Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Guest Post: : The Spooktacular Stories of Roald Dahl

Vagrarian here: I'm proud to introduce D&C's first guest blogger, Sara! I'm glad she wanted to come aboard, and I hope she'll come back soon. And now, let me hand the microphone over to her...

Roald Dahl is, of course, most popular for his excellent children's stories, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, and The BFG. Many of his novels have been made into movies with great success. He was, by all accounts, one of the most celebrated children's writers of all time.

And yet what of his adult stories?

Most people are unaware that Dahl even wrote for adults, let alone that his work was any good. But it was—at least according to the judges of the Edgar Awards. Dahl won three of them: one for the collection Someone Like You, one for a story titled "The Landlady," and one for a Tales of the Unexpected episode based on his short story, "Skin."

The short stories are spooky writing at its best—twisted, macabre, and chilling in a way that stays with you for hours or even days after reading. Here are the best of the best.

"Lamb to the Slaughter" is my personal favorite Dahl story. It's found in the anthology Skin (along with the fantastic title story) and features a violent murder with a particularly interesting weapon—a frozen leg of lamb. After using the leg to get rid of her husband, the main character roasts and serves it to the police officers who arrive to investigate the crime. Does it get any better than that?!

"The Landlady" sounds a bit boring in summary—a young man takes up a room at a boardinghouse that's run by a strange lady—and yet is riveting in tone and character. As the reader grows more and more unsettled, the story clamps like a vice grip and becomes ever more captivating. You can listen to "The Landlady" here and find it in the anthology Kiss, Kiss, among others.

"Royal Jelly" rounds out my trio of recommendations, and it can also be found in Kiss, Kiss. I don't want to give away the twist to this one, so I'll just give you the basics: Albert and Mabel are new parents of a little daughter who is born frail and ill. Mabel frets constantly about the baby being underweight and growing dangerously sick until Albert tries slipping a bit of royal jelly into the baby's bottle. The jelly seems to do the trick . . . at first.

Though these are a few of Dahl's most standout stories, all are truly brilliant and deserve a good read. You can find most of them in the anthologies Kiss, Kiss, Someone Like You, The Umbrella Man and Other Stories, Skin and Other Stories, Switch Bitch, Tales of the Unexpected, and The Roald Dahl Omnibus.

This post was contributed by Sara Bimmel, who writes about Halloween costumes over at StarCostumes.com.