Baseball, Ghosts, and Hamsters REVIEWING Tales from the Haunted Mansion Vol. 1

Welcome foolish mortals!! 

It is Magic Monday here at The Real World According to Sam and I have a fun book to review today. Today's Magic Monday book is based on the classic Disney Park attraction, The Haunted Mansion. 

Tales from the Haunted Mansion Volume 1: The Fearsome Foursome

Author: Amicus Arcane; John Esposito
Genre: Children's Horror
Year: 2016

Tales from the Haunted Mansion Volume 1: The Fearsome Foursome


Welcome, foolish mortals, to the lonesome library of the Haunted Mansion.

In this bone-chilling book, you will read the terrifying tales of the Fearsome Foursome -- four kids who try to out-scare each other with frightening fictions of their own. But just wait until they hear my spooky stories. Who am I? I am Amicus Arcane, your librarian and host. Your Ghost Host. So read on... if you dare!


Having been to both Disney parks in the U.S. and having ridden both Haunted Mansion rides, this book intrigued me. I like the Haunted Mansion a lot. It is fun and spooky without disgusting me (I can't do gore and gruesome things, it freaks me out to no end, so haunted houses and horror movies are typically not my cup of tea). I can read horror, but can't watch or experience it for amusement. The Haunted Mansion is family friendly and for me, very palatable. I know quite a few of the general stories and am familiar with some of the characters in the Mansion such as the bride in the attic, the Hatbox Ghost, and the Hitchhiking Ghosts. I also enjoyed the Haunted Mansion movie starring Eddie Murphy that came out when I was a kid in elementary school and have seen it numerous times (every Halloween). So I know about it a fair amount. 

This book takes on a different premise. It wants to share some more stories of the mansion's inhabitants, while throwing in a lot of references to the ride. This book is written at a children's level and features four kids as the main characters, apart from Amicus Arcane. The idea is that these four kids love telling each other scary stories and call themselves the Fearsome Foursome. One day, when planning to get together, they find that a storm has destroyed their usual headquarters, but they also find four invitations to a different location. This location ends up being the Mansion, where they meet Amicus Arcane, a bonus narrator in the story. At the Mansion, Arcane tells the group four stories, of which each one of them is the star, all leading up to a twist ending reminiscent of Goosebumps in some ways. 

The first story tells about a cursed baseball glove and a deceased baseball player. The second involves a pet hamster, back from the dead. The third is about a boy, his awful stepdad, and a monster in a swimming pool. The final story is about another boy, who is considered cool, and how badly he wishes to be the king of dares. Each story is very relatable from a kids' perspective as far as personalities and casual conflicts go, before becoming twisted by some pretty standard horror tropes. The stories are each a few chapters long, with chapters in between to push the main story along before transitioning into the next short story. Throughout every story, there are interjections in an alternate font by Amicus Arcane. Arcane inserts a lot of commentary and remarks that will be familiar to fans of the attraction. These are often humorous and at times, reminiscent of the kind of commentary found in the A Series of Unfortunate Events books. Additionally, in each story and throughout the book, there are some black and white illustrations, done by Kelley Jones. I found the illustrations to be enjoyable and just the right amount of spooky for what the book is. 

I enjoyed this book and these stories for a few reasons. I really enjoyed the use of baseball and sea monsters for two of the stories, since these are two things I already read a lot about as it is. The hamster story was fair, although largely simplistic overall. I think it was my least favorite of the four. The fourth story involving the dares was also enjoyable, since it is thematically about how a kid (or character in general) can allow hubris and competition to get the better of them. I've read quite a bit of classic literature with hubris as a fatal flaw, and while this isn't classic literature by any stretch of the imagination, I just enjoy stories with hubris as a means of growth or ultimate failure. It is perpetually appealing to human nature and I think it is applied to contemporary ideas very well in this instance. 

The main issues with this book is thinking up what exact target demographic it is. Average kids may not have enough experience with the ride to fully enjoy it, and older fans may not be interested in reading a kids' level version of the story. Older horror fans definitely won't go for it, and the horror element in of itself isn't really creepy or scary. Disney fans will enjoy this a lot, and any kid who has been to the Parks might get a lot of enjoyment from it. I feel like it is a very niche potential group though. 

Due to my experience with the ride and parks, as well as my personal enjoyment of children's books and non-gruesome horror, I liked this book a lot. I give it a Lone Star rating of ✯✯✯. It's generally light, it's fun, it's the Haunted Mansion. For me, there is a lot of love and smile about. 

Thanks for tuning in to this installment from The Real World According to Sam, where I bring the books straight to your computer screen and even put in my own two cents on them.