Tales for the Midnight Hour Original Cover
Tales for the Midnight Hour 1986 Cover
Title: Tales for the Midnight Hour
Author: Judith Bauer “J.B.” Stamper
As part of my attempt to start off Year Three on the right foot, I’ll be reviewing one of my favorites of the Point Horror collection. Though this book was originally published back in 1977, which I believe predates the inception of the original Point Horror line. Nevertheless its three follow-up books were published under Point, as were the two reprint collections (which are the copies I own).
Much like “Short & Shivery” these tales were a big inspiration on some of my earliest attempts at fan fiction. I adapted “The Furry Collar” and “The Velvet Ribbon” as two DC Comics fan fics which you can still read online on fanfiction.net and DeviantArt.
The one story I’ve ever read by J.B. Stamper before I got this collection was her short tale in the first “Thirteen” collection. My only real problem with J.B.’s writing is she tends to abuse ellipses too much at the ending of some of the stories, not helped by her blatantly stating the obvious and making it hard to take the final shock seriously. [Wing: Oooh, she’s the predecessor of Dove’s nemesis, R.T. Cusick!]
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Sweet Sixteen by Francesca Jeffries
Title: Sweet Sixteen by Francesca Jeffries
Summary: Leslie can’t wait to turn sixteen. She’s planning a huge birthday Party. Everyone’s invited. Her gorgeous boyfriend, Rick. Her best friend, Deborah. Her cousin, Trish. It’s going to be the biggest bash ever. [Wing: That … that is a list of three people. THREE.]
But out of the blue, weird things start happening. Scary things. She nearly gets knocked down by a runaway car. People start getting hurt. It seems like someone doesn’t want Leslie to make it to sweet sixteen.
But a few little accidents won’t scare Leslie. She is going to have her party. Even if it kills her…
Tagline: Sweet sixteen and never been…killed
Hi guys! How’ve you been? I’ve been great, lots of exciting stuff happening (to any American readers with Arthritis you may see my face advertising your medication very soon [Wing: Well that’s interesting!]), but I’m so happy to be back doing a recap which I hope y’all enjoy!
As a child I really liked this book and really wanted a huge sweet sixteen….I’m going to be honest, while reading this book I kept trying to remember what I did for my sixteenth and I have absolutely no memory of even turning 16. I think I went for a meal with my friends? Or we snuck out and went clubbing? But I did that a lot so it wasn’t a sixteen thing, it was more like a Saturday thing. I remember when I turned 13 I went to the cinemas with a bunch of friends and my mum. In my family, it was more of a celebration to turn eighteen or twenty-one. I definitely remember my twenty-first, I don’t remember my eighteenth.
I may need to see someone…..
Anyway I did enjoy this book, it wasn’t as awesome as I remember but I didn’t hate it (Side eyes Halloween 2) The ableism was annoying as hell but there wasn’t a lot of it and Leslie was a solid character who was easy to empathise with.
[Wing: Aaaah, Sweet Sixteen. Mine was a party, but it was in that weird time where I wasn’t quite out of the church cult yet but I was involved with decidedly non-church-cult-friendly people like Ostrich, so the party was mostly church cult people (surprisingly enough, because church cult didn’t believe in celebrating birthdays, though it had loosened up a bit by then), but then later on there was drinking. Fun times.]
Title: Driver’s Dead by Peter Lerangis
A rather prolific author, Peter Lerangis has been writing for decades, although if you go to his website the farthest back you’ll find is his The Watchers series. No mention of his Point Horror writing that I can find. Seriously. Not even his Wiki page goes beyond his Watchers series. Don’t worry. I believe I’ve found them. Titles include DRIVER’S DEAD, THE YEARBOOK, and X-ISLE. Seems like he doesn’t want the taint, maybe? Or it’s just that his various other series have done so well there’s no need to put that retail work on his resume any longer. [Wing: Those the books I’ve found by him, too (with X-Isle being a two book series). He also ghostwrote some of the Baby-Sitters Club books.]
Anyway, he has a weird thing for the Vietnam War in this book, and I don’t know why. The premise seems to hinge on a “crazy” Vietnam vet and one of the characters being a refugee from the area and trying to find his parents. It’s just the date seems really off. The book was published in 1994. That’s a big, lingering gap for Vietnam relevance. It was just weird. It didn’t necessarily seem forced, but the timing was off enough that it really stood out.
Also every. Single. Chapter. Ends on a cliffhanger. All of them.
Nightmare – dead ahead.
Kristen’s not a very good driver. And the driver’s ed classes aren’t helping. No matter how hard she tries, she just can’t get the hang of being behind the wheel.
