Eager to ‘dig in’ to this latest tale from the beloved Haunted Mansion, the excitement reached a crescendo when the parcel’s delivery on the 19th of July. 12 chapters, 225 pages and two after work evenings later, the Fearsome Foursome’s tale had been told (well, in this case, explored from cover to cover).
The story is crafted around the narrator, Amacus Arcane, who happens to be the librarian (both in life and afterlife) of the Haunted Mansion. Arcane narrates the four friend’s stories as well as breaks the fourth wall and chats, chastises and entices the reader. This ‘interruptive device’, which shows up as bold ‘hand written’ text, can be both amusing and annoying, but eventually finds a fiendishly fun balance about halfway through the book.
The book itself, not quite ‘full sized’ (a somewhat stunted 7×5 ½ inches and about 3 inches thick), is loosely divided into four main tales of doom (one each for the main characters). Aimed at ages 9-12 the read is light and can get a little graphic (though no more than a PG horror film). Peppered with deliciously dark drawings (and fun ghostly images), Amicus Arcane’s first volume is a fiesty macabre read and the perfect pick for those tweens who enjoy a good ghost story (or four).
The plot revolves around middle school friends Tim, Willa, Noah and Steve. With a common bond of seeking out and crafting ghost stories, the four form a club for telling of such tales of terror – The Fearsome Foursome. A mysterious accident destroys their club house and lands each with an invitation to visit a particular haunted mansion. There they meet the spirited home’s librarian Amacus Arcane. He regales them with his own tales of terror from one of the many ghostly tomes in the old library. Very special tales – four to be exact; one for (and about) each of them . . .
The stories themselves come across as fun campfire tales of terror woven around a loose connection to the Haunted Mansion itself. References (like a secondary character named Rolly) and use of familiar Haunted Mansion lines remind the reader that this IS a tome from the Mansion’s own library (as described by our esteemed librarian at the start of the journey).
The tales of the Fearsome Foursome are woven with scenes and imagery that any fan the New Orleans Square mansion will enjoy with dark delight. The first two tales, though dark and filled with misfortune were not quite as enjoyable as the final two. Tales from the Haunted Mansion: Volume 1 is a delightfully dark and fiendishly fun read overall. The only downside is there was not quite enough Haunted Mansion-ness to the volume. Hopefully future volumes will build on this.
On a scale of one to ten tombstones (10 being the best), Tales from Haunted Mansion: Volume 1 earns 7 tombstones.
Tales from the Haunted Mansion: Volume 1 is published by Disney Press. “Narrated”by Amacus Arcane Haunted Mansion Librarian/story teller (as transcribed by John Esposito and Illustrated by Kelley Jones).
Dig up your copy of this ghostly glimpse into the Haunted Mansion here.
Images from within the book Tales from Haunted Mansion: Volume 1