Where evil twins and friends come together to lovingly snark Point Horror and other teen genre fiction
 

Recap #99: Fear Street: Halloween Party by R. L. Stine, A.K.A. “Niki Meyer Is Stunning And Brave”

Title: Fear Street – Halloween Party

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Bill Schmidt

Tagline: There is going to be an uninvited guest at this Halloween party on Fear Street…

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 terror and unexplained mysteries are true? You’re not afraid, are you?

Invitation To Terror

The invitation arrived in a black-boarded envelope. Inside, the card showed a coffin with the inscription “Reserved For You.” It was perfectly fiittng for an all-night Halloween party on Fear Street. But Terry and his girlfriend Niki wondered why they had been invited. They barely knew Justine Cameron, the mysterious transfer student who was throwing the party.

The party was well under way when the lights went out. That’s to be expected at a spooky Halloween party. But when the lights came back on, there was that boy on the floor with the knife in his back. Just a Halloween prank? Maybe. Maybe not.

For Terry and Niki the trick-or-treating has turned to terror. To their horror, they realize that someone at the costume party is dressed to kill!

[Wing: That is a very dramatic blurb.]

Initial Thoughts

This is by far one of the best Fear Street books, if not THE best. The cover artwork alone is stunning (despite floating pumpkin skulls aren’t actually involved in the book itself), and even with my love of holiday-themed horror, I’ve read enough reviews to indicate this is an Ensemble Darkhorse in the original series. The atmosphere and locations are vivid, and its heroine, Niki, is genuinely one of the best main characters Stine’s created in a sea of unlikable whiny, shallow, self-centered, hypocritical assholes. And not just because she’s “Special.” I even got my copy, which thankfully had the original artwork and not the dull reprint version, autographed by R.L. Stine. Seriously, this book is so good I never want it adapted into a movie or TV episode because I don’t think any other format could do it appropriate justice.

[Wing: I’m thrilled for this recap. All the Halloween recaps this year. All of them. Such a great time.]

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Recap 96: The Cemetery by D. E. Athkins

cover of The Cemetery by D. E. Athkins, has four fingers coming out of dirt with long, sharp silver nailsTitle: 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…

Initial Thoughts

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.

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Recap #92: More Tales To Give You Goosebumps by R. L. Stine

Title: More Tales To Give You Goosebumps

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Summary: “Reader Beware – You’re In For Ten Summertime Scares!”

Is Matt’s summer camp being taken over by an evil patch of poison ivy? Will Eric escape from his tank, now that he’s been turned into a fish? Can Tara help the terrified voice she hears inside a beautiful seashell? Find out in these ten creepy Goosebumps short stories perfect for reading around the campfire or under the covers!

Initial Thoughts

This was the first of the short story books I read, and I… I think I actually stole this when I was a kid. No I remember back in elementary school, I found this book in a bag of books inside a closet in one of the classrooms. I think they were going to get rid of these books so I just kept the copy for myself. A few years later when the hardcover collection was released I gave my copy away.

As you could probably tell from the summary and cover art, the stories in this book all take place during the summer and yet surprisingly only two of them involve summer camps. Only one book was adapted for the French Goosebumps illustrated novellas, but none of them were made into TV episodes. One story, “The Cat’s Tale,” genuinely feels like some sort of pilot version for “Cry of the Cat,” the first in the Series 2000 line. I can safely say I found the stories in this one more interesting than the previous one. The original edition also came with a bonus booklight.

For this recap, I’m gonna be doing “3rd Rock from the Sun” jokes for the subtitles. Which means prepare thy selves for a bunch of dick jokes.

I’m also gonna include some of my ideas for potential sequel stories.

[Wing: I don’t know why, but I am so charmed by a creepy summer themed book coming with a booklight. Damn you, Stine!]

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Recap #90: The Forbidden Game #1: The Hunter by LJ Smith

The Author:

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.]

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Recap #85: Ghosts of Fear Street #26: Go To Your Tomb – Right Now, A.K.A. “Absolutely No Giants In This Book”

Title: Go To Your Tomb – Right Now!

Author: Carolyn Crimi [Wing: What even is this weirdness, someone not Stine writing Fear Street. The horror. THE HORROR.]

Cover Artist: Mark Garro

Tagline: “Talk About Being Grounded!”

Summary: You Meet Some Weird People In The Fear Street Cemetery…

Like Luana. She just appeared there when Jack was taking a shortcut through the cemetery. She said she had powers. And she told Jack she could make him invisible.

Being invisible would be cool, Jack thinks. But he’s not sure he wants to go through with it. After all, how far can you trust a ghost?

[Wing: If you’ve read a single book or heard a single story about Fear Street, you would know that you can’t trust a ghost at all, JACK. Also, why do people keep hanging out in the Fear Street cemetery? You should all know better by now!]

