Friday, October 14, 2016

Galaxy of Fear: Star Wars Horror Stories for Kids?

"Fear is the path to the Dark Side." - Yoda

It may seem like an odd combination to create a creepy line of Star Wars books, and maybe even weirder to make them stories for kids. However in a galaxy full of aliens, creatures and Dark Side users there is plenty to give younglings nightmares!

Spooky stories for kids have long been a staple of children's storytelling dating back to oral traditions, folklore and fairy tales. In the 1990's though, one particular series of scary books for kids became a publishing phenomenon: R.L. Stine's Goosebumps. With page-turning stories of thrills and chills, dozens upon dozens of Goosebumps books were published in a very short time period as millions of copies sold.

Young readers obviously had a big interest in horror stories so unsurprisingly many publishers tried to appeal to that audience. Bantam publishing (then the publisher of Star Wars novels) launched Star Wars: Galaxy of Fear, a series of twelve chapter books all written by John Whitman. 

Just in case it wasn't clear that these were meant to be creepy tales, the books had titles like Eaten Alive, City of the Dead, and Army of Terror.

Published from 1997-1998, the series are really more adventure books than horror, but there certainly are some scary moments! The books focus on a young sister and brother Tash and Zak and their travels with their Uncle Hoole. The curious kids usually go places they're not supposed to go and open doors that should be left closed. Trouble and mystery are around many dark corners and these two are great at finding it!

The series was short-lived and has yet to be revisited. It seems unlikely that Disney/Lucasfilm Press will be creating a new line of horror-based Star Wars kids' books anytime soon. However, there's certainly plenty of creepy elements in the recent book Star Wars Aliens vol. 1

Since the series ended, the galaxy has expanded to include creatures like acklays, reeks, rathtars, zillo beasts, not to mention the witches of Dathomir or the brain-controlling worms seen in The Clone Wars. Surely there's plenty of horrifying material to work with if a new series is created!

The Galaxy of Fear books are long out of print but they sometimes appear in used book stores, or you can likely find them online...if you dare!

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