The Baby-Sitter by Jane Yolen, 1989
The magic trick:
Mixing horror elements both supernatural and realistic
You probably know this one from Selected Shorts. It’s so good.
So we have a very nice horror comob here: the scary supernatural mixed with the scary realistic. I don’t want to ruin the plot, but I guess I have to write something. This is a pretty thin blog post if I stop now.
Basically, you get your standard, “Uh oh, the house might be haunted” vibe going. That would be scary enough, but things get really terrifying when the haunted house gets broken into. There, I ruined the story. Sorry. Anyway, it’s scary on both levels – real and imagined. And that’s quite a trick on Yolen’s part.
It was on the night before Halloween, a Sunday, the moon hanging brightly over the Mitchells’ front yard, that Hilary went to sit for the twins. Dressed as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, Mr. Mitchell let her in.
“I said they could stay up and watch the Disney special,” he said. “It’s two hours and lasts well past their bedtime, but we are making an exception tonight, I hope you don’t mind.” His sheep ears bobbled.
He had no homework and had just finished reading Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting Of Hill House, which was scary enough for her to prefer having the extra company.
“No problem, Mr. Mitchell,” she said.