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Monday, May 23, 2022

Remember the R.L. Stine books? I remember reading the “Goosebumps,” series in elementary school. The series of horror novellas were very popular; I remember there always being a crowd of kids around that section when the class visited the library. I was too weenie to watch horror movies but I loved those spooky little books. Sometimes it can be fun to have a good scare.

Now that we’re all grown-up, it’s time to move on to scarier fodder such as the master, Stephen King. His collection of short stories in “Nightmares and Dreamscapes,” takes me back to my “Goosebumps,” days when it only took twenty pages or so to scare me.

“Nightmares and Dreamscapes,” is a collection of 23 stories. Some are a slow build; it takes pages and pages to get to the big reveal but it leaves you thinking. Some are a little more typical; the old couple at the general store warning the young couple moving in to leave town because something bad is coming. And then there’s the weird; a man finds a human finger in his sink and it’s growing. Some are boring; there is a 50-page essay on baseball which I’ll admit I skimmed. Then there are some that could have provided the script for a classic “Twilight Zone,” episode; the short story “The House on Maple Street,” depicts a brother and sister discovering an ingenious way to get rid of their mean stepfather.

There is a story for every kind of scare. For those who can’t get enough of the walking dead, the short “Home Delivery,” is all about a young woman sending her husband off to fight the zombie invasion. Well, he comes back- as the undead, right when she’s about to give birth to their child. “Rainy Season,” has the aforementioned old couple warning off the young couple. Every seven years the rainy season comes through the small town of Willow and every seven years a young couple ignores the warnings and chooses to stay the night. But they’re never there in the morning.

I loved this collection - barring a few. It had a different kind of scary with every story and I loved having that variety. I think scary stories are underestimated; they’re reserved for telling by 11-year-old girls at sleepovers and horror movies that only a few people actually want to see. Stephen King has made his name on being able to tell a good scary story and he definitely does that here, several times over. 

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