LocalLit book review: ‘Halloween Night: Trick or Treat’ is a fun, scary read

Enjoy the ‘crackling of leaves’ the ‘chill in the air’ and ‘the quick heartbeat’ of fear

When they were growing up, all six of my kids were fans of the “Scary Stories to Read in the Dark” series.

And “Goosebumps,” of course.

I read these books along with them as they reminded me of the “scary story” type of books I’d order from the Scholastic sheets the school used to pass out. Remember those?

So it’s that type of genre I was expecting a few months ago when I downloaded “Halloween Night: Trick or Treat” onto my Kindle. Note: it’s only available as an eBook.

Here is its Amazon description: “Halloween Night: Trick-or-Treat” is a middle grade and young adult horror anthology that takes place on Halloween night.

“Graveyards, spirits, witchcraft, black cats, candy, and haunted houses. Strange things happen on Halloween. All Hallows Eve is the single night where the veil between the living and the dead is opened. And now spirits, monsters, and candy will collide!

“Seventeen authors and illustrators set out on a horrific journey to set the record straight. What really happens on Halloween night? Trick or Treating is not all fun and games. There are more tricks than treats scattered through these pages. Sure, All Hallows eve can be a scream. But sometimes, it’s straight-up murder.”

I knew I was in the right place when I read the forward from Jolene Haley, the book’s editor. Here’s an excerpt: “Halloween is more than a day marked on a calendar. It’s the crackling of leaves under our feet, a chill in the air, and a quick heartbeat at the sound of a strange noise.”

This is a book that delivered on its premise.

Well, the first story I read was “Tricks and Treats and Chicken Feet” by Shawn Thomas Anderson. I had “met” him virtually about a year ago through a writer’s group that’s based on the east coast. I was curious about the types of stories the other writers wrote, and this book appealed to me.

It’s the story about a 13-year-old trying to earn money by babysitting for two creepy kids with an even more creepy “baba” inside the cliché creepy old house. Here are a couple early lines I really liked and confirmed for me I was in for a great read.

As Steven bent down to pick it up [the phone he dropped), the wind shifted with a banshee-like wail and pushed the clouds to block the moon.

The Victorian house stood before him, a Frankenstein monster cobbled together from the pieces of other dead houses.

Anderson’s entire story was like a trip into a fun house without the fun. As Steven moved through the house, trying to locate the kids in the hide-and-seek game they initiated, he keeps stumbling into one more weird surprise after another.

The story certainly kept me reading, but I didn’t read too quickly so as not to skim past the various elements as Anderson unfolded them.

Here’s my little conundrum. I felt a few of the descriptions were overwritten in spots but nothing that affected the imagery. Meaning, the “overwriting” wasn’t so overwritten that I couldn’t see the scene or the visuals. In fact, everything was quite vivid. So maybe the writing was perfect for Anderson’s purposes.

I saw part of the ending coming – but not the absolute very end.

Here’s are my thoughts on a few other stories.

“Something Good to Eat” by Patrick Hueller is a very short story about parents taking their children trick-or-treating and making sure they keep their winter jackets zipped up over their clothing, to hide the costumes.

Of course, the reader knows something’s up right away. But it’s still fun to see how the story takes you there.

The grim reality is portrayed in childlike, lighthearted reveal – but kids will be kids, no matter what species of kids they are. It’s the type of story I could picture Colleen H. Robbins writing.

“Mrs. Holstein’s Special Treat” by Chad P. Brown is about a little boy plays a mean trick on an old woman – who plays one back on him when he comes trick-or-treating at her house.

“Give us Something Good to Eat” by Rie Sheridan Rose gives the perfect setup for the unsuspecting kids going trick-or-treating at the wrong house. Except you, the reader, make all the wrong assumptions. I had to read the ending three times because I couldn’t believe how wrong I was.

Buy “Halloween Night: Trick-or-Treat” on Amazon.

Know more about LocalLit

Each week LocalLit will deliver an original short and family-friendly story (or a book review) by a local author to the newsletter’s subscribers.

Local writers: Do you have a book you’d like me to review? A short story you’d like to share with LocalLit subscribers?

Please contact me at 815-280-4122 or dunland@shawmedia.com.

Authors with a connection to our readership area may submit. Submission does not guarantee acceptance.

Subscribe to this free newsletter at shawlocal.com/the-herald-news/newsletter/#//