I love telling scary stories. So when I found out about a new book written by one of America’s great storytellers, I immediately ordered it. Did I like it?
Prepare to Scare is a book written by storyteller Elizabeth Ellis about telling scary stories. She delves into topics ranging from ‘why tell scary stories’ to ‘how to end a scary story session safely.’ The book includes writing tips and sample story fragments.
I bought the book, I read the book, and in this review, I will tell you about what I liked and what I missed.
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💡 The links to books on this page are affiliate links to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Whenever you buy something after clicking on such a link, I get a little percentage. This costs you nothing but helps me make this website possible. Thanks!
Prepare to Scare: What I Liked
I liked this book for several reasons.
First, you can feel that the author is a storyteller and a writer. So often, storytellers ramble on when they write. Not in this book. The writing is crisp, clear, and logical.
This book can indeed be called a guide to telling scary stories: it gives all the help you need and answers all the questions.
Second, while Elizabeth Ellis wrote this book, she also sourced a lot of other experienced storytellers. They add to the material throughout the book and give their tips and helpful questions.
Third, as a storyteller myself, I am happy with how the author makes it very clear how important the connection with your listeners is.
I have a lot of experience with telling scary stories to young children. She discusses how you can tell that they are frightened and work with that. Adding how important it is to resolve the story and make sure the evil thing dies at the end. I know from experience that what she writes is true.
Prepare To Scare: What I Missed
I found this book to be a thorough book on telling scary stories. Therefore, I wholeheartedly can recommend it. It probably will be a classic for many years to come.
What I missed in the book is the connection to the bigger world of scary stories beyond oral storytelling. Creepypastas on YouTube, scary movies and series (Stranger Things), scary games children like to play (Squid Game), etc.
This book is firmly rooted in the world of books, with an amazing bibliography. However, I think it could be even better if it included more information about what you can find online about scary stories. Think websites of stories (americanfolklore.net etc.) and websites of storytellers specializing in scary stories.
That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am thankful for the author sharing her wealth of knowledge and her connection with other storytellers.
About the author: Storyteller Elizabeth Ellis
Storyteller Elizabeth Ellis has been telling stories since 1978. She has been recognized as one of America’s foremost storytellers by the National Storytelling Network. Besides telling ghost stories/scary stories, she also tells many stories about great women.
While it is great that you can watch videos, nothing beats a live performance. So whenever you get the chance, go and listen to her live! She frequently performs at festivals throughout the USA.
‘Prepare to Scare’ is not he first book she has written. I also read ‘Inviting the Wolf in: Thinking About Difficult Stories’ (link to Amazon), which she co-authored with Loren Niemi. It is a book I will surely read again.
You can find her other books here (link to Amazon).
Final thoughts & Sources
I liked the bibliography included in the book. Where other books include a long list at the end of the book, Elizabeth Ellis has taken the time to include suggested reading throughout the book. Not only that, she explains in a few sentences why each book would be a good read.
My conclusion is that this book is a good buy for everyone who wants to learn how to tell scary stories. It is equally helpful for storytellers who already have some experience and want to go deeper.
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