Title: Goosebumps Series 2000 #20 – Be Afraid – Be Very Afraid! a.k.a. “YOU FINISH THE RECAP”
Author: R.L. Stine
Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus
Tagline: There’s a new beast on the block…
Summary: The dragon’s wings stretched… stretched like a ship’s sail unfurling… and cut through power lines over the side of the street. Electricity crackled and sparks flew as the lines came down.
I watched, frozen in terror, as the dragon turned its massive body toward my house. It pulled back its head in an angry roar of attack.
“It’s – it’s coming here!” I choked out. “It’s coming after us!”
It’s the beginning of the year and it’s wintertime, which means I’m stepping into the role of recapping another Goosebumps 2000 book thanks to my zeal for seasonal nostalgia.
This is one of the 2000 entries that’s been especially prominent in my thoughts since “Return to Ghost Camp” had a preview for it at its end. The title and summary don’t allude much to the actual plot besides the prominence of dragons, so I’ll explain it’s about a card game that seemingly comes to life as three kids play it. However, the story bizarrely gets rather… meta, near the end, and I can’t tell if Stine is mocking his own writing style or what.
Title: Graveyard School #28 – “The Spider Beside Her,” a.k.a. “The End”
Author: Tom B. Stone, a.k.a. Nola Thacker, a.k.a. D.E. Athkins
Cover Artist: Mark Nagata
Summary: Along Came A Spider…
And Sat Down Beside Her…
And They Became Friends?
What has eight legs
And spins webs of silk
And sucks up people
Like they were glasses of milk?
Ask Ari Spinner. She likes spiders. They don’t make her scream. They make her smile. She and the spider are best friends. And there’s nothing she wouldn’t do for a best friend.
In all seriousness Wing if you really are able to comment on this recap despite your arachnophobia it really means a lot to me. I was able to add two pictures, one of Ari throwing a spider and another, well…
I swear I’ll make it up to you.
[Wing: If this wasn’t my beloved Graveyard School, and the end of it at that, I doubt I’d even try to make it through this, but since it is, I’m giving it a try. I love this series, and I love Jude’s recaps, and I’m sad to say good-bye to this world.]
Here we are.
The last of the Graveyard School books. I’ve been recapping this series for two years and it’s finally come to an end. No more Park. No more Stacey. No more puke perfect Polly Hannah. No more Dr. Morthouse and Basement Bart. No more recollections about Ms. Stoker or the Skeleton on the Skateboard or the Ghost in the Boys’ Bathroom.
Title: The Witching Hour #1, a.k.a. “Anne, this isn’t about you”
Creators: Neal Adams, Pat Boyette, Dick Giordano, Dennis O’Neill, Alex Toth
Cover Artist: Nick Cardy
Summary: During DC’s latest foray into the horror / mystery arena, editor Dick Giordano conjured up a triumverate of witches to host an anthology series produced by some of comics’ biggest names. In this first issue, writer / artist Alex Toth provided a framing sequence (with an epilogue drawn by Neal Adams) that introduced readers to the cronish Mordred, motherly Mildred and beautiful Maiden Cynthia – as well as their bumbling pet zombie, Egor. Each witch then brewed a potent blend of horror and dark humor crafted by Toth, writer Denny O’Neil and artists Pat Boyette and Jack Sparling. It was an effective spell that would entrance a loyal audience long into the next decade.
Wow Jude’s actually writing about DC Comics and it’s NOT incoherent ranting, who’d have guessed?
As part of my attempt to start Year Three off strongly, I’m including a review of my favorite of DC’s old horror anthology comics from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Well, it’s up there alongside “Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love.”
DC had a whole slew of horror comics, “House of Mystery,” “House of Secrets,” “Tales of the Unexpected,” “Ghost Castle,” “Doorway Into Nightmare,” “Sinister House of Secret Love,” etc. “The Witching Hour” was first published way back in 1969 and ran for 85 issues before the main characters were transplanted to “The Unexpected” upon the book’s cancellation.
