Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #184: Witch by Christopher Pike

The Author:

Christopher Pike is a prolific writer of teen horror-ish novels, with a few sprinkled in there for adults. He is the literary horror to RL Stine’s gore porn/B-movie-type novels. But that’s putting him a bit high up there, isn’t it? Sometimes he overwrites, sometimes his stories are just outright ridiculous. But there’s no doubt he at least tried to insert some depth into these schlock teen horror novels of the 90s.

The Blurb:

Julia is a young woman with extraordinary powers. She has the ability to heal people with her touch. She can also know things that are happening in far off places when she looks in water that has sunlight shining on it. She comes from a tradition of witches, of good witches. But before Julia’s mother died, she warned her daughter never to look in the water that had moonlight shining on it.

Unfortunately, almost by accident, Julia does so. What she sees is a vision of the future, a scene in which a young man she doesn’t know is shot in a hold-up and dies in her arms. Only later, when Julia attends a football game at school, does she meet the young man.
He is her girlfriend’s new boyfriend.

Julia immediately falls for the guy, but it is an ill-fated love. He does not belong to her and he is supposed to die. Or does he have to die? Julia doesn’t know if her vision of the future is set, or if it can be changed. She doesn’t know why the gunmen in her vision evokes such hatred in her, and why she feels she must destroy him at all costs. But using the supernatural powers at her command, and risking her own life, plus the lives of her friends, Julia will find the answers to all these questions, at a terrible cost.

The ridiculous over-wordiness of this blurb is spot on with the wordiness of the book itself. Plus it reads like a first draft blurb. Like re-reading it makes me cringe a little for its awkwardness.

The Place:

Indian Pole, Idaho, population negative six. I think it’s passed off as not a middle of nowhere type of town, but it is. People need to drive a half hour in any direction just to get anywhere worthwhile, like shopping areas or whatever. Everyone knows everyone and has grown up with everyone. Those kinds of towns, but Pike doesn’t much dwell on the place. Not really. And for someplace that doesn’t really bear any significance to the story the name of the town is sure bandied around a lot. [Wing: A half hour in any direction? That’s basically a suburb. Julia, come talk to me when you have to drive 2+ hours just to buy clothes.]

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Posted in Fear Street Recaps

Recap #183: Ghosts of Fear Street #30: I Was A Sixth Grade Zombie by Nina Kiriki Hoffman

The original cover
The scrapped cover

Title: Ghosts of Fear Street #30 – I Was A Sixth Grade Zombie, a.k.a. “Shady School Zone – Bad Future”

Author: Nina Kiriki Hoffman

Cover Artist: Happy Boy Pat (Published), Mark Garro (Scrapped)

Tagline: Class Of The Living Dead?

Summary: Zombies on Oak Street?

Valerie and Mark know there’s something weird about the new after-school club building on Oak Street. It’s blue. It’s shiny. It’s heavily guarded. And it’s surrounded by a force field!

There’s something even weirder about the kids who joined the clubs. They act like robots. And they’ve all become so polite it’s scary!

Someone is brainwashing the sixth-graders of Shadyside. Turning them into glassy-eyed zombies.

Are Val and Mark next on the list?

Initial Thoughts

It’s back to school time, so let’s focus on a very special entry in the “Ghosts of Fear Street” series. This is another book that took me by surprise with how much I loved it, which shouldn’t surprise me because it was written by the same woman who wrote “Why I’m Not Afraid of Ghosts.” It’s got one of the best main characters I’ve seen in these books so far with a plot that really breaks from the norm of the usual GFS books.

It’s also got some of the most disturbing conversations I’ve come across in the entire series.

You might see some similarities to one of the books I reviewed last year, but I won’t say which.

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Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #182: After the Hole by Guy Burt

After the Hole by Guy Burt
After the Hole by Guy Burt

Title: After the Hole by Guy Burt

Tagline: Death is always to be found beneath the ground.

Summary: On a bright spring day in England, six teenagers laugh and joke as they make their way to a neglected part of the institution they mockingly call Our Glorious School. Hidden in the dark hollow of a buttress is the door to a small windowless cellar. Behind the door, the old stairs have rotted away. A boy unfurls a rope ladder and five descend into The Hole. The sixth closes the cellar door, locks it from the outside, and walks calmly away down the flagstone path.

The idea is simple. While their parents think they are on a field trip, and the school thinks they’re at home, Frankie, Geoff, Alex, Mike, and Liz will spend three days locked in The Hole. Martyn will remain above ground, promising that when the five emerge into daylight, they’ll have been part of the greatest prank the infamous schemer has ever engineered.

The three days pass predictably: a lot of talking, some booze, flirting, a few friendly fights. At five P.M. on the third day, they drink a celebratory bottle of vodka and wait for the mastermind to arrive and release them. Thirty hours later, they realise that Martyn is not coming to let them out… ever.

Note: As before with the movie, I will take scenes at their face value and comment on them, and then loop back if they are contradicted/expanded. I’ll actually use footnotes for this though – it will be a number in square brackets. They may even be links if WordPress lets me. This makes it a very hard book to recap, so bear with me.

[Wing: I’m scheduling this post to go public on the first day of fall in the Northern Hemisphere, because it is the start of my favourite season, and this is a creepy and twisty way to start it, and it is also a sad family day from which I want to be distracted.]

