more of a personal essay rather than an actual book review. (I’m too close to these books; I could never objectively review them.) That being said, I totally won’t blame you for skipping over this post. However, if you’re curious about a significant part of my childhood, then stick around.
Also, I feel I should give fair warning: The pictures (artwork) in this post are not for the feint of heart. If horror isn’t your thing or you can’t stomach scary illustrations, that’s probably another excuse for you to skip this post.
(However, if you’re curious about my anecdote, I promise the scary images aren’t included until the bottom of this post, so you could easily still read that and not have to see any of the images.)
Let’s start with a photo of the books in question. I don’t have a paperback copy of the third installment in this series, but the hardcover contains all three books – Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and Scary Stories 3.
There you have it. The books that may have changed my young life as well as almost definitely had a great effect on my current love of horror.
I first read these books when I was the ripe age of 8 in 3rd grade.
You may be asking yourself how an 8-year-old could have possibly gotten her hands on a story collection like this. Well, let me tell you a story.
Many of your, quite possibly all of you, don’t know that I went to an very strict Apostolic Lutheran Christian elementary school. Like, bible lessons every day and memorizing hymns and bible passages.
I can’t thank that school for much besides my good memory and these books.
Yes, you read that right. I found these books at the school library and they let me check them out when I was 8. This story becomes even more ironic because, around the same time, I had picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for the very first time.
I brought Harry Potter to school one day, completely consciously knowing that it was banned and I wasn’t allowed to have it there. I tried hiding it in my desk (yes, I’ve always been a bit rebellious, even at such a young age), but, alas, I was found out. I can’t remember if I just wasn’t sneaky enough or…well, I’m actually pretty positive that I was ratted on by a fellow student. Kids are ruthless.
I was sentenced to staying inside from recess to think about what I had done. How dare I bring witchcraft into a school where we believe that witchcraft is a sin and a one-way ticket to hell.
Have no fear, I didn’t let the detention get to me. The only thing I thought about the whole time was getting home so I could read Harry Potter. I had to think about something useful while my classmates ran around the playground playing kickball, or four square, or even boys chase girls – oh, also can’t forget the wonderful the-wood-chips-are-lava-and-if-you-touch-them-you-die.
But, I’m digressing.
So, I faced my sentence with validation and pride.
Now, have you caught on to the irony of this whole situation yet?
I wasn’t allowed to read a children’s story about love, friendship, family, and the battle between good and evil because there was witchcraft involved. Yet, I was allowed to check out this scary stories trilogy from the school library that is absolutely riddled with witchcraft as well as horror, murder, death, grotesque language, terrifying images, and even a few swear words.
That is some serious logic right there if you ask me.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m absolutely not complaining. I’m glad I had the opportunity. And this anecdote is one of my favorite to tell.
Anyway, time passed, and I checked these books out so often that my mom finally bought me my own hard cover copy bind-up of all 3 books when I reached 5th grade. I frequented these stories to much, I’ve committed many to memory. I’ll have The Hearse Song fully memorized until the day I die.
These stories are marvelously fun, and my friends and I used to spend hours reading our favorites and trying our best to scare each other. My favorite time to read them was when we took our yearly “camping” trip up north with school.
Every grade was invited to go. (It was a small school – like 150 students total with grades 1-8.) There was this old building in the middle of the woods that was delectably horrifying. We’d all lay sleeping bags down in the common area, the cliques huddling together. During the day we’d get to hike and explore the woods or stay in and participate in activities the adults brought along.
Our favorite time to read these stories was either during the day when we’d walk out to this old abandoned shack we’d all found that we were convinced was haunted or off to the side during the nightly campfire. I have fond memories of these trips.
But, as it tends to do, time continued to pass, and I finally convinced my mom by 6th grade to let me transfer to public school – a very welcomed blessing. That, however, didn’t stop me from reading these stories. I’m surprised the good condition I was able to keep this collection in with how much I’ve read it and how far it’s travelled, because I continued to read my beloved stories.
I still read this book once a year, for nostalgia’s sake. I just read it in January! Plus, I love folk lore. Most likely my addiction sprouted from my early experience with these books. It’s so fascinating, especially how the stories change over time based on the generation and the location.
I have a new appreciation for these books and am so elated that I own copies with the original illustrations, and that’s why I’ve made this post – as a sort of tribute to these marvelously haunting illustrations.
Another bout of irony when I found out this news came in the way the way that these illustrations were discontinued because they were literally too scary.
So, once again, I couldn’t read Harry Potter, but I could torture myself and my friends with illustrations that gave us nightmares. (Seriously, some of these still haunt my dreams.)
It’s funny, because these illustrations were banned 5 (maybe longer?) years ago already, and I just learned about it the beginning of this year. Then, the universe proved, yet again, the theory that we find things when we’re ready or need to, when I came across the third book at a thrift store with the new illustrations. It’s quite the change, but at least small children will no longer become traumatized like my young self.
Still, I’m thankful for that traumatization. The greatest possibility of why I’m thankful is because I’m such a horror buff (good horror, not like violence against women horror – I ain’t about any of that) and these illustrations still give me shivers that run the length of my spine.
Now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: Here are my favorite, and, in my opinion, a few of the scariest illustrations in the book!
Alright, so I’m super happy I finally made this post! Maybe you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it? Have you ever read any of these collections? Thoughts?
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! I’ll be back Sunday with my usual catch-up.