Rob’s a very good driver. And he wants to give Kirsten a few tips on how to improve her driving. But after the first session, Rob turns up missing.
Kirsten is beginning to realize that this class may be a little more than she bargained for. A class that may drive her crazy – or to death.
That is . . . Really bad. One, it’s vaguely relevant to the plot. It just leaves out a whole shit ton of applicable details like Rob being a shitbag, the fact that he doesn’t turn up missing, but dead, and the story actually doesn’t center around the class itself. Driver’s ed precipitates a lot of the events, but the class is really more of a passing thing. The contest is really the driving force behind this (pun intended), along with, you know. Being haunted by a dead kid that’s screwing with her head.
Title: Halloween Night 2 by R. L. Stine
Summary: Brenda isn’t really looking forward to Halloween this year. After all, it was only twelve months age that her best friend tried to kill her at a Halloween party and she’d rather not be reminded of that. [Wing: I’d rather not be reminded of that recap either.]
But her friends persuade her to take part in a Halloween revenge prank, guaranteed to scare the victim to death. And soon Brenda realises that she is never going to leave the terror of Halloween night behind…..
Tagline: Trick, treats and…death
Hey guys, how’ve you been? I’m good thank you, a little under the weather-sore throat, headachy that sort of thing but nothing too serious just a typical change of weather cold. Speaking of, the weather has been great here, perfect Autumn weather very mild and breezy, some rain, the type were you can throw on a lovely warm jumper and go for a walk around the Common drinking a hot chocolate or snuggle up in bed with a good book and light rain tapping on the window. Work? Yeah work is going well thanks, except for the ridiculous amounts of stairs I have to walk up and down but at least my ass and legs will get toned-Amirite?
Huh? What’s that? Am I mindlessly rambling on about my daily schedule in order to avoid recapping this book? Now why would you suggest such a thing!? Questioning my work ethic and dedication? Well, yes you’re right I’m doing exactly that. This. Book. Gah. I only vaguely remembered this book before I read it. I don’t know what I was expecting but in retrospect I should have reread Wing’s awesome review of Halloween Night BEFORE I read Halloween Night 2: The EXACT Same Story But Suckier. Everyone in this book is insufferable and Stine has never met a cliff hanger he didn’t want to take behind a shed and get pregnant. That being said, lets all work together and power through. [Wing: NO. I refuse. I did my time. (Seriously, I’m grateful that Tuesday took this one on, because I could not do a repeat of the first book.)]
[Wing: Happy 100 recaps! You, our readers and podcast listeners, are the best part of recapping. You’re smart and funny and engaged, and we appreciate you so much! I’m thrilled we’ve made it this far, and I look forward to 100 more.]
Who uses really oddball descriptions of things, repeatedly. Seriously. What the hell are spaniel eyes?
Maybe? I don’t know. But one character, Michael, always has some kind of spaniel eyes going on. And Audrey with her spiky lashes and bangs. The same thing. All the time.
And who others the crap out of every POC character in her book to extremes. It was really bad in THE CHASE. Really, really bad.
[Wing: Good times, good times. Adorable dog. And I still love Teen Creeps taking on this series. Here’s their episode for The Chase.]
The Blurb: Why is her boyfriend Tom avoiding her – while other boys pursue her as never before? Jenny Thornton has changed. So have her friends. Because of Julian, the Shadow Man, who has returned to terrorize them with a new game, a hunting game, Lambs and Monsters. They’re the lambs, to be stalked, pounced upon, and lost to the Shadow World forevermore. The monsters are the Lurker, a ghostly wolf, and the Creeper, a phantom snake. One by one, Jenny’s friends disappear, leaving behind only a paper doll – and a riddle with clues about who will be next . . . . Jenny must find Julian’s hidden base and save her friends before it’s too late. But how can she resist the predatory prince of darkness who has returned to make her his own?
That entire first sentence can just be erased and it won’t take anything away from the blurb, mainly because it really doesn’t fit and because it’s such an infinitesimal part of the story as to be largely unimportant. Mainly because Jenny knows she’s changed and she figures out on her own why and how. It has nothing to do with boys. Damn YA books.
[Wing: My god, that game sounds amazing. I want to play Lambs and Monsters.]
The Place: This time mostly within Jenny’s neighborhood and home. Julian decides to bring the game to them, to every place they always felt safe he takes it upon himself to violate. Goes along with the mindfucking he does in this book and quite honestly, I kind of love it a little. [Wing: I love the transition from them being in his strange, terrible place to him being in their place, where they are comfortable and safe and happy. Twisting that is a great horror trope.]
