Goosebumps 11-15

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments in this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

1-5 | 6-10

Reader beware, it’s time to take another nostalgic look back at Goosebumps. If you haven’t checked out my previous two posts, this series was written by R.L. Stine and ran for sixty-two books between 1992 and 1997. The novels vary in themes and enjoy-ability but were all horror stories aimed at middle grade readers. For today’s review, I will be taking a look at books 11 to 15 (in the order that they were first released in the United Kingdom). Oh, and this review will contain spoilers. You have been warned.

In The Haunted Mask, Carly Beth knows that she is easily scared but is furious that two boys in her class keep using this as a way to publicly embarrass her. When she finds a hideous and terrifying mask, she realises that she finally has a way to turn the tables on them. Trouble is, the mask makes her do horrible things and proves very difficult to take off…

In Piano Lessons Can Be Murder, Jerry is surprised to find an expensive piano in the attic of his new home but this soon turns to horror when he realises that it is haunted. His parents refuse to believe him and instead sign him up to piano lessons with the eccentric Dr Shreek. Although the teacher seems nice enough, he is oddly obsessed with Jerry’s hands. Could their be truth in the rumours that kids sometimes go for lessons at his school and never return?

In Be Careful What You Wish For, Samantha’s life is made miserable by the constant torment that she receives from Judith. However, when a strange woman offers Sam three wishes, she realises that she can use these to finally have her revenge. Yet when her first wish makes Judith seriously ill, Sam realises that perhaps she has gone too far. The woman takes her wishes very literally and so they can have horrible and unexpected consequences…

In The Werewolf of Fever Swamp, Grady is forced to move to a remote corner of Florida due to his parents’ research. Although the swamps around his home seem interesting, he soon learns of a terrifying local legend and supposed sightings of a terrible beast. When Grady’s pet dog, Wolf, is accused of being the beast, he knows that he has to prove his innocence. Yet where does Wolf run off to at night, and what is butchering the local wildlife?

In You Can’t Scare Me!, Eddie and his friends have grown sick of Courtney. The fact that she seems to be utterly fearless only serves to make Eddie look like even more of a wimp than he really is. Every plot that Eddie and his friends’ hatches to scare Courtney seems to backfire and make her look better still. However, Eddie soon comes up with the perfect plan to terrify Courtney with a local legend about the mud monsters of Muddy Creek. Trouble is, the legend might just be true…

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Goosebumps 6-10

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

It seems like a good time to take a second look back at R.L. Stine’s classic Goosebumps series. This collection of middle grade horror stories originally ran for sixty-two novels between 1992 and 1997 and, due to their incredible popularity, many are still in print today. For the purpose of this review, I will be looking at novels six to ten only, reflecting the order that they were first released in the United Kingdom. Oh, and this is a retrospective look at the series, so there will be spoilers. You have been warned.

In Let’s Get Invisible, Max makes an amazing discovery in a hidden room within his attic – a mirror with the power to make anyone temporarily invisible. While this seems fun at first, he soon discovers that the object hides a dark secret. Something seems to be within the mirror, drawing him towards the glass, and it’s not long before he starts to have difficulty turning back to normal…

In Night of the Living Dummy, Kris becomes jealous after her sister discovers a ventriloquist dummy in her neighbour’s skip. Lindy names the dummy Slappy and starts to become popular as a local entertainer. However, when Kris gets a puppet of her own, things begin to get sinister. Kris’s dummy starts saying nasty things and everyone blames Kris. After all, a dummy can’t possibly have a mind of its own, can it?

In The Girl who Cried Monster, Lucy is always getting in trouble for telling her brother Randy tall tales about monsters. Due to this, no one will believe her when she does actually see one. Mr Mortman, the local librarian, turns into a horrible monster and eats bugs whenever the library closes. Trouble is, Mr Mortman suspects that Lucy knows his secret. How can Lucy save herself when everyone assumes that she is lying?

In Welcome to Camp Nightmare, Billy is disappointed to find that summer at Camp Nightmoon is not exactly what he expected. The Councillors have really lax health and safety standards, his parents never answer his letters and no one seems to care when kids disappear in the night. As one of Billy’s friends is attacked by a horrible monster, Billy realises that something sinister is going on. Just what secrets is Uncle Al hiding and can he escape before it is too late?

