The Vanishing Trick

The Vanishing Trick was written by Jenni Spangler and first published in 2020. It is a fantasy story set in Victorian England, focusing on three young children who are cursed by a cruel and mysterious woman. The novel stands alone, so you do not have to read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

When Leander first encounters Madame Pinchbeck, he thinks that it might be an opportunity to make a bit of money. He has been living hand-to-mouth ever since his mother died, and the strange woman seems oddly eager to buy his locket. What Leander does not realise is that Madame Pinchbeck possesses a sinister power. She has the ability to transform any lidded object into a cabinet – and bind a child to that cabinet forever.

Through this trade, Leander gains the power to travel in and out of his locket at will but it comes at a terrible price. He is forced to remain close to Madame Pinchbeck at all times. If he wanders too far away – or anything if anything was to happen to her – he would fade away into nothing. Along with two other trapped children – Charlotte and Felix – Leander is put to work for his new master. Madame Pinchbeck is a spirit medium and her peculiar magic is perfect for tricking people into believing that their deceased loved ones have returned.

However, it is not long before the children notice that Pinchbeck is starting to weaken. The strain of having three cabinets is too much for her to take and it won’t be long before she is forced choose which children she wishes to keep. Leander and his new friends realise that they must find a way to break her spell before one of them is forced to vanish forever…

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Point Horror 16-20

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels here:

1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15

It’s time to take another look at the Point Horror series. Hooray! In case this is the first of my posts that you have read, Point Horror was a young adult anthology series that was published between 1991 and 2014. As this is intended to be more of a retrospective look at the series, please do bear in mind that this post contains massive spoilers for the books in question.

In The Cheerleader (written by Caroline B. Cooney), Althea has always dreamed of being popular but no one in school seems to notice her. However, that is before she first encounters the vampire. The mysterious creature promises that it has the power to grant her deepest desires, but in return Althea has to provide it with a victim. While the vampire is true to his word, it’s not long before Althea realises that his hunger is endless. Does she have the strength to stop him, even if it means losing her newfound popularity?

In The Girlfriend (written by R.L. Stine), Scotty and Lora have always been a couple yet, when Lora is out of town, this doesn’t stop Scotty from going out on a date with Shannon. Scotty justifies this slip by rationalising that nothing really happened, but now Shannon seems convinced that they are a couple. She won’t stop calling him, and turns violent when Scotty tries to turn her down gently. How can he find a way to make Shannon stop, and what will Scotty do if Lora finds out about his mistake?

In The Invitation (written by Diane Hoh), only the most popular kids are invited to the wild parties at Cass’s mansion. When Sarah and her friends all receive invitations, Sarah is sure that it’s some kind of mistake. After all, they barely know Cass. When they arrive at the party, they discover the horrible truth. They aren’t intended to be guests – they are to be some kind of sick party game for the other revellers. However, things quickly grow nasty as someone else uses Cass’s game as an excuse to target Sarah and her friends. Can Sarah free all of them before they fall victim to the killer’s cruel traps?

In The Snowman (written by R.L. Stine), Heather has undergone years of abuse at the hands of her cruel uncle. Not only does he control all of her money, but he is constantly trying to ruin all of her relationships. When Heather meets Snowman, she is immediately blown off her feet. He is attractive, charming and seems to be unfazed by her Uncle Jack. For a while, everything seems to be perfect, but then Heather sees Snowman for who he really is. How can she manage to break her ties with Snowman, when he has the power to ensure that she is implicated in a murder?

In Beach House (written by R.L. Stine), the beach was once the scene of a horrible spree of murders. It all began when Maria was supposedly devoured by sharks, but after that her friends were all targeted one by one by the evil Buddy. However, 40 years later, it all seems to be happening again. When Ashley’s friends, Lynn and Kip, both vanish, she realises that that something sinister is going on. But how does this connect to the mysterious, abandoned beach house?

