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Don’t Turn Out the Lights: A Tribute to Alvin Schwartz's Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

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Featuring stories from R.L. Stine and Madeleine Roux, this middle grade horror anthology, curated by New York Times bestselling author and master of macabre Jonathan Maberry, is a chilling tribute to Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark . Flesh-hungry ogres? Brains full of spiders? Haunted houses you can’t escape? This collection of 35 terrifying stories from the Horror Writers Association has it all, including ghastly illustrations from Iris Compiet that will absolutely chill readers to the bone. So turn off your lamps, click on your flashlights, and prepare— if you dare —to be utterly spooked! The complete list of writers : Linda D. Addison, Courtney Alameda, Jonathan Auxier, Gary A. Braunbeck, Z Brewer, Aric Cushing, John Dixon, Tananarive Due, Jamie Ford, Kami Garcia, Christopher Golden, Tonya Hurley, Catherine Jordan, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Alethea Kontis, N.R. Lambert, Laurent Linn, Amy Lukavics, Barry Lyga, D.J. MacHale, Josh Malerman, James A. Moore, Michael Northrop, Micol Ostow, Joanna Parypinksi, Brendan Reichs, Madeleine Roux, R.L. Stine, Margaret Stohl, Gaby Triana, Luis Alberto Urrea, Rosario Urrea, Kim Ventrella, Sheri White, T.J. Wooldridge, Brenna Yovanoff

398 pages, Hardcover

First published September 1, 2020

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About the author

Jonathan Maberry

476 books7,125 followers
JONATHAN MABERRY is a New York Times best-seller and Audible #1 bestseller, five-time Bram Stoker Award-winner, anthology editor, comic book writer, executive producer, magazine feature writer, playwright, and writing teacher/lecturer. He is the editor of WEIRD TALES Magazine and president of the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers. He is the recipient of the Inkpot Award, three Scribe Awards, and was named one of the Today’s Top Ten Horror Writers. His books have been sold to more than thirty countries. He writes in several genres including thriller, horror, science fiction, epic fantasy, and mystery; and he writes for adults, middle grade, and young adult.

Jonathan is the creator, editor and co-author of V-WARS, a shared-world vampire anthology from IDW Publishing that was adapted into a NETFLIX series starring Ian Somerhalder (LOST, VAMPIRE DIARIES).

His young adult fiction includes ROT & RUIN (2011; was named in Booklist’s Ten Best Horror Novels for Young Adults, an American Library Association Top Pick, a Bram Stoker and Pennsylvania Keystone to Reading winner; winner of several state Teen Book Awards including the Cricket, Nutmeg and MASL; winner of the Cybils Award, the Eva Perry Mock Printz medal, Dead Letter Best Novel Award, and four Melinda Awards); DUST & DECAY (winner of the 2011 Bram Stoker Award; FLESH & BONE (winner of the Bram Stoker Award; 2012; and FIRE & ASH (August 2013). BROKEN LANDS, the first of a new spin-off series, debuted in 2018 and was followed by LOST ROADS in fall 2020. ROT & RUIN is in development for film by ALCON ENTERTAINMENT and was adapted as a WEBTOON (a serialized comic formatted for cell phones), becoming their #1 horror comic.

His novels include the enormously popular Joe Ledger series from St. Martin’s Griffin (PATIENT ZERO, 2009, winner of the Black Quill and a Bram Stoker Award finalist for Best Novel) and eleven other volumes, most recently RELENTLESS. His middle grade novel, THE NIGHTSIDERS BOOK 1: THE ORPHAN ARMY (Simon & Schuster) was named one the 100 Best Books for Children 2015. His standalone novels include MARS ONE, GLIMPSE, INK, GHOSTWALKERS (based on the DEADLANDS role-playing game), X-FILES ORIGINS: DEVIL’S ADVOCATE, and THE WOLFMAN --winner of the Scribe Award for Best Movie Adaptation

His horror novels include The Pine Deep Trilogy from Pinnacle Books (GHOST ROAD BLUES, 2006, winner of the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel and named one of the 25 Best Horror Novels of the New Millennium; DEAD MAN’S SONG, 2007; and BAD MOON RISING, 2008; as well as DEAD OF NIGHT, and its sequels, FALL OF NIGHT, DARK OF NIGHT, and STILL OF NIGHT.

His epic fantasy series, KAGEN THE DAMNED debuts in May 2022. And he just signed to co-author (with Weston Ochse) a new series of military science fiction novels that launches the SLEEPERS series. Jonathan will also be launching a new series of science fiction horror novels for the newly established Weird Tales Presents imprint of Blackstone Publishing.

He is also the editor of three THE X-FILES anthologies; the dark fantasy anthology series, OUT OF TUNE; SCARY OUT THERE, an anthology of horror for teens; and the anthologies ALIENS: BUG HUNT, NIGHTS OF THE LIVING DEAD (with George Romero), JOE LEDGER UNSTOPPABLE (with Bryan Thomas Schmidt); two volumes of mysteries: ALTERNATE SHERLOCKS and THE GAME’S AFOOT (with Michael Ventrella); and ALIENS V PREDATOR: ULTIMATE PREY (with Bryan Thomas Schmidt). He is also the editor of DON’T TURN OUT THE LIGHTS, the official tribute to SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK. His next anthology will be ALIENS VS PREDATOR: ULTIMATE PREY (with Bryan Thomas Schmidt), debuting in spring 2022.

Jonathan was an expert on the History Channel documentary series, ZOMBIES: A Living History and TRUE MONSTERS. And he was participated in the commentary track for NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: REANIMATED.

His many nonfiction works include VAMPIRE UNIVERSE (Citadel Press, 2006); THE CRYPTOPED

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5 stars
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516 (42%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 246 reviews
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,605 reviews10.7k followers
July 5, 2023
Don't Turn Out the Lights is a Middle Grade Horror anthology curated by bestselling author, Jonathan Maberry, as a tribute to Alvin Schwartz's, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.

