Gunslinger and I went to the mall today, and as we passed Waldenbooks I jumped a good six inches into the air. The reason? I caught a glimpse of the cover of the SStTitD anthology - all three books in hardcover ($9.99). It had my least favorite picture from that entire trilogy EVAR on the cover - the dead ghosty chick from the story “The Haunted House” (the one where the preacher has a ghost in his house, and it turns out to be this woman, who gives him her finger to put in the offering tray so it sticks to the hand of the person who murdered her or something).
That book would have been NOTHING without the illustrations. Without the illustrations it’s just one of dozens of ghost story books full of urban legends and such in the kids’ section of the bookstore, but with the illustrations it’s something that I still don’t feel comfortable flipping through. I used to skip straight to the back of the book and read the “Notes” section, because it didn’t have pictures in it. (This had the positive effect, however, of leading to my current love of the study of folklore and urban legends; I am now a devotee of the similar work at snopes.com and in the books of Jan Harald Brunvand.)
That was my least favorite picture, as I said; I don’t have a favorite picture because they all freaked me out. My favorite story in the book - and by “favorite” I mean “it scared me the most” - is the one about the scarecrow/dummy who comes to life and kills the guy and spreads his skin on the roof. A close second is the supposedly true one about the Englishwoman in France for some sort of 19th-century fair, whose mother falls ill; the girl is sent around the town on a wild goose chase and when she returns to the hotel her mother is gone and there is no sign of her ever existing. My least favorite story was probably “The White Wolf.” The librarian at my primary school read us that around Halloween time when I was in first grade, and my friend and I cowered in the back of the reading circle because we knew the evil of the book’s illustrations, but the story was disappointingly un-scary.
How about y’all?