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Point Horror 11-15

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels here:

1-5 | 6-10

It’s time for another nostalgic look back at the Point Horror series. In case you’ve missed my last couple of reviews, Point Horror was a Young Adult horror anthology series that was published between 1991 and 2014. Please note that, as there seems to be some debate as to the publication order of these books, I am working my way through a list that I pulled off Wikipedia. Also, as this is a retrospective post, there will be massive spoilers for the books in question. You have been warned.

In The Boyfriend (written by R.L. Stine), Joanna has everything that she could possibly want: money, freedom and a loving boyfriend. However, Dex is poor and she knows that the wealthy Shep would be a better prospect for her. Yes, before she can break-up with Dex, he dies in a sudden accident. Joanna is sorry, but glad that this now frees her up to pursue Shep. That is, until Dex comes back from the dead…

In Teacher’s Pet (written by Ritchie Tankersley Cuisick), Kate loves writing and is overjoyed when she wins a place on a writer’s retreat. Finally, she will have the chance to learn from William Drewe – a horror master. However, she is disappointed when she arrives to find that William has gone missing and his handsome brother, Gideon, has taken over his classes. It’s not long before things start to get strange. As Kate slowly becomes Gideon’s favourite, it becomes clear that someone is jealous. Someone who is prepared to kill…

In Mother’s Helper (written by A. Bates), Becky is excited to start her job as a mother’s helper on a remote holiday island. Devon is a dream to look after and it’s not long before she takes a liking to local boy, Cleve. However, Becky also soon starts to release that something is not right. Why is Devon’s mother, Mrs Nelson, so worried about Becky spending time in town? And why does she not seem to know the first thing about looking after her own son?

In The Accident (written by Diane Hoh), Megan is shocked when three of her friends are injured in a car accident, but stranger still is the misty figure that appears in her mirror. Juliet claims to be the spirit of a girl who died 40 years before. She is desperate to experience life again for just one week and begs Megan to switch places with her. In return, Juliet promises to help Megan find out who caused the accident. But can Juliet be trusted, and will she be prepared to give Megan’s body back once the week is over?

In The Baby-Sitter II (written by R.L. Stine), Jenny is understandably traumatised by her past experiences as a baby-sitter, but is sure that the only way to conquer her fears is to get back out there. However, Eli is a very strange little boy. He has vicious mood swings and keeps tarantulas as pets. It’s not long after Jenny starts her new job that the phone calls start again, promising her that “Company’s Coming”. But Mr Hagen is dead, isn’t he?

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Gargantis

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Malamander. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Gargantis was written by Thomas Taylor and first published in 2020. It forms the second part of The Legends of Eerie-on-Sea series, detailing the continuing adventures of Herbert Lemon in his occupation as the town’s “Lost-and-Founder”. As the novel continues on from shortly after Malamander (2019) left off, I would really recommend reading them in sequence in order to fully appreciate them.

A fierce storm has gripped Eerie-on-Sea and the local fishermen seem to be worried. Their oldest legends tell tale of tempests whipped up by a colossal beast called the Gargantis – one that will surely destroy all of Eerie-on-Sea if it wakes. Yet Herbert Lemon has more to worry about than the weather. A hooded stranger has arrived at the Nautilus Hotel and has left an odd clockwork shell in his possession. Now it is up to him to discover who the device belongs to.

With the help of his best friend – Violet Parma – Herbert sets off to try and solve this new mystery. However, their investigation is cut short as a mysterious bottle washes up on the shore. The bottle contains a strange glowing light and everyone in town seems to think that it should belong to them. It’s Herbert’s job as the Lost-and-Founder to determine who does truly deserve to keep this bizarre find.

As Herbert and Violet continue their investigation, they soon learn that the storm, the hooded figure and the bottle are all connected in strange and unexpected ways. The truth behind the storm lies hidden in the history of Eerie-on-Sea. But can Herbert uncover it before the entire town slips into the sea?

