Hello again, ghosts and ghouls! I’m here to talk about something incredibly nostalgic. There are a few things that I associate with my horror-filled childhood, such as the book I used to take out of the library every week simply titled “Horror Movies”, the time I slept over my best friend’s house at 12 years old and we watched THE EXORCIST even though I told my mom we wouldn’t, and last but not least, “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.”
Now, if you’re a true fan of all things macabre, and you find yourself gravitating towards oddities at your local flea market/thrift store, you probably read these books. There’s nothing in the world quite like those illustrations, or the short but oddly satisfying horror of the stories (HAROLD, anyone?!).
We as a generation were lucky enough to grow up with these books, and now the younger generation has seemingly grown up without an equivalent. OR HAVE THEY?!
Luckily, I was lucky enough to be sent the alternative, or should I say replica? “Nightmare Soup” by Jake Tri is an anthology of short stories similar to the likes of “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” in the sense that they are still short, but don’t pack any less of a punch!
I’ll start off by saying that I blew through the entire book in an hour. I’m a fast reader, but I was hooked. At three pages each (on average), the stories are simple, fun, and definitely creepy. They’re a little bit more light-hearted than I remember SSTTITD being, but it still absolutely appeals to horror fans of any age. It’s hard not to get hooked when there are twists and turns every three pages, and each story allows you to connect with the characters even though they’re just a few short pages long.
Now, I do want to talk about my favorite part of this book: the poem “Sloth”. Anyone that knows me in my personal, non-horror life knows how obsessed I am with sloths, but combining my love of one of the weirdest animals on earth and horror was a dream come true for me. It’s all about how sloths will tear you apart with their toes, and this is probably true, but they’re just such cute little kidney beans!
Anyway, still on the topic of the poem, I appreciate the book in terms of the flow of the stories. Like I mentioned previously, the stories themselves are short, but the topics change throughout the entire book without ever missing a beat, without ever leaving open ends, and without repeating itself and feeling monotonous (which I did, at times, feel with “Scary Stories”). This book has everything from taxidermy to UFOs and everything in-between.
Now let’s be honest, just because the stories are good, it doesn’t mean it will ever live up to the expectations we have because of the illustrations in SSTTITD. I would be lying if I told you that I was sent this book to review and I giggled and said “that’s cute, they want to be just like the other book…” YOU GUYS. THEY DID IT. THE ILLUSTRATIONS ARE THERE AND THEY’RE WONDERFUL. Drawn by Andy Sciazko, they’re deliciously weird and creepy, with the same looming black-and-white strangeness that we all know and love. I would go ahead and say that they may even be more geared towards adults (I would be terrified as a kid if I saw the drawing for “Full Moon Guests”), but they’re the same energy that gave us nightmares as kids.
There is something for everyone within this book if you’re looking to raise your child right and get them into horror, this is a great place to start for them, or if you’re looking for a little something quick and fun for yourself, this is equally as thrilling. It takes a lot for me to review a book and actually enjoy it; this was an experience I can honestly say was an hour well-spent.
You can find more information on the book at https://nightmaresoup.com (from what I hear, a sequel is in the works already!), and preview the illustrations! It looks like Jake and Andy really put their hearts and souls into this, and I truly see their hard work paying off. I loved this book and can’t wait for the sequel to come out.