ReReading Goosebumps: The Haunted Mask

“Face to Face with a Nightmare…

How ugly is Carly Beth’s Halloween mask? It’s so ugly that it almost scared her little brother to death. So terrifying that even her friends are totally freaked out by it. It’s the best Halloween mask ever. It’s everything Carly Beth hoped it would be. And more. Maybe too much more. Because Halloween is almost over. And Carly Beth is still wearing that special mask…”

We are back on the Goosebumps nostalgia train with a story we probably should have covered at Halloween, The Haunted Mask.

I hate to admit it but I don’t remember reading this one as a kid. I remember the merchandise. Those voice changing creepy masks that were all over the place in the 90s. They were pretty cool, and unlike the real mask in the story, they came off.

The idea of a Halloween mask that refuses to come off is quite scary. Imagine how claustrophobic that would feel, especially if it is one of those full head covering rubber masks. It would get stuffy, warm and suffocating. If this was an adult novel you could probably play those points up very well, but this is a novel for primary school children so it isn’t scary at all. I don’t even think it would be scary for children, unless a child had a particular fear of things covering their face.

The idea of this book was fun but I can say this is probably the least enjoyable Goosebumps book I have read so far. The main character was a cowardly brat and everyone else in the story was a bit obnoxious. I actually felt sorry for the antagonist who sold her the mask because I would have given that brat a cursed mask to teach her a lesson. The main characters in Goosebumps books are supposed to be relatable so I guess this book was written for the brats of the world.

Even with a bratty main character this book would still be a fitting read for most young children. It is fairly short, an easy read and not scary in the slightest. It is just the right level of creepy to make it a typical Goosebumps novel. Also the whole story takes place on Halloween night so maybe put it away for a festive read next year.

So, do you remember reading The Haunted Mask when you were a kid? What Goosebumps book gave you nightmares as a kid?

Advertisements

Reads of the Month: November

Can you believe it is December already??

I had a pretty good reading month in November. I read 6 books. Most of which are not relevant to this blog, but I will say this, if you haven’t read The Hobbit go do it.  I am having a bit of a Tolkien reread. Blame D&D.

So anyway, my top three picks for Dark Reads of the Month are…

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

The Orient Express is stranded in the snow and a man is found stabbed to death in a bath tub onboard. Detective Poirot has until the snow clears to solve the case.

This is the first Agatha Christie book I have ever read, and even though I solved the case myself only a few chapters in I still enjoyed it. It was darker than I expected, with backstories involving a child murder and of course the dead body in the bath tub.

This is a bit of a stereotypical murder mystery but those stereotypes have to come from somewhere, and Christie started most of them. I am not sure if I will read more of her books but as a fan of detective stories this was very enjoyable. If you like crime novels this would be a perfect quick and fun read.

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

Heathers meets The Exorcist. Abby has noticed that her best friend is acting a little strange. She smells, is suddenly cruel and looks very sickly. Could her friend be possessed?

I absolutely LOVED this book. Set in the 1980s, My Best Friend’s Exorcism reads like your typical 80s teen movie with a side of horror thrown in. Even the chapter titles are the names of 80s songs.

This book also isn’t very scary so if you are easily scared maybe check out this horror novel. I will warn you though, it can be pretty gross in parts due to the whole exorcism thing. If you have seen a film with possession in it you will know what I am talking about. It also has sexual moments, animal cruelty and general 80s attitudes to things.

You can read my full review here. 

Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball by Laura Ellen Anderson

Amelia Fang is 10 years old and a vampire. She lives with her parents in monster town (basically diet Halloween Town) and has regular adventures with her friends who are also monsters like her. One day a spoiled prince visits her parents’ house and takes her pet pumpkin, Squashie, from her. Amelia has to come up with a plan to get Squashie back.

It has been a long time since I read a children’s novel but I bought this book around Halloween and it had bright orange pages so it magically ended up in my shopping basket.

This was a pretty cute read. It was very simple and clearly meant for child readers. It wasn’t like other children novels that throw in references or cleverness for adult readers. It was a simple kids’ story about a little vampire and her pumpkin. It even had a pretty decent anti-racism and “don’t judge people who are different” subplot to it. The art work is adorable too because it is fully illustrated.

