Despite being marketed for young adults, only the first story, “Who’s At the Door” seems fully crafted for a teen audience. Clearly influenced by RL Stine and Christopher Pike, authors that Bratton cites as favorites, this suspenseful tale of a teenager, a doorbell, and the supernatural is the collection’s most fully developed, offering engaging twists on a perennial ghost story. The Silicon Valley-set “Parasomnia” takes on the tension between science and the paranormal, with an edge of romance, but its fleeting attempts to explain scientific concepts key to the narrative (“hypnopompic hallucinations”) confuse rather than clarify. “Dollhouse” actually has three stories within it, tales so short that there’s not much room for a sense of unease or terror to develop.
Bratton favors dialogue-driven storytelling, often even revealing the narrator’s inner thoughts this way, an approach not ideally suited to horror, as the emphasis on what people are saying over what they’re seeing, feeling, and doing doesn’t offer much opportunity for dread or terror to mount. Still, readers may appreciate Bratton’s quick doses of horror if they’re looking for paranormal mystery or a quick adrenaline rush. Able to be enjoyed in one sitting, Things That Go Bump In the Night will spook teen and adult readers, whether they’re afraid of their alarm system, nightmares, or that old doll in the attic.
Takeaway: These quick doses of horror have enough jolt to engage teen readers.
Great for fans of: Stephanie Perkins’ There’s Someone Inside Your House, Katie Alender’s Bad Girls Don’t Die.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: A