Book Reviews · Horror · Young Readers/Middle Grade Fiction

Tales from the Haunted Mansion

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, one of my favorite Disney attractions is the Haunted Mansion. I’ve read and reviewed a couple of Haunted Mansion-centric titles this year, including The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering A Disney Classic and Disney Kingdoms: The Haunted Mansion.

A few days into FrightFall, I decided to read the Tales from the Haunted Mansion series, released by Disney Press. The authorial credit for these books is attributed to Amicus Arcane, the Haunted Mansion’s ghostly librarian, but they have been “transcribed” by author John Esposito.

The first book in the series is The Fearsome Foursome. This book introduces the reader to Willa, Tim, Noah, and Steve, four middle schoolers who love to read and tell scary stories. Together they form a group that they call the Fearsome Foursome.

When their regular meeting place is damaged during a storm, the Fearsome Foursome find themselves invited to a strange mansion across town. As they explore, they discover the mansion’s library, and meet its resident librarian.

The librarian claims that he can tell them “the scariest stories of all,” and proceeds to read them four stories that feature each of them as the main character (Arcane 27).

The second book in the series, Midnight at Madame Leota’s, follows a young man named William, who is attempting to contact his sister, who has passed away.

Having visited (and subsequently debunked) a number of mediums during his attempts to contact his sister’s spirit, William decides to commemorate her birthday by visiting her grave at the Eternal Grace Cemetery.

A chance meeting with the librarian soon gives William hope that Madame Leota might be able to help him where other mediums have failed. However, before William has the opportunity to meet her, the librarian brings him to the Haunted Mansion’s library to tell him four spooky stories about some of the mansion’s other inhabitants.

Book three in the series is Grim Grinning Ghosts. This book follows Declan (who has recently been released from jail), along with Marge and Pasquale, as they deliver three mysterious crates to the Haunted Mansion after dark.

When they arrive, they are met by the librarian, who instructs them to place and open the crates in specific rooms within the mansion. Contained within the crates are a piano, a sarcophagus, and a wooden door. As each item is revealed, the librarian shares its haunting story with them.

The fourth, and final, book in the series is Memento Mori. This book, which was published in time for the Disneyland attraction’s 50th anniversary, tells the story of a writer named Prudence Pock.

This book takes place at the Shepperton Sanitarium, where Prudence resides alongside other patients who claim to have seen ghosts.

When she is visited by a psychiatrist named Dr. Ackerman, Prudence shares three spooky tales from the Haunted Mansion with him in an effort to make the doctor believe in ghosts himself.

As a whole, I really enjoyed reading the entire Tales from the Haunted Mansion series. Since the series was written for a middle grade audience, I personally did not find any of the stories the librarian (or Prudence) told particularly scary. That being said, I thought that all of the stories were very cleverly written, and I enjoyed the main narratives that wove each of them together.

I also really liked the illustrations, which were created by Kelley Jones. They really add to the overall spooky atmosphere of the books.

Perhaps my favorite thing about these books was the number of references to the Haunted Mansion attraction itself. There were a lot of moments where I found myself smiling because of things and characters I recognized from the ride, and I caught myself humming the ride’s “Grim Grinning Ghosts” song multiple times while I was reading.

If I had to choose a favorite from among the books, I would probably choose Grim Grinning Ghosts. I really liked that the stories were centered around objects, rather than people…especially since the piano and door are objects that fans of the Disney attraction will be very familiar with.

If you are a fan of the Haunted Mansion attraction, or you enjoy middle grade horror, then I would definitely recommend checking out the Tales from the Haunted Mansion series for yourself. It’s a great series that I had a lot of fun reading.

Happy spooky reading!

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