The collection is comprised of 35-spine tingling tales, penned by an impressive list of authors!

I know what some of you may be thinking, Middle Grade though?

I can assure you, quite of few of these stories legit creeped me out. They're quick, fun and each one left me wanting to continue.

There really is something for every Reader in this collection.

No matter what your fears may be, you will find a story that works for you. Some things you may not even realize you are afraid of until you read this book, like toys, for example.

I mean, I have always been afraid of certain toys, but I digress. There were a lot of stories in here that I really loved.

The standouts for me include: The Carved Bear by Brendan Reichs, The Golden Peacock by Alethea Kontis, Tag, You're It by NR Lambert, The Cries of the Cat by Josh Malerman, The Umbrella Man by Gary A. Braunbeck, Brain Spiders by Luis Alberto Urrea and Rosario Urrea, and Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board by Margaret Stohl.

I did listen to the audiobook and highly recommend that format. There are two narrators and they both did a fantastic job bringing every story to life.

Overall, this is a very solid collection with plenty of chills and thrills for readers of all ages. If you like to give yourself the heebie-jeebies, you should definitely pick this one up!

Profile Image for Sadie Hartmann.
Author 21 books4,794 followers
October 23, 2020
Originally hosted on my blog:
What a fantastic idea for an anthology! A tribute to one of the most iconic spooky short story collections for all ages. DON'T TURN OFF THE LIGHTS edited by Jonathan Maberry is presented by The Horror Writers Association and published by Harper Collins.

To say I grew up reading SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK is a bit of an understatement. My mom is a major Horror Hound and our home library was filled with adult, young adult, and middle-grade horror. I'm 5 and 8 years older than my two sisters so I read out loud to them pretty regularly and SCARY STORIES (all 3 of them) were in heavy rotation.

When I heard about this tribute anthology, I had to have it. Modern horror authors trying on the tone and style of SCARY STORIES that I cherished so much? A no-brainer.
The question in my mind was: Would this anthology be successful at capturing the essence of something that has endured for generations of young horror readers (that later grew up into adult horror readers that also review horror professionally)?
My enthusiastic opinion is YES!! Yes, a thousand times.
The dedication reads,
"This book is dedicated to Alvin Schwartz, for scaring the snot out of generations of young readers. And for making being scared a whole bunch of fun!"

When I thought about this dedication I wondered what it was that actually scared me. Was it the storytelling? Were those very short stories really that creepy to have such a lasting impact on me? The stories are great, for certain, but I honestly believe that the illustrations that accompany each tale are responsible for the nightmare fuel. There was one drawing in particular that my sisters made me promise not to show them (of course I always did).

DON'T TURN OUT THE LIGHTS has illustrations for every story too. Of course, I have to confess, they're nowhere near as scary but this doesn't hinder the reading experience one bit, as far as I'm concerned. Pictures are pictures and having them in horror is a special treat. There are a few exceptions, I don't want to post them here because it's more fun to discover the scary ones for yourself, but I will mention the stories they go with:
THE TALL ONES by Madeleine Roux
THE BOTTLE TREE by Kami Garcia
IN STITCHES by Michael Northrop (this one might be a contender to be on equal footing with that classic image my sisters were scared of)
TAG YOU'RE IT by N. R. Lambert
JINGLE JANGLE by Kim Ventrella

These are all exceptional stories too! And to be quite honest, I didn't think there was a dud in the bunch which almost never happens to me. My favorite aspect is this book is true to the source material; a big variety of tone and style. Some of the stories push boundaries for young readers with some potential "big scares". Other stories play with dark humor and lighter themes. It's my opinion that stories with animals will be a huge hit with younger audiences, DON'T YOU SEE THE CAT by Gaby Triana and THE CRIES OF THE CAT by Josh Malerman stand out as favorites. THE GARAGE by Tananarive Due is an awesome gateway story into zombie fiction. THE GHOST IN SAM'S CLOSET by R. L. Stine reminds me of the more endearing ghost stories kids love. It starts out, "Ghosts have feelings too."
I like that some of the stories will lead grown-ups to have conversations with children after reading these stories together, for example, MUD by Linda Addison will certainly have curious children asking about, "What happened to grandma?"

I love that.
I love this book.
I will totally Skype with my nieces and nephews and read some of these to them for a Halloween treat so that even if "Halloween is canceled" due to the plague of 2020, at least we can have spooky stories.
Profile Image for Stay Fetters.
2,112 reviews132 followers
September 6, 2022
"Ghosts weren't real, and neither were dead boys who woke up in their graves and clawed their way out.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was the book that sold me on reading spooky stories. It led me into my life revolving around horror. It was the first book I spotted on the shelf at the Library (when I was a tad bit older) and I wouldn't leave until my parents told me that it was okay to checkout. I never looked back after that. I owe that story collection a huge thank you because my life would not have been the same if it wasn't for that collection and R.L Stine.

Even though I loved those collections, I've had this book sitting on my shelf way before the release date. I had this fear of being led into something that would totally disappoint my love of Scary Stories. And here we are two years later and I finally read this tribute. Wow, I'm really impressed. This made my love grow fonder.

Each story had its own fun twist. Fun in a way where you're so scared that you wet your pants. I'm not even going to lie, some of these endings gave me goosebumps. They were just so creepy. It's hard to pick favorites in this anthology because every single story was amazing and they all offered up something different. Well, except for them being electrifying.

Don't Turn Out the Lights was a great anthology and one I didn't know that I needed in my life. I'm stoked that this exists and that I finally stopped listening to my old self telling me not to. This brought back a lot of great memories of me reading Scary Stories and now I want to reread that series. I'm off to my blanket fort with a flashlight and those Scary Stories books.
Profile Image for Katie T.
1,042 reviews117 followers
October 3, 2022
These short stories were surprisingly good. Despite being middle grade, I didn't think these stories were too childish. In fact many were quite messed up 😂😂. Very fun, and I liked that the stories were very short.
Profile Image for Samantha.
1,761 reviews96 followers
August 27, 2020
A delightfully creepy tribute to Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.

