Foolish readers, Amicus Arcane is back with three eerie stories that vaguely connect to the iconic Disney attraction. Tales from the Haunted Mansion Volume III: Grim Grinning Ghosts offers more of the same from a book series that misses its mark by being too much like an R. L. Stein Goosebumps spin-off than the comedically macabre experience that keeps us coming back for more. Anyone looking for an exploration into the stories behind the ghosts in The Haunted Mansion will be sadly disappointed again.
The connecting tissue in this tome comes from a trio of shady dock workers who take an odd job to deliver three items to a mysterious manor in New Orleans Square. Once there, they encounter Amicus Arcane, the mansion’s librarian, who tells them a story about the three items delivered: A piano, a sarcophagus, and a wooden door with a handle like a snake. All three items are ones you will find in the attraction, but the stories behind them are all modern, turning these cobwebbed antiques into recent additions.
The book’s ghostwriter, John Esposito, has added a few Easter Eggs throughout the stories. The homages to other elements of Disney fandom offer some fun finds for adult readers, but not enough to make any of the material particularly compelling. Amicus Arcane’s interjected commentary proves increasingly annoying and his character is intent on tricking mortals into becoming part of the mansion. It’s far more sinister than the Ghost Host and Little Leota simply inviting you back when you’re ready since there’s “Room for one more.”
Being the third volume, I’ve gotten over the disappointment of finding out that this series isn’t a collection of stories inspired by the lives of famous ghosts from the attraction. This allowed me to enjoy volume three far more than I did the previous two installments. The stories this time also touch on non-ghostly topics, like mummies and witches.
I recommend Tales from the Haunted Mansion Volume III: Grimm Grinning Ghosts to kids who are fans of spooky stories and Disney’s The Haunted Mansion, primarily for those at a 4th grade reading level or higher. While the series certainly appeals to adult Disney fans, the execution is guaranteed to disappoint any diehard fans who were hoping for fun stories from the mansion, particularly since very little of the series actually takes place inside it. For the time being, adult fans will just have to stick to fanfic.
Other Books in the Series:
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.