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Book Review: ‘Tales from the Haunted Mansion Volume 3: Grim Grinning Ghosts’ by John Esposito

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Off Route 13, down a long, overgrown drive, sits an old decaying mansion. Within the mansion are winding halls, stairs to nowhere, and doors that are best left closed. The rooms are filled with items that tell the tales of the 999 guests. In charge of all these artifacts and tales is Amicus Arcane.  Of course, it’s great to curate these tales, but it’s even better to share them. And that’s exactly why Tales from the Haunted Mansion Volume 3: Grim Grinning Ghosts exists, to satisfy the guests’ need to share their stories. Are you brave enough to come inside, sit down with Amicus, and hear his tales?

[Warning: My review of Tales from the Haunted Mansion Volume 3: Grim Grinning Ghosts contains some spoilers!

Always room for one more at the Haunted Mansion

Marge, Declan, and Pasquale are not the most honest of people. But even crooks need to eat. These three decide to take on an “honest” if somewhat sketchy job. All they have to do is deliver three crates to a mysterious house in the middle of nowhere. The map to the house is on some odd material that gives everyone who touches it the creeps. And with good reason. They should have walked away from the job. But money talks. So the three follow the map and meet Amicus Arcane. He won’t pay them until they bring the crates, unpack them, and place the items where they belong in the house. 

The three enter the creepy old mansion and begin opening the first crate. As they open the piano, Amicus begins to read them a story from a book simply titled “Volume III”. The tale involves a piano prodigy, a lonely girl, and a recently deceased piano teacher. By the end of the tale, it becomes obvious that the story isn’t just a writer’s fancy, and the piano isn’t just any piano.

Marge and Pasquale want to leave but Declan is looking to score before he leaves, and Amicus wants them to finish the job, and hear the rest of his tales. The two remaining crates contain a sarcophagus and an evil-feeling door. Amicus has a tale for each of them. Declan, Marge, and Pasquale have little choice but to stick around for the stories, but will they be staying even longer? There is always space for one more at the Haunted Mansion, perhaps they can squeeze in three.

A really cute little anthology

When I saw this book I had to have it. I love scary stories and I cut my reading teeth on ghost story anthologies. With the new Haunted Mansion movie coming out on July 26th I was even more interested. These may be scary stories, but they are from Disney, so you know they’re not going to be that scary. 

Haunted Mansion
The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland (image via Wikipedia)

I can easily see six-year-old me reading this book over and over. Of course, that’s me and I’m not exactly normal, so it’s probably more aimed at nine or ten-year-old readers. Even so, I think that adult readers could read this as a quick, easy read (I call them stupid fun books) and enjoy it plenty. This book is a perfect introduction to scary stories for kids because the stories are just a little creepy, but mostly they’re funny so there won’t be any nightmares, even if they read them after dark!

Tying the anthology stories to the items that Marge, Pasquale, and Declan are delivering is a nice touch. As is the whole delivery story in the first place. It not only gives a framework for introducing each story, but it also firmly anchors them to the haunted mansion and the larger story. We also get a fourth scary story to enjoy along the way! I have always had an affinity for embedded narratives and Tales from the Haunted Mansion Volume 3: Grim Grinning Ghosts is a lovely nest of multiple story layers that really appealed to me.

Cute little details

Tales from the Haunted Mansion Volume 3: Grim Grinning Ghosts is set up as stories within a story within a narration. Yeah, a lot of layers. But those layers allow for lots of little details that added to the fun of this book. First, the book is based on The Haunted Mansion ride at Disney World (all the worlds…). But what most people don’t realize is that the Haunted Mansion is in all the different Disney theme parks but it’s not the same ride in all the parks. Each Haunted Mansion looks different and is set up differently inside with different back stories of how/why the house exists. 

Tales from the Haunted Mansion Volume 3: Grim Grinning Ghosts pays homage to these differences by weaving them into the mythos of The Haunted Mansion. I really liked that Esposito used the differences instead of ignoring them. It made me smile as I read the different descriptions and connected them to the different parks in my head. Grim Grinning Ghosts is the subtitle of Tales from the Haunted Mansion and lines from the song are sprinkled liberally throughout the book as well. Having sung that song since I was a little girl, it was more nostalgia that had me grinning as I read.

Tales from the Haunted Mansion Volume 3 is spooky fun for all ages

Some people only think of scary stories in October but I think that they are perfect all year round. Tales from the Haunted Mansion Volume 3: Grim Grinning Ghosts is a perfect example of this. Whether it’s bright and sunny, or dark and stormy these stories are going to entertain. They’re just spooky enough to tantalize a young reader without overstimulating them. And just funny enough to entertain an adult without stupefying them.

Esposito hits that happy medium that gives this book appeal across the board with all different readers. If the new Haunted Mansion movie coming out later this month has caught your attention then Tales from the Haunted Mansion Volume 3: Grim Grinning Ghosts deserves some of your time as well!

My Rating: 7/10


Tales from the Haunted Mansion Volume. 3: Grim Grinning Ghosts is available now! Are you excited for Disney’s Haunted Mansion? Let us know on Twitter or in The Cosmic Circus Discord.

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Luna Gauthier

I've always been a bookworm and fantasy is my favortie genre. I never imagined (okay, I imagined but I didn't think) that I could get those books sent to me for just my opinion. Now I am a very happy bookworm! @Lunagauthier19 on Twitter

Luna Gauthier has 228 posts and counting. See all posts by Luna Gauthier