If you’re anything like me, you were simultaneously fascinated by and terrified of Schwartz’s Scary Stories books. They were fantastic for scaring yourself silly, and many of them still send shivers down my spine when I think of them now as an adult (The girl with the green ribbon! That one where the head falls down the chimney!)

Don’t Turn Out the Lights is a satisfying homage to Schwartz’s work. Like all collections by multiple authors, the quality of the stories is a bit of a mixed bag, but mostly it’s a good crop of terrifying tales that accurately capture the spirit of the original collections.

There are a few that are too long to be an accurate fit, and I didn’t love the stories that incorporated too much modern technology or social media (which felt too disconnected from the very analog originals), but most of the authors got the feel of this so, so right.

My three favorites:
The Carved Bear
The House on the Hill
Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board

*I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

Profile Image for AziaMinor.
470 reviews58 followers
November 1, 2021
Overall Rating : B

"But don't forget, the kid we used to be is still alive in all of us. And the civilized part of us is only one power failure, one bad storm, one unexplainable moment of strangeness away from being a primitive and terrified caveman."

35 cute, chilling, and downright freaky stories for the terrified child in all all of us. Made me so nostalgic of the ghost stories from my age. I would definitely recommend this if you want to be transported back to when you first picked up a story that scared the begeezus out of you ;P

Profile Image for Liana Grace.
238 reviews
October 2, 2020
Short story collections are tricky to rate. I chose only 3 stars because some stories fell flat, however, other stories I loved. This is definitely a fun, nostalgic read if you grew up with the original Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.
Profile Image for Armand.
184 reviews29 followers
January 2, 2021
This tribute to Schwartz's seminal Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Trilogy diverges quite a bit from the original. The tone and style of the narration is different, dispensing with the whimsy and creepy charm of its source to present tales aimed at a slightly older audience. They're longer too, and there are very few of the ditties and storytelling prompts which made the former unique. Some are also unabashedly contemporary, dealing with current technologies like SMS and emails. One spirit even terrorized its targets via social media.

The art actually hews closer to the base, and technically I believe it can hold its own against Gammell. However, it doesn't always depict the actual monsters in their full eerie glory, which was a huge part of the appeal and efficacy of Scary Stories.

The thing is, taken on its own terms it's still competently amusing. While the original trumps it in terms of the compact unity behind its concept and in the nostalgia it evokes in the hordes of kids who enjoyed it over time, I think adults who haven't been exposed to it would most likely appreciate this one more. With a total of thirty-five stories, it has all the terrorific firepower you might require to sate your appetite for juvenile horror.

The most memorable stories here are:

The Golden Peacock - why you shouldn't stick a revered family heirloom in a child's room.

Jingle Jangle - for a short tale, it has all the gory goodness of the best local folk legends.

The Neighbor - sinister ghost story with a twist.

The Painted Skin - a helpful young man invites a preternaturally beautiful beggar into his house.

The Skelly-Horse, The Umbrella Man, and In Stitches - stays truest to the spirit of the Schwartz trilogy, which is not totally surprising since two of the authors penned children's books before.

Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board - a popular pyjama party game doubles as a revenge mechanism.

7/10; 3 stars.

Profile Image for Irene Well Worth A Read.
875 reviews81 followers
August 17, 2020
"He reaches for me and I'm sure he plans to pull out my intestines and wear them like a scarf, but instead he pats my head."

When my son was in middle school I bought him the set of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. After he read them I did too. Don't Turn Out The Lights is exactly the kind of story collection that I would have bought for him when he was younger and that he would still keep on his book case now that he is grown. Whether you have kids or are a kid at heart these stories are a spooky journey into otherworldly realms, sometimes with a moral to the story, such as being careful what you wish for in Jingle Jangle. One of my absolute favorites was "The Neighbor" when a lonely boy finds a playmate but all is not as it seems. Some reveal some hidden dangers in social media or text messages from strangers such as in The House On The Hill or the even more terrifying "Tag You're It" where a boy has a creepy social media stalker from which there is no escape. I also loved that each story has a spine tingling illustration. This was such a fun read and for me it was like a trip down memory lane and something brand new all rolled in to one.

4 out of 5 stars
I received an advance copy for review.
Profile Image for Jamesboggie.
299 reviews18 followers
October 27, 2020
I was excited to read Don’t Turn off the Lights. It is a tribute to Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and its sequels, and I love those books. I even like the stories as much as the gnarly pictures. When I saw a tribute anthology by the Horror Writers Association with authors like R.L. Stine and Tananarive Due, I knew I had to read it for Halloween.

I have mixed feelings. The first few stories disappointed me. I wonder if some of the stories were written independent of this project, without Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark in mind. The original books drew from existing folklore and included stories specifically written to be told aloud. Many of the stories in this volume felt artificial in the way that most published fiction does and did not work well when spoken aloud. They feel like standard horror stories or even dark fairy tales. Those stories do not in my opinion fit the theme well.

Another thing that makes this anthology feel different, more artificial, more predictable: the illustrations. The art is not bad. It is among the best attempts to recreate Stephen Gammell’s style I have ever seen. The framing is all wrong, though. In Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, the pictures were all over the place in size and location. Sometimes they took up the entire page after the story. Sometimes they came before. Sometimes they took half a page in the middle. The reader never knew when a picture would appear. It made the whole book feel more unpredictable, more spooky. I found myself skipping illustrated pages in Don’t Turn off the Lights as if they were blank pages in between stories, and that is sad.