In The Ghost Next Door, Hannah’s boring summer holiday livens up when she meets her new neighbour. Danny is a little strange but seems nice enough. However, it’s not long before Hannah starts to notice just how pale he is – and how he has a habit of just vanishing into thin air. It’s obvious that Danny is far from normal, but could it be that he’s really a ghost? And what connection does he have to the mysterious shadowy figure that Hannah has seen around the town?

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Hollow City

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Hollow City was written by Ransom Riggs and first published in 2014. It forms the second part of the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series and follows Jacob and his friends as they travel across blitz-torn England. The novel is preceded by Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2011) and followed by Library of Souls (2015) and Map of Days (2018). I would strongly recommend reading these novels in sequence if you want to have any idea what is going on.

With any hope of returning to his own time stolen, Jacob Portman now has no choice but to help his newfound friends to save Miss Peregrine. Following her injuries, their caretaker has not been able to return to her human form. It’s not long before they learn that she is now in terrible danger. Miss Peregrine can only be cured by another Ymbryne. If the children can’t find one in three days, she will lose her humanity and become a bird forever.

No longer protected by the loop, the children begin a long journey across the country in search of allies. However, they have been stranded in the 1940s and so it is not the safest time for the children to travel alone. People are suspicious of strangers and are quick to accuse those who stand out of being German spies. And at night, the bombs begin to fall.

To make matters worse, the children are still being relentlessly pursued by both Wights and Hollows. Every loop they come across seems to have already been ransacked and Jacob and his friends are forced to face the grim possibility that they are now the only ones left. Yet what can the Wights possibly be planning and where are they taking the kidnapped Ymbrynes?

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Skyward

Skyward was written by Brandon Sanderson and first published in 2018. It is a science-fiction novel set on a remote planet, where humans are forced to hide underground due to frequent alien attacks. The novel is the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no future instalments have been announced.

Ever since their ship crash landed on Detritus, Spensa’s people have been besieged by the Krell. The mysterious aliens frequently attack settlements, preventing them from growing too large or scavenging the materials that fall from the debris field that surrounds the planet. All it would take would be for the Krell to drop one lifebuster bomb in the right place and the human race could be wiped out forever.

The only thing protecting humans from the Krell are the pilots – brave men and women who risk their lives to engage the Krell in fierce aerial battles. It has always been Spensa’s dream to be one of them, but her father’s actions during the Battle of Alta have barred her from this forever. No one wants to give the time of day to the daughter of a coward, let alone allow her to pilot a fighter.

However, when Spensa manages to impress one of the tutors, she is given a chance to prove herself. Her time in training will not be easy due to her family’s reputation, but she is determined to prove Admiral Ironsides wrong by becoming the best pilot of all time. However, it’s not long before Spensa starts to learn the truth about her father. She has always been certain that he was no coward, but the truth about him could be more horrifying. Worse still, it could also affect her ability to fly…

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Goosebumps 1-5

Welcome to my new series of retrospective reviews! In these posts, I’m going to be slowly making my way through R.L. Stine’s classic Goosebumps series. Not including spin-offs and specials, this middle grade horror series was published between 1992 and 1997 and ran for sixty-two novels. Please note that, due to the age of this series, this post is likely to contain some spoilers. You have been warned. For the purpose of today’s review, I’m going to be looking at the first five books only. I’m also going to be reviewing this series in the order that they were released in the United Kingdom, which should be noted does differ slight from the order that it was originally released in the United States.

In Welcome to Dead House, Amanda and Josh are forced to move when their father inherits a creepy old house. While Amanda is immediately concerned by the horrifying visions that she has in her bedroom, she grows more worried still when she meets the strange children that live in her neighbourhood. They all seem oddly friendly and keen for her to stay with them. Forever.

In Say Cheese and Die!, Greg and his friends uncover a strange Polaroid camera when poking around an abandoned house. While he initially thinks it is broken, Greg soon discovers that the photos its takes might show the future. Yet, as the pictures begin to grow more sinister, Greg begins to grow concerned that the camera is actually evil. What if it is causing bad things to happen, rather than predicting them?

