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Literature / Bruce Coville's Book of...

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Bruce Coville's Book of... is a series of themed anthologies edited by Bruce Coville and released from 1993 to 1997 by Scholastic Publishing, aimed at juvenile readers. Coville himself wrote the introduction and an opening story, and occasionally one or two more of his snuck in among the other entries. The majority of the stories were written specifically for these collections, however a handful were originally published in other anthologies first. The series contains a total of 142 stories and poems (counting the five parts of "The Monsters of Morley Manor" separately).

The series consists of:

  1. Bruce Coville's Book of Monsters (1993)
  2. Bruce Coville's Book of Aliens (1994)
  3. Bruce Coville's Book of Ghosts (1995)
  4. Bruce Coville's Book of Nightmares (1995)
  5. Bruce Coville's Book of Spine Tinglers (1996)
  6. Bruce Coville's Book of Magic (1996)
  7. Bruce Coville's Book of Monsters II (1996)
  8. Bruce Coville's Book of Aliens II (1996)
  9. Bruce Coville's Book of Ghosts II (1997)
  10. Bruce Coville's Book of Nightmares II (1997)
  11. Bruce Coville's Book of Spine Tinglers II (1997)
  12. Bruce Coville's Book of Magic II (1997)

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The overall series contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: Three of Coville's short stories collected in this series have been expanded into full books by Coville himself. Another author who contributed a story to the series also later expanded theirs into a full book.
    • "My Little Brother is a Monster" (published in Book of Monsters) was expanded and adapted into Always October in 2012.
    • "Clean As a Whistle" (first published in the 1994 anthology Oddly Enough and republished in Book of Magic II) was expanded and adapted into the 2015 book Diary of a Mad Brownie (retitled Cursed for its paperback release).
    • The five-part "The Monsters of Morley Manor" was expanded into The Monsters of Morley Manor.
    • "Uncle Joshua and the Grooglemen" (from Book of Monsters), by husband and wife team Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald, was later expanded into Groogleman (1996).
    • "Transitions" (from Book of Magic II), by Nina Kiriki Hoffman, was later expanded into A Fistful of Sky (2002).
  • Serial Novel: Books 7-11 each begin with a portion of the five-part story "The Monsters of Morley Manor", which would later be expanded and revised into the book of the same name. (For tropes relating to that story, see its individual page.)

    Bruce Coville's Book of Monsters 

Bruce Coville's Book of Monsters contains examples of:

  • All Trolls Are Different: The trolls from "Timor and the Furnace Troll" are basically tall, hairy humanoids, mostly covered with soft black fur (except for the occasional tuft of orange hair) and with a pair of sharp tusks. They also eat elves, and elves can become trolls by doing so.
  • Asshole Victim: In "Timor and the Furnace Troll", the story ends with the titular characters devouring Timor's classmates, who are largely a pack of bullies who've been mocking Timor for being a failure as an elf for years.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: The only way to stop the title character of "Kokolimalayas, the Bone Man" is to shoot him in the heart. As both the Bone Man and Nulwee are fully aware of this, Kokolimalayas tries to trick Nulwee into shooting him in the chest, but his heart's not there — it's in his little finger (luckily, Nulwee had already been told this by his grandmother).
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: "Timor and the Furnace Troll" is about a tormented and ostracized elf child whose school assignment is to interview a troll. Trolls' favorite food is elf children, but the troll doesn't eat the boy because he sees how lonely and kind the poor thing is. At the end of the story, the elf child gets revenge on his schoolmates and teachers by freeing the troll and letting him eat them all, but tells the only other elf child who was kind to him that he won't feed her to the troll because "You're the sweetest girl I know"... before eating her himself, thus subverting the trope.
  • Big Eater: The titular character of "The Beast With a Thousand Teeth" devours people three times a day (though it later switches to pastries).
  • Dem Bones: The title character of "Kokolimalayas, the Bone Man" is a giant skeleton.
  • Doorstop Baby: Dum Pling, AKA "Little Dumpling" (or L.D. for short), the titular "little brother" from "My Little Brother is a Monster", whom Jason and his mother discover on their doorstep with a (badly written) note which asks them to take care of him. Jason's mother cheerfully takes in the baby, though Jason isn't exactly thrilled about it. Things become more complicated on the night of the full moon, when Dumpling turns back into his true monster form. Turns out Dumpling is actually the prince of a kingdom of monsters who was taken to the human world to protect him from the usurpers of the kingdom. Dumpling's real name is actually "Dum Pling" which is "Prince" in the monster language. By the end of the story, Jason has accepted Dumpling as his brother and is prepared to protect him.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Uncle Joshua does this in "Uncle Joshua and the Grooglemen", though unusually, instead of using an outfit, he does so by skinning the Groogleman alive and then wearing its skin as a disguise. Then it turns out that the Groogleman's "skin" is actually a hazmat suit, although Uncle Joshua still had to cut it off of the original owner—and neither he nor the narrator understand what it is.
  • Eaten Alive:
    • The titular character of "The Beast With a Thousand Teeth" attacks and devours humans alive, until it discovers it prefers pastries instead.
    • Mr. Alfmordorschen and Timor devour Timor's entire class at the end of "Timor and the Furnace Troll".
  • The Ending Changes Everything: "Uncle Joshua and the Grooglemen" ends with an excerpt from an official document of some kind, making it clear that the community is being held under quarantine, and monitored by people in hazmat gear (i.e. the "grooglemen"). Apparently this has been going on for long enough that the narrator and everyone he knows have spent their entire lives in complete ignorance of the situation.
  • Fantastic Racism: In "Timor and the Furnace Troll", elves hate trolls. Justified since trolls eat elves.
  • Forgetful Jones: Duffy from "Duffy's Jacket" tends to forget about everyday things, which his aunt claims is because he's too busy being brilliant inside his own head. His cousin Andrew thinks otherwise. It's cured by the events of the story.
  • Heart Drive: The heart of "Kokolimalayas, the Bone Man". Once it's shot out of his body, he's effectively dead.
  • Incredibly Lame Fun: In "Momster in the Closet", the narrator and Kenny's father is mentioned to enjoy watching the flag waving on the screen while the national anthem plays as a TV station goes off for the night.
  • Kill It with Fire: The narrator of "Personality Problem" (who is based on Frankenstein's monster) mentions that people have tried to do this to him many times. He's not amused by it.
  • Literal Genie: The sword Arthur gets in "Merlin's Knight School". He wishes he could fight something with it... and a monster promptly appears for him to fight. (Luckily, a second wish enables him to actually beat the monster.)
  • Mirror Monster: Variant in the story "Bloody Mary", where instead of summoning the titular character, saying the name thirteen times into the mirror will turn you into Bloody Mary, and the only way to turn back is to trick the monster into saying her name once, into the mirror, in the dark.
  • Missing Mom: Dum Pling's mother, who is implied to have not survived her trip to the human world and back.
  • No Name Given: The narrator of "Momster in the Closet" never has his name revealed.
  • Non-Malicious Monster: The one in "Duffy's Jacket" simply wanted to give Duffy his coat back, as he'd forgotten it again.
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: This is the protagonist's reaction at the end of "Personality Problem" when he realizes his psychiatrist, like so many other people, is trying to kill him via burning him alive, just because he's a monster.
  • Parody Magic Spell: In "The Thing That Goes Burp in the Night", John Thomas reads a bunch of terms out of an index in one of his father's medical books, making it sound like he's doing a spell that will conjure up a monster to come and get his brother.
  • Platonic Co-Parenting: Coville's story "Duffy's Jacket" has the title character and his cousins Andrew and Marie, whose mothers are sisters and raise the trio together, with no fathers in sight.
  • Sapient Eat Sapient:
    • The titular character of "The Beast With a Thousand Teeth" attacks and devours humans.
    • In "Timor and the Furnace Troll", trolls eat elves. And if an elf eats another elf, they become a troll.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: "Friendly Persuasion" features a wood sprite, who is accosted by a monster called the Ba-Grumpus, which has already eaten many of her people, and decided that she will not stand for it any longer. So when the monster comes to eat her, she tries talking to it and convincing it not to eat her, pointing out that if a larger monster came to eat it, it certainly wouldn't like that. The monster agrees and considers the sprite's words, and then it eats her anyway. Now wasn't that a nice and meaningful way to spend 5 minutes?
  • Shout-Out: In "My Little Brother is a Monster", Jason's private nickname for Dum Pling is "Bonzo", specifically identified as a reference to the Ronald Reagan movie Bedtime For Bonzo.
  • Summoning Ritual: John Thomas makes up and does one in "The Thing That Goes Burp in the Night", lighting a candle and reciting a bunch of words from a medical dictionary to scare his brother. Then it turns out it actually works.
  • Tentacled Terror: "Merlin's Knight School" sees Cai and Arthur battling an octopus-like creature after it attacks them.
  • Things That Go "Bump" in the Night: Plenty. "My Little Brother is a Monster" has a monster come out of the closet and one that turns up at the window (though averted in that case, since Keegle Farzym is friendly), "Momster in the Closet" (which may or may not be just imaginary), the title character of "The Thing That Goes Burp in the Night" (which lurks in their basement), and the title character of the poem "The Bogeyman".
  • Tomato Surprise: In the last paragraphs of the story, the characters in "Momster in the Closet" are revealed to be vampires.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: The narrator of "Personality Problem" complains about being chased by people with these.
  • Vertebrate with Extra Limbs: The titular character of "The Beast With a Thousand Teeth" has six legs.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: In "My Little Brother is a Monster", the poorly spelled note with the titular character called him "my little Dum Pling" (resulting in Jason and his mother calling him "Little Dumpling"). Turns out that part wasn't a misspelling, and Dum Pling is his real name. Upon learning this, Jason's reaction is to ask "You name your kids things like dumb?" Keegle Farzym has to explain to him that in the secret language of monsters, "Dum" means "Prince", and "Dum Pling" translates roughly into "Prince Albert".