That said, I liked more of the stories than I realized. Once I got through the first few, I found most to be pretty good. Some of these stories will stick with me for a long time. Not bad for some fun Halloween reading. 3.5/5, round up to 4

"The Funeral Portrait" by Laurent Lint
I was not expecting such a standard dark fairy tale. It is fine as a fairy tale, but does not remind me of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. 3/5

"The Carved Bear" by Brendan Reichs
This story fits the theme well. It is a creepy cautionary tale aimed at children. It reminds me of "The Drum" and "Harold", but also "Prey" by Richard Matheson. 3.5/5

"Don't You See That Cat" by Gaby Triana
I do not understand this story. Many of the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark pulled from folk tales or common fears. You could tell where it came from, or it had a logic. Not here. Is fear of ghost cats really common? Why did the ghost cat start haunting Kendra? This story just feels incomplete, like it needs one more pass by an editor. 2/5

"The Golden Peacock" by Alethea Kontis
This story is almost right! It is a pretty classic ghost story about a girl and her "imaginary friend". It's not clear why a painting that had been in the family for generations would cause problems only for this girl, or why the ghost was unhappy. It feels like this should be a cautionary tale, but there is no coherent or meaningful lesson. 3/5

"The Knock-Knock Man" by Brenna Yovanoff
This is exactly what I wanted from this anthology. This story taps into some common primordial fears and delivers a moral. I could actually see this as an urban legend, passed from child to child. 4/5

"Strange Music" by Joanna Parapinski
This is a good little ghost story. It has a nice hook in the instrument and a satisfying ending. It subverted my expectation of a cautionary tale in a nice way. 4/5

"Copy and Paste Kill" by Barry Lyga
This is a silly little story. It relies on surprise rather than atmosphere or logical plotting. Many short horror stories do. I just did not find it surprising. It also did not get me in the right state of mind. It might work on younger horror fans with less experience with the genre. 2/5

"The House on the Hill" by Micol Ostow
This story is familiar in the best way. I can see influences from horror stories and tropes from spooky folklore. It feels more like the updated urban legend I expected from this anthology. 4/5

"Jingle Jangle" by Kim Ventrella
This story is exactly what I hoped to find in this anthology. It feels like genuine folklore. It has familiar elements that fit perfectly. It is a cautionary tale with a message about being careful what you wish for and a monstrous punishment. It has great pacing and atmosphere. If you changed it from 1st person to 3rd person it would fit right into Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. 5/5

"The Weeping Woman" by Courtney Alameda
This is a retelling of La Llorona tales. It fits the theme of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, but does not have quite the same level of creepiness. 4/5

"The Neighbor" by Amy Lukavics
I enjoyed this creepy tale. It did spook me, and it surprised me. I expected one twist and got another equally logical twist. The last few paragraphs with the little girl were unnecessary. 4/5

"Tag, You’re It” by N.R. Lambert
The Instagram is coming from INSIDE THE HOUSE! Lol. I have seen a fair number of attempts to use the Internet, social media, smart phones, and apps as the starting point for horror. So far, no hits. Really scary stuff does happen on the Internet, but it never involves magical unblockable social media accounts. Please, authors, follow the rules of the tech you're using. 2/5

"The Painted Skin" by Jamie Ford
I was pleasantly surprised to find a story that seems so influenced by Far Eastern folklore. This tale could have come right out of a Lafcadio Hearn book. I hope there are more stories from different folklore traditions. 4/5

"Lost to the World" by John Dixon
I could actually read this story around a campfire. It has a sense of growing tension, great pacing, and a chilling end. I could not ask for more. 5/5

"The Bargain" by Aric Cushing
This is a story set on Dia de los Muertos, although it seems more aesthetical than substantive. It is a decent creepy story. It sets up a cautionary tale, then subverts expectations. 3.5/5

"Lint Trap" by Jonathan Auxier
Poor parenting is the TRUE horror. Seriously, watch your crotch goblins. Especially if you are moving into a clearly haunted house. It was interesting to read from the perspective of a 5 year old. It has good progression and a satisfying ending. 4/5

"The Cries of the Cat" by Josh Malerman
Oh boy, This story is uncomfortable. Mental illness and elder abuse require more care in modern horror stories. 2/5

"The Open Window" by Christopher Golden
We have all heard a version of the imposter parent story. My favorite is a common two sentence version. That really is all it needs. 3/5

"The Skelly-Horse" by T.J. Wooldridge
Another story that would be good for telling in the dark. I like the second person storytelling. It sounds like one of those folktales your grandparents might tell as a warning. 4/5

"The Umbrella Man" by Gary A. Braunbeck
I was excited to see a story written to be read aloud. It has an alternate ending and stage notes like some of the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. The story is a good spooky tale as well. Unfortunately, I tried to read it aloud and I feel the pace and rhythm were not conducive to oral storytelling. 3.5/5

"The Green Grabber" by D.J. MacHale
This is a longer story, and it takes the time to do a few interesting things. It is a story centered on another story, a folktale told around a fire. It also opens with a previous victim of the monster that is later referenced as part of the legend. The result is a multilayered story that homages Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark in a unique way. 4/5

"Brain Spiders" by Luis Alberto Urrea and Rosario Urrea
Effectively, this story is the classic "The Red Spot" on steroids. It is a longer and more complex story with a bigger scare. I am not sure it will hit everyone as hard as the original. I liked it, but I think the authors should have avoided specifying where Katya originated. Details are always hazy in urban legends so they could have happened anywhere. 3.5/5

"Hachishakusama" by Catherine Jordan
This is a straight-up boogeyman story. It is based on an actual Japanese boogeyman. Not bad, Not surprising, and it could have been more suspenseful. 3.5/5

"Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board" by Margaret Stohl
Kiki got what she deserved. Anyone who bullies someone at their own birthday party and then demands they play a killer party game was not long for this world. 5/5

"In Stitches" by Michael Northrup
This is another story centered around a story. It has some good creepy elements. The little girl walking alone, the stranger, the scare at the end. It is a little meta in the way that it incorporates a character telling a story in the style of Scary Stories. 3.5/5

"The Bottle Tree" by Kami Garcia
I really like this story. It had me gripped from the beginning. It is a ghost story with a witch twist. I did not expect the ending, and it was a pleasant surprise. 5/5

