Bites: Scary Stories to Sink Your Teeth Into By Lois Metzger

Review É eBook, PDF or Kindle ePUB Ó Lois Metzger


Chilling, original tales about vampires and other creatures that bite, from some of today's best authors, including Christopher Paul Curtis, Neal Shusterman, Peter Lerangis, and more.

Are you ready for spine-tingling tales by some of today's best writers? Just keep in mind a few simple warnings:

-Some vampires don't want just your blood . . . they want something even more valuable.
-Werewolves, once dead, don't always stay that way.
-Some dogs and coyotes may look normal--but don't get too close.

Remember...what you don't know can bite you.
Bites: Scary Stories to Sink Your Teeth Into

These short stories sharing the common theme of bites (werewolves, ghost dogs, vampires, etc.) are perfectly appropriate for the middle school classroom. All of these tales are modern and not too hard to read for your average young teen, and its not that easy to find a book like that, trust me. Like Twilight Zone episodes with ironic twists at the end, most of these are narrated with authentic, modern-day teen voices. Going Old School in the Obama Age is awful and pointless, but the rest of the stories range from okay to good. I recommend this to any boy who enjoyed Curse of the Campfire Weenies despite its ridiculous title, and I recommend that one to any kids who enjoy this one that is more appropriately marketed to tweens and younger teens. 128 Bites by Lois Metzger is a fantastic but yet interesting book. It literally made me sick into its feigning and scary stories by each chapter and had my attention for sure. I can recommend this book to people who like that mystery, scary type of book and for people who love a short scary time. I currently finished this book and it was good. One of the best books I can recommend and a book I loved! 128 This is a great anthology! It wasn't overly scary to me, but I can imagine that it would have a decent scare-factor for kids. I wrote summaries and review for each of the seven short stories:

Perpetual Pest by Neal Shusterman and Terry Black
Mark and his older, juvenile delinquent brother, Rudy, are going grave-digging in order to find something to sell. Mark desperately wants some new sneakers so he can do well on the basketball team, but his mom doesn't have the money to buy them. Rudy was the one who talked Mark into coming with him to Petpetual Rest graveyard (now called Perpetual Pest because the r on the sign is broken), but now Mark is having second thoughts. It is seriously creepy in the graveyard. When Rudy reveals their targeted grave and how the woman died, Mark wants to cut and run. But Rudy won't leave, and Mark is too afraid to go through the graveyard on his own. Will either of them survive the night?

This is a nice, straightforward story, and a great introduction to the anthology. Not too scary, but not wimpy either. It's very easy to sympathize with Mark, especially when he figures everything out looong before his brother. 3 stars.

Ghost Dog by Ellen Wittlinger

Jack just moved from Chicago to the middle of nowhere, where his mom grew up. He's having a hard time adjusting, and his only real friend is Travis, with whom he rides his bike through the woods. Travis warns Jack not to talk to Hawkins, an old man who sits on his porch all day. When Hawkins asks Jack to look for his lost dog one day, Jack does as he asks, even though Travis insists that the dog is dead. When Jack and Travis come across the dog in the woods, Jack comes to believe that the dog isn't really a ghost. Only one of them can be right...

I'll admit, even I didn't figure this one out before the end, and I'm usually quite good at picking up on hints. There's a definite creep factor here, although it's not until the very end when everything comes to light. 5 stars.

Going Old School in the Age of Obama by Christopher Paul Curtis

Maurice is a vampire, trapped in the hell that is middle school gym class with a sadistic teacher who allows the bigger kids to beat the weaker kids to an often bloody pulp during their weekly dodgeball tournaments. Maurice wants nothing more than to take Darnell - the head of The Men's team - down. Can he work up the courage to stand up for himself?

This one was not my favorite. It was probably the political language that really did it in for me. Referring to vampires as essentially third class citizens (meaning that minorities are second class citizens) really irked me. Because of that, I wasn't really able to enjoy the story. Maurice was a cute character, though, and I felt his pain. Gym class is tough for anyone not in the top 5% of athletics. 2 stars.

Anasazi Breakdown by Douglas Rees

Darcy and her mother are visiting the ruins of an ancient civilization in New Mexico. Darcy steals a shard of pottery as a Christmas present for her mother, thinking it will be the perfect way to memorialize a trip that her father had always wanted to make with them. But when their truck breaks down on the way out of town, and her mother can't get a signal on her cell phone to call for a tow truck, Darcy is left all alone in the middle of the desert to wait for her mother to return with help. Will she survive on her own in the wilderness?