“The Witching Hour” stands among one of my favorites due solely to the hosts that narrated its stories. Every, well, most of the issues, had a framing device focusing on three witch sisters, Cynthia, Mildred, and Mordred. The issues would take place at midnight, where the sisters would welcome the reader and try to see which of the three had the most gruesome tale to tell.
I only own about a couple dozen or so issues ranging from most of the first ten to a few sporadic numbers throughout the run. From the handful I own I can clearly see the formulaic rot that set in, when the humorous framing stories were reduced to a one page joke opener that lacked the style and panache of the earliest comics.
The three witches were later incorporated as part of Neil Gaiman’s “The Sandman,” alongside many of the other horror host characters like Lucien from “Ghost Castle” and the brothers Cain and Abel. Cynthia, Mildred and Mordred were introduced as aspects of the Fates/Furies dubbed “The Three-In-One.” Cynthia was established to be the Maiden of the trinity, while Mildred was the Mother and Mordred (who acknowledges her name’s wrong) is the Crone.
They repeatedly appeared at least once per story arc but in different forms before becoming the antagonistic Kindly Ones in the comic’s penultimate tale.
As of recently, they’ve been popping up in some newer DC works. Cynthia appeared in 2018’s Valentine’s Day anthology as a love interest for DC’s version of the Bride of Frankenstein. The three were later antagonists in a Catwoman/Sylvester and Tweety crossover by Gail Simone and have been bedeviling Harley Quinn in her solo series.
The witches are truly the only reason why “The Witching Hour” remains my top fave of the horror anthologies, and they’ve been especially prominent in some of my DC story ideas. Onto the recap!
Summary: Yuzuru was an average teenager who had almost forgotten that he was betrothed to Azusa when he was only 6! Now arriving to claim what she feels is rightfully hers, only Satomi (Yuzuru’s current girl friend) stands in her way… and with the mysterious and frightening powers that Azusa brings, Satomi won’t stand in her way for long!
(TW: Sexual Assault)
Just because “Mermaid Saga” is over doesn’t mean I’m done with Rumiko Takahashi, which is why I’ve picked another of her earlier horror works for February and Valentine’s Day.
“Laughing Target” is a one-shot story from 1983, not as well known as her other works, but still a prominent example of her solo stories. It was one of the most highly promoted of the “Rumic World” banner, and one of the three solo tales adapted into an OVA.
Please keep in mind I have NO idea how I’m able to type the following information with a straight face, as this is the first time I’ve ever had to use the word “Yandere.” God I’m a nerd.
They found Karen Holly in the mountain stream, her skull crushed. There was only one witness to the tragedy, Karen’s boyfriend, Jason Whitfield. He said a grizzly had killed her. But a lot of people didn’t believe him. They thought Jason had murdered her in a fit of rage.
And now weeks have passed, and Jason has another girlfriend, Cindy Jones. And there are the new kids in town, Joni Harper, the quiet English beauty that Cindy’s brother, Alex, cannot get out of his mind. And Bala, the foreign exchange student from Africa, the grandson of a powerful shaman.
Together they will return to the place where Karen was killed.
Some will die.
The others will come face to face with a horror beyond imagining.
Tagline: You can close your eyes….It won’t help. [Wing: Except, spoilers, that’s exactly what it does.]
This is one of my favourite Pike books, though not my absolute favourite. There are monstrous women and full moons and hunger, and it is all pretty great — except for that girls fighting over boys and boys fighting over girls and racism everywhere. /o\
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.
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.
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.]
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.
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.
Summary: Four teenagers at a British private school secretly uncover and explore the depths of a sealed underground hole created decades ago as a possible bomb shelter.
[Dove: Yeah, no, sorry imdb, but that makes it sound like a caving adventure. What happens is four teenagers are locked in the bunker, with no means of escape, and the film explores what put them there and what happened in the hole.]
Note 1: In England, public school means publicly funded, e.g., the parents of the students, the public, pay for its running costs. I know this means the opposite in America. [Wing: Americans, it’s a private boarding school. It’s great.]
