Tag Archives: spooky

Nightmares! by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller

Segel, J., & Miller, K. (2014). Nightmares! [audiobook]. New York: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group.


After his mother dies, Charlie Laird’s life changes too much. His father remarries Charlotte and forces Charlie and his younger brother Jack to move into the spooky purple mansion at the top of the hill. To make matters worse, Charlie starts to have nightmares about a witch and her cat. But then, Charlie realizes that the witch reminds him of someone…. Charlotte.

To be completely honest, I chose this audiobook because it’s narrated by Jason Segel, and I’m a fan of his work. I went in with low expectations, and they were met. The story is written well-enough and the plot makes sense. But, what I found the most challenging aspect of the story was how dark it was for a children’s book. Charlie experiences disturbing nightmares, and he must battle the darkness that overcomes him as he fears Charlotte more and more. Unlike A Tale Dark & Grimm, though, which I loved, there isn’t the comic relief to help balance out the serious plot, making this an emotionally draining read.

I’m sure that there’s a reader out there who would enjoy this book, especially if they’re a fan of spooky or scary stories. I’m just not that reader, so I give this book a 3.5 out of 5.

A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

Gidwitz, A. (2010). A Tale Dark & Grimm. New York: Dutton Children’s Books.


This novel retells the classic tale of Hansel and Gretel, but goes beyond the well-known story of two children getting caught in a witch’s candy house. The story begins before Hansel and Gretel’s birth and explains why they were wandering in the woods and what happens after the Witch falls into the fire.

The title is not ironic. This tale is dark and grim. It is gory and scary, and at times, disturbing. And, as an adult reader, I loved it. But this is definitely not a book for young children.

The narrator continuously jumps into the story, warning children of the scary or gross parts, which does prepare them mentally, but also serves as a bit of a dare, asking readers if they can really handle what they’re about to read.

This book is not for the faint of heart, but older children who enjoy fairy tales and spooky stories will likely love this book. And, as a bonus, there are two other books in the series, one about Rumpelstiltskin and the other about Jack & Jill.

Overall, I give this book a 4.5 out of 5, but I also give it a strong reader’s advisory statement: this book is definitely for older children, maybe even young adult readers.