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Thirteen Chairs by Dave Shelton

Thirteen Chairs

by Dave Shelton

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Jack is a curious boy. So curious, that he's found himself drawn into a supposedly haunted house, where twelve people sit around a table, each taking a turn to share a story. One by one, as each finishes his or her story, they blow out their candle and retreat into the darkness. And eventually Jack realizes that at some point he'll have to share a story as well.

Like several others here, I loved reading the Alfred Hitchcock anthologies as a kid. The stories were usually heavier on creepiness than horror and gore, and that's how this little book is. In fact, the stories I read in the light of day felt unusually tame and boring, while those I read before bed felt much creepier. The stories are mostly clever and fun - nothing too scary here - but this will definitely be better appreciated by kids who like creepy stories than those more attuned to stuff like Stephen King. It's similar to the few Goosebumps stories I've read but much better written. In spite of the fact that I liked it, I didn't feel overly enthusiastic about it. ( )
  J.Green | Nov 22, 2016 |
A collection of thirteen short tales, told around the table of a haunted house by its mysterious inhabitants. The stories all feature ghosts and share a vague connection that the protagonist, Jack, discovers as the evening ends. ( )
  lillibrary | Jun 22, 2016 |
A boy is drawn to an empty house on a cold, dark night. He’s heard rumors that something mysterious happens there at a certain time on a certain day, and curiosity insists he investigate. When he enters a room lit only by candlelight, he sees twelve people sitting around a table, with a thirteenth chair pulled out for him. When he joins the group, the telling of tales begins. All chilling, all creepy, all scary. The boy knows that soon his turn will come, and his own story will be told…

Kids need to be scared. Granted, I grew up in the generation that revered Goosebumps and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and as teens devoured novels by authors like R. L. Stine and Christopher Pike, so I naturally skew towards horror, but I still think it’s true. Kids need to be shaken up now and again, and a good ghost story is just the thing to do it.

Spooky and atmospheric rather than genuinely terrifying, the stories in Thirteen Chairs provide a varied introduction to the genre. There are old-fashioned folktales, modern hauntings, and the essential jump tales. In this manner, it’s very similar to Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, minus the frightening illustrations of Stephen Gammell that pushed an otherwise prosaic collection of ghost stories into one of the most challenged books in America. There are illustrated title pages in Thirteen Chairs, reminiscent of old medieval woodcuts. While they lack the visceral punch of Gammell’s work, Shelton’s stories are much stronger than Alvin Schwartz’s collection in both depth and plotting.

Each narrator has a slightly different voice, reflecting his or her background and age. It helps distinguish the stories from each other and add weight to the framing story about a group of storytellers meeting in a darkened room. There’s a growing sense of unease through the book as the boy Jack realizes that there’s something definitely wrong with the situation beyond the darkness and the ghost stories.

It’s a good collection of children’s ghost stories, spooky enough to make them jump but familiar enough that there won’t be lingering nightmares. Every generation needs a horror collection or two to read around campfires and at sleepovers, and Dave Shelton’s Thirteen Chairs is a great candidate for the current crop of kids. ( )
  makaiju | Jun 14, 2015 |
Jack heard a vague, but curious rumor about the abandoned house - about something strange happening there,

"And Jack is a curious boy."

The Thirteen Chairs is a ghostly collection of short stories with a twist - the stories are all connected. Short intertludes between stories chronicle the queer happenings at the candlelit house in the wee hours before dawn—the house where Jack is seated in one of thireen chairs. Jack is puzzled, but not yet afraid. Will he stay? Will he have his own story to tell?

A well-crafted, eerie collection that is not for the faint of heart.

http://shelf-employed.blogspot.com ( )
  shelf-employed | Feb 19, 2015 |
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