I might not pick up more Amelia Fang books for myself in the future but if I had kids I would happily give them this to read. Perfect reading for tiny people who are discovering books with chapters.

You can read my full review here 

What was the best book you read this month?

Also don’t forget, I am still open to questions for my upcoming 300 Follower Q&A.

REVIEW: My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

Summary:

From GoodReads.com:

“Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fifth grade, when they bonded over a shared love of E.T., roller-skating parties, and scratch-and-sniff stickers. But when they arrive at high school, things change. Gretchen begins to act…different. And as the strange coincidences and bizarre behavior start to pile up, Abby realizes there’s only one possible explanation: Gretchen, her favorite person in the world, has a demon living inside her. And Abby is not about to let anyone or anything come between her and her best friend. With help from some unlikely allies, Abby embarks on a quest to save Gretchen. But is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil?”

Review:

Heathers meets The Exorcist.

I have fallen in love with Grady Hendrix’s writing. Earlier this year I read his other novel, Horrorstor, and thought it was amazing so naturally I had to pick up his second novel, My Best Friend’s Exorcism. Was it as good as Horrorstor? Yes! In fact it was even better.

The book had all of the charm of an 80s teen movie but with the edginess of a horror film thrown in. Even with the horror aspect this book wasn’t scary, it was just simply enjoyable. It was funny when the moment called for it, it was creepy in just the right places, and all of the characters felt so very familiar. I am starting to think that is a trend with Hendrix’s writing, if you don’t relate to the characters you will know someone like them in real life which makes his novels very realistic, even if it is a high school drama involving exorcism.

I think my favourite part of the story was the friendship between the two main characters. You really felt for Abby while she was desperately trying to save her friend. There is no main romance in the story, it simply focuses on friendship and the power of it. That is brilliant.

Also this was my first time seeing an exorcism in a book. I studied exorcisms in school (I went to an odd school) so it was interesting seeing a topic I knew about being played out in a novel. It was done really well and made for very fast paced reading.

This is the perfect novel for anyone who loves teen dramas, 80s movies and just wants a little touch of horror thrown in.

Warnings:

Attempted suicide, drug use, rape references (no act, just discussion), sexual references, animal cruelty, gore and crude moments. For YA Readers and Adults.

Rating:

 

 

         4 out of 5 Skulls

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads.com. You are missing out if you haven’t read this book yet. If you are a fan of films like Heathers or The Breakfast Club this is the book for you.

If you have read My Best Friend’s Exorcism let me know what you thought of it or link me to your own review. I would love to read it. Or, if you haven’t read it, tell me your favourite song from the 80s. I want music suggestions. This book has put me in the mood for some 80s music.

Also don’t forget, I am still open to questions for my upcoming 300 Follower Q&A.

REVIEW: Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball by Laura Ellen Anderson

Summary:

Synopsis from GoodReads.com:

“Welcome to the world of Nocturnia, where darkness reigns supreme, glitter is terrifying, and unicorns are the stuff of nightmares! Amelia Fang would much rather hang out with her pet pumpkin Squashy and her friends Florence the yeti (DON’T CALL HER BEAST!) and Grimaldi the reaper than dance at her parents’ annual Barbaric Ball.

And when the King’s spoiled son Tangine captures Squashy, Amelia and her friends must escape the party to plan a daring rescue! In their race against time, they begin to realise things in Nocturnia may not be quite what they seem . . . 

Join Amelia on her very first adventure. She won’t bite!”

Review:

Simple, inoffensive and charming. The Amelia Fang series is set around the adventures of a little girl vampire, her family and her friends, all of which are monsters of course.

This is very much a book for children. It is very similar to the Goth Girl series which I have mentioned on this blog several times before. I love Goth Girl so when I saw a very similar series based around the adventures of a little vampire and her pet pumpkin I had to pick it up. It has been a while since I reviewed a children’s book. Unlike Goth Girl though this is a book aimed solely at children. It doesn’t have any hidden references or cleverness for older readers to enjoy like some other kids’ books do.

