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Evil Librarian: Finding the Balance Between Horror and Humor

Michelle KnudsenThe Children’s Book Review | October 20, 2016

Michelle Knudsen discusses how she finds the right balance between humor and horror in the EVIL LIBRARIAN series

Humor and horror have always seemed like a great pairing to me. I think I first encountered it in movies, rather than books, and the shared experience in the theater—friends and strangers screaming and laughing in the dark all around you—heightened that delicious contrast of tension and relief. Cabin in the Woods, Shaun of the Dead, Evil Dead 2, Demon Knight … films like those keep you guessing, never sure if you should be braced for something terrifying or ready to burst into laughter.

When I started Evil Librarian, I didn’t know what kind of book it was going to be. I didn’t even know it would have a librarian in it, or that he would be evil … all I had to start with was Cyn’s voice, which struck me as very funny from the moment I heard it in my head. I loved her way of looking at the world, her humorous observations, and it felt like I was just following her around, listening and waiting to see what would happen. Given my appreciation for the horror-humor mashup, I suppose it’s not surprising that once I realized the book was going to be funny, it started taking a turn toward horror very soon after.

I can’t say that I have a certain horror-humor ratio in mind when I write; it’s much more intuitive, following the characters and the action and looking for opportunities to go in one direction or another. Really I think the balance is much more on the humor side in both Evil Librarian and Revenge of the Evil Librarian (coming in February 2017), though. That might be because I like to laugh more than I like to be scared. But I also think the humor makes the moments of horror that much more effective. When you’re busy laughing, horror can catch you off guard. It can sneak up on you and grab you before you ever saw it coming.


About Michelle Knudsen

Michelle Knudsen is the New York Times best-selling author of more than 45 books for young readers, including board books, picture books, early readers, and middle grade and young adult novels. Her best-known book to date is the award-winning picture book Library Lion, which has been translated into fourteen languages, is currently being performed as a musical stage production in Israel and South Africa, and was selected by Time Magazine as one of the Best 100 Children’s Books of All Time. Michelle’s most recent book is the picture book Marilyn’s Monster, illustrated by the award-winning Matt Phelan. Upcoming titles include the middle grade novel THE MAGE OF TRELIAN (the third book in her Trelian fantasy trilogy) and a sequel to her YA novel Evil Librarian. Michelle lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Evil Librarian By Michelle KnudsenEvil Librarian

Written by Michelle Knudsen

Publisher’s Synopsis: He’s young. He’s hot. He’s also evil. He’s . . . the librarian.

When Cynthia Rothschild’s best friend, Annie, falls head over heels for the new high-school librarian, Cyn can totally see why. He’s really young and super cute and thinks Annie would make an excellent library monitor. But after meeting Mr. Gabriel, Cyn realizes something isn’t quite right. Maybe it’s the creepy look in the librarian’s eyes, or the weird feeling Cyn gets whenever she’s around him. Before long Cyn realizes that Mr. Gabriel is, in fact . . . a demon. Now, in addition to saving the school musical from technical disaster and trying not to make a fool of herself with her own hopeless crush, Cyn has to save her best friend from the clutches of the evil librarian, who also seems to be slowly sucking the life force out of the entire student body! From best-selling author Michelle Knudsen, here is the perfect novel for teens who like their horror served up with a bit of romance, plenty of humor, and some pretty hot guys (of both the good and evil variety).

Ages 13+ | Publisher:Candlewick | 2014 | ISBN-13: 978-0763676407

Available Here: 

revenge-of-the-evil-librarianRevenge of the Evil Librarian

Written by Michelle Knudsen

Publisher’s Synopsis: The stage is set for a fiendishly dramatic summer at theater camp for Cynthia and her boyfriend, Ryan. With no demons at all. Right?

Last fall, Cynthia Rothschild saved her best friend, as well as the entire student body, from the demon librarian, Mr. Gabriel, all while executing the most awesome set design for the school musical, Sweeney Todd. But now that all that demon stuff is behind her, Cyn is looking forward to the best summer ever at theater camp with her former-crush-and-now-boyfriend, Ryan Halsey. Once she gets to camp, though, Cyn realizes this summer might not be all she’s been hoping for. First, Ryan’s best camp friend is a girl (which Ryan had never mentioned to Cyn), and she just happens to be ridiculously pretty. Plus, it seems the demon stuff is not entirely over as Cyn had hoped. At least any new demons that show up to ruin her summer can’t possibly be as evil as Mr. Gabriel. It’s not like he could somehow come back to life to seek his terrible revenge or something. Best-selling author Michelle Knudsen brings back all the hilarity and horror (not to mention hot guys) in this sizzling sequel to Evil Librarian.

Ages 13+ | Publisher:Candlewick | 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0763688288

Available for Pre-Order: 

Michelle Knudsen, author of the EVIL LIBRARIAN series, selected these picture books that take on the challenge of change. Discover more articles on The Children’s Book Review tagged with  , and .

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