    Bruce Coville's Book of Aliens 

Bruce Coville's Book of Aliens contains examples of:

  • Abusive Alien Parents: On Nnnnnn's planet in "I, Earthling", children mature quickly and are pretty much kept out of sight by their nurses and teachers until they're ready to join adult society — the parents have almost nothing to do with raising them.
  • Alien Invasion: In "Brian and the Aliens", "To Serve Man" and "Zero Hour".
  • "Begone" Bribe: Invoked by the bratty little brother of the main protagonist of "The Secret Weapon of Last Resort", who tells her "Five bucks, or I'm superglue" when she tries to get him to leave her and her best friend alone and stop harassing them. Naturally, he turns back up again soon afterward and winds up triggering the arrival of the story's alien characters.
  • Cassandra Truth: In "Zero Hour", a daughter tells her mother about the upcoming alien invasion and all the promises the Martians made the children in exchange for help. The mother brushes it off as a new game until it's too late.
  • Downer Ending: "Zero Hour" ends when the parents are found by their daughter, who is leading the Martian invaders to them because she thinks life will be a lot more fun when she doesn't have adults spoiling it.
  • Enfant Terrible: In "Zero Hour", every child in the world is convinced by an alien race to set things up to let them invade Earth and kill all of the adults. And they agree because they are promised later bedtimes, no baths, and all the TV they want. And it ends with the main character's daughter leading a group of aliens straight to her parents, while calling to them as she searches the house.
  • Gasshole: The Kwarkissians in "I, Earthling" tend to punctuate their words with gaseous emissions, such as an entire classroom farting in unison to show approval.
  • Grand Theft Me: Splortch and Miglick from "Brian and the Aliens" do this with Brian and his dog, switching bodies so they can go look around and determine if Earth's residents are really people. Then Brian and Lucky accidentally do the same thing to a couple of police.
  • Humanity on Trial: Subverted (somewhat anviliciously) in "Judgement Day". A race of aliens declares that two representatives from Earth would be chosen to decide the planet's fate, these being the two the aliens chose to be the best from the planet. The protagonist of the story wonders just who will be chosen, until the end of the story when it turns out that the aliens pick a pair of dolphins. The story ends before we find out the aliens' decision. Which is just as well, considering how evil dolphins can be to each other.
  • Imagination-Based Superpower: The protagonists of "Pirates" all seem to have this, which makes the events of their game come to life. Up to and including them all being blown up when one of the kids self-destructs their spaceship, ending his turn. The next turn begins with one of the girls saying "Pretend we exist."
  • Missing Mom: Jacob in "I, Earthling" lost his mother, a reporter, six years before when she was covering a war in Asia.
  • Monster Is a Mommy: The protagonist of "How I Maybe Saved the World Last Tuesday Before Breakfast" sees a couple of giant aliens wandering around by the lake down the street, and initially suspects them of being invaders out to conquer Earth. Then he figures out they're just looking for their child, whom his little sister had found and brought back home with her, and returns the baby to the parents.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: The alien narrator of the poem "Just Like You" claims this of himself and humans.
  • Octopoid Aliens: The methane-breathing Veeblezanians from "Brian and the Aliens" (who are described as having long tentacles and look a lot like octopi in the illustration), and the octoblob (which gets its name from its octopus-like appearance) from "The Buddy System".
  • Phlebotinum Pills: The methane-breathing Veeblezanians from "Brian and the Aliens" had to take oxygen-breathing pills to survive in Earth's environment, but they don't last very long, which becomes a problem when they start to wear off.
  • The Scottish Trope: Nnnnnn and his people in "I, Earthling" never speak the name of their homeworld; "it's against their religion, or something" as Jacob says.
  • Talking Animal: Lucky the dog in "Brian and the Aliens", but only while Miglick the Veeblezanian is temporarily using his body.
  • To Serve Man: The trope naming story by Damon Knight, about a race of pig-like aliens that are taking people back to their homeworld to — unbeknownst to the humans — be food for them, is featured in the book.
  • Tomato Surprise: "Curing the Bozos" features a boy who's seen an alien spaceship near his house for the past few weeks, and invites his adoptive sister to watch for it with him that night. The ship never shows, and he finally goes to bed... then it turns out his sister is one of many aliens who've been chosen to visit different planets, find potential leaders like her adoptive brother, and encourage them so their kind can one day join the civilized races among the stars; the ship is the one she makes her weekly report to.
  • Vertebrate with Extra Limbs: The Kwarkissians in "I, Earthling" have six arms each.

    Bruce Coville's Book of Ghosts 

Bruce Coville's Book of Ghosts contains examples of:

Note: For tropes relating to "The Ghost Let Go", see Nina Tanleven.

  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: The goal of "Mrs. Ambroseworthy", who can't quite make it on her own until she hears a high enough note from one of the choir members she taught.
  • Asshole Victim: Robert Delano Adams in "For Love of Him", a drunk, a cheater and a wife-beater who was ultimately shot by his own wife.
  • Curse Escape Clause:
    • "The Pooka" is being sought by a ghost who can only pass on, along with the Pooka itself, if he can make a wild boar take off the chains around its neck. Arthur and Cai, whose family crest is that of a wild boar, are the ones whom he's been looking for all this time.
    • "Ghost Stories" by Lawrence Watt-Evans features an inversion: a ghost of a seafarer who simply could not stop wandering the world, much to the annoyance of his wife. Since she was a witch, she put a curse on him preventing him from leaving home (even after death) until man had walked on the moon and he learned about it. However, he's not in much of a hurry to move on, as he's found a young boy who's eager to hear his stories (and the boy's friend almost spills the beans before he knows that).
  • Dead All Along:
    • Theresa in "The Grounding of Theresa".
    • "Ghost Walk" reveals that the mother-and-daughter protagonists have returned long enough to help their husband and father get past their deaths.
    • The titular character of "The Ghost in the Summer Kitchen" turns out to be the narrator.
  • Deadly Prank: "The Secret of City Cemetery" features the bullying Willard Armbruster, who hides in an open grave in the cemetery on Halloween, intending to scare a bunch of kids that pass by. He makes the mistake of using one that's due to be used in its normal way that day; when he yells at the gravekeepers that he's in there, they're startled and drop the coffin, knocking him cold and resulting in his being Buried Alive when their boss doesn't realize he's down there.
  • Enemies with Death: Alex in "Not From Detroit", who chases down and fights Death to get his wife's soul back. In the end though, while he successfully gets Margie's soul back, he can't stop Death from taking her for good, and the two settle their differences, Alex choosing to let Death take him early so he won't have to outlive his wife.
  • Friendly Ghost:
    • The mother-and-daughter protagonists of "Ghost Walk" (who just want to tell their husband and father, respectively, that they don't blame him for their deaths and it's okay for him to move on).
    • Mr. Charlie Sonneman in "For Love of Him", who gives Harrison some good advice and is only revealed in the last paragraph to have died the previous summer.
    • "Ghost Stories" features Mr. Ichabod Hanson, who's rather jovial and just wants to tell the stories of all the adventures he went through in his life.
    • The titular character of "The Ghost in the Summer Kitchen". She teaches her visitor how to cook, and leaves the girl her recipes when it's time for the ghost to move on.
  • Ghostly Goals: Squire Beal in "The Pooka" is doomed to remain a wandering spirit until he can free the title character of its chains (or rather, have someone else do it) and bring it back to its late master.
  • Hellish Horse: The title character of "The Pooka", a ghost horse that will drag its victims off to the underworld.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: The titular character of "Jasper's Ghost" is the ghost of someone who's still living, and wants to keep him from carrying out the act that will result in his death.
  • Ow, My Body Part!: "The Pooka" has Cai trying to string his father's bow, but gets it stuck around his leg and unwittingly sets off one of these (which, incidentally, winds up kicking off the plot):
    Cai: OWWWGETTHIS—OWWOFFME—OWWWMYLEG! (Then he accidentally whacks Arthur in the head with said bow while jumping around in pain. Arthur joins him in screaming.)
    Arthur: OWMYHEAD!
    Cai: OWMYLEG!
    Arthur: OWJERK!
    Cai: OWSTUPID!
    Arthur: OWWWWWWWWWW!
    Sir Ector: QUIET!
  • Psychopomp: Death in "Not From Detroit", who stops in front of a house and does something like cracking his whip, honking his horn, clicking his tongue or snapping his fingers three times, calling their soul into a matchbox in the back of his car.
  • Samus Is a Girl: "The Grounding of Theresa" has the narrator, who goes by T.J. Jones (but on the final page is revealed as the titular Theresa), hanging out with a local boy and playing basketball for a while every midnight. It's not until their final night together that Jeremy gets a good enough look at T.J. to find out "he" is actually a girl, in part because it's always dark when they meet and she's always wearing a baseball cap that obscures his view, so he hasn't ever had a chance to get a good enough look at her face. On the reveal, he remarks:
    "Do I feel dumb! It never occurred to me a girl could be named T.J. or play basketball like a pro."
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Non-time travel variation in "Jasper's Ghost" — the title character is the ghost of a still-living person and is trying to stop him from carrying out the act that resulted in his death.
  • Together in Death: Variant with "Not From Detroit" — Alex refuses to let his wife die before him, but Death insists it's her time; he finally talks Death into taking him early so he won't have to live without Margie.
  • Vengeful Ghost: Robert Delano Adams in "For Love of Him", who returned from the grave two days after his death to kill his murderer.
  • Whispering Ghosts: Literal example in "For Love of Him", as a pair of ghosts, jealous of the living, whisper to a teenage boy to encourage his self-doubt and, in time, lure him into death with them.

