what were YA thinkin? – the house of dead maids

Warning: if you don’t like to look at scary imagery, I highly suggest skipping this post.

I have a little secret: I don’t do scary. Not movies. Not books. NOTHING.

It’s interesting that as a woman in my late twenties, the smallest inkling of anything that might potentially strike fear into my heart sends me screaming in the other direction. This is interesting because as a 5th/6th grader, I had my head ducked behind book covers that looked like this:

Long story short, I quit the scary/horror scene after watching Saw II in the theater. I just couldn’t take it anymore. (The nightmares didn’t help either)

In general, there are few categories that YA covers can fall into. For me, they’re either beautiful and awesome, awful and silly, or they just kinda blend in with all the others and don’t pop out in any particular way as a whole. This doesn’t make any of those covers bad or good, just not eye-catching.

And then there are those that make it incredibly difficult to look at long enough to even say what in particular scares the pants off of me. May I present to you, Exhibit A:

Look at her eyes! Oh wait, there are none! She’s a friggin ghost!

While the bottomless eye-pits are the creepiest thing about this cover, the spidery ink-webs that she’s floating through are incredibly unnerving and make my skin crawl. There are also illustrations that open up each chapter by Patrick Arrasmith that can be found on Dunkle’s website. Arrasmith’s portfolio is amazing, but I honestly couldn’t handle putting any more creepy images on this blog.

However horrifying, I must give kudos to the designer, April Ward, and the novel’s publisher, Henry Holt and Co. There’s no doubt in my mind that they set out to create one eerie-lookin book. They definitely achieved that goal. But if I saw this novel in a bookstore, I wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole.

Now…here’s hoping I can actually go to sleep tonight.


8 thoughts on “what were YA thinkin? – the house of dead maids

  1. AH! I’m with you on this one. Every time I see this cover in a blog post I want to run and hide (I generally just scroll down instead). For me it’s mostly the eyes, but also the dead expression on her face and her hint-of-gray skin tone.

    What’s funny too is that the Alvin Schwartz book is so familiar looking but I am fairly positive that I have never read it. I wonder if that book taunted me from the shelf as a kid.

  2. seriously? that cover FAH-reaks me right out! zomg i’m such a wuss, i hate anything that can scare me just a little. i saw the last exorcism trailor and couldnt sleep and had to check under my bed and the closet. i also had to throw away my copy of the shining because i started having nightmares. this cover is the stuff nightmares are made of. why do they do this to us? why!

  3. I think they must have used the same model for the American edition of Steve Augarde’s Winter Wood — pasty skin, bottomless-pit eyes. Ick!

  4. they’ve gotten rid of stephen gammell’s incredibly affecting illustrations for the new “scary stories” editions… so sad. the new ones are brett helquist, which, though gorgeous, just don’t do it for me. gammell’s are ugly, yes, but have you ever EVER forgotten them? no. they were the true gems, not alvin’s schlocky stories.

    • Haven’t gotten to see the new Helquist anniversary edition, but heard about it. But yes, TOTALLY agree on Gammell’s stuff. I will never be able to get those creepy ink blots out of my head.

  5. I actually own the “Scary Stories” collection and totally agree that Gammell’s illustrations were what attracted me to the book (i know that sounds creepy) and then the stories. I still get a bit creeped out when i flip through them, keeping a good amound of both natural and artificial light handy. The grittiness and ‘stringy’ black and white imagery made me feel like i was flipping through a slimy old book rather than a slick paperback.

  6. AHHH!!!I didn’t see the last one coming!I was really creeped out by that one, and what bad timing too!I’m alone right now and it’s 2:17am!now I’m so creeped out I’ll scream if I hear something!but thanks to your post I’ll avoid that book whenever I see it and imagine rainbows instead.

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