cover image The Cabinet of Curiosities: 36 Tales Brief & Sinister

The Cabinet of Curiosities: 36 Tales Brief & Sinister

Stefan Bachmann, Katherine Catmull, Claire Legrand, and Emma Trevayne, illus. by Alexander Jansson. Greenwillow, $16.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-233105-2

This collection of 36 short dark fantasies from Bachmann, Catmull, Legrand, and Trevayne aspires to sit on the same shelf as Alvin Schwartz's Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and succeeds admirably. The conceit is that the authors are curators of the eponymous cabinet, a magical museum that houses the often-dangerous souvenirs and stories they bring back from their Indiana Jones%E2%80%93like adventures. Among the many delicious tales are Bachmann's "Johnny Knockers," which concerns the fate of a whaling ship after its crew discovers a small boy inside a whale; Legrand's "Mirror, Mirror," which tells of a nasty preteen who looks into a mirror and finds more than she bargained for; Trevayne's "The Circus," the story of a traveling circus's horrifyingly bad luck; and Catmull's "Dark Valentine," which illustrates why you don't want your dead girlfriend contacting you by cellphone. Many of these are moral tales in which nasty children or adults die horribly; others, though, feature perfectly nice people who meet similarly gruesome ends. Readers who enjoy their Halloween chills all year round will find this anthology a delight. Ages 8%E2%80%9312. (May)