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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One of Us Is Next

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for One of Us Is Lying. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Tonight’s review actually serves two purposes. Firstly, this post is the 550th review on this site. Yay for us and thank-you, as always, for your continuing support. This post is also to raise awareness for World Book Night, which is tomorrow. More information on that shortly…

One of Us Is Next was written by Karen M. McManus and first published in 2020. It is a mystery story which focuses on a group of students who are forcibly engaged in a deadly game of Truth or Dare. The novel is a direct sequel to One of Us Is Lying (2017), so I would strongly recommend reading the novels in sequence to fully appreciate what is going on.

A year has passed since Simon’s death, yet the students of Bayview High have never forgotten the horrible game he played. Copycat sites have popped up every now and then, but the school’s strict anti-cyber bullying policy has quickly had them shut down. At last, the “Bayview Four” – Bronwyn, Addy, Cooper and Nate – have been allowed to get on with their lives and graduate. However, it soon becomes clear that the game is not over for those that they have left behind.

It starts as a harmless text from an unknown sender, targeting every student in Maeve’s year. The messenger says that he will be contacting one student with a Truth or Dare. If they forfeit, one of their secrets will be sent directly to everyone they know. No one truly believes it until the sender reveals Phoebe’s dark shame to everyone – a secret that no one else should have been able to find out.

The students quickly become hooked on the game, with everyone keen to choose “Dare” to avoid their secrets being leaked. However, when one of the dares goes horribly wrong and a student is killed, Maeve and her friends realise that the game hides some sinister purpose. Was the death planned and, if so, how does the mastermind seem to know everything about them?

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Aiden’s Quest for Apollo

Aiden’s Quest for Apollo was written by Tanvi Kesari Pasumarthy and first published in 2015. It is a fantasy story which focuses on a teenage boy who discovered that he is destined to save the Greek Gods from the treachery of Hades. The novel reads as though it is the first part of a series but, at the time of writing, no further instalments have been announced.

Aiden is both excited and nervous to leave his home and study in another country, however life at his new college quickly takes a turn for strange. A mysterious, leather-bound tome appears in his welcome pack and he receives an old coin in an oddly lucid dream, only to find it in his room when he wakes up. Yet it is not until he is attacked by one of the Gorgons that he learns of his true destiny.

In accepting the coin, Aiden has inherited all of the strength and powers of Apollo. It is his duty to save the Greek gods from Hades, who has imprisoned them in the Underworld. With the help of his sister and two friends – who wield the powers of Athena, Artemis and Ares – he must climb Mount Olympus and retrieve Zeus’s staff, and use this to restore power to the King of the gods.

However, doing so will not be easy. Hades knows of Aiden’s destiny and will use every monster at his disposal in order to stop them. In order to succeed, Aiden and his friends will need to seek out some of the lesser gods who are hiding on Earth and convince them to lend their aid. However, he needs to act quickly. Hades plans to unleash the Titans on the world and, without the gods to stop them, that will mean the end of everything…

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The Kingdom of Back

The Kingdom of Back was written by Marie Lu and first published in 2020. It is a historical fantasy novel which focuses on the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s older sister, Nannerl. The story stands alone, so you don’t have to read any of the author’s previous work to fully appreciate it.

Maria Anna “Nannerl” Mozart lives to perform, but even as a young girl she knows that her days are numbered. Her skills at the clavier will only seem remarkable while she is still a child. Once she is grown, she will be expected to give it all up in order to get married and start a family. Things become worse still when her younger brother, Wolferl, reveals a prodigious talent for composition. How can she hope to be remembered when Wolferl’s star eclipses her own?

As they travel Europe to perform before nobles and Emperors, Nannerl and Wolferl amuse themselves by telling stories of a magical world called the Kingdom of Back. This is a world where rare edelweiss bloom everywhere and trees grow upside down. It’s not long before strange things begin to appear in the night and the Kingdom of Back seems more real. Although Nannerl at first believes she is dreaming, she starts to doubt this when a Faerie Princeling named Hyacinth reveals himself to her.

Hyacinth advises that he is Nannerl’s guardian and wishes to grant her deepest wish. In order to do so, she must compete three tasks for him. At first, Nannerl is excited to help to him the Princeling, but Wolferl seems to grow weaker with every task that she completes. It is not long before she is forced to question exactly what Hyacinth really wants. Who is he, and what will happen if she completes her final task?

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The Night Country

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

The Night Country was written by Melissa Albert and first published in 2020. It is an urban fantasy novel that focuses on a group of refugees from a dying world who are forced to relocate to modern day New York. The novel is a direct sequel to The Hazel Wood (2018), and Albert also plans to release Tales from the Hinterlands – the fictional book of faerie stories featured in this series – in early 2021.

After Alice’s dangerous escape from the Hinterlands, she though that she would be able to build a better life for herself. However, she has slowly come to realise that the Hinterlands never really lets anyone go. Even though Alice has lost her icy powers, she still struggles to fit in. The human world feels unnatural to her, but the other Stories resent her for the roll she played in destroying their world.