Note 2: I’m trying to recap the story as it unfolds, and if you’ve seen this you’ll know that what you see in one scene can well be contradicted in another. So my comments take the scene at face value. I’ll loop back to anything on the contradicting scene, rather than “spoiling” what comes next. [Wing: Smart plan! And so is the one below.]
Note 3: I won’t mention the contents of the book. However, when I recap the book, I will definitely mention the contents of the film.
Just FYI, this is one of my favourite movies. Please note the difference between “favourite” and “best”. If you want my “best” movie, it’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest or Stand By Me. This falls firmly in the guilty pleasure category.
It was one of the first movies Raven and I watched when we moved in together. It was so early on in our relationship that we didn’t have a TV licence (we were waiting for payday) and so we were very naughty by watching it.
Also, I will be recapping the book. If you’ve always wanted to read the book but never got around to it, go buy the book now. The book is a very different entity to the movie, and it really should be read if you enjoy this story or any variation of it.
Also, I did screen caps of this entire movie for the cap_it community at LiveJournal. Who knew that 12 years later, it would save me a task when I came to recap the movie? [Wing: I remember people frantically asking you to screen cap Kiera Knightley’s tits, and you refusing, like the A+ person you are.]
[Wing: I love this movie so much. Dove introduced me to it, and the book, as she does many things, and I adore it to this day.]
Like RL Stine needs any introduction. The incredibly prolific author of such series as Goosebumps and Fear Street, not to mention the Fear Street Reboot and some adult titles as well, Stine’s been around for a while and integral to the formation of horror love for many people my age. Sometimes ridiculous, sometimes creepy, always some of the most excellent deaths in YA, Stine is a mainstay in the young adult horror world and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The lifeguards at North Beach Country Club know they’re lucky. While other kids are flipping burgers, they’re sunning themselves by day and partying by night. So what if some people say the place is cursed, haunted. This is the life!
And then, one by one, the lifeguards start to die horrible deaths. Someone – or something – evil is stalking them. They all know how to save other people’s lives . . . But who will save theirs?
DUN DUN DUN.
North Beach Country Club in Random Place, USA, with a cameo appearance of Fear Street for about a nanosecond. Where is Fear Street supposed to be, anyway? I’m under the vague impression it’s Long Island, but I could be really wrong there.
[Wing: There is a lot of debate about this. The consensus seems to be Ohio most of the time, but that often doesn’t make sense in the summer books that involve a beach.]
Title: Graveyard School #13 – Tales Too Scary To Tell At Camp, a.k.a. “1001 Graveyard School Nights”
Author: Tom B. Stone, a.k.a. Nola Thacker, a.k.a. D.E. Athkins
Cover Artist: Cam De Leon (U.S. Cover), ???? (Lithuanian Cover)
Summary: Warning: Don’t Read This Book In Your Bunk!
These thirteen chilling stories will send you screaming for cover. From howling heads to shrieking stalkers to larger-than-life lice – read about the unnatural, the bizarre, and – worst of all – the unexplained.
Stay near the campfire. The scariest creatures of all might be right behind you!
As thanks for putting up with my depression last month, I’ve chosen to do recaps focusing on some of my favorite books which means another short break from the chronological order. I just wish I had some commissions to add to this one.
“Tales Too Scary” is special in the Graveyard School series because it’s the only entry that’s an anthology of stories. Unlike the “Tales To Give You Goosebumps” books, this one has a framing story encompassing the first and last chapters, and a features an eclectic grouping of the GS cast including my favorite, Jordie “The Human Computer” Flanders. The situation’s a cross between “Hansel and Gretel” and “1001 Arabian Nights” which of course captured my interest right away.
One of the stories is interesting because it’s told in three parts by three different storytellers.
You wanna believe I began the draft for this last year after I was officially made a recapper by Wing? I couldn’t wait to share this with all of you.
Also, I simply had to include the Lithuanian adaption’s cover artwork because I can’t tell if it’s horrible or amazing.
As a head’s up Wing, there IS a story with bugs, but it doesn’t include spiders.