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Fazbear Frights: 1:35AM

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my review of these novels here:

Into the Pit | Fetch

Fazbear Frights: 1:35AM was written by Scott Cawthon, Elley Cooper and Andrea Waggener and was first published in 2020. It is a collection of three short stories, all set within the incredibly loose canon of the Five Nights at Freddy’s video game series. Although the stories largely stand alone, this collection does follow on from Into the Pit (2020) and Fetch (2020). A further two collections are planned to be released over the next few months.

In 1:35AM, Delilah’s irregular hours working at the diner have cause her to develop trouble sleeping. To help solve the problem, she purchases Ella – a doll with a built-in clock – from a garage sale. When Ella proves to be faulty, Delilah quickly throws her in the trash. However, this soon proves to be a big mistake. Delilah finds herself woken at 1:35AM every morning by the sound of something scuttling around her house. Each night, Ella seems to be getting closer. What can Delilah possibly do to make her stop?

In Room for One More, Stanley has been feeling isolated ever since his girlfriend left him and he started a new job as a night watchman. He does not even know what is produced at the factory where he works. He merely sits at his desk and sleeps all night, but no one seems to care. Then Stanley starts to get sick, showing a wide range of bizarre symptoms. Yet they can’t have anything to do with that weird ballerina doll that appears in his office every night, can they?

In The New Kid, Devon is obsessed with trying to get Heather to notice him, even though his attempts are ruining his friendship with Mick. He’s sure he’s getting close too, until Kelsey starts at their school. Kelsey is handsome and popular, having no trouble with making friends with everyone. Devon is sick with jealousy and knows he has to have his revenge. When he finds an abandoned restaurant in the woods, still stocked with broken animatronic mascots, it seems to be the perfect way to scare Kelsey. However, Devon could never have imagined how quickly everything could go wrong…

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Point Horror 6-10

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my review of these novels [here].

I was not expecting to post another retrospective so soon, yet I’m bored of lockdown and certainly getting a lot of reading done!

Let’s take another look at Point Horror – a young adult anthology series that was published between 1991 and 2014. Please note that I’ve selected the reviewing order of these books based on a list that I pulled off Wikipedia, as there seems to be some debate regarding the publication order of these novels. This review is also intended to be more of a retrospective, and therefore contains massive spoilers for the novels in question.

In My Secret Admirer (written by Carol Ellis), Jenny has only just moved to town and her parents have already left her home alone. Luckily, some of the locals invite her to take part in a scavenger hunt in the mountain foothills. Jenny is nervous, but things go from bad to worse when Diana Benson has a terrible accident and falls off a cliff. The next day, Jenny starts to get calls and gifts from a secret admirer. Is someone really interested in her, or does some one think that she knows something about the accident. Someone who wants to be sure that Jenny keeps her mouth shut…

In April Fools (written by Ritchie Tankersley Cusick), Belinda is driving home from a party when she is involved in a terrible accident. The other car swerves off a cliff, but Belinda’s friends force her to leave it and run away. Two weeks later, the pranks start. Someone seems to know that Belinda was involved and is intent on making her suffer. Yet things get worse still when Belinda is asked to mentor a sick teenager named Adam. Especially when she learns that Adam was injured in a car accident two weeks prior…

In Final Exam (written by A Bates), Kelly’s biggest fear is of exams. No matter how hard she studies, she always freezes under pressure. Finals week gets off to a strange start when she discovers another student’s journal – one filled with intense self-help messages about being a “winner”. With other things on her mind, Kelly pockets the journal and goes on with her business. Yet it’s not long before things get strange. What start out as harmless pranks against Kelly grow more sinister, almost as though someone does not want her to graduate. What secrets could possibly hidden within the journal, and why would someone be prepared to kill to get it back?

In Funhouse (written by Diane Hoh), the Santa Luisa Boardwalk is a popular meeting place for teenagers. That is, until the day that the Devil’s Elbow roller coaster flies off the rails, leaving one dead and two seriously injured. Although everyone thinks that it was a tragic accident, Tess is sure that she saw a dark figure hanging around beneath the tracks just before the incident occurred. Now, it seems that someone is targeting her. Someone wants Tess silenced, and will hurt anyone who gets in their way.