While most of the Stories seem to be harmless enough, Alice soon learns that something dark still stalks amongst them. Something is brutally murdering the Stories, stealing a single body part from every one that that it slays. To make matters worse, the killer also seems to be able to freeze people with a touch. The remaining Stories are now starting to believe that Alice is responsible, and she knows that she needs to find out the killer’s true identity if she is to clear her name.

Meanwhile, in the ruins of the Hinterlands, Ellery Finch is trying to find his way home. As the world collapses around him, he strikes a deal with Iolanthe – a girl who knows how to make doors. All he wants is to return to New York and be with Alice once again. Little does he know that his return will not be easy. His journey takes him to a library of worlds where he learns of the existence of a legendary realm called the Night Country, and the terrible price that was paid to create it…

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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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Owlcrate Unboxing – March 2020

Hello everyone! I hope that you are all keeping well. It’s been a pretty crazy month but it’s time for another Owlcrate unboxing!

In case this is the first of my unboxings that you have had the pleasure of reading, let’s talk a little about what they are for. Owlcrate is a monthly mystery box for fans of Young Adult novels. Each box costs around £38 to ship the the United Kingdom and is guaranteed to contain 3-5 collectables, all selected around a different monthly theme. On top of this, the box is contains a newly released hardback, usually signed and with an exclusive cover.

Owlcrates tend to sell out incredibly quickly, though you are guaranteed to receive each box as long as you have an active subscription. This subscription can be cancelled at any time, though I would recommend only doing so if you are sure. I made the mistake of cancelling last year and it took me a couple of months to get it back again!

As you might be able to tell from the striking blue box, this month’s box was a bit of a special one as it’s Owlcrate’s 5th Anniversary! The theme this time around was ‘Music of the Night’ and scroll on to see what exciting things were contained with in.

Be warned – massive spoilers lie below for anyone who has not yet received their crate…

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All the Stars and Teeth

All the Stars and Teeth was written by Adalyn Grace and is due for release in July 2020. It is a fantasy novel that focuses on a sheltered princess who joins forces with a pirate in order to stop a revolution in her kingdom. The novel is the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

In the Kingdom of Visidia, everyone can choose what kind of magic they practice and are permitted to live on one of seven islands depending their decision. The only one who is not permitted to chose is the one who sits on the throne. Only the King or Queen is permitted to practice soul magic – the most dangerous and difficult to control of the magics. This is necessary to keep the balance and ensure that greed does not destroy the kingdom as it did in ancient times.

For her whole life, Amora has trained to take her father’s place and rule over Visidia. However, in order to do so, she must demonstrate that she has flawless control over her powers. Unfortunately, her test does not go as planned and she finds herself thrown in gaol, waiting to see if she will be permitted to try again or executed for her crimes. It is here that she first meets Bastian – a young pirate. Bastian has come from the distant island of Zudoh to seek help. A cruel revolutionary called Kraven is growing in popularity. He has already ravaged Zudoh and has now set his sights on the throne. Trouble is, Zudoh is the forbidden island of curse magic and has been cut off from the rest of Visidia for years.

Escaping aboard Bastian’s ship, the Keel Haul, with her reluctant fiance in tow, Amora sets out on the adventure that she has desired for her entire life. If she is the one to save all of Visidia from Kraven, she knows that her people will eagerly accept her as Queen. However, it’s not long before Amora learns that things may not be quite as clean-cut as she imagined. Her father has been keeping secrets from her for years, and now she is starting to realise that the royal family isn’t quite as beloved as she had been led to believe…

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Cinder

Apologies for the delays in recent posts. The night is dark and full of terrors, and I have been struggling to find the motivation to write up my reviews over the last few weeks. Especially due to the topical subject-matter of this one, but more on that shortly.

Cinder was written by Marissa Meyer and first published in 2012. It is a science fiction reimagining of Cinderella, set in a futuristic plague-struck Beijing. The novel forms the first part of The Lunar Chronicles and is followed by Scarlet (2013), Cress (2014) and Winter (2015).

Linh Cinder’s skills as a mechanic have been recognised all over New Beijing. She has even managed to catch the eye of Prince Kai, who has commissioned her to repair his personal android. However, she knows that she will always be a second class citizen. Almost everyone looks down on her due to her cyborg limbs and Cinder knows that her stepmother only tolerates her due to the fact that she is useful.

However, when Cinder’s favourite stepsister contracts letumosis – the deadly blue fever – her stepmother is quick to blame her unwanted child. She immediately donates Cinder to the government for medical research, knowing that this is likely to be fatal. With no right to resist, Cinder quickly finds herself at the mercy of Dr Erland. Yet, in doing so, she makes a startling discovery. She is actually immune to the plague.

The secret to Cinder’s immunity is hidden within her mysterious past, and Cinder is eager to crack it if it could result in a cure for her sister. However, the political situation within New Beijing is tense. The Emperor has recently passed away and the barbaric Lunar Queen is eager to marry Prince Kai to secure her power over the people of the Earth. As Cinder gets closer to the prince, she finds herself in a delicate situation. Can she help find a way to save all life on Earth before the Prince is forced to make a dangerous choice – one that could endanger the freedom of everyone?

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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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