Hey everybody. So I thought it might be fun to do a number of posts about various books of a darker or more gothic style. The one I want to talk about today is a book called “The Envious Siblings and Other Morbid Nursery Rhymes” by Landis Blair.
I got it a number of months ago and it’s a pretty quick read due to it’s childlike style of putting emphasis on pictures more than words. The art style is very reminiscent of the crosshatched drawing style of Edward Gorey and features just as dark a tone too. I won’t go through the whole book of course (because of respect for the author and copyright reasons) but I thought it’d be cool to check out the first story of the book at least: “The Malicious Playground”.
Essentially the series of rather twisted nursery rhymes catalogues the various ways that the perpetually smiling children “play” on a playground.
It’s the kind of book you’d imagine to find in the library of “The Addams Family” or something like that. I can’t help but recall other darker literature I read as a child though like the Goosebumps books and Scary Stories to Tell in The Dark. Even the original Grimm’s Fairy Tales were rather violent compared to the Disney versions tailored for various younger generations. This book really doesn’t seem to be aimed at children but I’ve always wondered about the actual social responsibility and real effects darker literature and imagery have on kids and teenagers.
There are certain individuals who decry such subject matter and what they believe to be the negative influences on young readers, but I can’t help but recall the many famous writers in the canon of western literature whose works posses such things. I even remember when I had to read Edgar Allan Poe in middle school. “The Cask of Amontillado” is literally a story about a man trying to get his adversary drunk while leading him into the catacombs of his estate so he can brick him into a wall and leave him to die. What do you guys think about all this? What kind of darker literature did you encounter as a kid/teenager and what effect do you think it had on you?
As a final side note, if you’d like to support the author by purchasing “The Envious Siblings” please feel free to follow the link here: https://www.amazon.com/Envious-Siblings-Morbid-Nursery-Rhymes/dp/0393651622