A large ice monster chases 4 kids who are wearing winter coats and gloves. Text: "James Powell, Jethro Morales, House of Fear: Attack of the Killer Snowmen and Other Spooky Stories."

KidLit Book Review: House of Fear: Attack of the Killer Snowmen and Other Spooky Stories by James Powell and Jethro Morales


Synopsis

Welcome to the House of Fear, your new home for scary comics! Boyle, the creepy caretaker, presents five frightening tales of startling suspense and thrilling adventure. These chilling comics will engross even the bravest of young readers — and empower them with themes of conquering fear and saving the day.

Witness the cold terror of rampaging snow giants set on destroying a local park…and anyone who stands in their way! A wickedly evil Tooth Fairy wielding her waning powers to vanquish two tricky, quick-witted siblings! A pile of autumn leaves that poses a far more sinister threat than a couple of brothers realize! A mean and frosty old ghost with an unnatural hatred for trees who plans to end an age-old quarrel once and for all! A swamp monster that threatens to turn a group of young campers into a midnight snack!


Details

  • Title: House of Fear: Attack of the Killer Snowmen and Other Spooky Stories
  • Series: House of Fear, Volume 1
  • Author: James Powell
  • Artists: Jethro Morales, Adrián Bago González, and James Hislope
  • Inker: Mike Erandio
  • Colorist: Josh Jensen
  • Letterer: Matt Krotzer
  • Publisher: Dark Horse Books
  • ISBN: 1506711324
  • Publication Date: May 14, 2019
  • For Ages: 8-12
  • Category: Middle Grade
  • Spooky-Scary or Spooky-Fun? ☠️ Scary.

I’d like to thank Dark Horse Books for providing an advance copy via Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review.


Review

House of Fear is billed as Tales from the Crypt meets Scooby-Doo, and I can’t think of a more perfect way to describe this fun, spooky new horror anthology series. Featuring five stories about brave, resourceful kids defeating monsters (…well, mostly defeating monsters), it provides plenty of scares suitable for young readers and even sneaks in some lessons along the way about things like the importance of brushing your teeth and why you shouldn’t cry wolf. Don’t worry, though: this is no trick-or-treat bag filled with dental floss and pennies. In true Tales from the Crypt fashion, there are a few delightful twists and deliciously unhappy endings to satisfy horror hounds and kids looking for something a little sour mixed in with the sweetness.

Continuing the fine tradition of horror anthology hosts like Uncle Creepy and the Crypt-Keeper, House of Fear caretaker Boyle bookends each story with gleefully grim humor and twisted moral lessons. Artist James Hislope does a stellar job of setting the tone for the anthology with these bookends, producing some great horror art in his depictions of Boyle’s hilariously gruesome duties. James Powell’s script is terrific as well; he gives Boyle an appropriately demented personality that’s 50% ominous proclamations and 50% spooky puns.

A two-page comic book spread. A blonde boy in a blue coat fights three evil snowmen while his friends escape.
“Attack of the Killer Snowmen” from House of Fear. Story written by James Powell, illustrated by Jethro Morales, inked by Mike Erandio, colored by Josh Jensen, and lettered by Matt Krotzer. Image: A two-page comic book spread. A blonde boy in a blue coat fights three evil snowmen while his friends escape. 

The book is a loving homage to the horror anthologies of the past, but it doesn’t feel like a throwback. That could just be my love of the format talking, but it really does come across like a fun, modern way to introduce a new generation of kids to the joys of horror comics. Jethro Morales’s art is dynamic and includes some wonderful kid-friendly scares, especially in my favorite story “Teeth,” which will make you wonder why you ever looked forward to a visit from the Tooth Fairy. I also loved “The Leaving” it was quite gratifying to see my supposedly irrational fear of leaf piles vindicated.

House of Fear: Attack of the Killer Snowmen and Other Spooky Stories is an exciting first volume in what I hope will be a long-running series. The world needs more middle grade horror comics like this one that manage to be both funny and legitimately creepy. The book even has a guide in the back on how to make your own comic books, so maybe the children reading this book will grow up and make their own horror comics one day. So if your kids start writing and drawing scary stories…don’t worry, that’s a good thing. Just keep them far, far away from leaf piles and they should be just fine.


Rating

I knew there was something in those leaf piles! I give this book 4 out of 5 coffins.

4 Coffins


 

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