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.
Don’t open that present!
If only Reva had listened to that warning.
But beautiful, cold Reva won’t listen to anyone. Reva thinks she can have whatever—and whoever—she wants. After all, her daddy owns Dalby department Stores.
Now, someone has some surprises instore [sic] for her. Robbery? Terror? Even murder? Someone wants to treat Reva to a holiday she’ll never forget.
Holiday cheer quickly turns to holiday chills for Reva. Someone is stalking her, someone is trying to get to her.
Her money can’t help her. No one can.
After all, who can you turn to when murder comes gift-wrapped?
Can I get a photo of gift-wrapped murder? Please?
[Wing: We believe holiday horror has no deadline around here, so let’s end 2018 with a few more Christmas-themed stories.]
Continue reading »
Maybe she can get store credit?
Title: Fear Street #17 – The Best Friend, a.k.a “Baby’s First Fear Street”
Author: R.L. Stine
Cover Artist: Bill Schmidt
Tagline: Sometimes friendship can be murder….
Summary: Best friends… to the end!
Who is Honey Perkins? She’s been telling everyone in Shadyside that she’s Becka Norwood’s best friend. But Becka’s sure she’s never met Honey before.
Honey systematically moves in on Becka’s life, copying her in every way. But when Becka presumes to have more than one “best friend,” the horrible accidents begin.
Does Honey just want a friend? Becka wonders. Or does she want more – much more!
This is where it all began for me. I remember like it was yesterday. Me, a young child, with my mom and Nana in K-Mart looking at the book section. When suddenly I saw a small paperback with the image of a teenage girl horrified by a Christmas present in her lap. Upon closer inspection, I saw the present had a knife sticking out of it.
Even though I didn’t know what the title was, the memory of that cover stuck with me for a while. It was a couple of years later when I learned I was looking at “The Best Friend” in R.L. Stine’s teen series, “Fear Street.” I had no idea at the time Stine wrote this book, so it was an amazing coincidence that the book I remembered was also written by the guy who wrote “Goosebumps.”
Coincidence? Or maybe fate?
As you can guess, people have described this book as “Single White Female on Fear Street.” Of course I’ve never seen the movie myself.
Re-reading this book for the first time in years, I found myself feeling genuinely unsettled and disturbed by what went on. I knew of course the plot and what happened, but not from repeated re-reads. For some reason, the reviews I’ve seen of this book have derided Becka, the main character, as annoying and a bad friend. Honestly, I don’t see it. Becka’s probably one of the biggest victims in the entire franchise because of what Honey Perkins does to her life in this story.
Becka Norwood and Honey Perkins by Nanihoo – Nanihoo has been an absolute joy to commission this past year. She’s done numerous design commissions and helped me flesh out one of my comic ideas farther then I’ve ever gone in years
[Wing: That is such a fun piece of art!]
Oh and FYI, when R.L. Stine signed my copy last year, he told me everyone HATED the ending when it came out. Which probably explains how “The Best Friend 2” happened.
[Wing: Damn it, Stine, stick to your guns!]
Diane Hoh – Nightmare Hall – The Whisperer
Title: Nightmare Hall #12: The Whisperer
Summary: Shea Fallon can’t tell anyone what she did. She knows it was wrong. Terribly wrong. But she had to do it – she had no choice. Anyway, she’s sure nobody will find out. Until she hears the whisper on the telephone. “You don’t have to worry. No one will know what you’ve done. I’ve seen to that.” Who is the whisperer, and how does he know? Shea wonders. And even more terrifying…what will the whisperer’s price be to keep her secret?
Notes: I will refer to the bad guy/girl as The Whisperer since, well, that’s what they are!
Welcome back, Diane Hoh. Why do you leave us? Your fill-in’s last contribution was real bottom of the barrel stuff and was almost my Last Date with the series. [Wing: Badumcha.]
As always, I have good memories of this, because it’s from Ms. Hoh. Shea’s big secret is that she cheated on an exam. I’ve never done that. Ironically enough, I’m not clever (or devious) enough to think up a scenario in which I could do so. I did okay, though. I got a degree. For all the good it did in securing a job. (I have had many jobs since university, of course, but my degree had nothing to do with any of them). I’m 38 and still paying the bloody thing off. And I have gone way off course… [Wing: Oh god, student loan debt. I hope this book is better than the last one. I need a distraction from weeping into my budget.]
[Wing: What with this being book 12, we’ve hit a year of Dade recapping Nightmare Hall! I’m glad we have so many books to come, still, because these recaps are a joy and a delight forever, and Dade continues to be a wealth of information about YA publishing in the 80s and 90s. Thank you for all you do, Dade!]
