Don’t disturb the Restless Dead…

By Shawn Robare

Today I thought I’d take a moment to share one of the oldest books in my collection, not by publishing date, but a book that I’ve had for what seems like forever (it’s really only 20 years.) It’s a short book of ghost stories called The Restless Dead which I ordered from one of those awesome Troll book club fliers in the fifth grade. I’m not sure if elementary and middle schools are still pimping books through these types of book club fliers (I think there was also a Scholastic club and a third that I can’t remember the name of), but when I was a kid it was an exciting moment to get one of these order forms handed to me. They usually consisted of one sheet of colored newsprint folded in half (or maybe quarters) with sections on fiction, activity books, comic strip collections, and even stickers and posters as well. It was probably around Halloween in 1987 when I saw this book by Daniel Cohen listed…

The cover art totally sold me on the book and I’m know I rushed home and begged my mother to order it for me. Like the Halloween Horrors record I posted about earlier in the week, the artwork mesmerized me, and I’m sure I worked up a story that connected the ethereal figure of the lady on the cover of the book to the unfortunate ghost in the main story on the record.  I also live the skull worked into the clouds (and outlined by the spindly trees) behind the ghostly lady, as well as the super creepy shrouded figure in the background (who I can only assume is the reaper.)

There are a few generally scary or gruesome tales, my favorite of which revolves around a very demanding husband and his wife. He asks her to cook him a nice liver dinner, so she runs out to the market and fetches the best liver the meat monger has for sale. She then spends the afternoon slowly cooking it, taking little nibbles here and there to check on it. A little bit before her husband is due home she caves and devours the whole thing, feeling guilty and scared immediately afterward. Her solution is to go next door to the mortuary where an elderly lady who had just passed had been laid out by the mortician. She snatches the old lady’s liver and quickly cook sit for her husband. He loves the dinner, but then soon after the household is plagued by the ghost of the lady whose liver has been eaten. The husband finds out what happened and does the only thing that makes sense to him, which is to carve out his wife’s liver so that he can replace the one eaten.  It works like a charm.

How crazy of a tale is that?!? It reminds me of some of the more gruesome Grimm brother’s tales actually. I re-read the entire book (I say that like it was a challenge at it’s hefty 100 pages) and though some of the stories didn’t connect quite the same as they did when I was a kid, I still really enjoyed what Mr. Cohen had put together. Now, if I can find the time to break out Bunnicula and Samantha Slade: Monster Sitter…

  • Lady Vanessa

    First off, I LOoovveE your site! I completely make it manditory to come here. I think this shit’s cool. I was in Gr. 5. Mrs. Davidson, for a Halloween treat, decided to let us hear “”Bunnicula”” on cassette. Chester drags the raw steak out of the fridge and throws it on the poor unknowing bunny, THEN jumps up and down on it beacuse your supposed to ‘steak a vampire’…. Something in my 10 year old self snapped like the fart you try to stiffle in church. I laughed my ass off. So much so I was asked to leave class. I will NEVER forget that moment as long as I live. It is easily one of my most vivid memories. I just thought I’d share. *May there always be bats in your belfry* Lady Vanessa

  • Kyle

    I loved the book club fliers and the books, not to mention the “”book fairs”” we’d have once or twice a year. Daniel Cohen wrote many books of that era usually involving ghosts or horror. I remember reading several of them. Thanks for taking me back.