In Stay Out Of the Basement, Margaret and Casey begin to grow worried about their father when he loses his job and begins working from their basement. Suddenly, he has no time for them and forbids them from going near the odd plants that he is growing. Margaret grows more worried still when she notices that her father is eating plant food and starting to physically change. Just what are his experiments, and does he have plans for them?

In The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb, Gabe is excited to be spending Christmas with his archaeologist uncle, even if it means that he has to withstand his annoying cousin Sari. After all, how many kids get to explore hidden chambers deep within the Great Pyramid? However, things take a sinister turn when one of his uncle’s assistants tries to kidnap him. As he flees, he soon finds himself lost deep within the pyramid. It is here that he learns a gruesome secret, yet he might not live to tell the tale.

In Monster Blood, Evan is annoyed that he has to stay with his creepy Great-Aunt Kathryn. Not only is she old, but she’s also totally deaf. However, while exploring a local toy shop, he discovers something that seems more fun – a can of goo that seems to possess weird properties. However, when his dog eats some of the Monster Blood and starts to grow, Evan realises that something is weird about the ooze. Worse still, it seems to be growing and developing a mind of its own…

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Ice Kingdom

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments in this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

Ice Massacre | Ice Crypt

Ice Kingdom was written by Tiana Warner and first published in 2017. It is the final instalment of the Mermaids of Eriana Kwai trilogy, continuing the story of two girls’ mission to liberate the ocean from a tyrannical king. The novel carries on directly from where the previous instalments – Ice Massacre (2014) and Ice Crypt (2016) left off, so you really have to read the novels in sequence to fully appreciate them.

Although Meela and Lysi managed to escape with their lives, the Battle of Eriana Kwai had disastrous consequences. King Adaro now has control of Sisiutl – the invulnerable two-headed serpent – and with it the power to wage war on both land and sea. Although Meela has finally become a mermaid, there is little time for her to enjoy her new life with Lysi. The two of them now must find a way to save the world.

However, the girls struggle to agree on a course of action. While Meela wants to take the fight straight to Adaro, Lysi believes that their best chance would be to make allies of Queen Medusa of the Atlantic, and to use her armies to liberate Utopia. While Lysi tries to convince Meela to abandon her thoughts of vengeance, the mermaids slip further into civil war as Adaro sends more and more prisoners to die in his labour camps.

Yet Adaro isn’t the only threat to the oceans. Spurred by Sisiutl’s attacks, the American military has finally been spurred to action. When their early strikes against the giant monster end in disaster, they have no choice but to deploy more powerful weapons. It soon becomes clear that Meela and Lysi must find a way to make peace between the mermaids and humans before the two races wipe each other out…

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The Owls Have Come To Take Us Away

The Owls Have Come To Take Us Away was written by Ronald L Smith and first published in 2019. It is a middle grade science fiction story which focuses on a young boy who is terrified of aliens. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to read any of the author’s earlier work to fully appreciate it.

Simon is obsessed with aliens, but not in a good way. He’s put a lot of time into researching the Greys – the ones that abduct people and take them away. His beliefs have driven his tough, military man father to despair. He just wants Simon to be manly and athletic like his older brother. He has no time for Simon’s flights of fancy and childish fears.

Then, one fateful night, Simon has a weird experience in the woods. All he remembers is a bright light and a looming owl before he blacked out. When he awakes, he discovers an odd scar on his belly and realises the truth. He has been taken by the Greys and now they have put an implant inside him. That means that they are likely to come back.

As Simon’s behaviour grows more erratic, his relationship with his father gets worse and worse. His parents will not believe him about the aliens and are desperate for him to get psychological help. Luckily for Simon, he manages to get in touch with MUFON – a group of people who hold the same beliefs as him. But did Simon really have a close encounter and, if so, what is it that the aliens want?

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The Shield of Kuromori

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

The Shield of Kuromori was written by Jason Rohan and first published in 2015. It forms the second part of the The Sword of Kuromori trilogy and tells the continuing adventures of Kenny Blackwood as he defends Japan from evil oni. The novel is preceded by The Sword of Kuromori (2014) and followed by The Stone of Kuromori (2016). Because of this, I would certainly recommend reading the books in sequence to fully appreciate them.