Diane Hoh – Last Date
Title: Nightmare Hall #11: Last Date by Diane Hoh
Summary: A night you’ll never forget. Call me. Demi does it on a dare. She places an ad in the personals column of the Salem Chronicle. Lots of guys call. And the nights are everything she advertised. Unforgettable. Unforgettably frightening. Because one by one, Demi’s dates start having nasty little accidents. Disappearing. Even…dying.
Notes: I will now refer to the bad guy as “Muffin Man” because of The Mall.
I didn’t even like this one when I first read it 24 years ago. 24 years. Bloody hell. If that weren’t bad enough, Nola “Hack” Thacker is back in the driver’s seat for this ride, so I’m anticipating severe bouts of carsickness and a strong urge to nap. (Note from the future: and a lot of swearing, too). [Wing: Another one I don’t remember reading. Somehow, I think I missed most of the Thacker ones, even though at the time, I didn’t know they were being ghostwritten.]
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: Nightmare Hall #10: Sorority Sister by Diane Hoh
Summary: When Maxie McKeon pledges Omega Phi Delta, she figures she’s got it made. She loves her new sisters. And everyone knows Omegas throw the best parties and go out with the cutest guys. But someone on campus isn’t crazy about the sorority. That person is just, well, crazy. And he – or she – is determined to destroy the house, and everyone in it. Joining Omega won’t change Maxie’s life. It will just shorten it.
Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: 1 point. Right in the back cover synopsis! Although, to be fair, Hoh didn’t write the synopsis.
I don’t remember ever disliking a Diane Hoh book, but Deadly Attraction and The Wish in this series have shown me they’re occasionally not as great as I recall (albeit a lot better than most of the YA thrillers at the time). This book has the misfortune of coming after The Night Walker, a tight, taut, complex little humdinger of a thriller that I could barely find fault with. So it has a lot to live up to. But I’m always optimistic when it comes to Hoh (unlike Nola Thacker), and I do have memories of this at least being fun. Note: I have no knowledge of how fraternities and sororities work, because we don’t have them in Australia. Any idea I have is based solely on books and B-grade movies.
[Wing: That cover makes me think of Dawn Schafer and Abby Stevenson from the Baby-Sitters Club, which cracks me up. I’d not read this one before, so had no nostalgic thoughts going into it, but I was a part of a music fraternity for awhile at university (yes, I said fraternity), but it wasn’t a social Greek organisation, and I assume much different than whatever we have going on here.]
Title: Goosebumps #45 – Ghost Camp
Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus
Tagline: Be all that you can’t see!
Summary: The Joke’s On Them!
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.]
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.]
Title: Nightmare Hall #7: Pretty Please by Diane Hoh
Summary: Johanna Dunn is strikingly beautiful, just like all her friends. Until the accident. Now her perfect face is scarred and bandaged. She’s embarrassed by the strange looks she gets on campus – even from her closest friends. A pretty face isn’t everything, is it? Somebody thinks it is. Some thinks she’s plain old ugly now. Too ugly to live…. [Wing: Well damn, that escalated quickly.]
Love the cover of this one, with the bandaged face looking back out of the mirror. Once again, I remember the identity of the Muffin Man all these years later. The concept of a killer going after a person they consider “ugly” may sound thin, but I think it’s quite unique, living as we do in a very looks obsessed society. Diane Hoh usually delves deeper into hot button issues than other YA thriller writers did at the time, so I’m hoping she finds some time for some light social commentary in amongst the thrills.
[Wing: I’ve never read this one before, but I like the idea that Hoh is going to take on the power of beauty in our society. I hope this goes well. And I don’t think it’s too far fetched for a killer to go after someone they consider ugly; just look at how fat people, for example, are treated. People casually call for their deaths all the time.]
Title: Fear Street #14: The Knife by R. L. Stine
Summary: Welcome to Fear Street
Don’t listen to the stories they tell you about Fear Street. Wouldn’t you rather explore it yourself…and see if its dark terrors and unexplained mysteries are true? You’re not afraid, are you?
Quiet — hospital!
Sshh. There are a lot of things they want to keep quiet at Shadyside Hospital. In fact, just about every private room holds a private secret of its own. Poor Laurie Masters. The student volunteer innocently happened to stumble onto the hospital’s sickest secret of all. Laurie has seen too much — and now the doctors and nurses are taking a close look at Laurie. What they come up with is a deadly diagnosis. Laurie may not be sick, but she’s getting a prescription anyway — a prescription for horror!
[Wing: Oh god, that summary. That last line. I am dying. This is terrible.]
Tagline: In this hospital people are dying — to get out.
I’ve never read this one before, and thank god I wrote this recap before I read that summary, or might have never read it at all. The book is a billion times better than that summary.
Evil twins, Wing and Dove, and their friends recap Point Horror and other teen genre fiction.
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