I chose this book because of the delightfully creepy illustrations on the cover, which reminded me of Edward Gorey, who managed to be at once macabre and whimsical. It also got good reviews, notably from Stainless Steel Droppings, so I decided to read it as my first book for that site’s RIP IV challenge.
There is always a danger going into a book with very high expectations; I had hopes of being transported to a quirky, ominous, Gorey-esque world. I wasn’t, and thus I was disappointed with Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror. I kept waiting for it to grab me, the way the Graveyard Book did, but it never happened.
The premise of the book is simple: A young boy visits an older relative, who tells him a series of scary stories. The cover informs us that “Uncle Montague’s creepy stories have something - or someone – in common.” Well, okay, but if it hadn’t said so on the cover, I wouldn’t have caught that from the text. The stories were intriguing, to be sure, but I felt too short and disjointed to build up the sort of page-turning, stay-up-all-night-to-finish-it suspense I was hoping for.
In fairness, I think I would have enjoyed Tales of Terror more had I not gone in with such high expectations. It is a children's book, and I think it would be a wonderful book for the kind of kid who likes telling scary stories around the campfire. Unfortunately, I don’t do campfires and my daughter doesn’t do scary stories so there’s just not much call for Uncle Montague at our house.
14 books down, 36 more to go.