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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Short Story Saturday: The Perfects by Jennifer Allison

In Jennifer Allison's "The Perfects," 15 year old Hannah and her family have just moved to the empty, creepy little town of Entrails, Michigan -- right nextdoor to the Perfects.  When Mrs. Perfect comes over unexpectedly and asks Hannah to babysit, Hannah thinks she's in for just another typical babysitting job (kids love her), but the Perfects are less than typical.  And Hannah may have bitten off more than she can chew...

Stine calls this story one of his favorites in the anthology partly because of its first line -- and it was because of this first line that I decided to start the anthology with this story:
"The chances are pretty good that I'm going to be killed before daylight, and I can't help but think this never would have happened if we hadn't moved to Entrails, Michigan."
 I don't think Entrails, Michigan, really exists (though I wouldn't be completely surprised.  We do have Hell, after all...), but I too was really grabbed by that line.  I thought I was in for a pretty creeptastic story, and for the most part, I was right.  The Perfect children watch surgery TV while they eat their dinners of ultra-rare steaks.  The youngest Perfect, a toddler, seems to either have gone missing or been a product of Hannah's imagination, because none of the other Perfects claim to know what she's talking about.  There are creepy dolls everywhere.

It was slightly hard for me to get into the story the way I wanted because I felt like I knew where it was going and had read it before, on top of the fact that it felt younger than I was prepared for.  But I think the reason I felt this way was because I probably had read something like this before, and many times over, because I was a voracious creepy-sh*t reader when I was a kid.  At the age I would have had to have this book, I think this actually would have seemed really fresh and eerie to me, and may even have stood out as one of my favorites (haven't read the whole book, so I can't confirm this yet).  As an adult, it didn't get my heart pumping (and I'm not sure if it would have as a kid), but it did make me smile in a "this is sick" way.  And I appreciated that.  In the end, I think this story will certainly find an audience with the middle-grade, Stine-set.

And if you want to know why I am including this tale in September Zombies, well ... you're just going to have to read the story, aren't you?

Found in the middle grade horror anthology Fear, edited by RL Stine --->


  1. I once read a book by R.L. Stine when I was 11 years old and it literally gave me nightmares for weeks on end.. So I have a personal resolution never to touch anything he has written or edited, even though I know I am probably older and wiser now :) This looks like a good read, but well.. I guess I'll stick to my resolution just a little longer.

  2. I have never read any of Stine's short stories. I didn't even know he had any or that he edited collections. I guess I should pay more attention!

  3. I have read two books by R.L. Stine, but like Irisonbooks I had nightmares for many days. So I don't really know if I'll read this one.

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