"The Ghost in Sam's Closet" by R. L. Stine
I love ghost stories told from the ghost's perspective. This first person narrative captures the feeling of sillier stories from Scary Stories. It is also short enough to remember and retell. I bet it sticks in my head when the others fade. 5/5

"Rap Tap" by Sherrilyn Kenyon
This is another silly story. This time, it is a poem. I am glad to see the diversity of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark represented in this tribute. 3/5

“The Garage” by Tananarive Due
This story is not written like folklore or an oral tale in any way. It is good enough that I did not care. It is a zombie story that hits close to home during quarantine. 5/5

“Don’t Go into the Pumpkin Patch at Night” by Sheri White
This story feels perfect for Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. It is short. It has great pacing. It is exactly the kind of spooky warning that would get passed around in the dark. I am not sure it is as memorable as some. 4.5/5

“Pretty Girls Make Graves” by Tonya Hurley
A bullied child’s sleepover gone terribly wrong. This is a fantastic story. Again, this is the kind of story that gets passed around, the kind that makes you wonder if there was any truth before it was exaggerated in the telling. I expect this one to stick with me. 5/5

“Whistle Past the Graveyard” by Z Brewer
I have heard the superstition about whistling as you walk or bike past a graveyard. I also have never heard what supposedly happens when you fail to whistle. I think this story represents one of the approaches to this tribute anthology: taking stories that would work in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark but writing them as traditional published fiction. It works here. 4/5

“Long Shadows” by James A Moore
An interesting take on the shadow people phenomenon. The references to domestic violence made me tense, and I expected a different kind of horror. The result is good, but I wish the two fears were more directly connected. 4/5

“Mud” by Linda A. Addison
Talk about going overboard. This is going WAY too far to teach your stinky kid to bathe. “Mud” feels like a dark fairy tale to me, like a tribute to the Grimm Brothers. 4/5

“The Tall Ones” by Madeleine Roux
The anthology ends strong. I greatly enjoyed this story. It manages to establish a unique and authentic world gripped by its own superstitions and folklore. It is about a town visited by unknown, potentially supernatural, beings. No one has seen the Tall Ones, but they all know the signs. The townsfolk leave offerings in the hopes of being spared. The young Estrella is not satisfied with the stories. This story will definitely stick with me. 5/5
Profile Image for Rachelle.
367 reviews81 followers
October 3, 2021
This was the perfect book to kick off the spooky season! Such creepy stories all told in honor of Schwartz's classic collection that is still one of my all time favorites.
Profile Image for ✦BookishlyRichie✦.
641 reviews1,036 followers
May 2, 2021
3 STARS!!!

I’ve had a big issue for the past couple of years with Middle-Grade horror being too light and even though I think this is classified as YA because of mentions the use of curse words and alcohol, these felt like they were purposefully written for children but watered down EVEN more, which I hate. If you’re going to write any type of horror, whether it’s MG, YA, or Adult, if you’re aim isn’t to scare the crap out of someone, what’s the freaking point?

I understand these were written as a tribute to Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, but Scary Stories… was pretty damn gruesome, the illustrations were twisted and gory, and a lot of the stories were pretty scary. I’d say out of the 35, a good 10 were actually spooky and none managed to SCARE me (my 10 yr old cousin listened to the audio with me and said none scared her at all).

I know I might seem like I’m being a little hard on this collection but like I said, if you’re going to write horror, your aim better be to scare someone, especially kids because the ones that LOVE horror, want to be scared. I’ve written 2 MG horror novels, with a third one on the way, and so in this instance I know what I’m talking about. Anyway, if you’re looking for Soft Horror, this is perfect for you. If you’re looking to be scared, read the original Scary Stories Treasury. Also what the hell was R.L. Stine's story??? I was legit sitting there like wtf is this LOL

***Stand out stories for me:
The Tall Ones
The Garage
Tag, You're It
The Neighbor
The Bottle Tree
Whistle by the Graveyard
The Weeping Woman
The Knock-Knock Man

***update*** I just checked and this supposedly is marketed as YA & MG, but I still stand by what I said. I said what I said. lol

– R.
Profile Image for Mehsi.
12.3k reviews373 followers
March 17, 2021
A spooky anthology with stories from various pretty well-known authors. I really had fun reading it and flew through the pages.

I have to say that I think it is hilarious how I am not a fan of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark I just love all these tribute books that are popping up. The tribute books do know how to tell a story, don’t just build it up and then suddenly the story is over, and they just weren’t scary. I know I read the book when I was an adult, but hello I grew up with Goosebumps, with Fear Street, with other horror stuff that scared the crap out of me, SStTitD just wasn’t anywhere in the league of those and I know as a kid I would have been really disappointed with it as well.

Back to this book, this one features 35 stories that feature haunted houses, social media and dolls, witches, murder, and much much more. Some of the stories are quite short others are much longer. I definitely loved reading them and with the excerption of a couple stories most felt like complete stories that often scared the wits out of me! Haha, definitely not the book to read at night but that is when I read it. One of my favourite stories would definitely be the Pretty Girls Make Graves, OH BOY. I loved how most of the stories had a scary ending, something to leave you screaming or something that scared the wits out of you.

Oh, and the Green Grabber? That one could have used an extra subtitle (something like x time later at x place), as I thought the story was over after x happened but instead it continued. That had me looking on the internet if something was wrong with my ecopy. But all I could find is that it was correct.

I loved the various authors that participated in this book and was happy to see several names that I recognised.

I do wonder why several stories were about naughty kids and them getting killed/murdered/in trouble/losing their legs for something naughty. I mean every kid does something naughty in their lives. That is how kids are. Even adults can be naughty. Why is it such a bad thing? I mean, given that most of the naughty things meant staying out late or calling someone a jerk it seemed too much, too excessive.

There were at least two stories that really had me wondering why they were added (I may have one or two more but these two really stood out in my eyes). One is the Sam’s closet story and the other is the story about someone rapping on the tent. Both weren’t that scary but were decent to read, but than had the most anticlimatic and horrible ending ever. They are in the midst of all the spookiness, ghosts, whistling in a graveyard, and it just doesn’t feel right to have them in here. I would have rather had two other stories that were scary.