    Bruce Coville's Book of Nightmares 

Bruce Coville's Book of Nightmares contains examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Nessie Crackman in "Master of the Hunt" is three hundred pounds and has warts and a hairy lip. No wonder Merlin doesn't want anything to do with her.
  • Acro Fatic: The titular character of "The Fat Man" is surprisingly spry and agile for such a morbidly obese guy.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: "The Baby-Sitter" features "Them", a mysterious force that lurks in the house where the Mitchell family lives, but they have a special protection ritual that, done once a night, keeps "Them" from harming the person who does it. When Hillary the babysitter is confronted and chased down the hall by a burglar one night, he fails to do the ritual, and "They" attack and eliminate him.
  • An Arm and a Leg: "The Hand" revolves around a boy named Jimmy, whose family has moved into a house formerly owned by a man who lost his hand in a farming accident. Then the ghostly hand returns from the grave to get help from Jimmy.
  • And I Must Scream: "There's Nothing Under the Bed" ends with the protagonist being captured by the monster under his bed, and dragged into the hellish nightmare world it inhabits... then turned into an under-the-bed monster himself. He then has to live in a surreal world made of dreams and nightmares, and his job involves him receiving vivid mental pictures of horrible nightmares so he can deliver them to people while they sleep. He's telling his story after the fact and it's implied this has been happening to him for decades. He'll get relief someday, though, as he gets to go back to being human when he captures someone else to replace him. The end of the story is an explicit threat that the reader could be next.
  • Back from the Dead: "The Cat Came Back" by Lawrence Watt-Evans is all about this, in which the titular animal returns from the grave briefly to avenge itself.
  • Balancing Death's Books:
    • Variant in "Drawing the Moon" — the victims aren't dead, they were stolen by the moon. When Andrew goes to the Moon to get them back, the Moon agrees to return them, but she needs two others in their place. She winds up taking the mugger who attacked them, and Andrew himself.
    • Inverted in "Death's Door" — Death is trying to collect a bunch of kids ahead of time, and they have to figure out a way to keep it from happening. And it's implied that he'll keep doing it until he succeeds.
  • Benevolent Abomination: "Them," a group of spirits that inhabits the Mitchell house in "The Baby-Sitter," is a downplayed example. While They can be dangerous, They're also easily kept at bay with a simple warding spell and won't dare harm anyone who performs it properly ("Once a night and you're all right"). The Them end up saving the life of Hillary, the titular babysitter, and her charges when a burglar breaks in and fails to perform the spell.
  • Big Brother Bully:
    • Variant with David's older cousin Harold in "There's Nothing Under the Bed", whose idea of fun is sticking a sock over a cat's face and watching it roll around trying to get free, and holds David to keep him from saving said cat from falling under the bed.
    • Jimmy's brother Richard in "The Hand", who terrifies his little brother with stories of the former, now deceased owner of the house, whose hand got cut off in an accident.
  • Big Eater: The title character of "The Fat Man", who is shown devouring five whole pizzas in a single meal.
  • Body Surf: Variant in "Give a Puppet a Hand", as the living puppet Mr. Punkerino just takes over someone's hand if they tell his current bearer to "Give him to me".
  • Cassandra Truth:
    • David in "There's Nothing Under the Bed" insists there's something weird going on under his bed. His parents refuse to believe him because the nothingness under there disappears when adults are around. By the time they find out the truth, it's too late.
    • "The Boy Who Cried Dragon" ends with the protagonist being arrested for burglary, and claiming he was chased out of the house by a dragon. Naturally, the police don't believe him, since all they see is the owner's cat... who's actually the dragon in disguise (the human "owner" is actually a wizard who works for him).
  • Chained to a Railway: In "Death's Door", Death tricks his way into acting as a substitute bus driver, then parks the bus on a set of train tracks, seals the doors and waits for the train to hit it, killing everyone aboard. They're saved when they remember the bus has kick-out windshields as an emergency backup.
  • Cramming the Coffin: Variant in "The Cat Came Back" — Brutus the dog comes over to dig at the grave of Bootsie the cat, whom he'd killed a day before. When Bootsie's owners find the disturbed grave, they find a dead Brutus trapped under the sod, because Bootsie had come back to life long enough to catch him and kill him in revenge.
  • Downer Ending: "The Fat Man" features a pair of teenage boys investigating the title character to find out the truth about him. Neither survives the attempt.
  • Fat Bastard: The title character of "The Fat Man" subverts half of it — he's still a bastard, but the "fat" part is just a Mobile-Suit Human being piloted by an ugly, non-fat monster.
  • Flash Fiction: "Toll Call", which is exactly fifty words long (excluding the title, author's name and Coville's blurb at the top).
  • Forced Transformation: Cai is turned into a slug and later a toad after angering Merlin in "Master of the Hunt".
  • Geas: In "The Baby-Sitter," the "Them" are bound by the rules of a warding charm—if someone performs the spell at each door in the upstairs hallway once per night, They won't lay a finger on that particular person.
  • Here We Go Again!: "Death's Door" ends with the kids, having narrowly escaped an early death, learning that Death is going to try again the next day.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: While "The Baby-Sitter" features a mysterious group of spirits known only as "Them," the real danger is a perfectly mundane man in a mask who breaks into the house on Halloween night with the intention of killing Hillary and her young charges. Thankfully, the Them come to the rescue when the masked man fails to perform the proper warding spell.
  • Insistent Terminology: Andrew in "Drawing the Moon" insists that his parents aren't dead, they were stolen. And you can get stolen things back. His sister is the same way when he gets his parents back but is one of the two people taken in their place.
  • Invisibility: Merlin uses this to avoid his Abhorrent Admirer in "Master of the Hunt". Later, Cai and Arthur use his disappearing powder so they can sneak up on a stag, but they wind up getting chased by the Wild Hunt, which mistakes them for ghosts. Merlin, incidentally, can see them just fine when they return and try to get his reappearing powder.
  • I Owe You My Life: At the end of "The Baby-Sitter," "Them"—a group of mysterious spirits that inhabit the house where the Mitchells live—devour a burglar alive when he fails to perform the protection spell that keeps Them at bay. Hillary the babysitter, who did perform the ritual, thinks to herself that from now on, she'll be sure to avoid telling a bedtime story that They don't like, as she owes Them a considerable favor for saving her life.
  • Kill and Replace: "The Fat Man" kills people who come to his house for any reason and replaces them with puppet versions of them who are all perpetually grouchy.
  • Life Drinker: "Toll Call" features a variant — immortals sustain themselves by asking for a few minutes of someone's time. If the person says yes, the immortal thanks them, and the person who was asked suddenly feels just a little bit older.
  • Mirror Monster: "Through the Mirror" sees its protagonist dragged into the mirror and replaced by her own reflection.
  • Mobile-Suit Human: The title character of "The Fat Man" turns out to be one.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: "The Fat Man"'s true form has "lots and lots of teeth".
  • Nightmare Weaver: Weztix, the Lord of Nightmares in "There's Nothing Under the Bed", weaves bad dreams and transfers them into the head of one of his delivery boys, who then rises up underneath someone's bed and whispers the contents of the nightmare to the sleeper.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: In "The Baby-Sitter," we never learn exactly what the "Them" are, beyond the fact that they're invisible, able to be warded off with a particular charm, and can devour an entire human being—blood and all—in a matter of minutes.
  • Or Was It a Dream?: The end of "Halloween Party", as Michael awakens to find the broken stem of a punch glass from the titular party in his pocket.
  • Perverse Puppet: Mr. Punkerino in "Give a Puppet a Hand", an obnoxious living puppet who takes over the hand of whomever wants him, and can't be removed until someone else asks for him. Jeremy still feels sorry for him when he ends up on the hand of one of the meanest people Jeremy knows.
  • Sadist Teacher: Miss Wockenfuss in "Give a Puppet a Hand", and she knows it. It's even lampshaded when she tries to punish Jeremy for being happy at one point, claiming that nobody has a good time in her class.
  • Shattered Sanity: In "There's Nothing Under the Bed", after becoming one of Weztix's delivery boys, the protagonist takes a lot of bad dreams to his jerkish cousin Harold. The problem is, most of the nightmares weren't actually meant for him, so he winds up getting taken away to get mental help after a while.
  • Stand Your Ground: Arthur and Cai do so when faced with Gwynn ap Nudd and his hounds in "Master of the Hunt", which turns out to be the right thing to do. As Merlin explains later, if you have courage and stand your ground, even the lord of the dead can't force you into the netherworld — you have to go of your own free will (even if that choice is brought on by being terrified out of your wits).
  • Super-Persistent Predator:
    • The dragon of "The Boy Who Cried Dragon", who tells Jimmy, as he's being taken away by the police, that he'll pursue him to the end of his days, and that he never forgets a smell.
    • Brutus the dog in "The Cat Came Back", who continually pursues any of the neighborhood cats, and kept going after Bootsie until age slowed the cat down enough for Brutus to catch and kill him. Taken to extremes in that even after Bootsie dies, Brutus won't leave him alone and comes over to dig at his grave... which proves a fatal mistake.
  • Thrill Seeker: Jimmy in "The Boy Who Cried Dragon", who got started on breaking into houses on a dare and now does it for the adrenaline rush. He gets more than he expected when he breaks into a house owned by a disguised dragon.
  • Trash of the Titans: Literal example with "The Fat Man", whose living room is full of old food containers from all the takeout he gets delivered. He does leave two full cans of trash out by the curb twice a week, but it's never enough to really put a dent in the piles of garbage that keep accumulating.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: The dragon of "The Boy Who Cried Dragon" has this power, and disguises itself as a cat around normal humans.
  • The Wild Hunt: Gwynn ap Nudd and his hounds are featured in "Master of the Hunt", chasing a group of ghosts into the netherworld.