[Wing: Thanks for the head’s up. I personally adore the Lithuanian cover, though that doesn’t really answer the whole horrible or amazing question, because either, both, whatever, I would still adore it.]
Title: Goosebumps Live On Stage – Screams In The Night, a.k.a. “Hello, Slappy!”
Author: R.L. Stine (Based on stage play by Rupert Holmes)
Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus
Time for another long lost Goosebumps treasure, though this one’s slightly better known than “Haunted Library” and “Surprise on the 13th Floor.”
In the late 90s there was briefly a Goosebumps stage show, though I was barely aware of this since I was like 8 or 9 at the time. I’ve never seen a performance, and I don’t know how long the show ran. Hell, I’m not even sure how I got this book. I think it originally belonged to my sibling back in elementary school, but like so much of their shit, it ended up in my possession because they stopped caring about it.
There are four stories in this book, a wraparound tale and three short stories that feature the same cast of characters. The first and third stories are weird, the first coming across like a rehash of “Stay Out of the Basement” and the third some prototype for the “Goosebumps Horrorland” series. I prefer the second story out of the bunch.
The book came with some illustrations by Tim Jacobus. Unfortunately, due to the size and spine of the book I’m unable to make scans without doing serious damage.
[Wing: I’m still boggling over it getting a stage show. What I wouldn’t give to see it today!]
Summary: Alisa Perne is the last vampire. Beautiful and brilliant, she hunts alone, living among humans, living off humans. But someone is stalking her. Someone wants her dead. And Alisa has a choice to make – to keep a long held promise or protect the mortal she seems to be falling for.
Tagline: This time someone is hunting her…
Oh god, here we go. Five years into recapping on Devil’s Elbow, and I’m finally spending an entire year focused on my favourite of the 80s and 90s teen horror authors, Christopher Pike. I’m saving my absolutely favourite books for the end of the year, but first, I’m taking on The Last Vampire series, which is significantly longer now than the first time I read it.
Note: There’s a lot of religion throughout this, particularly centered around Krishna and Vishnu. I do some basic research as I read, but I have very little knowledge here. My guess is that Pike’s taking a ton of liberties. I think that reading this as an adult, it’s going to smack of cultural appropriation, so keep that in mind when you read the book and this recap.
I loved this series growing up, especially the first book, but oh my god, does it get weird. So weird. Complicated and twisty and fun, but weird.
Though I’ve reread a lot of my Pike books often, this is not a series I read more than the first couple books obsessively, so I’m excited to go through the entire thing again.
2018: The Year of Christopher Pike. Let’s do this.
Harry and his brother, Alex, are dying to fit in at Camp Spirit Moon. But the camp has so many weird traditions. Like the goofy camp salute. The odd camp greeting. And the way the old campers love to play jokes on the new campers.
Then the jokes get really serious. Really creepy. Really scary.
First a girl sticks her arm in the campfire. Then a boy jams a pole through his foot.
Still, they’re just jokes… right?
This has been my all time favorite Goosebumps book since, like forever. I adore everything about it. I love the characters. I love the villains. I love the setting. I love the cover and that one single human girl who has got no idea what the fuck she’s gotten herself into. This is one of those rare books where you like the main character on purpose AND you manage to feel bad for the villains even though you know they can’t win. It’s also one of the more truly fucked up entries in the original series, and I wrote about it for “Endangered Bodies” via discussing the surprising sexual assault undertones.
I still have a completed jigsaw puzzle of the cover downstairs in my basement, and I remember when I was younger how I wanted the sneakers that had the girl ghost and camper on them. Of course, since those were the “Girl” sneakers, my parents sure as hell weren’t letting that happen. At the very least, I was lucky to get my copy autographed by Stine AND Tim Jacobus.
The reason I didn’t begin my Goosebumps recaps with this book right off is because I was waiting on a commission of the main characters, Harry and Alex Altman, from a dear friend who is also one of my absolute favorite artists. I refused to begin this recap until I was able to include the commission in this post, alongside another awesome piece I won in a tumblr art giveaway.