The illustrations varied from OK to WOW to NOPE NOPE NOPE flips Kindle closed. Haha. I really want to check out more of the illustrations by this illustrator.

All in all, if you want some spooky and scary stories? Be sure to check out this book!

Review first posted at https://twirlingbookprincess.com/
Profile Image for Jennifer.
408 reviews66 followers
July 25, 2022
I love this. I love Scary Stories To Tell In the Dark and I absolutely love this book and the audio is fantastic.
Profile Image for Rachel.
250 reviews3 followers
July 23, 2021
This book in a nutshell was a disappointment. Think "Buddy the Elf thinking he's going to meet the real Santa at the mall" level disappointment.

I was ready to rip some fake beards off, lemme tell you.

WELL this was hideous.

And not even in a good way.

Honestly, the stories were bland and dumb. Mostly I found myself wondering why many of these writers even bothered...or if they bothered at all.

The writing was flaccid - most of the time the authors seemed to be parroting back a half-baked version of what the great horror writers of old had already refined.

The characters were actually pretty interesting...until the endings of most of the stories left me scratching my head and wondering what the heck was the point of this tale?

I found myself speed-reading the stories just to find one that was actually worth my time, and I have to say I didn't really find any.

And oh, scariness factor? Pfft. Some were chilling in the beginning, I'll grant you that. Actually, most of the stories did appear very promising at the start (again, since they are reusing tropes and ideas that truly gifted authors had used to spin their lurid, knock-your-socks-off, delicious creations) and built up in me a sense of anticipation, of feeling like "Oh wow, this is scary! Gosh, I wonder what's going to happen?"


I'm here to tell you that usually what happened was either the bad guy was vanquished (which, in my opinion, SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN IN A SCARY STORY because it defeats the whole purpose of the tale), or the kid was taken by whatever demon/possessed thing was haunting them. Now that last one IS what I am looking for in a scary story, that's true. BUT - and I kid you not, I don't think there was ever a story that didn't have this effect on me - I always found myself wondering, but why THIS ending? This makes NO SENSE. I'm not even scared.


As I'm looking back over this review, I'm realizing that I might not make much sense. Sure, you'll say, a scary story isn't supposed to have a point, it's supposed to be scary.

Well, you know what's truly scary? A story that gives you chills. That has a plot. Because if it has a plot, I'm not spending my time looking for plot holes and inaccuracies, I'm spending my time getting one of the best good ol' scares of my life!

(I'm not gonna even talk about that one story where every sentence rhymed, but it wasn't written in a poem form so it just sounded like a bored kindergartener repeating the warning their paranoid grandma told them because she hadn't taken her pain meds and this little brat was screaming in her ear and she wanted to shut him up.)

(Not a word about that one)


You know what?

I'm so mad about this that I'm going to write a story that's about at the writing and reading level of the whole anthology just to give you a peek into what kinds of stories dwell within those decidedly-unscary pages.


There once was a boy named Mark.
Who looked for scary stories on a lark.
He looked at his feet
So shiny and sweet
And realized they glow in the dark.


thank you.
Profile Image for Nicole Amburgey.
201 reviews12 followers
August 30, 2020
2.5 Stars

I can’t tell you how much it kills me, absolutely kills me, to rate this book as just “ok.” Everything about it should have been 5 stars – A great author as editor? Check. Tribute to Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark? Check. A fantastic stable of writers? Check. And yet… This anthology really missed the mark for me.

My issues mostly lay with the unevenness of the collection. The book is marketed as YA horror and some of the stories are, but some are written to a very young middle-grade market. Like its predecessor, the stories in Lights can be read to yourself or aloud to others, but so many are missing that – Boo! ending. You know the one I’m talk about – the one that makes you look behind you, over your shoulder to see what’s waiting in the darkness. Many of these tales just… end. They leave you feeling incomplete and wondering what the heck happened. I feel one of the greatest faults lies with adult horror authors not knowing how to write to a YA audience. It is my opinion that they feel they need to write down to teens and they don’t give them the credit they deserve as readers. One of the most glaring examples of this was in The Cries of the Cat by Josh Malerman. I adore Malerman and the premise he had was a creepy one, but it felt so watered down that it lost its way.

Having said all that, there are some standout stories in this collection:

The Neighbor by Amy Lukavics – Dennis makes a new, unwanted friend with the little boy he sees across the street.

Tag, You’re It by N.R. Lambert – Nick keeps getting tagged in photos by someone who seems to be physically getting closer and closer.

Lint Trap by Jonathan Auxier – Jasper’s family moves into a new house and he starts talking to the children who live in the dryer in the basement.

Brain Spiders by Luis Alberto Urrea & Rosario Urrea – What happens when the kids in class start bullying the new girl from another country?

Mud by Linda D. Addison – Maurice fights his mother about taking baths and she sends him off to his grandmother’s house for an unforgettable sleepover.

The Tall Ones by Madeleine Roux – Estrella tries to convince the new boy in town that the town’s customs and traditions must be honored or else something may happen to him and his family.

I think there are enough stories in here that make checking out this collection worthwhile. It would be a good pick for a library check-out for sure.

Thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins for making this digital ARC available for me to review. Don’t Turn Out the Lights releases on September 1st 2020.