    Bruce Coville's Book of Spine Tinglers 

Bruce Coville's Book of Spine Tinglers contains examples of:

  • Always a Bigger Fish: In "Grendel", scientists analyze a Kaiju that has washed up on shore, marveling at its massive size. The story ends with the monster's much, much bigger mother showing up to find out what happened to her baby...
  • Animate Inanimate Object: In "Life With a Slob", the trash covering Bob's half of the room is (to Bob's great surprise when he finally finds out) composed with these, although each individual piece is only about as smart as an insect.
  • Basilisk and Cockatrice: "The Sight of the Basilisk" depicts the basilisk as a white snake with a red crest on its head and fatal gaze, which was placed as an egg in an ancient tomb to protect against tomb robbers. It befriends a blind slave who is sent into the tomb, and leaves with him, to the doom of his captors.
  • Blind and the Beast: "The Sight of the Basilisk" is narrated by a basilisk long ago left to guard a treasure-filled tomb. Some robbers force a blind boy into the tomb to steal stuff for them, and the basilisk strikes up a conversation with him. The story ends with the boy hiding the basilisk in his clothes, and taking him out when the robbers demand to see what he found in the tomb.
  • Cassandra Truth: In "Campfire", young Danny tells his fellow campers about the devil having a secret name, and he'll come for you when you say it aloud. He shares it with The Bully at the camp, who soon after gets taken away by the devil. Danny laments that his parents didn't believe him about it either.
  • Dead All Along: The protagonist of "The Thing in Auntie Alma's Pond" is terrified of her aunt's pond, but doesn't know why. Eventually she remembers that she was in a boating accident on the pond — which she died in. Having at last faced up to the truth, she moves on into the afterlife.
  • Disability Immunity: "The Sight of the Basilisk" is narrated by a basilisk, who was left to guard a treasure-filled tomb a long time ago. Some robbers force a blind boy into the tomb to steal stuff for them, and the basilisk strikes up a conversation with him when he realizes the boy is still alive despite "seeing" him. The story ends with the boy hiding the basilisk in his clothes when he leaves the tomb. Then the robbers attack him and demand to see whatever he found...
  • Discovering Your Own Dead Body: The protagonist of "The Thing in Auntie Alma's Pond" does this near the end when she's forced to confront the truth about herself and finds her own body in the pond, having been caught in the chain for the boat's anchor when she tossed it overboard.
  • Driven to Suicide: The captain of the "Jenny Nettles". His death is what triggers the wind to return so the ship can get back to port... and it's implied to be because he was the one who killed Jenny Frasier, the woman whom the ship had originally been named after before its third owner got a hold of it, and who'd been haunting it effectively since its construction.
  • Epistolary Novel: "Letters From Camp" is exactly what it sounds like, with the narrator's letters to his parents. The final letter is from the camp staff, informing them of the conclusion of their son's stay at camp.
  • Fur Against Fang: "What's a Little Fur Among Friends?" features a specific werewolf fighting a specific group of vampires; a race war is not implied.
  • Gate Guardian: The wolf-man who guards the door in "One Chance", and can be summoned by using a statue of him.
  • Hive Mind: The Mess in "Life With a Slob" is the collective intelligence of the otherwise very unintelligent Animate Inanimate Objects that cover Bob's half of the room.
  • It Only Works Once: The gate in "One Chance" only works once for each person; if they don't go through, they can never summon it again.
  • Make a Wish: Miranda Alice gets three wishes from a snail (and promptly wishes for a thousand more) in "Those Three Wishes". Unfortunately, she wasn't careful what she said and, after realizing she'd forgotten to study for a test, unwittingly wished to be dead.
  • Mama Bear: In "Grendel", it's made very clear that the gigantic monster that's just surfaced at the end is going to get revenge on the scientists and photographers who have been running rampant on her baby's corpse.
  • Monster Is a Mommy: "Grendel" ends with a giant creature arriving after its child, the title monster of the story, has been killed.
  • Ocean Madness: The crew of the "Jenny Nettles" experience this when they're stuck at sea, with no wind and all their fresh water gone. The experience leads to most of them quitting the sea for good after the voyage.
  • Our Vampires Are Different:
    • One advertises its services in "Vampire For Hire", offering to take care of your problems. Its idea of doing so is to turn the person who sent for it into a vampire, and it doesn't necessarily have to feed on you to do so. And if the protagonist is anything to go by, it's not harmed by sunlight.
    • The vampires in "What's a Little Fur Among Friends?", on the other hand, are blood-drinkers (and part-vampires can even feed on other part-vampires), allergic to garlic and sunlight, and can turn into bats.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: "What's a Little Fur Among Friends?" features a line of werewolves who start to change around puberty (but the curse only hits every other generation) and can freely change back and forth as long as the moon is full, though older ones can't change as often as younger ones. They're also allergic to silver.
  • Our Wormholes Are Different: When summoned, the door in "One Chance" is a portal in the air to another world.
  • Psychic Powers:
    • The title character of "The Teacher Who Could Hear" has a form of clairvoyance, able to hear future things, including people's deaths including her own. Her successor in the classroom has a different version, and is able to see ghosts.
    • Implied to be possessed by the author of the book that Miss Mary Stevens hears, since he writes books where teachers die and then kills a real teacher and traps their spirit in his newest one.
  • Sea Monster: The giant reptile in "Grendel". And its mother.
  • Serial Killer: "The Teacher Who Could Hear" ends with the reveal that an unnamed author writes a book, kills a teacher and traps their spirit in his newest book, then does it all over again.
  • Someone Has to Do It: Implied in "Past Sunset", as the ghost who walks down the street every night is looking for someone to replace them in their wanderings, allowing the original ghost to move on.
  • Summer Campy: Camp Ultima in "Letters From Camp", which is basically where parents send their troublemaking sons to get killed off (and they're opening a new one for girls the next year).
  • Talking Animal: The wish-granting snail in "Those Three Wishes".
  • Title Drop: "What's a Little Fur Among Friends?" is the title of a story. "What's a Little Fur Among Friends?" is part of a line of dialogue near its end.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: The werewolf in "What's a Little Fur Among Friends?" mentions that members of her family were chased out of their homes by former friends wielding these when they discovered the family members were werewolves.
  • Trash of the Titans: "Life With a Slob" revolves around brothers Bob (the titular slob) and Andy (a Neat Freak). Andy eventually discovers that every piece of junk in Bob's half of the room has a bit of intelligence, and together they form a united intelligence, the Mess, which winds up becoming Andy's friend. By the end of the story, after Mess finally rebels against Bob for his poor treatment of it, Bob does his best to clean the room until Mess is supposedly gone, then moves into a separate room of his own and keeps it spotless. Andy, meanwhile, managed to keep parts of his friend safe, and within a few weeks, the room is wall-to-wall Mess again.
  • Wishing for More Wishes: Miranda Alice uses her first wish to get a thousand wishes in "Those Three Wishes".