Saying that though, I still had a lot of fun reading this. It could be a little stereotypical but it was sweet. It had messages that I would like children to hear, like how even bullies have their own issues and it even had a decent anti racism message. The illustrations were adorable, especially the design of the child grim reaper. He was so cute. I think if I had a kid who was wanting to branch out into novel sized books I would happily hand them this.

This book is just a cute read for children with nothing scary in it, just a simple, sweet story that just happens to be told using monsters. Perfect for any kid who loves Monster High or anything spooky.

Warnings:

None

Rating:

 

 

2 out of 5 Skulls

I gave this book 2 out of 5 stars on GoodReads.com. It might be perfect for kids but I wouldn’t make it a regular part of my grown up reading. I have read more enthralling kids novels than this.

Dark Reads of the Month: October

I am sorry for missing my September’s monthly reads but I have been so busy I have had little time for reading, which is why my readathon failed spectacularly. Most of my October was spent reading stereotypical haunting stories very slowly so I could enjoy them. I plan on reading tons this month so maybe I will suggest more than my usual 3 books at the end of November.

So, on to the books!

Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix

Strange things have started happening around a furniture store so a small group of staff decide to spend the night and investigate. Is someone breaking into the store at night or could it be something paranormal?

A typical ghost story set in an Ikea, it’s surprising but it works. I expected this book to be a total parody but it was actually a pretty decent horror story. Don’t get me wrong, it is a parody because that is what Grady Hendrix writes but his parodies are more focused on intentionally using tropes and placing them in an unusual environment, like an Ikea.

If you want a decent basic horror story in an environment most of us will recognise I would recommend checking this out. Also the physical copy of this novel is designed to look like an Ikea catalog which is pretty damn cool.

Amityville Horror by Jay Anson

A family moves into a new house with a violent history and find themselves tormented by ghosts. I am just giving a quick summary for this story because I think everyone knows it by now.

The original modern “Based on a true story” haunting story. This book has been the subject of law suits and controversy over its claim of being based on true events, but even if it is made up it is still a good story. I think the only issue I had with this book is that I was too familiar with it. The story itself has been the subject of films and had created many of the tropes we see in haunting films today, so it doesn’t feel overly new. I think you should always read the origin of the tropes we love, which is why you should give this a read.

Black Cats and Evil Eyes by Chloe Rhodes

I rarely suggest non fiction books but this book was so interesting and straight to the point I thought I would give it a mention.

This is a book with quick summaries about the origins of different superstitions. Most of them are common western beliefs. It made for interesting reading and I got through it in one night. Lots of cool and sometimes dark facts.

I recently adopted a black cat. And even though they are lucky in my culture  I bought this book to learn more about the other beliefs about them. Also…there is pretty cat on the cover.

Halloween Reading Recommendations: Short Story Collections

Me getting ready to recommend some books during my favourite time of year:

Since this is a book blog for all things creepy, kooky, mysterious and ooky all year around it is safe to say that I have quite a few Halloween reading suggestions. So I have decided to break them up into different posts. Today I will be suggesting my favourite short story anthologies to get you into the Halloween spirit. Short story collections are my favourite kind of book to read in October. You can just pick out a creepy story you are in the mood for and get through it in one sitting. Creepy reading in bite sized chunks.

So in no particular order here are 5 of my favourites

The Mammoth Book of Victorian and Edwardian Ghost Stories Edited by Richard Dalby

The Victorian and Edwardian eras were the golden ages of ghost stories. This bind up collection contains over 40 of the best and creepiest tales from the time period.

I own a rather battered copy of this book because it was one of the first ghost story collections that I owned and I like to read a story or two from it every October. This is perfect reading if you are a fan of Victorian or Gothic literature.

Did you know that it was a Victorian tradition to tell ghost stories on Christmas?

 

20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill

A collection of horror stories from one of my favourite horror writers, Joe Hill.

A lot of this collection is more strange than Halloween style creepy, but it still makes for good, dark October reading. It is Simpson’s Tree House of Horror levels of weird at times.

My favourite story in this collection is the title story, 20th Century Ghost. It is so sad! If you end up reading just one story from this collection it has to be that one.

 

 

 

Dark Water by Kōji Suzuki

I have been a little addicted to Japanese horror novels this year so of course one of them is going to make it onto this list.

