Review by Booklist Review
This thrilling collection of short horror comics starts in a classroom, where the students are asked to share eerie stories. Two kids, Davis and Emily, are reluctant, but their teacher, Ms. Nomed, is happy to let the other students go first. The students' stories are presented within this frame narrative and range from quietly unsettling, like "The Face in the Forest," about a girl living with an abusive aunt and uncle who finds a friend in a disembodied head in the woods, to startling sf body horror, as in "The Infinite Loop of Lunacy," which takes place on a spaceship. Annable's cartoonish, goggle-eyed, spindle-limbed characters perfectly offset the spine-tingling stories, particularly when there are tentacled aliens or monstrous demons involved, and the sepia tones of the artwork give the whole book an old-fashioned feel. But it's Annable's expert pacing that makes this uncommonly good; apart from the measured, skillful way he unspools each story, he makes fantastic use of page turns for jump scares and meticulously and subtly lays the groundwork for one final, delicious twist, which casts the previous stories in a new light. Middle-grade readers in search of the shivers who are not quite ready for Emily Carroll's Through the Woods (2014) will adore these just-scary-enough comics.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
White-cued schoolteacher Ms. Nomed challenges her students to tell the eeriest tale they can imagine in this spine-chilling graphic novel collection by Annable (the Peter & Ernesto series), which teems with ghoulish charm and innovative flair. Bespectacled Alvin, who reads as Black, tells an 18th-century drama titled "The Village that Vanished," in which tax collectors searching for a town called Wattersburg instead meet a lone elderly shepherd. When prompted for the town's whereabouts, the shepherd informs the collectors that, following a deadly transgression, sea people dragged Wattersburg's citizens into the ocean--all except the old man. Subsequent genre-spanning tales detail a space crew navigating a time loop's fallout and a girl uncovering her father's dismembered remains, with help from his talking head. And as they spin their sinister yarns, unusual quips from Ms. Nomed sow unease among the class. Saturated spot colors set each story apart from contemporary school scenes rendered in grayscale and muted green. Cartoonish characters, minimalist backdrops, and Annable's gently absurd humor juxtapose the stories' frightening undertones. Via simple yet effective paneling, Annable balances terrifying visuals and taut storytelling with finesse and expert timing to deliver a horror-filled collection that is sure to scare and delight. Ages 8--12. (July)
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Review by School Library Journal Review
Gr 6 Up--Oscar-nominated Annable brings readers into an uneasy, adventurous world with his latest graphic novel. The book opens in the classroom of Ms. Nomed, who is encouraging her students to tell spooky stories at the front of the room. Students seem reticent as they introduce tales of dismembered bodies, spiteful fish-men, alien possession, and more. Dynamic paneling emphasizes frightened expressions, foreboding tableau, and "it's right behind you!" moments. Annable employs a muted palette primarily of brown and green hues with chalk-style linework reminiscent of ChalkZone and Captain Underpants--but these stories shift quickly from whimsical to sinister. The unassuming cartoon style couches frightening concepts in sweet art, and the final entry gives way to a delightfully upsetting twist with a grim, unresolved conclusion. Most illustrations aren't too explicit or violent (though one story has depictions of physical and verbal child abuse), but some scary-gross faces and dark themes mean younger readers may benefit from adult consultation first. VERDICT No blood, minimal gore, but these effectively unnerving tales will stick with horror fans long after the book's end. Highly recommended for juvenile graphic novel collections.--Ashleigh Williams
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
A gathering of genuinely chilling tales, related by children in a classroom and presented in graphic format. Invited by their teacher Ms. Nomed (mark the name) to tell "the eeriest story you have," five young volunteers, variously light or dark of skin, stand up in turn to petrify their classmates. Alvin, for instance, shares a historical tale of a village that vanishes after previously friendly green bipedal "fish people" discover a taste for human flesh. Emily tells of a spaceship's crew that looks human…right up until the tentacles shoot out of their eyes and mouths. Those and other tales that feature ghosts and conversations with a decapitated stranger are related in even tones that work effectively with the sepia and other subdued color schemes in Annable's cartoon panels to provide properly slow builds to horrifying climaxes. The most lurid twist comes at the end of the last and longest entry, "The Door to Demons," which turns out to be not made up at all but a frame story that touches off a mad scramble to escape a teacher who has suddenly transformed into a toothy, terrifying monster with a spectacularly weird upside-down head. It will take hardy readers indeed to sit comfortably in their own classrooms by day--or for that matter, hope for peaceful dreams at night--after these screamers. Thoroughly, deliciously creepy. (Graphic horror. 9-12) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.