Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Short and Shivery

Go To

The Short & Shivery books are a collection of children's books made up of scary stories from around the world. The four volumes are:

1. Short & Shivery: Thirty Chilling TalesContents 
2. More Short & Shivery: Thirty Terrifying TalesContents 
3. Even More Short & Shivery: Thirty Spine-Tingling TalesContents note 
4. A Terrifying Taste of Short & Shivery: Thirty Creepy TalesContents 

While not quite as notoriously scary as Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, they proved to be rather popular in their own right.

These books provide examples of:

    open/close all folders 


  • Haunted House: Several cases.
  • Rule of Three: Multiplied by 10. Each of the books have 30 stories.
  • Urban Legends: Each of the four books contains an urban legend commonly known in the United States. See their folders for individual entries.
  • Was Once a Man: Some of the stories involve characters getting transformed into monsters.

    Short and Shivery 

  • Batman Gambit: The skeleton of "The Skeleton's Dance" kept performing and making money for his wicked friend out of the hope they would someday perform for the lord of the province so he could have his friend punished for killing him. It worked.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: In "The Green Mist", a sickly young girl says that "If I could only live as long as one of those cowslips that grow by the door each spring, I swear I'd be content!" A bogie, or wicked mischief-making goblin, grants her wish, and she dies when the cowslips are picked and subsequently wither away.
  • Beware of Hitchhiking Ghosts: "Lavender" has a couple of friends picking up a girl on the road. She turns out to be the ghost of a local young lady who died years ago on her way home from a dance.
  • Big Brother Instinct: This is what leads the titular soldier of "The Soldier and the Vampire" to hunt down and destroy the titular vampire. It's his little sister who's been left comatose and will die if something's not done, and he's determined to save her.
  • The Bluebeard:
    • The titular character of "The Robber Bridegroom" is a variant — he woos a woman, convinces her family to let him marry her, and then, once she's been brought to his home, he blinds her and forces her to be his housekeeper, never marrying her at all. Elsa is spared this fate when she arrives early, while her groom is away, and is told the truth by his last "bride". Together, they escape and expose the robber and his men for what they really are, and the robbers are put to death for their crimes.
    • The demonic antagonist of "Brother and Sister", a were-hyena, marries a woman with the intention of murdering her and, with his hyena kin, devouring her.
  • Cannot Cross Running Water: "Nuckelavee", but only if it's fresh water. It also gets repelled when it's splashed by water from a freshwater lake, and refuses to come out when it's raining.
  • Cassandra Truth:
    • The cantina keeper tries to warn the hero against traveling at night because of the Cegua, but he just gets brushed off — though his words are quickly proven correct.
    • In "Brother and Sister", the young boy sees his sister's groom has a second mouth on the back of his head. When he tries to warn his mother, she accuses him of making it up. His father also refuses to believe him, threatening him with a beating if he makes trouble, and his friends won't help either.
  • Creepy Souvenir: "The Ghost's Cap" is stolen from a ghost one night as proof that the greedy Anya did indeed see him. Her refusal to return it when he comes for her, and then her throwing it in a river, results in her own death.
  • Decoy Damsel: The Cegua appears to lone travelers at night as a beautiful woman needing help. This often convinces them to let her onto their horses, whereupon she kills her rescuer or drives him insane.
  • Demonic Possession:
    • "The Deacon's Ghost" features a demon taking over the body of a man who'd drowned and, using his body, coming after the woman the deacon had been engaged to. The demon is eventually exorcised, allowing the deacon to rest in peace.
    • "The Adventure of the German Student" has a young man fall for a woman who turns out to be a corpse, having been guillotined the day before. On seeing this, the student believes she was brought back by a demon that tricked him into pledging his soul to it, allowing it to possess him in the girl's place.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Many of the creatures such as the "Nuckelavee", which is a particularly monstrous fae that is described as some sort of hulking, skinless monstrosity resembling a man conjoined with a horse, and "Boneless", a creature whose appearance is different for everyone that sees it.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Some characters learn this from the punishment of others like in "Billy Mosby's Night Ride".
  • Evil Matriarch: The stepmother in "Jack Frost", who constantly belittles her kind-hearted stepdaughter and eventually tries to have her left in the woods to freeze to death.
  • Evil Smells Bad: The Cegua is said to have sulfur-scented breath.
  • Explaining Your Powers to the Enemy: In "The Soldier and the Vampire", the titular vampire is perfectly willing to explain everything about himself to the soldier who's come to kill him; he intends on just stalling for time and then killing the soldier, figuring the mortal man doesn't stand a chance. Unfortunately for the vampire, he is the one who runs out of time, falling dormant when the sun rises and giving the soldier time to put what he's learned to use and destroy the vampire utterly.
  • Giant Spider: The titular man-sized creature of "The Goblin Spider" (actually a youkai of some type), which has been capturing and feeding on people.