Poor Darcy. Her father just died, and now she and her mother are embarking on a trip that he had always wanted the three of them to make. But after Darcy steals that shard of pottery in a loving gesture for her mother, nothing goes right. Native American mythology is always a plus. 4 stars.

The Coffin Deliveries by Kevin Emerson

One day, Tyler and Jamie witness something very odd on the way home from school: A coffin is being delivered to 14 Simmons Street. Jamie is something of an amateur reporter, and by the lunch the next day she has a good chunk of the story - and another mystery: Pets are disappearing from the neighborhood. Tyler isn't really sure what's going on, but as the days go on, the coffins pile up and more neighborhood pets go missing. Can Tyler and Jamie figure out who is behind this rash of disappearances, and what the coffins are for, before it's too late?
This was such a cute story, very Nancy Drew-esque. Lots of mystery and intrigue, plus schoolyard gossip. Add in the twist at the end, and you've got yourself a winner. 4 stars.

Where Wolves Never Wander by Joshua Gee

Old Gretchen is watching seven young pups for the night. When one of the young pups complains about having to keep silent for the humans, Gretchen decides that this would be a good time to tell the pups that humans aren't really a myth. She launches into a story about her brother, the night he disappeared, and how he faced a fate worse than death.

This was a very interesting premise. The wolf pups all believe that humans are a myth, and their caretaker, Old Gretchen, is one of the few who knows othewise. She weaves a tale of adventure, peril and heartbreak for her wee charges, and it's clear the pups are just as captived as the reader. 5 stars.

I, Blooder by Peter Lerangis

Ferrous is a vampire. Well, he should be anyway. But instead, some genetic anomaly made him a freak - completely human, living in a vampire's world. He's out one night with his friend Max when Grigsby shows up and demands that Ferrous come with him to the Ichor Institute. What they find there chills them to their very bones.

This was probably my favorite of the whole anthology. I loved what the vampires were capable of and the whole concept of the Ichor Institute. Ferrous is a very sympathetic character. I hope that, sometime in the future (if he hasn't already), the author continues this story. 5 stars.

This was my first time reading all of these authors, but after reading Bites there are a few that I would like to explore further. And although there were some stories I enjoyed more than others, I would still say this anthology is a complete success.

5/5 stars. 128 Funny stories I never expected :)
The collection had vampires, werewolves... and something else I forgot :/ 128 A funny collection of short horror stories with satire, twists and political commentary. IF you ever liked the TV series Are You Afraid of the Dark?, you will like this one too.

My favourite ones: Perpetual Pest, Anasazi Breakdown, Where the Wolves Never Wander, Going Old School in the Age of Obama, Ghost Dog. 128

Sink you teeth into 7 horror stories. None are bad but some are outstanding 128 I bought this books in hopes of having more scary stories to read to my classes around Halloween. Unfortunately these stories are not scary at all. None of them are likely to frighten even the youngest of my students. They aren't ideal for read-alouds either. I was pretty disappointed, but I'm hoping the companion book Bones will be a better read. 128 This was a very good book and had many good stories that I enjoyed. 128 This collection of seven short stories is all about the creatures of the night, from vampires, to werewolves to Ghosts or at least spirits. It is at times funny and at times frightening. It presents the creatures of the night in many new lights. This will entertain and surprise and maybe just cause you to reflect on the stereotypes you hold about creatures, though different from still creatures with feelings and their own outlook on life, afterlife or undead depending on how you look at them. The contributors are:

Neal Shusterman
Terry Black
Ellen Wittlinger
Christopher Paul Curtis
Douglas Rees
Kevin Emerson
Joshua Gee
Peter Lerangis

And now for a look at each of these morsels to give you a sampling of the flavor of these Bites.

Perpetual Pest
Neal Shusterman and Terry Black
Neal is an award winning author of more than 30 books for young adults. This is his first collaborative effort with Terry. Terry writes books, movies, TV and cartoons. He won an award for his work on Tales from the Crypt. Neil is best known for his novels Unwind, Full Tilt and The Shadow Club. In this tale two brothers break into the Perpetual Rest Cemetery to rob graves of their riches. But they find something they had not been expecting.