In Beach Party (written by R.L. Stine), Karen’s father has let her stay alone in his beach-front apartment for the whole summer. What better chance for her and her best friend Ann-Marie to soak up the sun and party the night away? It’s not long before Karen meets two cute guys – handsome Jerry and bad-boy Vince – and struggles to pick who she likes best. But then the messages start. Someone is desperate to keep Karen away from Jerry at all costs. Although Karen dismisses this as being from a jealous ex-girlfriend at first, she soon starts to have her doubts when it becomes clear that the stranger is prepared to kill if she doesn’t obey…

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The Toll

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels here:

Scythe | Thunderhead

The Toll was written by Neal Shusterman and first published in 2019. It forms the final part of the Arc of a Scythe Trilogy, now set in a grim world where life and death are controlled by one power-hungry psychopath. The novel follows on directly from where Scythe (2016) and Thunderhead (2018) left off, so I would recommend reading these novels in sequence to fully appreciate what is going on.

In the wake of the great tragedy of Endura, the world has rapidly changed for the worst. Thunderhead has gone silent, declaring everyone except for Greyson Tolliver as unsavoury. Any supporter of Scythe Curie has either gone to ground or been culled. Citra is missing and presumed dead. Scythe Goddard has declared himself as the first Overscythe and taken to revising the governing rules of the Scythes, removing gleaning quotas and permitting Scythes to act on their personal prejudices towards certain races or religious groups.

The only hope for the world lies with Faraday and Munira, who have headed deep into Thunderhead’s blind spot to find the legendary fail-safe – something with the power to put an end to the Scythes. However, when they find themselves marooned on the island with no way of activating the fail-safe, it seems that any chance of stopping Goddard is lost. Fortunately, Thunderhead has not given up on them. Within weeks, boats of workers also start to dock on the remote atoll. They have been instructed to build something huge – something that could save the human race. Trouble is, no one knows what it is.

On the other side of the world, several other groups work tirelessly to stop Goddard. A salvage crew rescue Citra from the ruins of Endura and use her as a mouthpiece to reveal Goddard’s crimes, and Greyson re-imagines himself as the Toll – the chosen prophet who can unite the Tonists against their enemies. Yet will they be enough to stop Goddard when 80% of Scythes in America support his regime?

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Point Horror 1-5

It’s time to begin a new series of my retrospective reviews. Hooray! As I’ve now read through every single Animorphs and classic Goosebumps book, I think it’s time to now turn my attention to some classic horror stories for older teens. That’s right, it’s time to revisit Point Horror.

In case you’re unfamiliar, Point Horror is a anthology series that was published by Scholastic between 1991 and 2014. Early instalments were just re-prints of earlier Scholastic titles, but the series achieved massive popularity in the mid-nineties and was a staple favourite of every teen. The stories are somewhat darker than Goosebumps books, often focusing on older teens as they are targeted by stalkers and psychopaths. Please note that, as per all of my other retrospectives, this post will contain massive spoilers for the novels in question.

In Twisted (written by R.L. Stine), Abby is determined to become a Tri Gam as it is the most exclusive sorority on campus and the only accepts a chosen few each year. The thing that she was not prepared for was the hazing. To become a Tri Gam, the pledges need to commit a crime. However, when something goes horribly wrong and someone winds up dead, Abby and the new pledges are forced to band together to hide their shared secret…

In The Lifeguard (written by Ritchie Tankersley Cusick), Kelsey’s summer holiday on Beverly Island begins in disaster. She was supposed to be staying with her mum’s new boyfriend but his teenage daughter, Beth, has vanished. As Kelsey explores the island, she soon learns that Beth is not the first. A number of young women have mysteriously drowned off the coast of the Island. It’s almost like the local lifeguards aren’t doing a very good job…

In Party Line (written by A Bates), Mark is addicted to calling the Party Line as he finds it so much easier to talk anonymously to girls. It’s not long before he begins to recognise different voices, especially the sleazy and desperate “Ben”. However, when a girl goes missing shortly after agreeing to meet with Ben, Mark starts to realise that perhaps Party Line isn’t as harmless as it seems. But will he be able to track down Ben in real life without becoming one of his victims?