Title: The Cemetery by D. E. Athkins
Summary: At a Hallowe’en party with very exclusive guests, the disguised play a game of hide and seek in an ancient cemetery as midnight approaches. When someone is killed, all the partygoers can do is suspect each other – unless there is an unknown player.
Tagline: Don’t look behind you…
Every time I see the name D. E. Athkins, I laugh, which is probably not the intended response. I can’t help it. Deathkins writing Point Horror? Good lord, be more subtle.
Beyond that, I find D. E. Athkins’ work hit or miss, whether under this pseud or as Nola Thacker (who also wrote the Graveyard School series as Tom B. Stone and sometimes filled in as the ghost writer for the Nightmare Hall series under Diane Hoh’s name). (My god, the authors we recap here are an incestuous lot, aren’t they?) (Note: No actually claim or accusation of real incest here.)
All that being said, I love the summary of this book (… minus the Hallowe’en spelling, which just looks twee), and I hope we’ll all enjoy it.
LJ Smith was never part of my reading repertoire when I was younger. In fact I never even read The Vampire Diaries until earlier this year and it was only the very first book (the original, not the re-releases). That kind of drama never interested me and still doesn’t. I’ve always known who she was thanks mostly to my fellow Lost Boys mailing listers who talked about her work a lot. But hers were never books I picked up.
I stumbled upon The Forbidden Game series completely by accident and I kind of love her style of writing here. Slightly lyrical, much descriptive, and writes pretty relatable, realistic characters (mostly). For the most part, this is what I know of LJ Smith despite her grander library of works. I do have other books of hers on my shelves, including some non-sequential Night World books (all originals, not the re-releases, I avoid those regardless of author, if I’m going to read 90s teen cheese it’s going to be in its original glory). But the impression I do have of her writing, even factoring in book one of The Vampire Diaries, is pretty good.
[Wing: I never read her as a teen, either, though a friend sent me the entire Night World series when I was in my early twenties, and I loved them. I’ve since read other things, including The Vampire Diaries back when I recapped season one for a website, but Night World remains my favourite of her works.
However, I love the Teen Creeps’ podcast discussions of the books: Teen Creeps and The Hunter.]
The Blurb: He sold her the Game, and Jenny Thornton walked out mesmerized by Julian, the gorgeous cyber-punk with electric blue eyes and frost-white hair. When she and her friends open the plain white box at her boyfriend Tom’s birthday party, she chills to the warning: “Entering the Shadow World can be deadly. Do so at your own risk.” Spellbound, they piece together the cardboard Victorian house and decorate the rooms with their darkest nightmares. Suddenly the game is real! They’re in the house of horror, running from The Shadow Man — Julian himself, who forces them to confront their worst nightmares or be lost in a private hell. It’s Julian’s game, and Jenny is the prize he’s stalked for years. He’ll do anything to win her as she bargains desperately for her body — and soul . . .
Smith has a thing for cyberpunk and mentions it a lot throughout the book, especially in regard to how Julian is described. I’m a child of the 90s but cyberpunk is just a hint too old for me so I did have to look it up. And yeah. Hackers. Black turtlenecks and the blue glow of a computer forever etched onto a person’s face. Okay.
[Wing: Cyberpunk was very popular in my classes in the 2000s.]
Title: The Hitchhiker by R. L. Stine
Summary: He wants a ride. She wants a thrill. So, in spite of her best friend’s arguments, Christina stops to pick up the handsome hitchhiker. He’s everything she thought he’d be. And more. Much, much, more. Enough to thrill Christina and Terri… to death.
Tagline: Don’t stop now
Note: As Dove requested, I’ve updated my template, because we now apparently call the Bad Guys Muffin Man. Hey, it makes as much sense as most Point Horrors.
I don’t remember ever reading this one before, but I love road trips and road horror and hate the torture porn that now comes with this type of story. We’ll see where Stine falls in that spectrum. I don’t have high hopes, considering our feud.
(Here’s the podcast episode for this book.)
Identity Theft by Anna Davies
Title: Identity Theft by Anna Davies
Summary: Hayley is going to have the best year ever. After years of careful planning, she’s ready to serve as student council president AND editor-in-chief of the newspaper. Ivy League, here she comes!
However, just before student council elections, someone creates a fake facebook profile for Hayley and starts posting inappropriate photos and incriminating updates. It must be the work of a highly skilled Photoshopper, but the attention to detail is scary. The embarrassing photos of “Hayley” in her bathing suit reveal a birthmark on her back–a birth mark Hayley has never shown in public. . .
