Spooky & The Strange Tales: Monster Inn Volume 1
Creators: Carine-M & Élian Black’mor
Review by Anelise Farris
It’s just about that time of the year where it is socially acceptable to enjoy the dark and creepy stuff that I embrace all year long. Whether you are a Halloween-all-year type of person, or just in the autumn spirit, Spooky & The Strange Tales: Monster Inn Volume 1 is here to fill that need. Spooky is a pre-teen, goth princess with a passion for scary stories (much to her parents’ dismay). In this volume, she is invited to visit her uncles (who are the three little pigs as rock stars) at their new inn in London. Seeing that Spooky is misunderstood by the inhabitants in her kingdom—humans and creatures alike—her parents are thrilled for Spooky to take the trip. Before she leaves, Spooky’s fairy godmother gifts her with a magic pen, a storybook, and the coolest thing ever: a t-shirt that has literal wings attached to the back.
Spooky & The Strange Tales: Monster Inn Volume 1 is all about Spooky’s adventures at her uncles’ inn. This is the inn of Spooky’s dreams: complete with an awesome kraken chimney, monsters who sleep on rather than under the bed, and a whole bunch of first-rate ghosts. We get to travel along with Spooky as she goes on a monster tour through London, views a performance of “Little Shop of Horrors,” and, of course, helps solve a whole bunch of mysteries at the inn. The mysteries range from missing jam, to plants who have lost their heads, to pie complications—and all are pointing to one heroine that will be familiar to readers of fairy tales.
The influence of classic fairy tales—especially Brothers Grimm—is strong in Spooky & The Strange Tales: Monster Inn Volume 1, but it never comes across as forced. The familiar fairy-tale tropes and classic monster lore is carefully balanced with the novelty of Spooky’s own stories and experiences. This is a journal-style book, so it is filled with a montage of doodles, pictures, and lists. Fortunately, the collage-feel manages to be mesmerizing rather than overwhelming, and there are even activities sprinkled throughout to engage the reader. As one might expect, in Spooky & The Strange Tales: Monster Inn Volume 1 the creators explore a variety of different art styles and mediums, and there is fantastic mix of bold and pastel colors alike. Each page is surprising, and that makes this book a whole lot of unexpected fun!
Verdict: Buy it! Fun for younger and older readers alike, Spooky & The Strange Tales: Monster Inn Volume 1 is a delightful read anytime of the year. But, as October has arrived, it might be the perfect time to get some tips from Spooky on how to manage those pesky upstairs ghosts!