Title: Scary Stories for Young Foxes
Author: Christian McKay Heidicker
Synopsis: The haunted season has arrived in the Antler Wood. No fox kit is safe.
When Mia and Uly are separated from their litters, they discover a dangerous world full of monsters. In order to find a den to call home, they must venture through field and forest, facing unspeakable things that dwell in the darkness: a zombie who hungers for their flesh, a witch who tries to steal their skins, a ghost who hunts them through the snow . . . and other things too scary to mention.
Featuring eight interconnected stories and sixteen illustrations.
Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!
Trigger Warning: animal abuse.
I FINALLY finished this. Scary Stories for Young Foxes is a bit of a difficult book to unpack. Author Christian McKay Heidicker pulls zero punches in what should be some “spooky stories in the dark.”
Scary Stories for Young Foxes is admittedly, not for the faint of heart. There’s so much darkness and discomfort that at times I had to stop reading and give myself a break from the kinds of imagery being presented. There’s so many disturbing images of animals being abused, chloroformed, and being turned into “their true selves.” There’s a demented version of Beatriz Potter in this story who gave this reader some nightmares, especially given some of the implications of the stories she wrote that already exist in the world. Yes, I knew there was some weird undertones in her stories, but this book takes it to a completely different level.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had to put a book down, and here’s the thing: I LIKE this book a fair bit because I think that aesthetically it does an amazing job of being haunting and disturbing in a way where you’re getting just the right amount of information. Heidicker gives the reader a carrot on the stick — just enough to keep you moving, then the wall hits you. The little foxes in this story are ones you sympathize with, ones you understand their discomfort. The ones who you know are trying to be brave just are so frightened at the same time.
Mia and Uly story of separation and survival is captivating, as it is, disturbing as all hell. All eight stories offer such strange and weird vibes that are both enjoyable but unnerving at the same time.