    Bruce Coville's Book of Magic 

Bruce Coville's Book of Magic contains examples of:

  • Absurd Cutting Power: "The Wonderworm" tells of the Shomir, or Wonderworm, which has diamond legs and can cut anything, including an otherwise impenetrable glass and the stones used to build the Temple of Jerusalem.
  • Anti-Magic: The protagonist in "Questing Magic" negates magic, including being able to see through glamours. This turns out to be useful when he's needed to break a spell keeping King Arthur away from the stone where Excalibur is stuck (fortunately, Merlin is able to use a time machine, which is science instead of magic, to get him there).
  • Be Careful What You Wish For:
    • Discussed in "The Fourth Wish", in which a wish-granter contemplates the subject and helps her new friend to make the right one.
    • Also discussed in "Visions", as a group of girls find an item that can grant one wish and try to figure out how to use it.
  • Become a Real Boy: Henry, the teddy bear in "Bear at the Gate", earned a soul through his love and care for his original owner, allowing him to go to Heaven.
  • Body to Jewel: Variant in "Wizard's Boy" — the Black Stone of Borea isn't exactly a jewel, but it was the heart of the greatest wizard who ever lived, until it was turned to stone.
  • Born Unlucky: Jana in "The Wonderworm" feels that she's this way, saying to herself that "You are badluck" whenever anything bad happens around her. Her grandmother thinks otherwise.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Miranda Windwood Rose in "Windwood Rose" is born with magic, but voluntarily gives it up so she can be normal.
  • Bullying a Dragon: In "Horsing Around", Jason makes the mistake of insulting a witch he met at the 7-Eleven. She tries to turn him into a horse in retaliation.
  • The Call Put Me on Hold: Aaron is Bellenmore's apprentice in "Wizard's Boy", but he can't tap the High or Low Magic until it's finally awakened after he gets hold of the Black Stone of Borea, allowing him to defeat Malefestra.
  • Deal with the Devil: Lesser version in "Wizard's Boy" — Bellenmore agrees to work with evil sorceress Dark Anne to deal with Malefestra. When they're defeated, Bellenmore winds up paying the price and, even after the demon sorcerer's defeat, is trapped away for a time due to this deal.
  • Disappeared Dad: The protagonist's father in "Phoenix Farm", who ran off a week before the events of the story because he couldn't find work. He comes back in the end when he's finally got a new job and has found where his wife and kids moved to after the fire that destroyed their home at the start of the story.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: In "Wizard's Boy", the minor demon Bellenmore summoned as a guide turns out to be the demon sorcerer Malefestra in disguise.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Phoebe Byrd in "Byrd Song" hates that she was named after her father's favorite bird, since it makes her a prime target for mocking.
  • Eviler than Thou: Malefestra is a bigger threat than Dark Anne in "Wizard's Boy", and he shows it by killing her pet the Grangli.
  • Excalibur in the Stone: In "Questing Magic", main character Patrick gets brought back in time by Merlin (using a small time machine). Merlin explains that Morgan Le Fay has put a spell on the stone, preventing Arthur from getting to it so he can pull the sword (referred to here as Excalibur, rather than Caliburn) out, and he needs Patrick so his Anti-Magic abilities can negate said spell.
  • Fearsome Critters of American Folklore: "Byrd Song" centers around an outcast girl who meets a Squonk bird.
  • Forced Transformation: "Horsing Around" has the protagonist insult a witch and get turned into a centaur (she was trying to turn him into a horse, but his friend interrupted the spell).
  • The Phoenix:
    • "Phoenix Farm" has the narrator discover an egg that hatches into one, and then flies away... but moments later, when her father returns home for the first time since before the fire that destroyed their old home, she realizes that like a phoenix, her family can rise from the ashes, singing.
    • One features in "Byrd Song", and Phoebe and the Squonk attend its annual death-and-rebirthing. It also passes some of its power on to a set of newly-created baby Squonks, born from the Squonk crying into the phoenix's ashes. The babies can melt into a puddle of tears, but will revive immediately due to their origin.
  • The Power of Love: This is what allowed the Rukh bird to gain the titular character in "The Wonderworm", as it drove her to make the long and hard journey to the home of Asmodai, the King of Demons, who possessed the Wonderworm and, seeing what drove her, respected her mother's love.
  • Prequel: "Wizard's Boy" is actually one to Coville's earlier story Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher — that book tells, briefly, of how the wizard Bellenmore was the one who helped send the dragons to their new world, and his apprentice Aaron, the title character of this story, is the one who figured out how to save the species by bringing their eggs back to Earth so they could be hatched and then sent to the other world again once they were old enough. This story takes place before those events.
  • Read the Freaking Manual: The protagonist of "Watch Out!" didn't read the full manual for his latest trick (in part because his mother interrupted him before he could finish), a cave-like toy which makes things disappear (but cannot return them), which gets him in trouble when he makes his father's watch disappear and can't get it back. The gnome that the "disappearing" objects are sent to notes that nine out of ten people who use it are the same way.
  • Sapient Eat Sapient: Attempted during Malefestra's party in "Wizard's Boy", when some of the ogres attending decide they'd prefer some fresh dwarf to the food being served. The wicked dwarves who were invited naturally think this is a bad idea.
  • Schmuck Bait: Subverted in "The Wonderworm". Jana opening the box containing the Wonderworm proves the key to inheriting its power and overcoming her believed status as being Born Unlucky.
  • Suspicious Spending: Discussed in "Visions", where the girls briefly consider wishing for lots of money but decide against it on account of if they do so, they're sure to get investigated by nosy tax agents if they spend lots, or at least nosy families even if they just spend small amounts at a time (and one remarks on how her own mother considers her spending money on anything, other than building up her college fund, to be suspicious).
  • Talking Animal: The lizard in "Wizard's Boy"; the Squonk in "Byrd Song".
  • Tears of Blood: In "Wizard's Boy", the Wicked Witch Dark Anne weeps sand when her beloved pet abomination is killed.
  • Together in Death: "Bear at the Gate" has a teddy bear named Henry who, having unknowingly earned a soul when his former owner was a boy, goes to Heaven and, once St. Peter determines that he really does have one and how he'd earned it, is allowed in to reunite with his former owner.

    Bruce Coville's Book of Monsters II 

Bruce Coville's Book of Monsters II contains examples of:

  • Badass Bookworm: George Pinkerton, who makes the first of three appearances in this book.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The titular monster in "George Pinkerton and the Bloodsucking Fiend of Brokentree Swamp" turns out to be a human-sized leech which grew to its current disgusting size through mutation and irradiation from a nearby nuclear plant.
  • Covered in Gunge: George Pinkerton ends up absolutely soaked in blood, swamp water, and guts after successfully killing the giant, mutated leech that had been menacing a swamp.
  • Disability Immunity: "Optical Illusion" features a man in a crowded restaurant sharing a table with someone who turns out to be a mutant with powerful psychic abilities, and reveals that he and others like him are going to take over the world, then uses his Hypnotic Eyes to try to erase the protagonist's memory of the conversation. Once the bad guy leaves the protagonist notes that he has to warn somebody, and thankfully mankind has some hope — the smug villain wasn't even smart enough to realize that the protagonist is blind.
  • The Dreaded: The title character of "The Spook Man", to the point where everyone hides inside while he's in town, no matter what.
  • Eaten Alive: Implied to have happened to a couple of the protagonist's classmates in "The First Excuse", who fell victim to a monster masquerading as a school bus.
  • Entropy and Chaos Magic: "The Wizard of Chaos" involves Cai and Arthur finding a wizard gifted with chaos magic, causing seemingly random effects.
  • Hillbilly Horrors: "George Pinkerton and the Bloodsucking Fiend of Brokentree Swamp" features the titular librarian battling a mutated leech in a swamp in Brokentree, Tennessee.
  • Me's a Crowd: The short story "Vend U" has a girl gain the ability to make copies of herself after being eaten by a living vending machine.
  • Sea Monster: The title character of "Sea Dragon of Fife". There's also one in "Trouble Afoot".
  • Sentient Vehicle: The off-looking bus of "The First Excuse" is implied to be one, and a predatory one at that; the students who mistakenly get on it instead of the real bus are never seen again.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: The monster in "Trouble Afoot", which will do anything to keep its existence a secret, and won't stop following anyone who finds out about it.
  • Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth: "Vend U." has Jocelyn, a girl who's always tormenting her classmates and causing trouble at her school, who gets eaten by a living vending machine. Then she somehow overcomes it from the inside and makes copies of herself, allowing her clones to keep tormenting her classmates.
  • Vengeful Vending Machine: At least one of the college vending machines in "Vend U" is sentient, and able to communicate through text on its screen; it takes none too kindly to Jocelyn trying to extract snacks from it without spending any money.
  • Viral Transformation: As with most werewolves, the ones in "First Kiss" can spread their change to others.

