REVIEW: Ghost Beach & Attack of the Jack-O’-Lanterns by R.L. Stine

Originally published 2016-03-23: Kids learn the secret of their ancestors and others learn the secrets of their classmates in two classic R.L. Stine books

 

Earlier this month, I reviewed R.L. Stine’s The Secret in honor of my daughter’s birthday. I enjoyed it so much that I have read three more R.L. Stine books since then! (Who says you can’t travel back in time?)

Today I’m reviewing two books from my favorite book series as a kid, Goosebumps. My daughter has slowly been collecting these, and I plan to eventually get through them all myself as we complete her set.

I’ll never forgot how much fun these books were, but I think part of me said, at about 13 years old, that I was too old for a kid’s series. I moved on to Stephen King and Anne Rice soon after, but part of my heart will always stay with Goosebumps and its great tagline: “Reader beware – you’re in for a scare!”

BOOK ONE

The first of the two I’m reviewing today is #22 in the original Goosebumps series, Ghost Beach.

cover of kids horror book Goosebumps Ghost Beach by R.L. Stine

Description

Do you believe in ghosts?
Jerry can’t wait to explore the dark, spooky old cave he found down by the beach.
Then the other kids tell him a story. A story about a ghost who lives deep inside the cave.
A ghost who is three hundred years old.
A ghost who comes out when the moon is full.
A ghost who is haunting the beach.
Just another stupid ghost story. Right?

What a great description. I remember being a kid and reading the back covers, desperate to crack open my newest Goosebumps find. This story, even though I had read it before, delivered on the promise of its back cover copy.

Jerry and Terri are visiting their old, ancient cousins for the last month of the summer on a little island in New England. Besides being pretty deserted, this island has a unique feature – nearly everyone there has the same last name as Jerry and Terri, and have for hundreds of years. So when they meet three kids on the beach who share the same last name, they don’t question it.

The kids tell them about an old ghost who lives in a cave that they are forbidden to enter. When they stumble across the skeleton of a dog, these three kids turn up the volume on their spooky story skills, and tell Jerry and Terri all about the ghost who haunts the island and slurps the meat right off of animals and people alike.

Naturally curious, Terri wants to investigate. No matter how much her cousins warn her against spelunking in the ghost’s hideout, she must know the truth, even if she has to drag Jerry up kicking and screaming. And the secret of the cave nearly gets them killed.

My Rating

I give R.L. Stine’s Ghost Beach (Goosebumps #22) a giddy four of five stars for being amusing and driving me forward through the story page after page. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves a quick read and an old fashioned ghost story.

 

BOOK TWO

The second book I’m reviewing today is #48 in the Goosebumps series – Attack of the Jack-O’-Lanterns. I remember not necessarily liking this one back when I was a kid, because I thought the main character was a little annoying, but I decided to give it another shot as an adult.

cover of kids horror Goosebumps Attack of the Jack O Lanterns by R.L. Stine

Description

Pumpkin Power!

Nothing beats Halloween. It’s Drew Brockman’s favorite holiday. And this year will be awesome. Much better than last year. Or the year Lee and Tabby played that joke. A nasty practical joke on Drew and her best friend, Walker.

Yes, this year Drew and Walker have a plan. A plan for revenge. It involves two scary pumpkin heads.

But something’s gone wrong. Way wrong. Because the pumpkin heads are a little too scary. A little too real. With strange hissing voices. And flames shooting out of their faces…

My Rating

My quibble with the main character, Drew, is that she has a huge chip on her shoulder.

Her dad calls her Elf, because with her pixie cut, pointy ears, and pointy chin, she resembles one. But that’s not the only thing that leaves her growling (yes, growling – she does it excessively).

These two kids from her school, Tabby and Lee, are always wrecking her plans or teasing her and her friends. They have buddies in high school who like to help them terrorize kids in their grade, and they use them at any opportunity.

Tabby and Lee don’t get scared: they’re the scarers.

So I understand the quest for revenge on a classmate. In school, I was bullied occasionally, and I remember relishing in the thought of my bullies getting their just desserts. It’s only natural to want to see those who have hurt you be punished. So that’s why I kept reading this story – I wanted to see what Drew and Walker had in store for Tabby and Lee.

With the help of a couple of friends, they hatch a plan that is traumatizing on a number of levels. As they’re going through the motions, there is the sense that something has gone terribly wrong, because the “monsters” they planned to scare their classmates are going too far.

I didn’t remember the ending of this one, but when I got to it, it left me feeling just as disillusioned as I did the first time I read it.

I give Attack of the Jack-O’-Lanterns (Goosebumps #48a half-hearted three of five stars. R.L. Stine brings his usual page-turning abilities to this one, but the ending left me flat. Still worth a read if you’re into Halloween.

These are books #7 and 8 on my quest to #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks.

Buy Ghost Beach on Amazon | iBooks | Kobo / Buy Attack of the Jack-O’-Lanterns on Amazon

These are affiliate links; click on them to buy and I receive a small commission, but you don’t pay any more.

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