“Scary storytelling gives us more than thrills and fun. It allows us to identify our fears, share them, and find a way to deal with them.”
August House has just released our fourth book of haunting tales from Roberta Simpson Brown, appropriately titled Scariest Stories Ever Told. The stories within these pages are meant “for all people who want something that really turns their blood cold” and are designed to “make fear creep up your spine.” They were written by a veteran ghost hunter, seasoned storyteller, and writer with years of experience scaring the living daylights out of her audiences. As a former teacher, the author wrote stories based on her experiences ghost hunting and from instances that occurred in her life, then told them to her students to get feedback on the perfect plot twist, grueling characters, and eerie settings.
The thirty-three ghostly tales are told in five to ten pages that allow the reader to pause and take a break if the stories get too intense, or if they simply wish to stop and contemplate similar situations that may have occurred in their lives. Since children are typically the protagonists in these stories, kids easily relate to the characters and the familiar settings that Roberta likes to use in her work. Her stories often incorporate moral elements into the plot: characters who behave poorly or make poor decisions suffer the consequences – a theme commonly found in folktales from the oral tradition.
To make finding the perfect horror episode even easier than figuring out what costume to wear for this
year’s Halloween party, the stories are organized by theme across five sections. Young students will be thrilled by the book’s opening section, “Something’s Not Safe at School,” where they might encounter a ghost in their locker, a ghastly substitute teacher, and a field trip gone horribly wrong. Everyone who has ever moved knows how stressful it is to be a stranger in a foreign place, but imagine what it would be like if there were even stranger things in this new town as Brown proposes in “Welcome to Your New Home.”
Though ghost-hunting may be her specialty, Brown includes stories on everything from the freshly created story of the Feathered Thing to classic legends of Christmas ghosts. The premise behind the settings described in Scariest Stories Ever Told is to place characters in a contemporary environment familiar to the audience to fully immerse the reader into the story. By the end of a single chapter, the reader may think to herself that these are just stories... or are they?
Roberta Simpson Brown takes great pleasure and seriousness in reminding her readers that these stories are all for fun. In Scariest Stories Ever Told, and in all of Roberta Simpson Brown’s writing, you will not find any occult themes that might psychologically damage young, curious minds. Nor will there be any sudden bursts of blood and gore. The author contends that crude language and gory scenes are not necessary to create truly scary stories. Rather, Brown incorporates unique plot twists and focuses on escalating the suspense to lure her readers further into the story.
By placing the characters in a familiar environment, she invites her audience to recall frightening events in their own life experiences. The overall lesson to take away from this book is that of confronting our fears. When we become more confident with the things we are afraid of, we can learn to overcome them in small ways and take back more control over our lives.
If you’d like to read a sneak peek of the book, feel free to download these complimentary chapters!
“Don’t Open That Locker”