    Bruce Coville's Book of Aliens II 

Bruce Coville's Book of Aliens II contains examples of:

  • Alien Abduction: Happens to George Pinkerton and his friend Billy in "George Pinkerton and the Space Waffles", the protagonists in "Fine or Superfine", and a kid in "Hunters".
  • Alien Invasion:
    • The aliens in "George Pinkerton and the Space Waffles" are checking out Earth to see if it's suitable for invading and colonizing.
    • "Brandon & the Aliens" features a trio of aliens invading and devouring local animals.
    • "The Plant People" revolves around a stealthy infiltration- and conversion-style invasion.
  • Big Eater: The aliens in "Brandon & the Aliens", who start out eating things like birds and move up to things the size of cows and horses — and not just one at a time either.
  • Enraged by Idiocy: The alien teacher in "Field Trip" gets infuriated when the students at the human school he's taken his class to spend more time cracking jokes than trying to spread knowledge, and finally decides to take his students and leave.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Becky in "Fine or Superfine", who's from so far in the past that she doesn't know what her fellow captive is talking about when he talks about television.
  • Giant Spider: The protagonist meets a friendly one in "The Spider Beast".
  • Horrifying the Horror: The hostile aliens in "George Pinkerton and the Space Waffles" become absolutely terrified of humans when they discover, via Pinkerton and Billy, that they look just like a common breakfast item on Earth.
  • It Runs on Nonsensoleum: "The Very Long Distance Wrong Number" features an alien who stops on Earth to refuel his ship. Checking the list of ingredients, it turns out his fuel is actually made up of the same things as an industrial-strength frozen yogurt and espresso milkshake with tabasco sauce. And he only needs about three liters. (The drive-beasts process the fuel into matter and antimatter, which powers their star drives, and with matter/antimatter conversion, a little bit goes a long way.)
  • Living Ship: Veeplex's ship in "The Very Long Distance Wrong Number". He gives the protagonists a baby drive-beast as thanks for helping him.
  • The Promise: "Alien Promises" revolves around this; someone is contacted by aliens who promise to return for them. They in turn tell another who takes it seriously, and the two promise to meet up with the aliens when they return. Then the promise gets spread around to others who take it just as seriously.
  • These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: The alien in "Behind the Curtain" has a transportation method that he reluctantly shares with Tanner. Tanner regrets learning it in the end, because now that he knows the answer, there are no more questions.
  • Time Travel: The aliens in "Fine or Superfine?" appear to be capable of this, as they're able to abduct a child from the mid-nineteenth and late-twentieth centuries simultaneously.
  • Tomato Surprise: "Abduction" revolves around a boy who thinks he's been abducted by aliens. Then it turns out he is one, who just thought he was human as a result of his parents, also aliens, disguising him as human his whole life.
  • Tracking Chip: Scientists implant these in a bear in "Hunters". And it's heavily implied that the human kid they find, who's recently suffered from an Alien Abduction, has one implanted by the aliens.
  • The Virus: The fog in "The Plant People" slowly converts humans into plants.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The aliens in "Brandon & the Aliens" turn out to be vulnerable to the foam in fire extinguishers.
  • You Are Not Alone: "Alien Promises" ends with this; so many people have learned about the aliens and kept their promises to meet up with them when they return. There's too many of them for the aliens to take... but the aliens point out that they're all connected now because of this experience. After that night, the humans who were all there talk and agree to do what they can to create a ship so they can go out into space one day.

    Bruce Coville's Book of Ghosts II 

Bruce Coville's Book of Ghosts II contains examples of:

  • And I Must Scream: At the end of "Soul Survivor", the baseball player who was sharing his body with a ghost has his own soul pushed into the mind of a dolphin in an aquarium. He spends the rest of his life trapped, unable to communicate that he's actually a person, and desperately trying to free himself.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: This occurs in "Soul Survivor", where the ghostly narrator and the man who initially allowed him to stay begin fighting for total control of "their" body.
  • Body Surf: "Soul Survivor" is about a ghost who discovers that he can jump into any living person (and even some animals), a power that all spirits possess. It's Played for Drama when he forms a partnership with a baseball player who, unlike his previous hosts, is aware of his presence and initially agrees to share his body. Things take a turn for the worse after the baseball player tells the world about the situation, is deemed insane, comes to believe that his psychiatrists are right, and attempts to force the ghost out.
  • Downer Ending: In "Soul Survivor", the possessing ghost expels the soul of the man he's been possessing into a dolphin at an aquarium... only to discover that his host can't swim. The former human is trapped in the dolphin's body, and the ghost escapes to find another permanent host — the reader.
    • "A Cry in the Night" has the main character being successfully tricked into entering the lair of a ghost who has been consuming children and stealing their voices to lure other kids into his clutches for decades. The story's end has that boy's voice being used to ensnare two new victims.
  • Enfant Terrible: The titular spook in "George Pinkerton and the Bedtime Ghost" is a little girl, no older than seven, who throws massive tantrums whenever a family that recently moved into "her" house tries to put their daughter to sleep. Justified in that she's been stuck in limbo for decades and furthermore, since she died right before she went to bed, she's been exhausted and cranky for all of that time.
  • Foreshadowing: In "George Pinkerton and the Bedtime Ghost", a family reveals that they're being haunted by a shrieking spirit whenever they try to tuck their daughter in at night. As they first explain the scenario, their little girl chimes in with one phrase — "No story" — meaning that she didn't get her usual book read to her at night. That turns out to be the key to the whole problem: the ghost died before her own parents could finish reading her The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and now any attempt to read aloud in her room ends with a tantrum.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: Early in "Soul Survivor", the narrator — a ghost — remarks that the odd passing thoughts that people occasionally have are actually spirits passing through their bodies. It takes a turn for the serious when, at the end of the story, the ghost reveals that he has already taken up residence inside the reader's form, and is just waiting for the right time to push them out so he can wrest total control...
  • Ghostly Goals: Discussed in "George Pinkerton and the Bedtime Ghost". The titular character and his (self-appointed) assistant decide that the mysterious child spirit haunting a family's house must have some form of unfinished business, but they can't imagine what a small girl could possibly want so much that she won't move on. It turns out that she died before her parents could finish reading her The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and she refuses to enter the next life until she finds out what happens.
    • "Call Me Ghost" is about a spirit who can't remember what happened to him. With some help from the owner of the house he haunts and the woman's niece, they eventually discover that he suffocated to death in an unfinished secret room in the basement. Finding his bones and laying them to rest is the key to freeing him from the earthly plane.
  • Guile Hero: The title character in "The Tenant Who Frightened a Ghost" is a human woman who's moving into her first apartment, only to discover that it's haunted by a gentleman. Rather than panic or flee, she instead claims that she is a ghost, too — and an absolutely horrible one, who shrieks and groans and causes all manner of horrible apparitions. The current ghost, terrified at the thought of sharing the space with such a wicked spirit, falls for her lies and promptly leaves, letting the woman happily settle in.
  • Haunted Technology: The title character in "Call Me Ghost" can possess a computer to type his thoughts in a word processing program.
  • Here We Go Again!: "A Cry in the Night" ends with two young sisters falling for the same trick that a horrific ghost initially used to capture and kill the protagonist.
  • Horrifying the Horror: "The Tenant Who Frightened a Ghost" features a young woman who has to deal with an unexpected roommate—the titular ghost—in her new apartment. She thinks fast and claims that she's not only a fellow spirit, but an absolutely horrid one that rattles chains, groans and moans, destroys belongings, and generally scares the living daylights out of anyone nearby. The real ghost is so scared of her threats that he packs up and leaves, leaving the woman to enjoy the apartment free of frights.
  • Impossibly Delicious Food: "Biscuits of Glory" features biscuits that are "heavenly" in a near-literal sense. In a normal person, this causes levitation. When given to a ghost, it "feels like it went to heaven", and is exorcised. This is ultimately a negative effect, because nothing else can compare to the taste of the biscuits.
  • Pungeon Master: In "Call Me Ghost" the titular spirit jokes that he's a real-life "ghost writer" when he discovers he has the power to type stories on a computer.
  • Threatening Shark: A ghost shark is featured in "Shark!".
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
    • In "Call Me Ghost", an author buys an old home and comes face-to-face with the titular spirit. She's not fazed at all, remarking that she was warned about the place being haunted when she purchased it, and promises that if he doesn't bother her, she won't bother him. They proceed to get along great.
    • In "The Tenant Who Frightened a Ghost," the titular tenant is a young woman who finds herself face-to-face with a long-dead man who remarks that he's been haunting the building for years. Rather than panic, the woman quickly claims that she's also a ghost and manages to scare him off.