And now, that time has come.
[Wing: When I saw the cover, I could have sworn I’d read this one before, but the summary doesn’t sound familiar at all. We’ll see how this goes.]
The kids all cheer when the bus driver tells them the schools have just been closed because of the snow. But the bus can’t make it through the blinding blizzard, and soon they are trapped in the freezing cold school bus. Through the wind and the snowflakes, someone sees lights on in an old farmhouse – and it looks warm and cosy. But what they find inside doesn’t make them feel safe at all! Strange portraits with glistening red eyes stare down at them. And when the kids go to the kitchen for something to eat, they have to pull open the heavy steel door of the freezer… and that’s just when the lights go out!
Here we have another of the supposed Goosebumps knock offs I mentioned, but much like Shivers the Spinetinglers series is much more darker and slightly geared towards a more older audience than the Goosebumps books were. I found out about this series when searching through Mark Nagata’s website and discovered one of the covers he did for this line. The first entry I ever bought was “Camp Crocodile,” but I’ve only read that book once. I have a modest number of books from this series, but “Snow Day” is currently my favorite.
M.T. Coffin is a pen name shared by a number of different authors, though.
I got this book in 2008 as a Christmas gift alongside “Weirdo Waldo’s Wax Museum,” which was appropriate because this is also one of the darkest YA horror novels I’ve ever read. I was instantly drawn to this book because, snow days and haunted houses, I live for those kind of stories, but that summary didn’t prepare me for the true horror behind it all. And none of you are prepared either. You think I’m being cute for drama, but I am NOT.
Thankfully the book isn’t all plot. A lot of it is geared towards the characters interacting with one another and their responses to the situation they find themselves trapped in. But that means this can be a slightly difficult book because you need to really focus on reading it. The author went through a lot of trouble to make sure the readers paid attention to what’s going on.
Just so you know, even if you can see the ending coming, that doesn’t make it any less horrible.
And it begins, appropriately enough, with the apocalypse.
[Wing: I’ve never heard of this series, either, but it sounds amazing so far.]
Title: Graveyard School #27 – Here Comes Santa Claws
Author: Tom B. Stone/Nola Thacker/D.E. Athkins
Cover Artist: Mark Nagata
Summary: This Year, Santa Doesn’t Care If You’ve Been Naughty Or Nice!
If Kyle knows what’s good for him, he’ll block up the chimney and lock all the doors. He’ll close all the windows and turn on all the lights. He won’t go to sleep and enjoy happy dreams. And he won’t hang up his stocking. Because this year…
Santa Claws is coming to town. [Wing: So many “claws” references in Christmas books, so few damn werewolves.]
I got this book for Christmas in 2004, and it was the only enjoyable part of my 14th birthday. No, that holiday season. Things started off poorly the last day of school before break, when I had to leave early because I was sick. I wasn’t able to stop shivering, I’d never felt like that before. I thought I was going to die. On Christmas Day/my birthday I was still sick, and for dinner I ended up eating McDonalds in front of my Grandpa’s TV, alone, while my family ate dinner upstairs. For the next few days I was not only sick, but miserable and depressed. I couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that I was getting older and how much I hated that. I was terrified. But I still read this book every holiday season because it’s one of my favorites in the series.
The reason I referred to this as “Krampus 0” because if you read this book before you saw the horror flick “Krampus,” you’d feel yourself wondering if the director read this book before the movie was conceptualized. [Wing: I watched Krampus for the first time earlier this year, and now I get a book version (ish) too? This is delightful.] I’m not going to lie, Kyle, the main character in this book, is a little shit. He acts like a brat and it’s easy to see he brings this on himself. But you’ll be surprised when the big showdown occurs at the end, and Kyle shows a lot of backbone. The real draw to this is Kyle’s slick aunt Mab, who just happens to share her name with a Shakespearean fairy queen. Gee I wonder why that could be? Oh also the giant mutant rats on the cover.
Now, I should mention Kyle first appeared in the ninth book, “The Abominable Snow Monster,” and that was his only appearance before this entry. For some reason, the summaries on Amazon and other book sites make it sound like this is a sequel to the “Snow Monster” book when it is not.
