Friday Faceoff – Once Upon a Horrible Time… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFaceofffrighteningfairytalecovers


This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This meme is currently being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and the subject this week featuring on any of our covers is 60s HORROR. I generally don’t read horror – I certainly didn’t read it in the 1960s when I was a child. Except… someone gifted me with a beautifully illustrated copy of Grimms Fairy Tales. WHAT WERE THEY THINKING??? They terrified me. Some of the characters regularly featured in my more lurid nightmares. So this is my offering for this week’s theme. Have you read this collection?


This hardback edition, produced by Nelson Doubleday Inc in 1963 wasn’t the edition that I recall, but it was quite similar. And yes – I still think it’s very creepy and not really appropriate reading material for a precocious, rather over-imaginative little girl prone to nightmares. That cover hints at the horrors lurking within the stories for all it’s colourful, apparently child-friendly boldness and clear font. I hate it…


Published in March 2019, this Kindle edition isn’t pretending to be appropriate for children, thank goodness. That Rapunzel is clearly looking distressed and that wood is creepy, while the font isn’t in the jolly primary colours designed to lure unsuspecting kiddies. This is much better!


This edition, released in May 2014 by Red Skull Publishing is also clearly designed for adults who prefer their fiction on the darker side. That image on the cover isn’t remotely child-friendly and while the stories are staples of the nursery, these versions are all far more savage, as the cover makes clear.


The Kindle, released in May 2016, has gone for a very pared-back effect. I really like it. The classic red on black/dark brown gives a sense of menace and that ribbon of red becoming increasingly clawed as it snakes down the cover is simple, yet very effective. And for once, I am not going to moan about the plain font, which works well with the overall design. This is my favourite – not going to remotely appeal to any misguided adult looking for an engrossing read for their child, or said child with pocket money burning a hold in her hot little hand.


This paperback edition, released in February 2019, has used this cover for a variety of editions, including one said to be suitable for children. Looking at that wicked old crone and those lost children, I have my doubts… Frankly, it’s the Blair Witch Project of its time, as far as I’m concerned. Which is your favourite? Is there a book that you were given as a child that terrified you?

25 responses »

  1. I also prefer the Red Skull version. Not much chance it would be chosen for a child. Although I was already in middle school, a book we had in our house that was a collection of Poe’s works was both unsettling and inviting to me. I couldn’t stop reading…

  2. I can relate to you not liking horror tales growing up. I am the same way but I never suffered with nightmares. I got scared pretty easy and it made me react in anger. Always. I don’t like to get angry. Anyway, I think I like the cover with that skinny man in a suit with the head and wings of a bird. May 2014 by Red Skull Publishing. It reminded me of The Fox and the Crow.

    • Oh, that’s interesting! Yes… looking back, I think I was angry, too – but it was just swallowed by the intense feelings of fear on account of the wretched nightmares!

      Nice now to be aware enough to be able to avoid such material:))

  3. oh no! I’m sorry someone gave this to you to read as a kid!! I haven’t read them but based on most of the other covers I wouldn’t want to read them even now!! Which is why I think I like the May 2014 by Red Skull Publishing one best. It is so clearly a dark book there wouldn’t be any mistaking it!

    • I know! I think these days it would be classed as child abuse! I’m sure it wasn’t my parents, they loved me too much… Probably some well-meaning distant relation.

      Yes – you certainly know what you’re getting with that one, don’t you?

  4. It’s so fascinating the way everyone is so very different, I loved the creepy and dark tales so Grimm appeals to me just on the name alone! I love the cover with Rapunzel but your choice is great – so original and unexpected.
    Lynn 😀

    • I think I might have been able to cope if I’d encountered these as an adult – but as a rather over-imaginative child with major sleep issues. Nope.

      But you’re right – there are a fair number of folks who lapped up these stories as children and absolutely loved them:)).

  5. LMAO! Oh those Grimm tales are indeed grim. I can’t help but smile because this reminds me of the Terry Gilliam film of the brothers Grimm. 🙂 They were a bloody batch of stories, weren’t they? So I’m all for that last entry with the peculiar witch and children. The witch reminds me of the…what was I looking at…norse trolls? Yes, I think it was Norse trolls. Those creatures are hiiiiideous.

  6. Well… I LOVED Grimm tales when I was a kid. I guess they weren’t as bad: scary at times, but not depressing like some (most?) of Hans Christian Andersen’s tales…
    Out of the covers presented here, the Red Skull one caught my eye just because it’s sooo… odd. Not fairy-tale-like at all. Dover Thrift Edition (the last one) has a nice illustration, but in the image it looks blurry and unclear.
    My favorite one? The one I got for myself, first in Ireland, then in the US (when I was moving, I gave the first copy away as it was cheaper to buy it again than to ship…):

    (link is from goodreads, so it’s safe)

    • Yes – and judging from the comments above, I can see that I probably was an outlier. I did have terrible problems going to sleep when I was living in Zambia and suffered a lot with lurid nightmares anyway. Looking back, I know exactly why and while books weren’t the cause, they definitely came into many of my dreams – they still do. It’s why I won’t read horror:)).

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