The situation escalates until Hayley’s mother reveals some shocking information. Hayley isn’t an only child: She has a twin sister who was adopted by a different family. And that’s not all. Soon, Hayley discovers that her long-lost sister isn’t just playing a prank–she’s plotting to take over Hayley’s life . . . by any means necessary. [Wing: Note: NO STUDENT COUNCIL ELECTIONS. No fucking birthmark. And if I’d read the summary before the book, it would have given away the big twist. What the fuck, publisher?]
Tagline: Some friend requests refuse to be ignored… [Wing: Note: NO FUCKING FRIEND REQUESTS ACTUALLY HAPPEN TO HAYLEY.]
The dedication reads: To the NYC crew: For always keeping me on the right side of sanity
Unsurprisingly, I am not looking forward to reading this book. I know I’ve read it before (and it’s the book that made Dove quit all new Point Horror until we recapped them), but I don’t remember a damn thing about it except that Dove hates it. I’m hoping for lots of Dove Goes Boom moments to get me through.
[Dove: Yep, I haven’t read this from beginning to end. I actually refused to finish it because it was so awful, so… I guess my feelings about this pointless waste of my time can be inferred from that. Also this will mean my comments are largely useless. I’m actually very much looking forward to Wing’s recap of this, because it means I’ll get to find out exactly how it happens without having to revisit the book itself.]
[Wing: YOU DIDN’T EVEN FUCKING READ IT THIS TIME?! DO YOU KNOW THE TERRIBLE BOOKS I’VE READ SO I CAN PROPERLY COMMENT ON YOUR RECAPS?! YOU LEFT ME TO DEAL WITH THIS ALONE?! WHAT THE EVER LOVING FUCK, DOVE.]
Wickedpedia by Chris Van Etten
Title: Wickedpedia by Chris van Etten
Summary: It’s the return of Point Horror for the Internet generation! Don’t open the door. Don’t answer your phone. And whatever you do, DON’T turn on your computer…
Cole and Greg love playing practical jokes through Wikipedia. They edit key articles and watch their classmates crash and burn giving oral reports on historical figures like Genghis Khan, the first female astronaut on Jupiter. So after the star soccer player steals Cole’s girlfriend, the boys take their revenge by creating a Wikipedia page for him, an entry full of outlandish information including details about his bizarre death on the soccer field.
It’s all in good fun, until the soccer player is killed in a freak accident… just as Cole and Greg predicted. The uneasy boys vow to leave Wikipedia alone but someone continues to edit articles about classmates dying in gruesome ways… and those entries start to come true as well.
To his horror, Cole soon discovers that someone has created a Wikipedia page for him, and
included a date of death. He has one week to figure out who’s behind the murders, or else he’s set to meet a pretty grisly end.
Note: There is no Greg. His name is Gavin. A+ editing there. 10 points!
Tagline: COLE is about to go off-line… forever.
Notes: I will use “Bad Guy” throughout my reviews to refer to the anonymous killer/prankster/whatever. Doesn’t mean it’s a guy. I will now refer to the bad guy as “Muffin Man” because of The Mall.
I don’t wanna. I don’t wanna. I DON’T WANNA.
First of all, before we even start, let me just say that I’m not entirely enthusiastic that the new books have male leads (not all, but half). The last male lead was an obnoxious, hipster twat, with all the charisma of week-old semolina. Second of all, the new books are written – as far as I can tell – by people who don’t know what they’re on about regarding technology. For example, in Defriended the willful denial of catfishing was the only thing that allowed the story to progress – a quick watch of Nev and Max in action would have sorted the problem in 20 minutes.
And regarding wiki, the idea that these morons usually edit articles and they stay up long enough to fool everyone in school and bugger their reports: no. I remember when Randy Orton (from WWE and “RKO out of nowhere” meme fame) got new branding as the “apex predator”, someone went trolling on Wiki, and kept putting him down as an example on the apex predator page. A studious wiki editor was on that edit in seconds. And for the lolz, I screencapped it as it was happening. Who knew that five years later it would be handy? (Also, in 2014 either the same or a different joker tried again and got shut down just as quick.)
Randy Orton is an Apex Predator. No he’s not. Yes he is. etc. (Click for readable size)
So tl;dr: I DON’T WANNA.
[Wing: I am no fan of the new Point Horror, but Dove’s hatred of them entertains me endlessly. We were actually on a call when she finished reading this one, and being able to see her expressions as she did so was by far the best choice I’ve made this year.]
Evil twins, Wing and Dove, and their friends recap Point Horror and other teen genre fiction.
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