  • Golem: Featured in "The Golem" from book 1, in which a greedy man asks a famous rabbi how to create a golem like the one that had served him. The rabbi reluctantly tells him, and the greedy man promptly sculpts the thing out of clay and brings it to life. The golem eventually becomes rebellious though, and when its creator learns how to stop it, he does so... and its lifeless body falls atop him and crushes him to death.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Dorothy of "Swallowed Alive" frequently boasted if she was ever lying or trying to cheat someone, then God could open the Earth and swallow her whole. Guess what happens to her the next time she says this.
  • Kill It with Fire: How the vampire of "The Soldier and the Vampire" is permanently destroyed, when the soldier burns his comatose body on a pyre and, when it breaks down into small creatures, catches them and throws them back into the fire.
  • Never Found the Body: In "The Ghostly Little Girl", the titular character is Maria, who accompanied her father when he went out fishing one day. While both drowned, her body hadn't turned up after a few days. However, her ghost appears to a few of her friends.
  • Noble Demon:
    • Jack Frost handsomely rewards the young girl, entertains her, and spares her life when she kindly praises his beautiful winter and attempts to Face Death with Dignity.
    • Francis Woolcott of "Billy Mosby's Night Ride" never bothered Billy's grandparents because they're always polite to him.
  • Nuckelavee: Book 1 features the story "Nuckelavee" (identified as a folktale from the Orkney Islands, off the northeastern coast of Scotland), the title character of which is a particularly monstrous fae that is described as some sort of hulking, skinless monstrosity resembling a man conjoined with a horse. It has one major weakness: it Cannot Cross Running Water (specifically fresh water), to the point where it gets repelled when it's splashed by water from a freshwater lake, and refuses to come out when it's raining. Aside from describing the creature, the story tells of a man named Thomas who narrowly escapes from the creature one night by taking advantage of these weaknesses, running into the shallows of a lake to get out of its range and then crossing a nearby freshwater stream to escape it for good.
  • Off with His Head!: The titular man-sized creature of "The Goblin Spider" dies when Raiko the samurai chops off its head.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The vampire in "The Soldier and the Vampire" is an evil wizard who rose from the dead thanks to his magic, and the only way to permanently kill him is to ensure that every bit of his soul (represented by the mass of lizards, snakes, toads, worms and beetles that his body turns into when burned) is destroyed. In terms of drinking blood, he does not drink it directly from the body but takes it into a vial, and drinks that right before returning to his grave at sunrise. The following sunset, the victim's life-force becomes his, and they die. His only standard weakness is sunlight, which renders him dormant.
  • Our Werebeasts Are Different: The antagonist of "Brother and Sister" is a were-hyena, and has a second mouth on the back of his head in his human form.
  • Pinned to the Wall: In "Scared to Death", the main character is Sally, a particularly unpleasant young lady who goes into a cemetery at night and stabs a cane into a man's grave as proof she was there, but accidentally hits her own cloak in the process and pins herself to the ground. Thinking she's being grabbed by a ghost of some kind, she is literally frightened to death by her own action.
  • Proud Beauty: Lady Eleanore of "Lady Eleanore's Mantle", until her beauty is ravaged by smallpox which she may or may not have contracted from her beloved mantle.
  • Robbing the Dead: In "The Waterfall of Ghosts", the titular waterfall has a shrine with a money box where people make offerings to the ghosts that haunt the area. O-Katsu not only steals the box on a dare (though the people who dare her intend for her to take it back in the morning), she steals a number of coins from it. The ghosts don't take kindly to this and terrify her into returning what she stole, along with giving them money made by selling the hemp she received in return for her deed.
  • Schmuck Bait: "The Halloween Pony" ends with all three brothers (and a friend for each) tricked into riding the aforementioned pony and whisked away into the ocean.
  • This Was His True Form:
    • In "The Witch Cat", the witch returns to her true form when she dies. Her hand, which was severed when she was in the form of a cat, does not — it's still a cat's paw when it and the dead man holding it are found.
    • In "The Loup-Garou", a werewolf reverts to its true form and runs off the instant the old man, Pierre, nicks it with his knife and draws blood from it.
  • Too Many Mouths: The antagonist of "Brother and Sister" has a second mouth on the back of his head in his human form.
  • Trail of Bread Crumbs: In "The Robber Bridegroom", the titular character left a trail of ashes leading his intended victim to his house. As a safety precaution, she adds a trail of beans and peas along the same path, which later helps her find her way home when she escapes (the ashes had since been blown away by the wind).
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: The young woman's boyfriend in "The Green Mist". He makes a wreath with the cowslips, unaware that his sweetheart's life is tied to them.
  • Urban Legends: "Lavender" is the first of four stories in the series based on one of these commonly known in the United States. In this case, it's the story of the hitchhiking ghost.
  • Wicked Stepmother: "Jack Frost" features a girl whose stepmother and stepsister treat her like garbage and decide to abandon her in a forest to freeze to death. Instead the trickster Jack Frost takes pity on her and gives her furs and jewels. The stepmother sends her daughter to get similar gifts from Jack Frost, but her horrible attitude leads to both their deaths (the stepsister freezes to death, the stepmother dies of shock on seeing her daughter's frozen corpse).