    Bruce Coville's Book of Nightmares II 

Bruce Coville's Book of Nightmares II contains examples of:

  • Anthropomorphic Personification: "The Homework Horror" revolves around a boy doing battle with the personification of the number five, which is his least favorite number and has somehow come to life to cause trouble for him because he hates it so much.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: At the climax of "Amanda's Room", Amanda's ghost passes into the afterlife after finally accepting that her younger sister Brenda, whom she'd had a bitter rivalry with, didn't in fact want her to die, and in turn accepting her own death.
  • Back from the Dead:
    • A decidedly bizarre version in "Circle of Life". When Corey's dog Shags dies of old age, Corey plants a pumpkin seed over his grave, intending the dog to be reborn through the resulting pumpkin. It works... but the dead bodies of a number of other animals are also reached by the pumpkin's roots and end up sharing the pumpkin body.
    • "The Gravekeeper" revolves around a madman who returns from the grave for three nights a year to kidnap and eat children.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: "Snow" revolves around a couple of kids who wish for it to snow forever. They get their wish, but soon regret it, as the world becomes buried in snow and several people freeze to death as a result.
  • Big Brother Bully: Sister, in the case of "Amanda's Room". Amanda, when she was alive, fought with her younger sister Brenda over anything and everything. She continues to do so from the grave, as her ghost tries to drive Brenda out of what had been Amanda's bedroom. Finally subverted when Amanda's ghost appears and the two sisters talk face-to-face, leading to Amanda realizing and accepting that Brenda never wanted her to die, and ultimately accepting her own death as a result.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: In "The Shadow Wood", while traveling through the titular forest, one of the obstacles the hero faces and defeats is a pack of giant wildcat-sized ants.
  • Cassandra Truth: In "The Gravekeeper", the elderly Dollmaker has always tried to warn people away from the area where the titular monster stalks. Most don't believe him, including Gabriel's mother, who left when she grew up and never visited her father again because she thought he was crazy.
  • Child Eater: The title character of "The Gravekeeper" was hanged after a child disappeared and it was believed the old man had killed and eaten them. Since then, children have disappeared every year during the Harvest Moon, and local legend is that it's because he's still returning from the grave and cannibalizing them.
  • Creepy Doll: "The Gravekeeper" features Gabriel and his grandfather, the latter of whom specializes in creating these and is even known as "The Dollmaker", whose house is full of them. He eventually admits that he makes them nowadays to remember those who've died at the ghoul's hands and frighten away potential victims.
  • Creepy Dollhouse: "The Dollhouse" features one, which Mr. Fowler had made for his daughter Nadine and leaves to Lina's sister Charlie in his will. Lina thinks it and the dolls that came with it are weird though. It turns out to be key to Jake and Angela Fowler's having transferred themselves into another dimension and eventually dragging Lina with them.
  • Dire Beast: In "The Shadow Wood", while traveling through the titular forest, one of the obstacles the hero faces is a giant wolf with an iron muzzle and limbs made of rock. Fortunately, he defeats it.
  • Disappeared Dad: In "The Dollhouse", narrator Lina notes that her dad abandoned the family when her sister Charlie was just a baby.
  • Enchanted Forest: "The Shadow Wood" revolves around a particularly malevolent example, which is cursed and destroys anyone who tries to cut it down.
  • Extreme Omnivore: The monster in the poem "It Came from the Closet", which ate a boy's dog, book, toys and clothes.
  • Forgiveness: "Blackwater Dreams" revolves around Aaron and his friend Donnie, whose ghost has been trying to get Aaron's attention in part so that he can get Aaron to forgive himself for not being able to save Donnie (who'd never blamed him) from drowning.
  • Friendly Ghost: "Blackwater Dreams" has its protagonist Aaron suspect that his friend Donnie, who'd died a year ago, is out for revenge. When he finally confronts Donnie's ghost, it turns out he was wrong — Donnie just wants Aaron to forgive himself for not being able to save Donnie from drowning, and to show him what he's found since he died.
  • It's All My Fault: In "Blackwater Dreams", Aaron's been blaming himself for the death of his friend Donnie, who drowned in the titular lake a year ago. Donnie finally returns as a spirit to tell Aaron that he's never blamed Aaron for failing to save him, saying it was just "a stupid accident".
  • Lame Pun Reaction: Late in "Gone to Pieces", when Roy and Scott are being reassembled, they have to be glued and taped together. When Scott asks why they can't be sewn back up like Larry was, he says "Not unless you want to be the Ghost of Christmas Suture!" Cue groans from the two boys.
  • Literal Metaphor: "Gone to Pieces" revolves around one. As Larry says in-story, "You can close it off, say you're not in pain, but you're going to fall apart sooner or later, in one way or another." This is what happens to Roy's friend Scott, who tries to hold in the pain from his parents' divorce and say it doesn't bother him, but ends up with his body parts falling off.
  • Living Shadow: In "The Shadow Wood", the final challenge that the hero faces is an army of living shadows, which he defeats... or at least, he thinks he's won, as his own shadow finally rises up and blows out the magic candle he'd used.
  • Losing Your Head: In "The Shadow Wood", while traveling through the titular forest, one of the obstacles the hero faces is a headless knight... whose own head is used as the head of the mace he wields.
  • Making Room for Baby: Downplayed in "Amanda's Room". After her older sister dies, Brenda is moved into Amanda's bedroom so their parents can use Brenda's old room, which is closer to their own, for the baby they're expecting. Unfortunately, Amanda's ghost doesn't appreciate it because she hasn't accepted her own death yet and tries to drive Brenda out.
  • Malicious Misnaming: In "The Dollhouse", the elderly Fowler couple persist in referring to Lina as "Nina". It turns out to be because they plan to kidnap her into another dimension and raise her with a new identity as their niece, in place of their late daughter.
  • Mama Didn't Raise No Criminal: Downplayed; throughout "Amanda's Room", the late Amanda's parents seem to have forgotten all the times she fought with her younger sister Brenda.
  • Missing Mom: In "Circle of Life", it's noted that Corey's mother died in a car accident when he was eight.
  • Never Sleep Again: "The Gravekeeper" revolves around a madman who, every year during the three nights of the Harvest Moon, returns from the grave to kidnap and eat children. He won't come after children who are awake though, or who have parents or guardians who stand guard over them in their sleep (as Gabriel's mother had). Or, as Gabriel does the last night, who hide in the closet while leaving a decoy in the bed.
  • Outliving One's Offspring:
    • "The Dollhouse" features elderly couple Jake and Angela Fowler, whose daughter Nadine predeceased them years before the story began (and long even before narrator Lina was ever born).
    • "The Gravekeeper" mentions that many families lost children to the titular monster, and the losses eventually caused them to leave the area.
  • Passed in Their Sleep: The plot of "The Dollhouse" starts when elderly couple Jake and Angela Fowler are found dead in bed together, having died in their sleep. Supposedly. It turns out they actually transferred themselves into another dimension, switching places with a couple of life-size dolls, to start a new life.
  • Raised by Grandparents: "The Gravekeeper" revolves around Gabriel, a boy who's sent to live with his grandfather after his parents die. The old man doesn't want him there because it's "the time... of the Gravekeeper", but the social worker doesn't give him a choice. Fortunately, it works out in the end.
  • Reincarnation: A decidedly bizarre version in "Circle of Life". Corey tries to have his dog Shags be reborn through a pumpkin whose seed he planted over the animal's grave. It works... but several other animals are also reincarnated in the same pumpkin.
  • Sharing a Body: In "Circle of Life", Corey attempts to bring his dog Shags back from the dead via having him reincarnate through a pumpkin that was planted over Shags' grave. Shags is indeed reborn, but several other animals are also reborn through the pumpkin at the same time, which ends up wandering off shortly afterward.
  • Supernatural Aid: In "The Shadow Wood", a hero vows to set out and conquer the titular forest. Before he goes, an old man offers him a magic candle that, if lit when all else fails, will show him the answer to his problem. In the end, it does help him face off against an army of living shadows, but the final one to appear is unaffected by it.
  • Tempting Fate: At the very end of "Snow", after much of the snow has melted, one of the children wishes that it would never snow again... cue the clouds returning and it starting to snow.
  • Things That Go "Bump" in the Night: The poem "It Came from the Closet" revolves around a boy explaining to his dad that a monster lives in his closet. It ate a bunch of stuff, including his clothes... which is why he's naked as he tells his dad this.
  • Unexpected Inheritance: During "The Dollhouse", when the Fowlers die, Lina's family inherits the house they were renting from the couple, along with most (if not all) of their money, and an old dollhouse for Lina's sister Charlie.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: "Blackwater Dreams" features Aaron, who's developed a fear of water and wants nothing to do with it after his friend Donnie falls in a lake and drowns.

