Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror
by Chris Priestley
Cover Artist: David Roberts
Review by Gayle Surrette
Bloomsbury Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781599901183
Date: 18 September 2007 List Price $12.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Edgar is home from boarding school and with little to do and parents who wish he was elsewhere, or nonexistent, he finds himself a frequent visitor at his Uncle Montague's home. Uncle Montague is not really his uncle but a some-number-of-greats uncle. He's eccentric, but his stories are interestingly scary. But Edgar is logical and quite modern and therefore knows none of the stories could be true -- even though Uncle Montague seems to believe in them. So are they real?
Chris Priestley manages to raise the hair on the back of our neck with these frightful tales of ghosts, ghouls, witches, spyglasses, mirrors, and other things that can and do go bump in the night. A bored young man wants to redeem himself and goes to aid a girl being bullied, as he was bullied in school, only to find that the girl doesn't need any help and he's the one who needs protection. A willful, resentful, young girl believes that a painting has granted her three wishes, but wishes are tricky things and the results are not as she expects.
I remember loving these types of stories when I was young. In fact, I still found some of these stories super creepy and I'm way beyond the upper age limit. I think the reason these terrify adults as well as young people is because so much is left to the imagination of the reader. If you have an active imagination, you will fill in lots of details that just aren't in the story but give you the creeps anyway because you brought the fear into the story yourself.
Edgar is an intelligent young man. He knows that there are no such things as ghosts, ghouls and all the rest of it. Science has shown they don't exist, and yet … there are things seen out of the corner of your eye that disappear when looked at full on. What if? What if these things did exist? What if Uncle Montague isn't a crazy old man? What if he's telling the truth?
Just how well will your child take these stories? I don't know; that's up to you to decide. The stories are a bit scary, but more so for the child with a very active imagination. It might be a good book to read together -- even if the child reads a lot on their own. Be sure to leave the door open for the young reader to talk about the stories with you. Most of the stories are cautionary tales and would make great talking points to start conversations between parents and child(ren).