Fear, edited by RL Stine

Fear: 13 Stories of Suspense and HorrorThe Dare (Fear Street S.)Thriller: Stories You Just Can't Put Down: v. 2 (MIRA S.)The Christopher KillerThe Mediator: Mean Spirits and Young BloodStolen ChildrenStealing the DragonJack: Secret Circles

I found Fear to be a very good collection of 13 suspense/horror stories. The stories are of a wide variety, unified by the common theme of fear.
As a primary school student, I was never personally a big fan of RL Stine’s horror for young readers. In grade 4 and 5, I felt his books were being aimed at readers younger than me – although I was also reading adult horror like Stephen King and novels about murderers and serial killers aimed at adults at the time, and there were others in my class who loved his horror books. Reading RL Stine’s introduction and the beginning of the first story, I got a similar sense of horror written as if joining together common elements people might offer if you asked them to list ‘things associated with scariness’, but after the first few pages an interesting story development grabbed my attention, which was held right to the end of the story.
According to Stine’s introduction, the book was put together when the International Thriller Writers (ITW) asked Stine to select a group of scary stories to fill a book and, in my opinion, he has done a great job in selecting these stories.

Welcome to the Club by RL Stine

Welcome to the Club does a great job of establishing that anything could happen in these stories. Any character could be capable of anything, anyone could die, and what seems to be the last major twist in a story might not be. A teenage guy meets some new friends who dare him to kill someone to be initiated into their friendship group. Twists and turns ensue in a story of daring, deception and shocking acts which keeps readers guessing.

She’s Different Tonight by Heather Graham

The main character is a rich, handsome, ‘all-American’ football player. He has had his eye on a bookish girl whom many think of as a nerd. But both characters are in for a sursprise as neither character is what they seem.

Suckers by Suzanne Weyn

It’s the year 2060. The main character is a teenage boy – the child of two movie stars. The family moves to the planet Lectus for a quiet life of luxury. The main character is not enthusiastic about the move. His attitude changes when he meets the teenage girl next door – until she claims that something horrible is going to happen on the planet Lectus… again.Is she crazy, or are they all in serious danger?

The Perfects by Jennifer Allison

The main character is a teenage girl whose family has moved to a small town which seems perfect. But, on closer inspection, something is not quite right. When she is invited to babysit for Mrs Perfect’s children next door, she begins unravelling a mystery which leads to a horrific discovery.

Shadow Children by Heather Brewer

The main character is babysitting his younger brother who is afraid of the dark. When he tries to teach his younger brother a lesson, he learns there really are things to be afraid of in the dark.

The Poison Ring by Peg Kehret

The main character is a teen whose mother owns an antique shop.There have been a series of burglaries in their town. When a poison ring (a ring with a compartment built in, designed to store poison) is stolen from her mother’s shop and she sees it on someone’s finger the next day, she follows the ring wearer and finds herself in trouble.

Dragonfly Eyes by Alane Ferguson

Dragonfly Eyes begins:
Monday morning on the floor of my science classroom, I, Savannah Rose Anderson, woke up dead.
A bullet pierced my skull and my body crumpled beneath me, thudding hard on the school’s linoleum floor. There was no pain – no feeling at all but a last quiet breath and then . . . nothing. Now, as I open transparent lids I realize time and space have bent around me. There is a blankness as I try to comprehend the fact that my soul and body have lost their connection. I have been ripped apart, a cloth rent in two.

Just an hour earlier, the main character had been listening to her science teacher tell her, “A dragonfly has the best perception of any creature on earth. Their senses are almost magical.” Now, with her consciousness ripped from her physical body, her conception is no longer fixed on concerns tied to her body and she is able to think with clarity in a way she had not been able to do in life. With this newfound clarity of thought, she contemplates her life and death as well as the life of her classmate held captive with her.

Jeepers Peepers by Ryan Brown

The main character goes to an old shack with no phone to babysit the child of a woman who considers her ‘city folk’. The woman assures her that she would have liked to get to know her but that no babysitter comes back – not with her son Wilbur in his condition. But what exactly is Wilbur’s ‘condition’?

Piney Power by F Paul Wilson

The main character is a teen who lives near a pine forest. When he dicovers newly placed reflectors on trees, marking a path which leads to dumped barrels of chemical waste, he teams up with pineys (who live in the pine forest) to solve the problem. The more he learns about the pineys the more extraordinary they seem.

The Night Hunter by Meg Cabot

The main character works in a shop in the mall beside a spoiled brat and holds a strong interest in a local vigilante known as the Night Hunter. When the bank at the mall gets robbed, she takes the opportunity to try some vigilanteism for herself.

Tuition by Walter Sorrells

The main character turns 17 at midnight, at which point he will legally be an adult and fully punishable for any crimes he commits. He is inside a bank vault after closing. Can he pull off this last job and get the money to give up a life of safe cracking to sudy at Princeton, or will it all go wrong?

Tagger by James Rollins

The main character spraypaints tags across LA in honour of a Chinese tradition passed down for generations in her family. Some strange happenings lead her to explore both ancient traditions and modern technology to make sense of what’s happening and try to solve her growing problems.

Ray Gun by Tim Maleeny

Ray Gunstein (aka Ray Gun) and his father are travelling by train to a science symposium where Ray’s father and four other scientists are set to make an important announcement to the world. There are people who don’t want the announcement to go ahead. When Ray encounters a reptilian man on the train, things get dangerous.

The International Thriller Writers are donating 50% of the royalties from Fear to Reading is Fundamental, a children’s literacy organisation.

Fear: 13 Stories of Suspense and HorrorThe Dare (Fear Street S.)Thriller: Stories You Just Can't Put Down: v. 2 (MIRA S.)The Christopher KillerThe Mediator: Mean Spirits and Young BloodStolen ChildrenStealing the DragonJack: Secret Circles

The Australian Literature Review
www.auslit.net

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