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Stories to Keep You Alive Despite Vampires

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About The Book

This fourth wall–breaking middle grade collection of spooky, scary, and spoopy stories for fans of Lemony Snicket and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark might just help you survive the night in a house full of vampires.

If you are reading this book, then you must be trapped in that spooky house with those vampires. Sorry about that.

But! You might just make it out if you manage to tell them one scary story each night in accordance with standard vampire rules. Don’t know any scary stories? Good thing you found this book! Every tale in this tome is true…more or less (more more than less).

You get a little bit of everything in this monster mash: from hitchhiking phantoms to women in white, a carnivore beast that loves a good vacation to a haunted mannequin with a bug problem, killer phones, concerned werewolves, you name it. Everything you need to keep those vampires on the edge of their seats—and well away from your neck.

But beware…don’t get too comfortable. Names have power, and if you whisper about too many things in the dark, they might just hear you.

Excerpt

The Phantom of the Hitchhiker: The Hitchhiker Who Was the Phantom of a Hitchhiker

THE PHANTOM OF THE HITCHHIKER:
The Hitchhiker Who Was the Phantom of a Hitchhiker

There was a guy driving around, right? Nothing strange about that. In fact, it was pretty fun and great for the guy. He was sixteen years old, this guy, and driving a car was a whole new way for him to be in the world. He had just gotten his driver’s license, and he was driving around, as I said.

Now, he had a coat on, this guy, because of how it was autumn. Even though he was in his car and it wasn’t even that super cold out, just crisp.

Oh, I should also mention that it was night out. So. Very. Night.

The guy didn’t care how night it was, though. His car had headlights!

Suddenly, around a quarter of the way through this story, the guy’s car’s headlights shone on a person. A girl around the same age as the guy stood by the side of Foxhound Road with her thumb out.

She was hitchhiking.

The guy decided to pick her up. He pulled over, popped the locks open, smiled, and gave her a friendly “come on in” wave. The hitchhiker put her thumb back to its normal position and slipped into the car as quiet as a hundred librarians.

“Where are you headed?” the guy asked. “My name’s RJ,” he said in a voice that felt about three years older than he was. The guy thought nineteen-year-olds had it all figured out.

Rather than answer the guy with words, like you’re supposed to, because of manners, this hitchhiker just pointed.

Spooky, right? A little.

The guy would drive, and the hitchhiker would point, and the guy would drive where she pointed. A few times, the guy would try to talk to her. He liked to think, as some do, that the driver is the host of the car.

“Nice night,” he’d say. She didn’t say anything back or even nod.

“You go to school around here?” he asked, wondering if she went to any of the nearby schools and also wondering why she wasn’t even nodding or shaking her head, if talking wasn’t her thing.

It was getting spookier because while she wasn’t shaking her head, the guy in this story, I think his name is RJ, noticed she was shivering.

He’s nice. He offered her his coat, which she took without ever taking her eyes off the road ahead. He offered to turn on the heater, but she was back to guiding him using only her pointing pointer finger.

Down this road. Up another. Turn right. That sort of thing. You know how driving works. So they got to a cul-de-sac. The hitchhiker pointed one final point, to the top of a long driveway. She closed her fist as if to say “stop” and he stopped. She got out, quieter than when she got in.

Now, this driveway? It’s a little totally spooky. There’s, like, mist or something, but not only that.

Foreshadowing of some sort happens here. You just know the guy’s gonna come back tomorrow to get his coat (that he is forgetting to get back just now), and he’s going to find out something strange about this hitchhiker who, as far as he knows at this point, is not a phantom at all, so much as, he thinks, she is an alive person.

It’s late. The guy drives home. On his way, he remembers about his coat. He even says out loud, “Oh! My coat!” He decides he’ll get it the next day because he’s closer to home than the cul-de-sac.

About The Author

Photograph by Maarten de Boer

Ben Acker is best known as the cocreator and writer of The Thrilling Adventure Hour, a monthly comedic variety stage show and podcast in the style of old-timey radio. That would have been enough. Acker has written for television, comic books, and actual radio. Stories to Keep You Alive Despite Vampires is his first book about defeating vampires with the power of storytelling.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (August 29, 2023)
  • Length: 192 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781665917018
  • Grades: 5 and up
  • Ages: 10 - 99
  • Lexile ® 710L The Lexile reading levels have been certified by the Lexile developer, MetaMetrics®
  • Fountas & Pinnell™ W These books have been officially leveled by using the F&P Text Level Gradient™ Leveling System

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Raves and Reviews

"Offering unexpected twists on established tropes, this collection will delight horror fans."

-Kirkus Reviews, 11/1/2022

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