cover image Stinetinglers: All New Stories by the Master of Scary Tales

Stinetinglers: All New Stories by the Master of Scary Tales

R.L. Stine. Macmillan/Feiwel and Friends, $16.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-250-83627-4

In these 10 darkly humorous short stories, Stine (the Goosebumps series) delivers bite-size frights. “Welcome to the In-Between,” a cautionary tale about middle schooler Gabe, who’s always late, opens the collection on a terrifyingly realistic note. After finding, and subsequently breaking, a smartwatch, Gabe becomes stuck in time, living life as if it’s moving forward, but the clocks never tick past 6:10 p.m. In “Our Little Monsters,” teenage Becka’s new gig babysitting preteen terrors results in punny, madcap shenanigans. Creepy-crawly “Bugs” follows Alvie’s attempts to work through his fear of insects, with a disastrous outcome. Though the stories are seemingly unconnected, each is preceded by a note from Stine detailing its inspiration, including a childhood anecdote about sibling wrestling matches as well as a pensive observation regarding a snake shedding its skin. Stine’s collection, full of disaffected or downright miserable narrators, and bullies who take the form of friends, parents, and siblings, is a harrowing look at myriad current real-life horrors plaguing tweens, and foregrounds the idea that, more often than not, one must be brave enough to save oneself. Most characters are coded as white. Ages 8–12. (Aug.)