Initial Thoughts

My first foray into reviewing the “Ghosts of Fear Street” series, which is, as you could tell from the cover, “Goosebumps Meets Fear Street.” However, pretty much every book in the series was ghostwritten, and the publishing info before the title page informs you of the actual writer. I’m not familiar with Carolyn Crimi’s writing, other than she possibly ghostwrote “Fun With Spelling,” a Goosebumps short story.

I decided to pick a later entry in the series because no one ever reviews or talks about them. All the recaps I’ve found have only focused on the first ten or fifteen books in the series, so I thought it’d be more productive to shed light on the more obscure titles.

This is the first one to feature the redesigned logo and cover layout, with the title banner of haunted houses and ghosts similar to the revamped look the “Fear Street” books received. However, the new designed only lasted until the next entry, and then they were redesigned again with the CGI art up until the series ended. I have to say, the “Ghosts” series did a better job with the redesign than the Fear Street books did.

I didn’t expect to fall in love with this book the way I did because it’s so off the walls. I should mention for some reason the summaries given by the online book stores mention something about Luana really being a giant and I don’t know where that came from because nothing like that happens here.

Oh, Wing, you’re really not gonna enjoy the penultimate battle sequence. For about eight reasons.

[Wing: EWWWW WHY WHY WHY WHY IS IT ALWAYS THAT. (I really do appreciate your warnings!) I’d never even heard of this series until recently, and up until this moment, was tentatively excited, because I like Fear Street and Goosebumps (generally). NOT SO DAMN EXCITED NOW THOUGH, AM I.]

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Recap #83: Even More Tales To Give You Goosebumps by R. L. Stine

Title: Even More Tales To Give You Goosebumps

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Tagline: N/A

Summary:  Reader Beware– You’re In For Ten More Scares!

Can Jeff convince his parents there’s a live mummy in the basement? Will Adam escape from a monstrous flying gargoyle? Is Brian’s boarding school turning kids into robots? Find out in these ten creepy Goosebumps short stories guaranteed to make you shiver!

[Wing: Stine is making a lot of guarantees with these books!]

Initial Thoughts

I’m not really sure what to say the theme for this collection is. The cover would have you think it’s summer related, but not really. It feels like some sort of middle ground between the first collection and the fifth, which was also the strangest. I think I can safely say you don’t really know what to expect from some of these titles, and they certainly are a bit more imaginative.

One story was adapted for the French novella line, and three of them got turned into TV episodes (one was a two-parter!). I think my favorite would have to be the last because it’s got a twist ending that’s definitely a lot of fun and won’t have you screaming in frustration.

Oh, and apparently this book came with a pair of actual boxers! [Wing: … what.]

For these subtitles I’ll be doing riffs on stereotypical anime and manga episode titles, like from Sailor Moon.

Oh and, Wing, hon, you’re really not gonna like the second story. [Wing: Greaaaaaaaaaaaaaat.]

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Recap #66: Still More Tales To Give You Goosebumps by R. L. Stine

Still More Tales to Give You Goosebumps by R. L. Stine

Title: Still More Tales To Give You Goosebumps

Summary: Will Charlie’s recipe for pumpkin juice cause him some hair-raising terror? Are Dave’s awesome ants biting off more than they can chew? Can Max’s Halloween wish turn him into an endangered species?

Notes: This is the 4th of the six short story collections from the original Goosebumps line, and the second where the stories are connected by a seasonal theme. The original printing included a bonus make-up kit to make your own vampire costume for Halloween, though surprisingly none of the stories involve real vampires.

Initial Thoughts

So my first Goosebumps recap for you lovely juvenile delinquents.

I actually have met R.L. Stine in real life, but just once. Last December he was doing a signing at “Books of Wonder” in Manhattan for his new book “Young Scrooge.” I took with me a few Goosebumps and Fear Street books for him to sign, as well as a copy of a Goosebumps art zine called “Monster Edition,” and a hardbound collection of some of the covers I worked on for “If It Were Stine.” Stine was super nice and I’m glad he didn’t have a problem signing the cover book, but it’s the weirdest thing. He doesn’t seem to have aged at all since the 90s. Remember he would do introductions for the Goosebumps TV show? Between then and now he looks exactly the same.

[Wing: BLACK MAGIC. BLOOD SACRIFICE. I love him so much. This is why we feud.]

Back in the 2000s I was lucky to find a copy of this collection, plus the one that came after it, at a tag sale a church in my neighborhood was holding. The second book still has a library slip inside I’ve kept as a bookmark, although the paper is practically faded by now. I’m a sucker for holiday-themed horror, especially Halloween and Christmas, and I was super happy to find a copy of this book because Amazon sellers tend to jack up the prices on old YA horror books. My favorite stories in this would have to be “The Scarecrow” and “Bats About Bats,” and I’ve previously written about “An Old Story” for a separate blog (I’ll get into the details later). I hope you all enjoy the following, and I hope to have more to show you all very soon. As an added bonus I’ll be including scans from my collection of Goosebumps-related commissions in these posts.