Full review can be read here: https://tatteredandbroken.com/2020/08...
Profile Image for Sara Planz.
517 reviews27 followers
September 11, 2020
Definitely not just for kids. These stories were very much in the vein of Alvin Schwartz and repeatedly gave me the creepy crawlies.
Profile Image for Emilie.
394 reviews8 followers
September 21, 2023
Overall average rating- 3 stars. Not my favorite anthology. I need to be careful about checking the age it’s for. I would’ve enjoyed this more with my kids eventually.
The Funeral Portrait-5 stars- good middle grade horror short story
The Carved Bear- 4 stars- nice creepy little tale about consequences.
Don’t You See That Cat?- 3 stars- would definitely be scarier as a kid, but still an ok tale.
The Golden Peacock- 5 stars- very great story about a painting.
The Knock-Knock Man- 3 stars- this would be better in a long format with more details. Interesting premise though.
Strange Music- 4 stars- predictable little story, but still good.
Copy and Paste Kill- 3 stars- so so story.
The House on the Hill- 3 stars. Not a great haunted house story. Too many predictable elements.
Jingle Jangle- 2 stars- eh.
The Weeping Woman- 3 stars- I’m needing a change of pace with these stories. They are all sounding the same with slight tweaks here and there. I might end up DNF’ing this collection soon.
The Neighbor- 5 stars- I got what I asked for. A nice refreshing story. I liked this one a lot.
Tag, You’re It- 3 stars- a horror story using an Instagram like app.
The Painted Skin-3 stars
Lost to the World- 3 stars
The Bargain- 2 stars
Lint Trap- 4 stars- creative little story involving something you wouldn’t really think about much.
The Cries of the Cat- 2 stars- not much here.
The open window- 4 stars- decent little story
The Skelly-Horse- 1 star
The Umbrella Man- 4 stars- this little story worked well for me. It’d be a cool fireside story.
The Green Grabber- 3 stars- cautionary tale/ somewhat/ for misbehaving children.
Brain spiders- 2 stars- not sure what the moral is with this one for kids. Seems to perpetuate being scared of what you don’t know. Not sure how I feel about it…..
Hachishakusama- 3 stars- another ‘if you’re bad, it’ll come for you’ story.
Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board- 4 stars- interesting premise.
In stitches- 2 stars- ehhh
The bottle tree- 5 stars- I liked this story. Felt original to me.
The Ghost in Sam’s closet- 4 stars- this was more funny than anything else.
Rap Tap- 1 star
The Garage- 3 stars- this would be better in a longer format.
Don’t go into the pumpkin patch at night- 3 stars
Pretty Girls Make Graves- 5 stars- a lot of things can be avoided by explaining why……
Whistle Past the Graveyard- 3 stars
Long Shadows- 4 stars- this has multiple things going for it. I liked the back story for the girl.
Mud- 4 stars- ooo- a mud monster- this was a cool story.
The tall ones- 5 stars- good story to finish the anthology.
Profile Image for Peacegal.
10.2k reviews94 followers
October 19, 2020
The SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK series, with its folklore-influenced stories, jump scares, and chilling illustrations, was a formative part of my reading life in childhood. I had no idea how many others have such strong memories of this series until recently, when I watched a documentary of the history and influence of the books. And now we have this, a book that attempts to capture the spirit of the short story collections.

While DON'T TURN OUT THE LIGHTS may be a tribute, it actually reminded me of the dozens upon dozens of other "scary story" anthologies I read as a kid. Each story is by a different author, and some are genuinely shuddery and spooky, while others are barely a cut above the submissions we receive at the library for our junior writers' contest.

I do like that kids are still enjoying the pastime of reading scary story collections, just as I did 30 years ago.
Profile Image for Amy the book-bat.
2,176 reviews
June 19, 2022
I loved the concept of this short story collection. I loved Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark when I was a kid, so a book of scary stories by current authors that was inspired by the original Scary Stories book was definitely something I wanted to read.
As with any short story collection, some stories were better than others. It was a fun way to spend the afternoon. Might be more fun if being read around a campfire while on a camping trip. I think older middle grade and young adult readers will particularly enjoy this.
Profile Image for Quentin Wallace.
Author 32 books158 followers
October 26, 2022
I loved this. I LOVED SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK as a child, and honestly, I still love it as an adult. While this series doesn't resonate with me like the original for many different reasons, you could still feel the respect all of the others have for the original series. Great creepy stories, some better than others, but all being written out of sincere nostalgia for the original series. There are even illustrations that are similar to the ones from the original books.

Highly recommend this series to fans of the original.
Profile Image for Casey Morrison.
285 reviews1 follower
October 4, 2022
Spooky season has officially begun!! For sure wasn’t freaked out until sunset and now my heart is thumpin pretty good! Lol I really really don’t understand how they’re allowed to say this is for juvenile readers tho 😂 some of these are extremely disturbing
September 25, 2021
4 Stars

I am a huge fan of Alvin Schwartz's 1981 "Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark" and when I discovered this book "Don't Turn Out The Lights" was inspired by this classic I could not wait to read it and it definitely did not disappoint. The story offers thirty-five short stories by some of the best authors in the genre including R. L. Stine (a personal favourite), Brenna Yovanoff, Josh Malerman, D. J. McHale Margaret Stohl, and Kami Garcia. There were many authors that I have never read before that have piqued my interest and I will be looking at reading some of their books.

As with most short story anthologies I read, I encounter the odd few stories that don't quite captivate my attention and unfortunately my least favourite story of the book was "The Cries of the Cat" by Josh Malerman. I was excited to read a short story by him and it left me feeling immensely disappointed. I love Josh Malerman and this particular story left much to be desired for me. This story did not intrigue me but it may be exactly what other readers are looking for, so still be sure to read it along with the rest of the stories in the book.

My favourite story of the entire anthology was "Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board" by Margaret Stohl. Margaret is one of my favourite authors and she collaborated with another author found in this book, Kami Garcia, for "Beautiful Creatures". I absolutely loved this story as it had a witchcraft element to it as opposed to just the horror elements. This story also reminded me of my one of my favourite movies "The Craft" so I may be somewhat biased on this one.

I would also like to mention the following stories as I really enjoyed all of these ones as well. They are "The Knock-Knock Man - Brenna Yovanoff", "The Neighbor - Amy Lukavics", "The Painted Skin - Jamie Ford", "The Green Grabber - D. J. McHale, "The Ghost in Sam's Closet - R. L. Stine", and "Pretty Girls Make Graves - Tonya Hurley" (my second favourite story of the entire anthology). The authors Amy Lukavics, Jamie Ford, and Tonya Hurley are all new for me and I am unquestionably looking forward to see what else they have to offer.

