4 of 5 stars
This short story collection features strange and eerie tales, including precursors to Shusterman’s Everlost and Full Tilt novels.
He flatly denied the existence of Jim-Jim Jeffries. Marty was convinced it was just a made-up story, designed to keep small children from crossing dangerous streets to get ice cream. Well, he wasn’t a small child anymore. He didn’t believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, or Jim-Jim Jeffries.
Neal Shusterman is one of my all-time favorite authors, but this was my first read-through of any of his short-story collections, and I was not disappointed. Each tale is full of suspense and psychological thrills that are worthy of The Twilight Zone, and together, as a collection, they exhibit a wide variety of imaginative elements, ranging from ghost stories to monsters to tales of revenge. While definitely macabre, Shusterman avoids being gory or overly gruesome; most stories would be deemed more “creepy” than “gross.”
My favorite short story in this collection was Screaming at the Wall, a new look at time travel that’s more strange and bizarre than it is scary.
Readers should be aware, however, that while twisted and strange, these tales aren’t necessarily the things of horror movies, and certainly not one of the scariest books I’ve ever read. Though the warning on the back cover would convince you otherwise — they’re unlikely to induce nightmares, though they certainly may give the reader a serious aversion to punch bowls, chandeliers, and glass bathtubs.
Overall: A compelling and imaginative collection of strange and eerie tales.