    More Short and Shivery 

  • Haunted House: "The Accursed House" revolves around one.
  • Eaten Alive: The ending of "The Mouse Tower" sees the corrupt bishop devoured by a swarm of mice as revenge for the people he burned to death.
  • Enemy Without: "The Duppy" is a physical manifestation of all the evil within a person, finally freed when a person dies and their mind and soul have departed.
  • Enfant Terrible: "The Thing In The Woods". Odette finds an abandoned baby in the swamp, but the baby is really some kind of horrible cross between a large scorpion and a beetle.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Some characters learn not to meddle with powerful evil forces the hard way, such as in "Loft the Enchanter".
  • Evil Matriarch: The wife in "The Serpent Woman", who despises her husband's nephew (whom he's made his heir) and attempts to get rid of him.
  • Eye Scream: Don Pedro in "The Witches Eyes" accidentally destroys the human eyes of his two neighbors, leaving them stuck with cat-like eyes even in their human guises.
  • Honor Before Reason: "Hold Him, Tabb!" features the titular Tabb refusing to let go of the white-clad stranger as the other men cheer him on, even when the man basically floats away with Tabb into the sky, never to be seen again.
  • Shapeshifting Lover: The titular character of "The Serpent Woman" can assume the form of a snake, and uses her alternate form against her husband's nephew. She dies when he burns her snakeskin, but it's only afterward that he fully puts the pieces together.
  • Urban Legends: "Knock... Knock... Knock..." is the second of four stories in the series based on one of these commonly known in the United States. In this case, it's the story of the escaped mental patient and the stranded couple.

