Afraid of Everything

IDW. Jun. 2020. 96p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781684056279.
Gr 4-7–Originally funded as a Kickstarter, this graphic novel features an alphabet’s worth of spooky flash fiction, from arachnophobia to zoophobia. Eleven bonus stories at the end of the book cover fears of ghosts, aging, video games, vegetables, and more. Paired with each phobia is a playfully disturbing full-color depiction: a girl covered in spiders, a woman made of electricity, a boy tangled in plants. In the introduction, Tierney reminisces about the horror stories of his childhood and how, unfortunately, modern horror for kids has become much tamer; he hopes to provide some genuine scares for readers of all ages. With 40 phobias to cover, it’s no surprise that each entry is short, barely spanning a page. While this works perfectly with some pieces, others feel trite, with predictable “don’t look back” or “she was already dead” endings. What results is an uneven collection that eventually feels tiresome. Readers may also be put off by the mix of real and made-up phobias such as “yuckiphobia” and a few needlessly sexy illustrations.
VERDICT With easy-to-read tales and engaging art, this volume will likely entice elementary and middle grade readers, but it may not hold reader interest.

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