Only If You Dare: 13 Stories of Darkness and Doom

by Josh Allen (Author) Sarah J Coleman (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

Thirteen chilling short stories to keep you up at night--but only if you dare.

You never know what's out to get you. Though you might think you're safe from monsters and menaces, everyday objects can turn against you, too. A mysterious microwave. A threatening board game. A snowman that refuses to melt. Even your own heartbeat has its secrets. Thu-thump. Thu-thump. When you stop to listen, each beat sounds more menacing than the last. Master storyteller Josh Allen brings thirteen nightmare scenarios to life in this page-turning collection that's perfect for budding horror junkies. In his wondrous world, danger waits behind every doorway . . . even in the most ordinary places. 

Kirkus Reviews

This book will fly off the shelves.


This delightfully dark and spine-tingling anthology will keep young readers and horror lovers on the edge of their seats.

School Library Journal

Starred Review

Gr 3-8--Allen (Out to Get You: 13 Tales of Weirdness and Woe) has done it again in his second volume of scary stories. This collection of 13 atmospheric scares centers characters (monster and human alike) that are rooted just enough in reality to make an impact. In "The Substitute," a middle school class sits down to a teacher who is strange and refusing to stay on topic, instead talking about "Them"--a race of monsters that don't even have a name or if they did, it's been forgotten. Like the best stories in the genre, there is a twist. Adept at crafting effective horror for youngsters, Allen has cemented himself as the heir-apparent of Alvin Schwartz; this is the new quick pick for patrons who want more after reading all the classic "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark." Put this book into reluctant readers' hands, and they will beg for more. VERDICT This is a must-buy for middle grade collections; a chilling anthology of memorable scares that will leave even the biggest horror buffs sleeping with the light on.--Patrick Tierney, Barrington P.L., RI

Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

From creepy dolls to self-aware smartphones, cursed ice cream to prophetic board games, tween protagonists are plagued by speculative terrors beyond their control in Allen's (Out to Get You) unnerving collection. Thirteen tales of existential dread, everyday nightmares, and disquieting fates offer fare ready to thrill, nauseate, and disturb younger readers. Happy endings are few and far between, as characters--mostly implied white, though casts feature an inclusive range of names--find themselves unable to escape consequences both accidental and deserved, such as in "Lumpy, Lumpy," in which the protagonist, after refusing to eat a bowl of oatmeal, confronts the increasingly disgusting leftovers every night, or in "My Hand, Right There," which presents an unwelcome surprise for a boy determined to leave his mark in wet cement. Attempting to assert individuality proves impossible in "One of a Kind," while a dismissive substitute teacher gets a rude awakening in "The Substitute." Realistically sketched b&w full-page illustrations by Coleman, augmented by hand-lettering and washes of ink, lend additional ambiance to each well-paced tale. Though horror fans will enjoy this spine-tingling selection, readers with more delicate sensibilities may wish to approach with caution. Ages 8-12. Agent: Rick Margolis, Rising Bear Literary. (Aug.)

Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Josh Allen
Josh Allen checks under his bed before switching off the light each night. During the day, he teaches creative writing and literature at Brigham Young University-Idaho. His debut book for young readers, Out to Get You, received two starred reviews and was a Junior Library Guild selection. He lives in Idaho with his family.

Sarah Coleman was an early pioneer of hand lettering and has illustrated covers for many renowned books, including the 50th anniversary edition of To Kill a Mockingbird and Newbery Honor-winner Wolf Hollow. Her design clients range from Coca Cola and Starbucks to The New York Times. She lives in the UK.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Holiday House
Publication date
August 20, 2021
BISAC categories
JUV058000 - Juvenile Fiction | Paranormal, Occult & Supernatural
JUV018000 - Juvenile Fiction | Horror
JUV038000 - Juvenile Fiction | Short Stories
Library of Congress categories
Children's stories, American
Short stories
Horror stories
Horror tales, American
Horror fiction

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