"Don't Turn Out The Lights" has something for all fans of the genre including haunted houses, haunted portraits, monsters, ghosts, murder and mayhem just to name a few. If you like creepy, but not overly gruesome or scary, this book is a must read. It is definitely inspired by "Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark" as the stories follow the same premise. Alvin Schwartz would be proud of his legacy and the road he paved for the future of horror anthologies.
53 reviews3 followers
July 12, 2020
This is a very creepy collection of scary stories for young readers. It is a tribute to Alvin Schwartz’s very spooky anthology series “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.”

There are stories by some of my favorite horror writers from childhood, such as R.L. Stine and more contemporary ones such as Amy Lukavics.

The stories are all quite eerie and unnerving, much like the stories in Scary Stories to tell in the Dark, which creeped me out as a kid.

From haunted houses and ghostly hauntings, to creepy monsters and terrifying folk tale legends, it’s got a bit of everything.

My personal favorites were, The Neighbor by Amy Lukavics, The Open Window by Christopher Golden and Pretty Girls Make Graves by Tonya Hurley.

In the story, The Neighbor, Dennis makes a creepy new friend, who lives across the street. It has a nice twist at the end that I didn’t see coming.

The Open Window was quite an uncanny little story, which reminded me of an episode of the Twilight Zone. One night, Tyler hears someone calling him from outside his window and things get really weird after that.

In Pretty Girls Make Graves, Mona is a very unpopular girl who is bullied by the Cheerleaders in her school. One day, her mother suggests that she should call the cheerleaders over for a slumber party and Mona reluctantly agrees. Things go very wrong. The twist at the end is horrifying and clever.

I would recommend this book for all middle grade readers (and adults too!) who love spooky stories. They won’t be disappointed.

Thank you to the publisher & NetGalley for providing me with an advance reader’s copy for an honest review.
Profile Image for Rachael  Fryman.
307 reviews78 followers
October 7, 2020
Six word summary: Tons of perfectly spooky short stories!

Loved: I loved the variety of the stories. While I would have loved even more variety in cultural lore, I enjoyed what was included! I think there will be several stories in this collection for every reader, especially for young fans of Scary Stories to Tell in the dark! Also, the illustrations are top notch and very reminiscent of the books that inspired this collection!

Favorite Stories:
The Funeral Portrait by Laurent Linn
Knock Knock Man by Brenna Yovanoff
The Neighbor by Amy Lukavics
Tag, You're It by N.R. Lambert
The Open Window by Christopher Golden
The Green Grabber by D.J. MacHale
Brain Spiders by Luis Alberto Urrea and Rosario Urrea
The Bottle Tree by Kami Garcia
Rap Tap by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Recommend for: Middle grade students looking for spooky books who have read all the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books already!

Reminds me of: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark -- obviously! :)

Verdict: Read it! Especially now during spooky season!

*Disclaimer* - I received an early copy of this title for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Profile Image for orangerful.
948 reviews47 followers
October 2, 2020
Getting in the mood for the spooky season, I picked up this colletion of short scary stories for middle grade readers. I was a BIG fan of the 'Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark' trilogy as a kid. This collection is just as creepy and terrifying as those stories were. Ghosts in the woods, monsters in the closet, and other creepy creatures lurk on every page. I'm not going to lie - I went to bed after reading a few stories and found myself genuinely spooked as I sat in the dark!

If you or your kid is a fan of the horror genre, this is a great set of stories for the Halloween season. Just know that after you finish reading these stories, you might be saying "Don't turn out the lights!" to your family!
Profile Image for journalofhorror.
39 reviews5 followers
May 8, 2022
I have to say, some of these stories genuinely creeped me out. Really good short horror story collection and rightfully a tribute to Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark. Well done!
Profile Image for Austin Smith.
382 reviews26 followers
July 15, 2023
What a bland and boring book. For its claim to be a tribute to Alvin Schwartz's Scary Stories books, as well as having many well known and beloved authors contributing to this anthology, one would expect this to be a fun read.
I kind of did, anyway, but this turned out to be the most "meh", perhaps the most forgettable anthology I've ever read.

I think part of the problem is the writing. The authors here, while much experienced and well renowned, have either little opportunity to inject prose into their contribution or they simply didn't care. The writing is incredibly simplistic and lacks any sort of character or atmosphere. I honestly couldn't even distinguish between most authors; if I hadn't known this was an anthology I might have guessed a single author wrote this book.

Another issue is that I think a few authors (maybe more) don't have much experience writing YA or children's fiction, which would explain the overly simplistic writing and the narratives that feel devoid of color and life. I know that these are only short stories, but Schwartz's stories and folk retellings, the ones that inspired this book, have a sort of magic to them that is completely missing in Don't Turn Out the Lights.
There's only 2 or 3 stories in this 35 story anthology that I would say somewhat resemble the stories from Schwartz's classic books. The rest have nothing to do with it whatsoever.

There were a few stories in here I mildly enjoyed, (The Knock Knock Man, Cries of the Cat, Hachishakusama, The Golden Peacock)
But most of them are just bland as hell, with a few really bad ones in the bunch; (Don't You See That Cat, Don't Go in the Pumpkin Patch) - and probably the worst story in the entire collection, ironically, by my favorite author of the collection, R.L. Stine's The Ghost in Sam's Closet.
Seriously. It is probably the worst thing I've ever read by Stine. I don't know what he was on when he wrote that.

So yeah... I found this book to be a pretty big disappointment overall. There are so many other better kids horror anthologies out there. I can't really recommend this book, unfortunately.
Profile Image for Jocelyn.
324 reviews20 followers
September 4, 2020
3.5 rounded up. This is a great anthology and really honors the spirit of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Some stories are stronger than others, but they're all fun! I would give this to any pre-teen in my life who liked to get a bit spooky.
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