In The Baby-Sitter (written by R.L. Stine), Jenny is thrilled to be offered a regular baby-sitting gig after a chance meeting at the mall. However, when she first visits the Hagen house, she starts to have her doubts. It is really run-down and their neighbour is more than a little sinister, and there have also been those attacks on baby-sitters in the area. Then, the threatening phone calls start, promising her that “Company’s Coming”. Will Jenny manage to keep her wits about her and survive the night, or will she become another victim…

In Trick or Treat (written by Ritchie Tankersley Cusick), Martha isn’t happy to leave Chicago and move to the sticks to live with her new stepmother and her teenage son, Connor. However, she feels worse still when she sees the old, spooky house where they live. Then the practical jokes start, growing more dangerous and malicious by the day. She soon learns that something terrible once happened in the house, and she could very well be next!

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Fazbear Frights: Fetch

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Into the Pit. You can read my review of this novel [here]

Fazbear Frights: Fetch was written by Scott Cawthon, Andrea Waggener and Carly Anne West and was first published in 2020. It is a collection of three short stories, all of which are set within the vague canon of the Five Nights at Freddy’s video game series. Although the stories are largely designed to stand alone, this collection does follow on from Into the Pit (2020). A further three collections are planned to be released over the coming months.

In Fetch, Greg and his friends break into an abandoned pizzeria for a laugh but soon find more than they bargained for. Behind the prize counter, Greg discovers Fetch – a robotic toy dog who is designed to sync in with a person’s phone and retrieve data. Not long after, Greg starts to get texts from a mysterious person who claims to be Fetch. Fetch is eager to help him retrieve anything that he desires. Trouble is, Fetch does not always leave these “items” in the best condition…

In Lonely Freddy, Alec is jealous of the attention that his younger sister retrieves. His parents act as though Hazel can do no wrong, while constantly treating him as though he is a bad egg. Alec is determined to prove that Hazel can be as selfish and petulant as any other kid, and what better place to do so than at her birthday pizza party. However, as Alec’s plan goes sour, he finds himself at the mercy of one of the pizzeria’s malevolent mascots…

In Out of Stock, Oscar is desperate to get his hands on a Plushtrap Chaser – this year’s must-have toy. However, when he is held up by his mother, he arrives at the store just in time to see them sell out. When he finds a defective Plushtrap behind the counter, his desperation forces him to steal the toy. Yet he soon discovers that this particular Plushtrap was left for a reason. Its eyes and teeth seem almost human, and it seems to have an irrepressible desire to maim its new owner…

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Scavenge the Stars

Scavenge the Stars was written by Tara Sim and first published in 2020. It is a fantasy story that is loosely inspired by Alexandre Dumas’s The Count of Monte Cristo. The novel forms the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

Although Amaya is only a teenager, she has had everything taken from her. Sold to a debtor’s ship to pay off what her father owes, she risks life and limb pearl diving for her master. It has taken her years, but she is close to earning her freedom. That is, until she disobeys a direct order and rescues a drowning man.

Boon claims to be the wealthiest man in Moray and seems more than willing to share his fortune with his saviour. Amaya is pretty certain that he is lying but is tantalised by what Boon offers her. With such wealth, she can buy a place in Moray’s high society. From there, she can finally have her revenge against Kamon Mercado – the man who stole everything from her family.

Yet Moray has changed a lot while Amaya has been away. Ash fever is sweeping through the populous unchecked, killing more and more each day. When Cayo Mercado’s sister falls ill, he knows that he needs to do everything in his power to prolong her life. His investigations take him deep into the underworld of Moray and reveals uncomfortable truths about his father’s business dealings. They also bring him into contact with the Countess Yamaa – a mysterious newcomer who also seems to have some interest in his family.

Both Amaya and Cayo are playing a dangerous game, and both know that even the smallest slip-up will result in certain death…

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