    Even More Short and Shivery 

  • Adaptational Villainy: In the other versions of "The New Mother", such as "The Drum" from Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and Lucy Clifford's Anyhow Stories, the title character is implied to be malevolent but doesn't actively harm the children. In this version, she turns them into figurines and puts them in the music box to bait other children.
  • And I Must Scream: The ending of "The New Mother" has Red Skirts and Blue Eyes trapped as figurines on a music box, acting as bait so their kidnapper can catch more children.
  • Benevolent Boss: The servant's master in "An Appointment in Samarra" quickly lets his servant borrow one of his horses to flee to his cousin's house when he comes home frightened after seeing Death in the marketplace. He then goes to confront Death demanding to know why Death threatened his servant. Death reveals she was merely surprised to see the servant, since she has an appointment with him later that night in Samarra.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: "The Maggot" is a grotesque, bloated maggot implied to be the spirit of a particularly horrible man come back to create misery and unhappiness.
  • Big Good:
    • Ironically, "The Rose Elf" becomes this despite being so tiny. It provides comfort to the grieving sister and exposes her wicked brother's crime without anyone ever learning of its deeds.
    • Zofia the sorceress in "The Wind Rider".
    • The unnamed sorcerer in "The Monster of Baylock".
  • Body Horror: The titular "Witch Woman" unravels her human skin like it was thread to transform into a cat creature. She's killed when a young man she planned to devour sprinkled salt and pepper on the skin heap. When she tried to put the skin back on, the agony of being burned by the salt and pepper left her in a hideous, half-formed state until she finally ripped it off and died in the morning light.
  • Cain and Abel: The brother and sister in "The Rose Elf" are the Cain and Abel respectively. The brother murders his sister's lover in cold blood simply to keep them apart.
  • Composite Character: This version of "The New Mother" combines the title character with the character who entices the two children with the drum/music box, making her especially villainous by setting up children to be abandoned so she can kidnap them.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Red Skirts and Blue Eyes get abandoned by their mom in "The New Mother" just because they misbehaved. While it's understandable that she'd get annoyed with their antics, the fact stands that she never even tries to discipline them beyond her vague threats about the New Mother.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: In the third nightmare in "The Deadly Violin", the ghost of the dead man that Nahum built the coffin for (he was making a violin with the leftover wood) says to him "Cast the wood in the fire. Do not use it for any other purpose. This is the last time I will warn you." When Nahum wakes up the next morning, however, he just smiles and shrugs and says to himself "That was a good dream, since the ghost promised not to bother me anymore."
  • Eldritch Abomination: Raw Head is an abomination made from the bewitched remains of various dead animals cobbled together to form one grotesque beast.
  • Everyone Has Standards: The leader of the British soldiers in "A Carolina Banshee" is appalled when he learns what his men did to the mill owner (despite the owner siding with the Americans) and punishes them by making them work in the mill.
  • Evil Matriarch: The titular character of "The New Mother" is used as a threat by parents to make their children behave. The New Mother also goes around manipulating children into misbehaving so their parents will abandon them and she can take them for herself.
  • Haunted House: "The Haunted House" revolves around one.
  • Here We Go Again!: At the end of "The New Mother", the old lady shows two boys the music box which now contains figurines of Red Skirts and Blue Eyes. She then asks the boys how naughty they can be.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The eponymous cannibal tribe in "The Berbalangs" has a unique variation on it. They are said to make an eerie moaning sound that steadily gets quieter and quieter as they approach their prey.
  • Heroic Willpower: Kate of "The Blood Drawing Ghost" slowly manages to fight back against the hypnotic control of the cemetery ghost, ranging from hiding the bloody oatmeal he wanted her to eat until she's strong enough to resist his commands to keep him outside as the sun rises.
  • Honor Before Reason: In "The Deadly Violin", the woodcarver Nahum is described as a practical man who didn't like to waste any wood he had left over from his projects. This turns out to be his undoing when he tries to use a piece of wood left over from making a coffin.
  • Karmic Transformation: In "Forest Ghosts", the hunter gets transformed into a hideous half man/half stag creature, matching the deer he had a personal grudge against.
  • The Lost Lenore: Dicey of "Dicey and Orpus", which is a retelling of the myth of Eurydice and Orpheus. And there's the missing bride in "Never Far From You".
  • Mysterious Protector: "The Rose Elf", who watches over a young woman after her lover is murdered by her cruel older brother, who would do anything to keep them from marrying.
  • Odd Friendship: The eponymous friends in the story "Death and the Two Friends". One of them is a big and strong guy who never knew a sick day in his life, and the other is a small and weak guy who is in such bad health, he spends many nights wishing aloud that he was dead. It gets you to wondering how they became friends in the first place, let alone roommates.
  • Parental Abandonment: In "The New Mother", Red Skirts and Blue Eyes' mother essentially abandons them to go be with their father just because they kept misbehaving.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Henri of "Forest Ghosts" used to love the forest around his parents' chateau and practically lived in it, until he suddenly became obsessed with hunting. It's implied he grew to hate the woods because a stag almost killed him.
  • Urban Legends: "A Night of Terrors" is the third of four stories in the series based on one of these commonly known in the United States. In this case, it's the story of the serial killer hiding under the bed.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The title monster in "The Maggot". Its last victim before being destroyed is a five-year-old boy.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: "Appointment in Samarra". The man heads to Samarra to get away from Death, not realizing Death was already planning to see him there.

