These stories and illustrations were created in homage to that classic childhood book series, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. If Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell’s chilling and evocative retellings of folk tales weren’t a part of your childhood growing up, you are not only missing out, I’m pretty sure you were caged in a dungeon your whole childhood. Or maybe these stories were just American kid thing?
All I know is that those books were a rite of passage when I was growing up. The stories are definitely spooky, and there is always that one friend who swears the story is really true, it actually happened to her aunt’s brother’s girlfriend, but really it went a little like this. . .
And don’t even get me started on the illustrations. Nightmare inducing, so say the least. I had horrible visions of the one where the spider is crawling out of the girl’s face. And of course, Harold. Now, I think I’d love to get one of those prints framed on my wall, but that’s the sort of weird creepo I’ve turned out to be.
So here comes Corpse Cold, a new folk anthology of the type of horror tales that don’t really have one origin, or at least one you can pin down. These are the types of stories that nowadays pop up on r/nosleep and creepypasta forums, the type you read about late at night, the glow from your computer screen illuminating your face and making the rest of the room look even darker. It is a different type of tale from the days of my youth—there weren’t any cell phones or other technology that invaded folk tales back then. But now, there’s a whole new realm of possibility for what might be out to get you.
The stories are in definite homage to the original Schwartz tales, though I thought they lacked his style, the panache of his delivery on the punch lines especially. I hadn’t heard of most of these urban legends, so it was nice that most of the content was original to me and I had no idea where the stories were going. Overall, I would probably rate most of the stories themselves (in style and substance) at around a 3.
What really punches up the action on these is the artwork. Chad Wehrle does a fantastic job putting his original spin on something similar to the Gammell style and I can’t even tell you which image was my favorite. They are creepy, dark, and perfectly complement the stories, taking them to the next level.
Also, I wouldn’t say that this book is necessarily for adults—I think teens would also enjoy it and the reading level is fine for younger kids. (If they can handle the original, these stories are fine for them too.)
If you know someone who grew up with the Scary Stories books, this would be an awesome gift to give them a flashback to their childhood.
My thanks to Cemetery Gates for sending me a copy of this one to read and review.
Associate editor, amateur photdographer, bibliophile, and occasional sleuth.