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Ebook Short and Shivery: Thirty Chilling Tales by Robert D. San Souci read! Book Title: Short and Shivery: Thirty Chilling Tales
The author of the book: Robert D. San Souci
Language: English
ISBN 13: 9780385264266
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 963 KB
Edition: Delacorte Press
Date of issue: August 1st 1989
ISBN: 0385264267

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I expected Short & Shivery: Thirty Chilling Tales to be a lot like Alvin Schwartz's celebrated Scary Stories trilogy, retellings of the best hair-raising tales from around the world that effectively induce goosebumps for even seasoned readers. The fact that Short & Shivery includes a few versions of stories found in Alvin Schwartz's trilogy seems to further the idea that this book might be a delightfully eerie fright fest in the Scary Stories tradition. But author Robert D. San Souci is primarily a folklorist, perhaps even more so than Alvin Schwartz, and the effect of these thirty chilling tales is less horrifying than it is edifying about what causes heebee-jeebies in a diverse multitude of cultures. The man who brought us Fa Mulan: The Story of a Woman Warrior, basis for Disney's thirty-sixth full-length animated masterpiece, delves into myths and cautionary tales from Virginia to the Shetland Islands, California to Costa Rica, London to the Orkney Islands, serving up mild scares in a familiar, comfortable narrative voice. Readers of any age or genre preference are sure to find something they like in these thirty forays into the world of the supernatural, the unexplainable, and the bizarre.

The Robber Bridegroom, based on the Brothers Grimm fairytale, leads off this anthology with the saga of a smart, courageous girl who outwits the bandit that tricked her father into promising him her hand in marriage. The miller had no idea he was putting his daughter's life in jeopardy by insisting she marry the man, but now she's the only one who can save herself from a torturous fate. Jack Frost, a Russian morality fable, is next, portraying the plight of a kindly girl named Maria who is constantly beleaguered by her cruel stepmother. When her stepmother orders Maria left in the deathly cold to finish her off, Jack Frost takes pity on the forlorn girl and brings her diamonds and silver rather than icy death. Outraged that Maria rather than her own daughter, mean-spirited Yagishna, should receive Jack Frost's favor, the stepmother sends Yagishna out on another frigid Russian winter night. But will she, too, merit that rarest of blessings, Jack Frost's tender mercy? The Waterfall of Ghosts warns of the perils of wrongdoing and greed, as a pack of wild ghosts haunts a spitfire Japanese girl willing to steal money from a hallowed spiritual site to satisfy her materialistic desires. Yet redemption is possible with a changed heart, and this the story also emphasizes. The Ghost's Cap is another Russian folktale, this time telling of Anya, a petulant, lazy girl who accepts a dare to visit a graveyard at night. An unwitting encounter with a ghost leaves Anya with the long-dead apparition's moldy old hat in her hand, but discarding it turns out to be a catastrophic mistake. Now Anya has her own personal haint, who won't rest until he's exacted vengeance.

An American legend from Virginia is next, The Witch Cat, a familiar retelling to anyone who's read Alvin Schwartz's Scary Stories collections. A beautiful young woman come to call on her new neighbor triggers the onset of bad luck for him. Some animal is getting into the coop and killing his chickens every night, but could the young woman be the culprit, a witch capable of shapeshifting into a wildcat? The Green Mist follows, a paranormal folktale of a husband and wife waiting to see if the arrival of spring will cure the deathly ailments of their young daughter. But a wish carelessly made and overhead by the bogies could tie the girl's life to something far more spurious, and leave her parents bereaved in the end. The Cegua is a Costa Rican legend about a man chased by a monster, who barely survivors the pursuit only to have his harrowing account laughed at by others. Back to the United States we go for The Ghostly Little Girl, tracing the emergence of a phantom the girls in the story don't know is the deceased spirit of their friend until it's too late. The reveal is a jaw-dropper, for the girls if not the reader. The Midnight Mass of the Dead, a spine-tingler from Norway, comes next, another spooky folktale used in Alvin Schwartz's books. A stouthearted widow finds herself participating in a church service for the deceased when she mistakenly heads to meeting much too early one Sunday. Tailypo is again an American original, a jump-scare narrative of a man who chops off and eats the tail of a weird animal that sneaks into his home when he's asleep. The tail-less creature relentlessly stalks the man to get back his severed limb by any means necessary. Lady Eleanore's Mantle is Robert D. San Souci's retelling of a Nathaniel Hawthorne horror story, about a young society girl with lofty airs who departs Great Britain to visit Boston while inadvertently carrying a flesh-eating plague in the wondrously shimmering mantle she wears. A young man whose affections she repeatedly spurned happens upon her in the throes of rot, and sees that her unremitting haughtiness has not gone unpunished.

The Soldier and the Vampire is another Russian folk legend, of a soldier returning home for his sister's wedding to discover she's on the brink of death. A powerful wizard/vampire is responsible, but he's too strong to confront at night, and no one knows the location of his resting place where he's vulnerable in the daytime. The soldier is ready to risk his life to redeem his sister from the edge of mortality, but can human bravery, guile, and weapon-mastery defeat such a formidable enemy? The Skeleton's Dance is a typical Japanese morality play, funny and serious and macabre all rolled into one, as a wicked young man kills his friend for profit and then tries to use him in death to prosper even more. The deceased has a trick or two up his sleeve, however, and the murderer won't get away with his heinous deed. Scared to Death is another American classic brought to wonderfully grisly life by Alvin Schwartz, and the version in Short & Shivery is atmospheric and detailed, if not as frighteningly effective as Schwartz's. A prideful girl challenged by friends to visit a cemetery at night is scared out of her mind when she feels a ghoulish appendage grab her from behind and pull her back to the graves. But is it an attack by the living dead, or is something else restraining her from leaving? Swallowed Alive is a British cautionary fable about a thieving liar whose irreverent words catch up to her when she makes a careless declaration before the wrong audience. Duplicity doesn't go unrecompensed forever, it's clear to see. The Deacon's Ghost is a sad story from Iceland, about a young churchman and the girl he loves, who agrees to attend a Christmas Eve service with him. He drowns alone trying to cross a swollen river, but the girl remains un-notified of his death as his ghost returns and entices her to join him in the great beyond. Can one blame the deacon for seeking his beloved's companionship, after cruel fate separated them too soon?