Warning: There is a rape in this book. I’ve tried to keep the language I use as non-threatening as possible, and keep discussion of it down to a minimum. However, it’s there. You have been warned.

Initial Thoughts:

This is less initial thoughts and more a warning. If you want to read the book, go read the book. It’s a lot easier now than it was in 2003, when I read it. I had to get an out-of-print second-hand copy from a seller on Amazon marketplace, using a friend’s account (my ex got me blacklisted for six years from 2001 onwards), because eBay didn’t have it.

It’s on the kindle now. It’s £3.99. Go read it, because if you’re interested you’ll enjoy the book much more if you just read it, rather than read my recap (which is spoilerific), and then the book.

The book doesn’t have much in common with the movie, so seriously, this is your last chance, go buy it and read it. It’s about the length of the average Sweet Valley Twins, so it’s like an hour out of your day. And you might enjoy it.

(Oh, and forgive some of the prose. Guy Burt was seventeen when he wrote it.)

Also, I’m actually going to note the chapters in this, because it becomes very significant later, and you may want to check something. You’re welcome.

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Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #181: Deadtime Stories #10: Grandpa’s Monster Movies by A.G. Cascone

Original Cover
DOWN IN FRONT
Re-release cover
When you find your dad’s old porn stash and realize you’re following the plot

Title: Deadtime Stories #10 – Grandpa’s Monster Movies, a.k.a. “A Nightmare on Green Acres”

Author: A.G. Cascone, a.k.a. Annette and Gina Cascone

Cover Artist: ???

Tagline: The midnight show is a scream.

Summary: Home movies can be a horror!

C.T. and his cousin Lea are staying at their grandparents’ old farmhouse. It’s Grandpa’s seventieth birthday, and everyone’s celebrating with a big family reunion. All the weird relatives are here, and all they seem to want to talk about are “the good old days.”

C.T. and Lea think the “good old days” are pretty boring – until they find some home movies hidden away in the attic, movies from when their grandfather was just a boy.

The home movies give them a piece of family history that their relatives never talked about.

It seems that horses, cows, pigs, and chickens aren’t the only creatures Grandpa’s been taking care of on the farm. And Uncle Ernie isn’t the only one at the family reunion whose back is covered with hair. [Wing: WEREWOLF?!]

C.T. and Lea discover there’s a monster among them – and this creature is dying to eat a lot more than the birthday cake!

Initial Thoughts

It’s my grandfather’s birthday this month so I felt this would be an appropriate book to recap. Believe me, I wish I’d chosen something else because of all the hillbilly jokes in this one.

“Deadtime Stories” was written by sisters Annette and Gina Cascone under a shared pen name. It was another series where most of the entries were independent of the other, save for the two “Tiny Town” books which inexplicably featured an identical knock-off of Chucky the Killer Doll named “Hurley the Hobo.”

Terror in Tiny Town by Tim Jacobus
What the hell, Jacobus?

Surprisingly, Nickelodeon produced a short TV adaptation a decade after the original series ended, which of course led to several books being reprinted with new covers. The episodes always featured a framing story of a babysitter narrating the books to the two little kids she was watching, and them always screaming when she gets to the twist ending.

[Wing: That is a serious Chucky knock-off.]

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Posted in Graveyard School recaps

Recap #180: Graveyard School #10: There’s A Ghost In The Boys’ Bathroom by Tom B. Stone

GS School #10 Cover
Blob Loves Thing, Pass It On

Title: Graveyard School #10 – There’s a Ghost in the Boys’ Bathroom, a.k.a. “Okay seriously, who the fuck is watching the door? How did a ghost get in here?”

Author: Tom B. Stone, a.k.a. Nola Thacker, a.k.a. D.E. Athkins

Cover Artist: Cam DeLeon

Summary: Is Graveyard School Going Down The Drain?

Toilets exploding! Paper towels floating in midair! Disappearing soap! There’s no doubt Graveyard School is haunted. But why did this ghost choose the boys’ bathroom, of all places? A few determined students are ready for a ghost hunt? Can they flush it out?

Initial Thoughts

This. This is where it all began for me. A chance purchase at a grade school book sale that evolved into devotion to one of the best and grossly underrated horror series of all time.

For most of the last couple of decades I only put this book in a special place because it was the first I acquired, even though it wasn’t really my favorite. I used to think Alex, the main character, was one of the blander protagonists. However, re-reads over the years have changed my opinion and this is one of the most action packed entries I can think of. And I’m impressed by how much Alex is willing to buckle down when other people are in danger.

[Wing: This series is a blast, and I can’t believe I missed it growing up.]

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Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #179: Mermaid Saga Parts 8-9: Mermaid’s Promise by Rumiko Takahashi

Title: Mermaid Saga Parts 8-9 – “Mermaid’s Promise”

Author/Artist: Rumiko Takahashi

Initial Thoughts

So we’ve reached the last of the stories that feature Yuta AND Mana. The following, which will be the last recap, takes place during Yuta’s past.

I’m not sure how to feel about this because we get a glimpse at what happens when Yuta gets too close a normal human, but unlike with Rin it wasn’t cut off soon enough.

Unfortunately, the story tends to cut back between the present day and the past a LOT, which can be jarring while trying to recap. I apologize if it causes any confusion.

And of course Mana continues to be a badass and a delight.

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