Ghost Dog
Ellen Wittlinger
Sometimes things are not always what they appear to be. In this wonderfully crafted tale, Jack had to move to the middle of nowhere after his parents divorce, and being summer break, he has met few people. The one friend he has tells him a story about a ghost dog. But maybe that isn't the only ghost in the story. Ellen has published 14 novels and won the Michael L. Printz Honor Award. Her most popular works included Sandpiper, Blind Faith, Parrotfish and Love and Lies.

Going Old School In The Age of Obama
Christopher Paul Curtis
Christopher, a former auto worker from Flint Michigan, has both a Newbery Honor and Medal book in The Watsons Go to Birmingham and Bud, Not Buddy. He has written numerous books for young adults. In the Age of Obama the vampires have come out of the woodwork and are accepted. They are the double hyphens - Vamp-Afro-American is the tag our hero wears. Maurice is a nice young vampire; he gets his blood from the bank, and would never imagine biting someone's throat … or that is until he has a vision from his grant grandpa.

Anasazi Breakdown
Douglas Rees
You are on a road trip with your mother after your father passes away. His dying wish was for you and your mom to make the trip the three of you had always planned. When in an Anasazi ruins, you see a piece of pottery, and even though you know you shouldn't, you snatch it up. But that is just the beginning of your problems - soon you twist your knee and the car breaks down. Is it all related? Douglas is a man of many talents, most known for his Vampire High, Smoking Mirror and Uncle Pirate. He has wanted to be a writer since he was 12 but it took him until he was 50 to publish his first novel. Both his Biography and his alternative biography are worth a read.

The Coffin Deliveries
Kevin Emerson (blog)
As the author of the immensely popular Oliver Nocturne, Kevin is no stranger to writing about the supernatural. You have witnessed 5 coffins being delivered to a house on your way to school. Pets are missing from all over the neighborhood. What would ever cause you to check out the back of the house? Could you end up becoming a guest of honor at a vampire dinner?

Where Wolves Never Wander
Joshua Gee (blog)
Joshua is the author of the award-winning book Encyclopedia Horrifica: The Terrifying TRUTH About Vampires, Ghosts, Monsters and More. This is a horror story told by wolves to young wolves to protect them and help them avoid a fate worse than death. Read and find out what the wolves are afraid of.

I, Blooder
Peter Lerangis
This was a fantastic story, about a young vampire who is different from all the others. First he is pink not pale white, second he does not have the powers the others have, but he also has strength they do not. He can tolerate the sun, and he can stay awake during the day. Written in part as a story and in part as a research paper with extensive footnotes, this was a great tale and could be worked into an excellent novel. Peter is an award-winning author with more than 160 books to his credit, including 2 of the 10 books in the immensely popular 39 Clues series.

All in all this was a fun collection presenting some very new twists on old tales and legends. Each author presented a convincing piece that was enjoyable to read. Usually when I read an anthology or collection like this one, there is often one that sticks out as the strongest or the weakest. That was not the case this time around. That would be a credit to Lois Metzger's editing.
128 I read this anthology's follow-up before I got to this anthology itself, largely because the follow-up had David Levithan, who I like better than any author here. It was a very weak anthology - the vast majority of the stories failed to be scary, or even mildly spooky, and they were consistently poorly written. I'm happy to say that's not the case here - in fact, this anthology was far, far superior. I'm not quite sure what the difference is; maybe the authors here are just better. But overall, there's a sense that these authors - and Metzger - are taking their audience more seriously than in Bones. Most of the stories still aren't genuinely scary, but they come much closer. Here, I can at least see how kids would find many of these stories scary. There are some exceptions of course, but I was still mostly surprised by how strong these stories were. So here's a story-by-story review:

Perpetual Pest by Neal Shusterman and Terry Black: 4/5

The story didn't make a strong impression on me at first. Sure, the writing was pretty good, and the authors accurately captured a nice sibling dynamic, but the situation fell back on cliches. It wasn't until the very end that the twist came, but boy, it was worth it. Without spoiling, I'll say that the book's last line gave the literal and metaphorical journey of gaining courage and strength much more engaging and twisted. It's similar to R.L. Stine's The Three-Eyed Man from Bones - both stories were made far more engaging and memorable by the twist, and they'd both be pretty mediocre without it. I was already planning to read Everlost by Shusterman before I read this short story, and now that I've read this story, I'm even more excited.

