Monday, July 20, 2009
A scare from the deep mists of time: Monster Tales
Were you ever seized by the intoxicating memory of reading a much-loved book as a child, only to despair that you'd never remember the title? This happened to me today. From some subterranean depths in my brain came the tale of a boy who exacts revenge on his family's killers by voluntarily taking on the form of a werewolf. I remembered it being a short story contained in a red hardcover book, filled with startling black-and-white illustrations. I remember reading it over and over again in my elementary school library in the 1970s. But that was the extent of my recollection.
I plugged in "werewolf stories for children" and "horror anthologies for children and 1970s" into Google to see what would come up... and eventually came across this marvelous link, courtesy of The Haunted Closet: http://the-haunted-closet.blogspot.com/2008/10/monster-tales-vampires-werewolves.html.
Did anyone else ever read Monster Tales: Vampires, Werewolves & Things? Along with The Hobbit, this is one of those seminal books from my childhood that was responsible for developing my lifelong love of fantasy and horror. Click through the above link and tell me those illustrations aren't darned creepy. I recall the stories as being genuinely scary and containing some surprising scenes of bloodshed--and not much in the way of happy endings. I didn't realize until now that Robert Bloch penned the introduction, and longtime horror writer/reviewer Thomas Monteleone wrote the first (and arguably best) story, Wendigo's Child.
I can't imagine a book like this being released upon unsuspecting children and young adult readers nowadays, but I'm glad I read it. I must own a copy...