R.L. Stine’s latest, Stinetinglers, is the perfect spooky season kickoff. Which, sure. I’m writing this in August. But certain other holidays take over the world earlier and earlier every year. So, I can have spooky season a couple months early. Or whenever I want, really.
The collection of short stories is great for its intended the middle grade (8-12) audience. But, to be clear, I also had a delightfully fun time reading it. Sure, I could easily blame that on the nostalgia factor, having grown up devouring Stine’s Goosebumps series. There’s almost certainly a direct link between the time I was first introduced to Stine’s work and the way, as an adult, some of my favorite horror genre shows and movies are of the “ok it’s scary…but not that scary. And it’s sort of a comedy, to be honest?” ilk.
But to write off everything about Stinetinglers that makes it enjoyable as “eh. Fans gonna fan” would do these stories a deep injustice. They’re good all on their own. Every single tale has its moments where it’s got just enough description to let your mind conjure up a vividly scary scene, to the point where even a seasoned veteran of scary stories like myself was like, “oh, wow” in a few places. Then, there are some really fun twists, endings that are anything but happy, and — yes, definitely — even a few opportunities for a laugh in the midst of all that creepiness.
If I had to be picky, I’d say one or two stories took a little bit too long to get going for my personal preference. (Although, to be fair, one of the biggest “oh, wow” scenes came in the one tale I was initially inclined to write off.) And…there was one point where I was like, “huh. Two stories in a row mention stolen candy bars. Ok then.” So, the collection might’ve benefited from a slight rearranging. Jam one or two tales between all that candy theft. And there you have it. Problem solved. Again, though…not the biggest deal. Especially when the people who are supposed to be reading this probably won’t notice. Much less care.
“Can a book really change your life?”
For me, though, it’s the way Stine introduces the stories in Stinetinglers that’s the best part. Each element of the collection gives us a little bit of insight into the writer’s brilliant creative mind. And, as it turns out, some of the best stories come from the simplest of places. Reading these little tidbits makes it feel like actually having a conversation with the author. So, really, my only regret is not being able to look him in the eye and say, “will never be able to relate” to this sentence, which opens “The Ghost in the Car”:
This is one of those stories where I didn’t have an idea, but I had the title.”
So, let me take this opportunity to say, “will never relate — titles are the absolute worst.” But luckily, I don’t have to. Because “the Master of Scary Tales,” as the Stinetinglers cover rightfully dubs R.L. Stine, already has all of that…well…covered. Always has.
From New York Times bestselling author R.L. Stine, the master of horror for young readers, comes ten new stories that are sure to leave you shivering.
A boy who hates bugs starts to see them everywhere. A basketball player’s skin starts to almost drip off his hands—but no one else can see it. Three friends find a hole in the ground that just gets bigger, and bigger, and bigger… And each story is introduced by Stine himself, providing a personal touch sure to delight fans.
Laced with Stine’s signature humor and a hefty dose of nightmarish fun, Stinetinglers is perfect for fans of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and Stine’s own Goosebumps books. These chilling tales prove that Stine’s epic legacy in the horror genre is justly earned. Dive in, and beware: you might be sleeping with the lights on tonight!
Stinetinglers, from Feiwel & Friends, is available now. Grab your copy wherever books are sold.