Saturday, October 31, 2015

Thirteen Chairs by Dave Shelton

One night, young Jack is drawn to a dark old abandoned house mostly out of curiosity.  When he finally opens the door and enters the house, he finds 12 people sitting about a table in the dark, each with a candle in front of them.   Asked if he will be joining the group, Jack says yes and a thirteenth chair and candle are brought to the table for him.

After introductions are made, an evening of ghostly storytelling begins.  Jack is naturally a little scared, after all, he's been told about what go on in this house, amazing stories, and although Jack didn't believe what he was told, he's still relieved to be sitting nearest the door, just in case.

One by one, the chairs occupants tell their stories.  Some are traditional tales like "Let Me Sleep" and "The Red Tree," with endings that will give you chills and maybe even creep you out a bit.  Other stories are more modern, like "Beneath the Surface" and "Snowstorms."

As each tale is told, the teller snuffs out their candle and moves their chair back from the table so Jack can no longer see them.  As the room gets darker and darker, Jack worries about what he will say when his turn comes.  No unnatural, haunting story comes to mind and each time another person is chosen to tell a story, Jack is relieved that he has been given more time to come up with something.

But, alas, no more can be said about Jack without giving the ending away.  Just know this, it is rather ironic.

Each storyteller has their own distinct personality and they are of various ages, and seem to have come from different time periods, though I think that there is a preponderance of more modern stories.  For instance, the tale told by Amelia, a young school age girl sitting next to Jack, is a modern story called "The Girl in the Red Coat," and is about a young girl in school being bullied, and is totally riveting nonetheless.  As is "The Wrong Side of the Road"which might make you think twice about using your GSP next time you need it, and "Unputdownable" a story that may make you hesitate the next time you reach for a book that the library has discarded and put on sale.

I loved reading Thirteen Chairs.  There is something for everyone and each tale has an originality about it.  On some level, the tales reminded me of all those ghost stories we all told as kids at sleepovers or around the campfire, but these are much more sophisticated and polished.  I think that some of the themes and tropes like the effect that the sudden constant, mysterious ticking of a clock can have on an otherwise calm, orderly person may be recognizable but they have a new twist in these short haunting tales.

Thirteen Chairs is a perfect Halloween book, but fun no matter what the day is.

What are Dave Skelton's top 13 scariest stories for Halloween?  You can read all about them HERE

This book is recommened for readers age 12+
This book was an EARC received from Edelweiss/Above the Treeline

Happy Halloween!

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