Kōji Suzuki is the amazing author behind the very famous Ring series, and you might just recognize the title of this book from another famous Japanese horror film with an American remake, Dark Water.

This collection is beautifully eerie and wonderfully well written. Dark Water is a collection of horror stories which are all linked with the theme of water. I love when writers have a theme in their short story collections, because they can cover so many fears and genres just by focusing on one small thing. This is one of the best horror collections that I have read this year and if you are a fan of Japanese horror, you need to check this one out this month.

 

The Travelling Bag: And Other Ghostly Stories

This book is perfect if you want ghost stories that are not too scary. Susan Hill’s work is based on old Gothic literature so many of her stories follow the logic of Crimson Peak. “Just a story with a ghost in it, not a ghost story.” She uses ghosts and creepy things to shine light on the horrors of humanity.

This would make perfect reading for a dark October night with unpleasant weather beating at your windows. When you have read all of the original Gothic ghost stories pick this book up for some that have been written in a more modern time period.

 

 

The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce

I was tempted to add Edgar Allen Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination on this list but I decided that he gets enough love in October so I should give this spot to another Victorian horror writer who doesn’t get enough love. Ambrose Bierce.

Ambrose Bierce was a generally strange person who wrote non stop throughout his life. His stories are grim, strange and many were laced with that brilliant Victorian dark sense of humor and irony. If you want a “comedy” story about a man being buried alive and then beaten to death with a shovel this is where you need to look.

Bierce is one of my all time favourite Victorian writers. I dare say that I enjoy him more than Poe sometimes.

So those are my top picks for Halloween horror anthologies this year. Tell me what your favourite short horror story is because I am always open to suggestions. What is your favourite Halloween read?

REVIEW: Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix

Summary:

Synopsis from GoodReads.com:

“Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring bookshelves, shattered Glans water goblets, and smashed Liripip wardrobes. Sales are down, security cameras reveal nothing, and store managers are panicking.

To unravel the mystery, three employees volunteer to work a nine-hour dusk-till-dawn shift. In the dead of the night, they’ll patrol the empty showroom floor, investigate strange sights and sounds, and encounter horrors that defy the imagination.

A traditional haunted house story in a thoroughly contemporary setting, Horrorstör comes packaged in the form of a glossy mail order catalog, complete with product illustrations, a home delivery order form, and a map of Orsk’s labyrinthine showroom.”

Review:

(Note: I have started adding links to the cover images in my reviews so you can add things to your GoodReads to-read list a little more easily) 

Is it possible to set a horror novel in IKEA? Apparently so.

This is a novel that has been on my radar for a long time. Every time I would search my library’s audiobook section for horror novels it would pop up. I was a little reluctant to read it. A horror novel set in a fictional version of IKEA sounded a little stupid, but then I had a change of heart. I went from finding it stupid to potentially brilliant. Could this idea be so daft that it works? Well, after reading it I can officially say, it does.

Horrorstör has all of the brilliant elements of the modern haunted house story but it is all set at night in a fictionalized version of IKEA. It is fast paced, has tons of creepy moments and doesn’t shy away from gory moments. It might be a little stereotypical at times but in a good way. I was expecting this book to read like a parody of the horror genre but it ended up being one of the better horror novels I have read this year.

I think one of my favourite things about Horrorstör is the characters. They are so relatable and recognizable. If you have worked in retail you have probably met at least one, if not all, of these characters before under different names as your co-workers. You have the girl who doesn’t want to be there, the middle aged single woman who LOVES her job and is very friendly, the uptight manager, the artsy 20-something girl with brightly coloured hair and the young 20-something nice guy. These are the people who are tasked with solving the mystery of what is happening in the store at night.

I loved this book so much that I am going to break my current book buying ban for it. I listened to the audiobook version of this novel but I have seen the physical copy online and it is designed to look like an IKEA catalog. That sounds amazing so I need my own copy.

Warnings:

Mild gore: Mostly broken bones and blood, mild horror.

Rating:

 

 

4 out of 5 Skulls

This is a solid horror novel and I think it would make a brilliant Halloween read if someone wanted a simple and fast paced creepy book. Lots of ghosts and threat, but nothing too offensive. An older teen or the usual YA reader could handle this one.