    A Terrifying Taste of Short and Shivery 

  • Baby Trap: "The Tiger Woman". The aforementioned Tiger Woman marries the hunter who murdered her brother and father. She waits until they've made a family for themselves so she can kill him, his father, and their two sons as revenge for what the hunter did to her family.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The fiance in "The Interrupted Wedding" interrupts Elli's wedding as she's about to say "I do". The real fiance.
  • Danger Takes a Backseat: In "Narrow Escape", Tessa drives away from the gas station, ignoring Dale yelling at her to get out of the car. It turns out that he saw the Gold Country Killer climb into her backseat.
  • Death by Despair: In "The Snow Husband", Fairest barely lasts for more than a few grief-stricken moments after her snow homonculus husband Moowiss melts in front of her.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Dale the gas station attendant from "Narrow Escape" likes Tessa and keeps asking her out, much to her annoyance. She softens to him after he saves her from the Gold Country Killer, who snuck into her car.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Rapp, Elli's dog, recognizes that the Olav who comes to see her is a huldre. When his mistress doesn't listen, he runs off to get help.
  • Eye Scream: In "Old Nan's Ghost", the tinker's body is found with two gold pieces shoved in its eyes.
  • Fur Is Clothing: The titular character of "The Tiger Woman" transforms this way, via donning and removing her pelt, just like a selkie.
  • Honor Before Reason: Dinkins, of "Dinkins Is Dead", refuses to accept he's dead no matter how many people tell him. He finally stays in his grave when the town erects a tombstone describing what a great person he is.
  • Karmic Protection: The main character in "Crocker Waits" is given symbols of protection by three old women as thanks for previously saving several small animals they are friends with.
  • Mama Bear: Old Nan, of "Old Nan's Ghost", hounds a man beyond death for not delivering her niece her inheritance and dooming the girl to a life of poverty and pain. When the niece finally dies, Nan kills the man for ruining her niece's life.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The mother at the end of "The Mother And Death" is horrified when she realizes she was about to kill another woman's child to get her daughter back, and that her daughter would live a life of misery and pain had she been brought back.
  • Samus Is a Girl: "Peacock's Ghost". The old woman never said the ghost was a man...
  • Shapeshifting Lover: In "The Tiger Woman", T'sao meets a tiger that transforms into a beautiful woman, who explains she's been cursed to transform into a tiger at night and can only rid herself of the curse if a man agrees to marry her. It actually turns out that she can shapeshift between tiger and human at will using her pelt (which she hid).
  • Stab the Scorpion: In "Narrow Escape", Tessa fears Dale means to kill her (either for scorning him or because he's the serial killer who has been stalking the area) when he chases her after she leaves the gas station. When he jumps out of his car and runs up to hers with a tire iron, she begs him not to hurt her — only for him to ignore her and go after the serial killer, who was hiding in her backseat.
  • Synchronization: In "The Mulombe", the magic monster of the title is bound to the life of its owner. When Mbizo succeeds in killing it, it kills the creature's maker as well.
  • Urban Legends: "Narrow Escape" is the fourth of four stories in the series based on one of these commonly known in the United States. In this case, it's the story of the killer in the back seat.
  • Was Once a Man: The titular "Yara-Ma-Yha-Who" is capable of turning humans into creatures like it.
  • When Trees Attack: The titular character in "Crocker Waits" turns out to be a sapient yew tree, which attacks the hero as he tries to make a midnight trip to his sick mother. Luckily for the hero, the plants he receives from three old women fend it off and ultimately kill it before it can finish him off.
  • Woman Scorned: Gender flipped in "The Snow Husband". When Elegant is cruelly rebuffed by Fairest, he creates a homunculus out of snow to woo Fairest. When the homunculus melts in the spring, Fairest dies of a broken heart.