Story: The Bone Wardrobe

As a book dealer, the thing I’m always looking for is The Bone Wardrobe. I have customers who would pay the cost of a small flat for this, in any condition. Copies are increasingly rare, but tend to turn up in good condition. Apparently people tend to destroy the book after reading it.

The Bone Wardrobe is a collection of short stories, written by Paul Croft, and published by Sugar River Press. Only five-hundred were privately printed, and most were destroyed in the fire that killed its author.

By reputation, The Bone Wardrobe is a machine for generating nightmares. It is a book of horror stories so bleak and terrifying that it makes Clive Barker’s Books of Blood look like Books of Ribena. It is said to produce dreams so bad that you can’t trust the next day.

Reviews occasionally appear on Goodreads but are soon taken down. They tend to focus on the effects of reading the book rather than the contents. One described the reader being unable to sit on the grass in the park because they were convinced that the blades of grass would cut them like knives. Such reviews are intended as warnings, but only fuel some people’s obsession.

A few details are known. There’s a short story called The Corn Husk King, and Jailcraft, a novella set in a city called Fibua. Versions of these sometimes appear online, but these are just badly-written creepypasta, unworthy of The Bone Wardrobe’s reputation.

I can’t see the attraction of reading a book so terrifying that readers have taken to sleeping only in locked and barricaded rooms – but then, I’ve never understood why people want to read horror at all. I think it might be an sort of mental illness. If I ever find a copy of The Bone Wardrobe, I know better than to read it, but I’ll certainly be putting it up for sale.

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