I’d like to dedicate this post and future posts to Jet Wolf, whose Sailor Moon liveblogs and commentary style inspired how I wrote these recaps. This is for you Jet.

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Recap #50: The Accident by Diane Hoh

The Accident by Diane Hoh

The Accident by Diane Hoh

Title: The Accident by Diane Hoh

Summary: On the eve of her “sweet sixteen” birthday, a girl meets a ghost with a tragic past.

Megan Logan’s sixteenth birthday party is in eleven days, and she still doesn’t have a date. For months she’s been secretly in love with her best friend, Justin, but she’s afraid to tell him how she feels. By the time her party starts, though, boys will be the last thing on her mind. While Megan tries on her party dress, three of her friends go for a ride to the lake. As the car makes a sharp turn, the steering malfunctions, and the girls fly headlong into a utility pole. Two escape with minor injuries, but one is rushed to the hospital in critical condition. As Megan worries about her friend, a spirit appears in her mirror: the ghost of a girl who died decades before, on her sixteenth birthday. As the ghost attempts to take over her life, Megan just hopes she can make it through her party alive.

Tagline: She has returned. From the dead…

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.

Initial Thoughts:

I used to love this book. It had actual ghosts in it. Instead of being lured in with the promise of supernatural, only to find out it’s a regular human being, this one had actual supernatural. And it was lovely. I also remember that it had a heavy dream summer/romantic feeling throughout, slightly hazy and lazy. It’s one of the reasons I love Diane Hoh so much. I have not read it as an adult though, and I’ve been putting this off, because I’m worried that, like so many before, I won’t enjoy it as an adult.

In other news, I am addicted to Planet Coaster, and this recap is taking me away from it. If anyone else is playing, let me know, and we can discuss how utterly swoon-worthy the game is.

[Wing: I’ve never read this book before. It is a little strange, but not nearly as weird as last week’s Pike. In comparison, this one is practically reality.]

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Recap #44: 13 More Tales of Horror Part Two

13 More Tales of Horror

13 More Tales of Horror

Title: 13 More Tales of Horror by Various

Summary: A terrifying journey into horror – thirteen tales guaranteed to fill you with fear. What are the mysterious creatures stalking the woods at night, and who will be their next prey? A chilling game of cat and mouse! Who is the mysterious party guest in the frighteningly real costume? Each breath he takes is death. Isn’t it lucky that the beautiful ring is so cheap? It’s all she wants for her birthday. Only this gift drives Kate out of her mind… Thirteen master storytellers invite you on a rollercoaster ride through the imagination. How much can you take?

Tagline: None

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.

Initial Thoughts:

I’ve read this one before, mostly because Dove threw it at me and told me I would love the first story, “The Cat-Dogs” by Susan Price. She was not wrong. I remember enjoying this collection a lot more than I did 13 Tales of Horror (Part One, Part Two, Part Three), but we’ll see if that is actually true. So far, it is true.

I will not be doing counters for the stories, because last time I find it annoying with short stories. I originally planned to do this in two parts, but I forgot how long each short story recap is, so instead we’ll break it into three parts. Go to part one.

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Recap #27: Haunting Christmas Tales – Part One

Haunting Christmas Tales by Various

Haunting Christmas Tales by Various

Title: Haunting Christmas Tales by Various

Summary: It’s Christmas Eve and a group of friends have gathered round a fireside in a remote cottage. As a hushed anticipation falls over the group, the only sound is the hiss of logs on the fire.

Safe inside, where surely nothing can harm them, the friends begin to tell tales eerie stories of restless spirits eternally condemned to walk the earth, stories that will haunt you long after you have closed the covers of this book.

Tagline: Disappointingly, there is none.

Notes: No Bad Guys or Muffin Men to be seen.

Initial Thoughts:

I have never read this before, but who doesn’t love a nice ghost story? Especially at Christmas.

Since this isn’t a full story, but nine short stories, I’m going to switch up the recap format. There will be no counters in here. And I’m going to rate each story from one to five (bad to good). This rating will be based purely on how much enjoyment I got from the story. Therefore, if I rate something five, I don’t believe it should win Book of the Year, it just means that, comparatively, this was a fun read for the genre.

[Wing: Fail, Dove. I include counters where I can.

I love good ghost stories all the time. We’ll see if these live up to that. I did expect more of a set-up of the frame story, the friends telling eerie tales; I love scenarios like that — Are You Afraid of the Dark remains one of my favorite tv shows — and I’m disappointed this book just went straight into the stories.]

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