Although Kenny managed to use his newfound powers to prevent the dragon Namazu from destroying America, his work is far from done. As he and Kiyomi patrol the streets of Tokyo in search of troublesome yōkai, they come across something completely unexpected. A band of powerful oni have broken into an observatory and seem to be trying to steal a telescope. Oni are normally beings of hatred and violence. It seems unthinkable that anyone should be able to convince them to work as a team.

Yet, as strange as the oni are behaving, it is not Kenny’s biggest concern. Ever since he brought Kiyomi back from the dead, she has been acting strangely. Although she has always been fiery, she has never been so aggressive before and certainly never openly disobeyed her father in order to pick fights with yōkai. It’s not long before Kenny realises that it’s all his fault. Because he played with fate and transgressed the laws of nature, Kiyomi is starting to change. It will not be long before she loses her humanity altogether.

Kenny has one chance to save her but it requires making deal with a god who is known for being untrustworthy. All the god wants in return are two legendary treasures – a mirror and a stone – but the whereabouts of these are unknown. With time running out, Kenny must decide where his loyalties lie. Does he abandon his friend to find out what the oni are up to, or save Kiyomi and risk the lives of everyone in Japan?

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The Extinction Trials: Rebel

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments in this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

The Extinction Trials | The Extinction Trials: Exile

The Extinction Trials: Rebel was written by S.M Wilson and first published in 2019. It tells the continuing story of Stormchaser and Lincoln, as humans are forced to populate Piloria for the first time. The novel forms the final part of The Extinction Trials trilogy, following on shortly after The Extinction Trials (2018) and The Extinction Trials: Exile (2018) left off. Because of this, I would recommend reading the novels in sequence to fully appreciate what is going on.

For six months, Stormchaser and Reban have been forced to work together to survive in the jungles of Piloria. Although the viruses seem to have wiped out the tyrannosaurs and pterodactyls, it has had the reverse effect on the raptors. These creatures seem to be growing more powerful by the day – larger, faster and dangerously intelligent. It takes all of Storm and Reban’s skill to stay one step ahead of the deadly predators.

Meanwhile on Earthsia, Lincoln’s kindness has had terrible consequences. The plants that he brought back from Piloria have saved everyone from the blistering plague. However, it soon becomes clear that this disease was the only thing controlling the population. Now, there are too many mouths to feed and not even the Stipulators have the power to quell the riots.

Loading up the last two boats with a collection of politicians and labourers, the humans have no choice but to take their chances on Piloria. However, most people are completely unprepared for life on the dinosaur continent. It will take all of Storm and Lincoln’s skills to educate the frightened survivors on how to live in the savage lands. However, Silas still struggles to keep his position of power. The former Chief Stipulator has other ideas about how they must survive, ones that could have fatal consequences…

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Who In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?

Who In The World is Carmen Sandiego was first published in 2019. It is an adaption of the first couple of episodes of the new Carmen Sandiego Netflix series, written by Rebecca Tinker and based on the screenplay by Duane Capizzi. The story finally gives the origins of the famous art thief, detailing her early training and how she first came to learn about the criminal organisation known as VILE. It does not really require you to know anything about the character to fully appreciate it.

Carmen Sandiego is one of the most wanted criminals in the world and Interpol Agent Chase Devineaux is determined to be the one to catch her. Unlike most art thieves, she seems to delight in taunting the authorities. She makes no effort to remain hidden as she wears a scarlet fedora and trench coat, yet always escapes with her prize. However, this time Carmen could have bitten off more than she can chew. While trying to steal the priceless Eye of Vishnu, she sees an object that she thought was lost forever and stumbles across an old foe.

This discovery causes Carmen to recall her past – a time when she was an orphan known as Black Sheep. Raised by faculty of a mysterious school, she soon learns that her “parents” are really a cabal of master thieves. Going under the name of VILE – Valuable Imports, Lavish Exports – they take in only the most promising students each year and mould them into the criminal elite. Carmen is determined to join their ranks and, despite only being a child, is finally granted a chance to become their youngest ever member.

Earning a place within in VILE will not be easy as one of her teachers – the ninja Shadowsan – seems to be determined that she will fail. However, Carmen slowly learns that she is walking the wrong path. VILE hides many terrible secrets, even from its students. With the help of a young hacker called Player, she soon discovers that there are far better uses for her talents.

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