[Wing: God, I love this series so damn much. Enough that I was filled with joy over a bonus recap this month.]
L.J. Smith, who finally ditched the ridiculous descriptions and probably realized what she did with Dee in the last book was a bit much so she toned it down a ton in THE KILL. The othering is still there, but it’s minimal in comparison. [Wing: Third time’s the charm, I guess.]
It was Julian’s last challenge before he disappeared into the Shadow World, taking Jenny Thornton’s boyfriend Tom and her cousin Zach: “If you want them, come on a treasure hunt. But remember: if you lose, there’s the devil to pay.”
Jenny, Audrey, Michael, and Dee have burned their bridges, leaving their families behind, to enter the Shadow World with a set of runes, magical letters that open the doors of hell. They’re lost in an amusement park nightmare, at Julian’s mercy as they look for Tom and Zach. Jenny’s only clue it a gold coin, Julian’s gift, and Julian himself, more beautiful, more seductive, and more dangerous than ever. And determined to make her his bride . . .
At this point the kids are like, “Best of seven?” And Julian’s like
Because dude. You lost twice already. Just take your toys and go home.
A little bit in Jenny’s grandfather’s house but mostly in an amusement park of nightmares. BE STILL MY HEART. [Wing: I am so damn excited. Best location yet.]
And then there were four. And Julian.
Jenny – Who’s gone all BAMF and isn’t taking shit lying down and is [mostly] not having any of Julian’s crap and GODDAMNIT GIVE HER BACK HER MENS.
Dee – Who has largely stopped being othered (largely) but her personality changes pretty heavily in this book. I guess the amusement park really gets to her.
Audrey – Is basically looking like a crisped out Tri Pi from Sorority Boys hanging out in a life raft at this point. She’s frazzled, unkempt, and so incredibly over this shit.
Michael – Still a useless coward and I’m not even really sure what he’s doing in the story. He’s effectively dead weight.
Julian – Also looking like a haggard Tri Pi because Jenny’s beaten his ass twice and he doesn’t know when to fuck right on off.
Tom and Zach don’t show up until the end and as if you couldn’t see it coming, Summer shows up too.
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.]
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.
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.]
[Wing: OH NO THAT COVER. We’ve come a long way from the fun of The Band.]
I stand corrected with now knowing that Adams also wrote THE CLAW, a Point Horror addition that the lovely ladies at The Devil’s Elbow already recapped. I’d never heard of it, but should I stumble across it in my used bookstore wanderings I’ll have to grab it.
Remember how I said Adams wrote level-headed and realistic characters that weren’t caricatures of humans? Well, that’s still true, but where Adams’s development was a little better in THE BAND, in SONG OF THE VAMPIRE we got some major plot-serving going on served with a tall Dumbass Daiquiri, complete with a tiny umbrella. She got significantly better with descriptions in this book, throwing down on page two what Megan and Iris look like, however, she does bleed a little more into making Megan look a little more than average in this book.
I had a harder time separating my Lost Boys love from this book, and maybe it’s just me, but I ultimately felt her descriptions were a little lacking here. Where she really amped up the setting of Blue Mesa and ambiance as their own characters in THE BAND, here, while she didn’t short on description, it definitely didn’t feel as involved. There was a moment, and I’m pretty sure it was just the one, where her grasp of feeling and setting really came back to life. But I found myself really looking for that mood-setting tone that Adams has throughout the book and didn’t find it.
Still, she watched The Lost Boys and was like I WANT TO WRITE THAT. And she did. And despite the flaws I still love her for it.
Fair warning: this recap is going to be gif-heavy to supplement the heinous eye roll moments and to throw down the epic Lost Boys love that is this story.
[Wing: This is legitimately the most Lost Boys story I’ve ever read, and I own the damn movie novelisation. It is fucking amazing. And sometimes terrible, because COME THE FUCK ON, MEGAN, YOU ARE BETTER THAN THIS.]