    Bruce Coville's Book of Spine Tinglers II 

Bruce Coville's Book of Spine Tinglers II contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: In "The Elevator", Martin's father is emotionally abusive, always berating his son for being weak and timid.
  • Balancing Death's Books: "All in Good Time" has a young Jewish girl try to stop Death (herein called "the Boneman") from taking her grandfather by marking the doorframe with lamb's blood (a la Passover). Death warns her that he has to claim someone, and the girl's pregnant aunt is caught in a car crash. After realizing what she did, the girl's grandfather convinces her to wipe the blood away, because he's ready to go. She does, he dies, and her aunt and the baby recover fully.
  • Cliffhanger: "The Elevator" ends on one — What happens to poor Martin, now that he's trapped in the elevator with the big mysterious woman, who's stopped the elevator and is turning to face him?
  • Enchanted Forest: The subject of the poem "The Toadstool Wood".
  • Go Out with a Smile: In "The Instrument", the protagonist finally gets their prized unidentified string instrument all fixed up, and starts playing, feeling it's worth more than her whole life; she is found soon after, dead, with a smile on her face.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: In "The Elevator", the villain isn't a frightening beast or nightmarish creature (at least that we know of) — it's just a tall, fat woman who rides an elevator with the protagonist, staring at him silently.
  • Magic Mushroom: People are tricked into growing these in "Come Into My Cellar".
  • Mercy Kill: The final fate of "The Packet", which has a small creature trapped inside that's miserable and only wants to die... so Rikki obliges, putting it out of its misery.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: In "The Elevator", Martin — and by extension the reader — has no idea who the mysterious large woman in the titular elevator is, what she wants, why she's menacing him, or if she's even human. Furthermore, the woman doesn't speak (at least until the very end of the story), instead just staring and half-smiling at him.
  • Paranoia Gambit: In "The Elevator", Martin suspects, the second time he sees the strange woman in the elevator, that she's trying to make him scared... and it's working.
  • Psychotic Smirk: The mysterious woman in "The Elevator" sports one of these toward the end of the story. It's part of her unexplained psychological campaign against Martin.
  • Real After All: "The Ragmore Beast" revolves around a boy named Ricky who is tricked into going into Ragmore Woods, supposedly home to a ferocious beast. As Ricky's running away from the supposed beast, he hears the other two boys laughing to themselves about the prank they just pulled on him (they don't realize he's still in hearing range)... except then, before Ricky can leave in disgust, the real Ragmore Beast shows up and tears the two pranksters to pieces.
  • Time and Relative Dimensions in Space: The time machine in "Same Time Next Year" drops you off exactly where you started... except Earth and the entire solar system has moved on. Which is why the time travelers can't get back — they're dropped off in space and promptly suffocate to death.
  • Tomato Surprise: "Biology 205" starts with a biology class dissecting lifeforms. It ends with the reveal that the students are aliens, and the subjects are humans.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: In "The Elevator", Martin desperately tries to convince his father about the evil nature of the large woman who has been riding the elevator with him and staring him down. Naturally, the man just thinks his son is being a baby.

    Bruce Coville's Book of Magic II 

Bruce Coville's Book of Magic II contains examples of:

Note: For tropes relating to "The Metamorphosis of Justin Jones", see Magic Shop.

  • All Just a Dream: "Into the Forest", which starts with a girl going into a forest and getting devoured by a tree. It turns out the tree is the one dreaming.
  • Bad Powers, Good People: Given an aside mention in "Transitions". In a world where most people get the power of wishing when they go through puberty, the main character's late aunt is mentioned to have gotten the power of curses instead. Since she didn't have anyone she disliked enough to curse, she didn't, and the unused curses built up inside and gave her cancer instead.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Brought up in "The World Where Wishes Worked". Unfortunately, it doesn't help a certain fool.
  • The Call Put Me on Hold: "Transitions" follows a family who eventually develop powers when they're around fourteen. At least a few of them developed later than usual, such as oldest sister Opal, who went through transition at sixteen.
  • Forced Transformation:
    • "The Wooden City" features all of its people being turned into wooden statues (and later animated somewhat to serve as slaves) by an evil wizard.
    • "Vernan's Dragon" has the titular dragon being a transformed mortal woman.
  • Fractured Fairy Tale: "The Cinders Case" sets up fairy godmothers and bad fairies and the like as part of the same organization, and is told from the point of view of a fairy godmother explaining why she wants a transfer to the curses department; namely, her last case, which was the straw that broke the unicorn's back. It sounds like a pretty standard Cinderella story; girl wants to go to ball, stepmother said no, fairy godmother is thus determined to see that she does, in fact, go. The problems start from square one: Cindy is tall, gangly, big-footed and not the prettiest thing ever. Her stepsister is the gorgeous waif the godmother has come to expect her clients to be, and is helpful, sympathetic, and wants nothing more than for Cindy to be happy. Then it turns out "Cinders" was the client's idea in the first place, and it's a stage name. She's not interested in the prince, she wants to play the fiddle as a musician at the ball. The godmother makes the best of things (she manages to save Cindy from getting roped into a "standard 10-percent contract" with a talent agent who looks like an encroaching mushroom and, when he's too drunk to lie, shamelessly admits that it means she forks over all but 10 percent of whatever she earns), but she's pretty despondent by the time the night's out (not least because the not-remotely-ugly stepsister does end up in the prince's arms) and after a case like that, her superiors will probably understand if she wants to transfer.
  • House Fey: In "Clean as a Whistle", Jamie Carhart gets a brownie, a small humanoid creature who's been bound to her mother's line for generations, as a caretaker for her room. She's not amused by this, since her room is naturally messy and she likes it that way.
  • Involuntary Dance: As long as someone is wearing the titular "Blue Suede Shoes", they can't stop dancing, and they won't let the wearer dance what they want. Eventually, the protagonist figures out a solution to the overwhelming effects — he and his partner must wear one shoe each.
  • Kill It with Fire: The evil wizard in "The Wooden City", who dies when a king throws a bundle of wood at him and it catches on fire thanks to the torch he's carrying, forming a circle of flames around the wizard that burns him to death.
  • The Magic Goes Away: "The World Where Wishes Worked" features a world where everyone has everything because they can just wish for it. It also has a fool who can't help but make foolish wishes with bad consequences. In the end, he decides there's no way for him to fit the system... so he destroys it by wishing that wishes no longer automatically came true, resulting in this trope.
  • Mayfly–December Romance: "Vernan's Dragon" involves the immortal King Vernan, and his many, many mortal wives. He solves this problem by making them immortal... but can only do so by turning them into dragons.
  • Neat Freak: The brownie in "Clean as a Whistle", who works to keep Jamie Carhart's room spic-and-span, against her will.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: "Singing the New Age Blues" has the protagonist being manipulated into pet-sitting for a unicorn. Its presence in his home turns the rest of his family into these, until he manages to pass the unicorn on to someone else.
  • Pentup Power Peril: In "Transitions", if you don't use your power, it gets twisted up inside you and you get sick. This happened to one woman who refused to use her power of cursing people, resulting in her dying of cancer.
  • Trash of the Titans: Jamie Carhart's room in "Clean as a Whistle" is a disaster area. When her grandmother sends the family brownie to take up the job of cleaning it, Jamie is not amused, and does her best to keep the room a mess. They eventually compromise.
  • Tricked-Out Shoes: The titular "Blue Suede Shoes", which know all the old dances and will help the wearer dance them perfectly. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of effort for the shoes to learn any new dances, and they also have something of an effect on the wearer's personality.
  • Write Back to the Future: "What the Dinosaurs Are Like" sees two kids using magic go back in time, to separate time periods, to find out what... well, the dinosaurs are like. (The spell, incidentally, also turns them into dinosaurs.) One breaks the spell and returns to the present day when he realizes the K-T Extinction Event is about to happen. The other, who went back much further, stayed in the past, and his skeleton is now in the dinosaur museum as an unidentified species.