"We all know there's many kinds of life that live in the air, on the earth, or in the water. And we, poor mortals, have not the power to understand the like of some of them."

—Short & Shivery, P. 130, from the short story Boneless

Nuckelavee is a yarn borrowed from the Orkney Islands, telling of an equine monster and its predatory pursuit of an old man headed home one night. Then we come to Robert D. San Souci's version of the great Washington Irving's The Adventure of the German Student, a somewhat cautionary piece regarding the terrifying ordeal of Gottfried Wolfgang, whose unyielding belief in demons and the supernatural leads him to study in Paris during the French Revolution. When he meets a girl he's seen over and over in his dreams, their future together seems written in the stars, but a happy ending for Gottfried may not be in the cards. Billy Mosby's Night Ride is one of the longest stories in Short & Shivery, about a young boy caught up in a web of witchcraft with Francis Woolcott, a neighbor nobody trusts. Billy is eager to apprentice under Woolcott when he secretly witnesses the sensational black magic the man wields, but Billy soon learns the horrifying price paid by those who dabble in the dark arts. In The Hunter in the Haunted Forest, a Native American legend, an Indian brave whose supply of wild game is running low as winter nears makes the decision to hunt in woods rumored haunted, and takes on an unearthly foe in a battle for his life and the lives of his loved ones. Brother and Sister is a good African folktale. A girl reluctant to choose a suitor finally pairs off with a man who catches her fancy, but her little brother finds out the man is a demon and follows them after the wedding to keep his sister from harm. Together the boy and his sister run from the demon and the horde of monsters at his heels, but is it too late for them both to survive? The Lovers of Dismal Swamp hearkens back once more to Virginia folklore. When a young man's fiance perishes from swamp fever, the grief swallows his mind, and he convinces himself that his betrothed is not dead, but trapped in the swamp where only he can rescue her. Escaping detention by concerned friends and family who think he's apt to get himself killed, the grief-stricken man sets out on a search for his darling through the swamp, day after day. But if he should find the girl who owns him heart and soul, how can he save her from the death that has already claimed her?

Horror anecdotes from the Shetland Islands speak of a supernatural beast so strange, no one who sees it agrees in their description of its appearance. This creature is the subject of Boneless, and skeptics beware, there's no mercy for he who refuses to believe in spite of the truth. The Death Waltz is a New-Mexican tale of unbalanced affections between a soldier and the woman he desires to marry. When the soldier is killed in an Indian raid, his newly affianced quickly moves on, but death isn't the end of his passion for her. The Ghost of Misery Hill is quintessential American folktale, as a prospecting loner dies and puts a curse on anyone with the temerity to work his old mining claim. The first person audacious enough to test the curse is met with swift paranormal backlash, but will he survive to be run out of town? The Loup-Garou (The Werewolf) combines several French tales into a single story, about a man named Pierre who ventures out by horse and sleigh one wintry nocturne to procure medicine for his ailing wife. Pierre never will forget the terror of his run-in with the superhuman werewolf, who stalks him with the vicious instinct of a starving carnivore. The Golem is a well-known nugget of Jewish lore, David Wisniewski's version winning the 1996 Caldecott Medal, and Robert D. San Souci's telling is culturally interesting. Lavender is a prototypical college ghost story, the framework of which will be familiar to most who read it. When a couple of freshmen pick up a pretty girl by the roadside and offer her a ride home, is she everything they come to believe she is? The Goblin Spider takes us back to Japan, where samurai hero Raiko and his sidekick Tsuna track a goblin spider that has been terrorizing the Japanese people. Raiko is tenacious and lionhearted, but does he have the cunning to destroy the monster arachnid before it lands its death blow? The thirtieth and final story of Short & Shivery is The Halloween Pony, a French extraction about three brothers who ignore their grandmother's plea that they stay safe at home on Halloween night. While out and about they run across a creature they would never suspect of doing them harm, but All Hallows' Eve is a night for wickedness, and before it's through the boys will wish they had listened to their grandmother.

It's no surprise that the stories with the best structure in Short & Shivery are retellings of narratives created by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Washington Irving, but Robert D. San Souci does a fine job putting his own spin on them. To me, the best story of the book is The Lovers of Dismal Swamp, which contains elements of genuine heartbreak. I identify with the sorrow of the man out wandering the swamp in search of his bride-to-be, unable to accept that she's lost to him forever. Who can accept such a haunting truth as that? Ultimately, Short & Shivery didn't give me shivers and doesn't quite live up to Alvin Schwartz's Scary Stories, but it's an entertaining hodgepodge of folklore ideal for reading on Halloween or any night in October, when the creeping darkness outside surely seems to hide a few monsters. I appreciate Robert D. San Souci's storytelling, and it's a safe bet I'll be picking up further volumes of his Short & Shivery series. I'm going to have a good time with these.

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