Ghost Dog by Ellen Wittlinger: 4/5

Ellen Wittlinger's presence was the only reason that I chose to buy this anthology - I would never have been interested in this kind of thing without her. But I'm a fan of a couple of her novels - Parrotfish and This Means War come to mind - and thankfully, she doesn't disappoint here. Like the last story, it's the twist at the end that really makes the story memorable, but they serve different purposes. Here, the twist serves to make things scarier and more ambiguous, whereas before, the twist served to complete a metaphorical journey. All things taken into account, Perpetual Pest's twist was more thematically interesting, but as far as scary stories go, Wittlinger's twist works pretty well. Also like the last story, this one leans on a lot of cliches early on, but it's also well-written, and the main character is captured well.

Going Old School in the Age of Obama by Christopher Paul Curtis: 1/5

This tries to be complex, and mostly fails. I'm glad Curtis is making an attempt not to pander to his audience, to present kids with something morally interesting, but it just doesn't work the way he wants to. The allegory of vampires representing a minority is cliched and tired, even for a lot of kids. Curtis fails to do anything interesting or original with it; he just rehashes the old tropes. More distressingly, The main character wasn't very interesting, and although the writing wasn't bad, Curtis's attempts to imitate the slang of kids was pretty painful. Overall, this was probably the worst story in the anthology - cliched, weird, and problematic.

Anasazi Breakdown by Douglass Rees: 4/5

I only wish the author had taken the premise further. Miraculously, he manages to write a horror story set in an ancient Native American site without anyone casting an Indian Curse on anybody's house. In fact, he manages to avoid most of the stereotypes associated with Native Americans in literature - the Native Americans aren't weird and mystical, there's no grand message about respecting their land, and Rees pulls on actual Native American mythology for the horror aspects. Coupled with a very well-developed main character in quite a short amount of time, the story is one of the best in the anthology. I only wish that Rees had taken the premise further. The horror aspects ended up being a little anti-climactic in the ending (reminiscent of the stories in Bones), and there's the implication that there's a lot more going on than what we're seeing. It makes me wish we saw some of that stuff. Nevertheless, this story was stronger than most of what I'd expect to see in an anthology for kids.

The Coffin Deliveries by Kevin Emerson: 2/5

If you're wondering about the kind of stories that are prominent in Bones, this is a pretty good example. This story starts off quite strong, but it gets progressively cheesier and cheesier as it goes along. To be honest, the only part I really enjoyed was Jamie's quirky and interesting characterization. If this were a story for older readers, it probably would've been partially a scary story, and partially an exploration of the narrator's relationship with her. That would've been interesting to read, and it makes me wish Emerson had saved Jamie for a story for older readers. Instead, we get a cheesy villain with a forgettable twist at the end. The idea - pets getting killed, basically - wasn't the least bit scary to me, and I doubt it would be even to younger readers. Overall, this was one of the weakest stories here.

Where Wolves Never Wander by Joshua Gee: 4/5

I was a bit on the fence on this one between three stars and four, but overall, I do think this was a fairly strong story, if weaker than some of the others. I've actually read Joshua Gee before - his short story Incident Report appeared in the anthology 666 The Number of the Beast. Of those two stories, I'd say this one was a lot stronger. The writing here, as it was in incident report, was excellent, and the premise here was pretty interesting. As with Anasazi Breakdown, though, I wish Gee took said premise further. We only see a glimpse of the world that he's built here, and I would've liked more details to be fleshed out, particularly regarding how wolves see humans. Still, the plot was strong and surprisingly suspenseful (if not very scary), and the character development was strong.

I, Blooder by Peter Lerangis: 5/5

Here, ladies and gentlemen, is the strongest story in this anthology and Bones. I never expected any story in either anthology to be this phenomenal. Lerangis does a lot of very fast worldbuilding, and while it relies a little on infodumps, they never get too long, and they're always interesting enough to carry through. (The footnotes also helped to spread out information, so the flow of the story was rarely interrupted by necessary worldbuilding.) More importantly, the world Lerangis built was genuinely interesting. The metaphor here stands in stark contrast to Going Old School in the Age of Obama. Here, the allegory for population control is original and surprisingly insightful. Lerangis doesn't come across like he's trying too hard to present something complex to kids, either. He just presents it as it is, and leaves people to make their own conclusions. All this is aided by the very well-rendered protagonist, with a strong voice. The plot was also engaging and suspenseful. Overall, this is one of the best short stories I've read, and in an anthology series with so many duds, it's quite refreshing.

Overall, this is a pretty good anthology, all things considered. It's certainly far stronger than Bones. There are definitely stronger anthologies out there, but it's not like there's a wide variety of horror anthologies for kids. If the premise interests you, go for it. 128