Written by Patti Pauley
As a loyal fan from the age of seven of Alvin Shwartz’s Scary Stories trilogy of books, that I happened to fall into courtesy of my second grade library book fair, it’s almost blasphemy to even think anything could come close to the nostalgic feel those tales of terror and revised urban legends those paperbacks bring us. Well, Author Jake Tri and partner illustrator Andy Sciakzo have hit all the right fuzzies with their book Nightmare Soup. To put it simply for 90’s kids everywhere- if Are You Afraid of the Dark and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark had a twisted relationship, with an occasional appearance of Tales From the Crypt trying to hop in the bed, the beautiful result you would get is Nightmare Soup.
Not to say this collection of tales isn’t for young horror readers as well. As a matter of fact, my two kids ages seven and twelve, who HATE to read, fought over who’s turn it was to peruse the 30 tales of frights and were enthralled at the mind-warping illustrations that takes your imagination right into the segments you’re reading.
While the illustrations and layout of the tales do indeed seem to be heavily inspired by Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, the Nightmare Soup stories themselves hold their own kind of magic that completely separates them into their own entity of nightmarish illusions that I feel many young and older horror readers will cherish for years to come.
As I sat reading these two-three page tales of horror, while the stories themselves are unique, my horror movie mind horn was blowing harder than the cheap Vegas hooker down the street. Many of the little stories inside the book for me personally, seem to give nod to a few classic horror films and TV shows. A good example would be the very first piece of nightmare fuel in the book entitled “I Hate Clowns”. The short throws a reminiscent smell towards Eli Roth’s Clown, while another segment titled “Woman in the Window”, felt like something off an Unsolved Mysteries program. And you’re correct when assuming I read that passage in Robert Stack’s voice.
Just like the novella’s inspiration “Scary Stories”, the book doesn’t just limit itself to creepy passages. There’s a few funny as hell tales in there that will most likely make you laugh out loud; so be wary if you’re reading in public to avoid the awkward WTF stare. Passages such as “Mr. Wilson” and “The Troll” are definitely one-of-kind, truly funny stories with of course a horror touch, that serve as a breath of fresh air that is much-needed after getting the MASSIVE skeevies from tales such as the intertwined stories of the “The Fly” and “The Tongue” . I’m not kidding, you may want to take a shower after reading those two gems.
I absolutely encourage any horror lover to pick up this book up for your household coffee table and literally just leave it there. You, and if you have kids, are going to want to pick it up multiple times to revisit these future nostalgic tales for the next generation. So it’s best to just keep it off the bookshelf. If you’re interested in investing in your own copy, visit Nightmare Soup’s website by clicking here to pick up this little treasure trove of horror delight.
Just stay away from eating any seed-bearing fruit while you’re reading this book. Trust me. You’ll thank me later.