Updated: Oct 18, 2021
Christopher Robertson’s new book delves back into the 90s era of kid-friendly horror, taking a leaf or two from RL Stine and Are You afraid of the Dark's books. But any ideas of mere homage are quickly dispelled by the author's imagination and writing, which is sharp, poppy and most importantly for this type of book, fun. We are introduced to the October Society, a group of friends who meet by the Hallowed Fire in October to share scary tales. The stories all vary in terms of sub-genre, but all have that balance of fun and spooky and end with a classic anthology horror twist ala Creepshow. My favourites included The Cottage In The Woods, dark fairytale perfection about two sisters living in a cottage surrounded by foreboding woods. But where are their parents, and who is that man that approaches the border of their property, eager to get in? With shades of Red Riding Hood, this is an excellent opener and a good indicator of the many strings to Robertson's bow. The Harmless One sees two recently orphaned teens come to stay with a wealthy family and the twisted games begin when their new stepsister develops feelings for the brother. This is a wicked tale with hints of The Good Son, Poison Ivy and similar 90's thrillers with another great sting at the end. The final story, The Last Halloween was also a cracker, with its mix of coming of age and ghost story with heart. The book's format as a TV show adds a ton of flavour, with ad breaks, credits and intro paragraphs that help move the action along. In fact, with a bit of formatting and editing, the whole book could work as a screenplay for the film or TV version of this story. As someone who enjoys reading scripts, I really liked this aspect, but it still reads and works well as a piece of fiction. I can't recommend this enough for fans of kid-friendly horror with heart and a pleasing amount of bite, and is a perfect read for this time of year. Roll on season 2.
4.5 magic dog biscuits out of 5.
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