I really like Point Horror books – they’re interesting, often quite original, fast-paced, light-hearted, yet surprisingly chilling. Personally, R.L.Stine and Diane Hoh are my favourite authors in this long-running series of children’s horror books from the 80s and 90s. My Mum read them as a teen, and now I have a reasonable collection of these books. Today, I’m going to be reviewing three of my favourites in this dark, witty series.
First of all Diane Hoh’s Funhouse (1990). My Mum said that this was one of her favourites, as a child – and I found it really gripping and creepy, too. It centres around ‘the Boardwalk’, which is a sort of fair-type theme park thing. I was just beginning to read this one around Halloween and I was admittedly a little disappointed that it wasn’t scarier, earlier on, but it does get quite scary later in the book. It kept me guessing, as well, which was very good. So Tess is the main character here, and the story really gets interesting when a ride called ‘the Devil’s elbow’ goes terribly wrong and flies of the tracks. One person is killed and others are badly injured. Tess thought she saw something under the ride, running away after the accident, and from then on,she starts getting mysterious, threatening anonymous messages – and disaster seems to follow her!
More accidents happen surrounding the Boardwalk and the reader is kept intrigued by a switch of narrator. The ‘baddie’, unidentified, gives his side of the story, and, my feelings began to change about him. He wasn’t the destructive, bitter, murderous criminal that I originally envisaged. He was fighting against something that was totally wrong, trying to punish the people involved. Obviously, what he was doing was still really wrong, but (if this makes sense!) he was doing it for the right reasons. I honestly didn’t guess who the murderer was until the end, when his identity was revealed. It was a thoroughly satisfying ending to a well-crafted story. I really enjoyed it. All the characters were interesting. Everyone was a suspect. And the plot was reasonably good. I would give this book a 3.9 out of 5. 🙂
Next, Richie Tankersley Cusick’s The Lifeguard (1988). A totally different setting, a fairly similar main character, and a brand new mystery! We are whisked away to Beverly Island and enter a story of sun, the sea, suspicious lifeguards and murder. Kelsey is the main character in this mystery, and first from the off, we are launched into a story of complicated backgrounds, estranged islanders and ultimately an unexplainable disappearance. Kelsey is going to meet her mother’s new boyfriend and spend two weeks on the island getting to know his children – Neale and Justin (both lifeguards) and Beth, his quiet 13yr old daughter. But when they arrive, they learn that Beth has been missing for two days, and their happy holiday turns into a living nightmare.
On her first night in the family home, Kelsey finds a note from Beth which says: Kelsey, I think someone is going to kill me. From then, onwards, scary things start happening on the island. Kelsey befriends a lively girl call Donna, and they think they find a body… Again, the author keeps the reader guessing until the end. I would rate this book with 3.7 stars out of five – just behind Funhouse. An enjoyable read, though.
Last, but not least is R.L.Stine’s The Babysitter (1989). Undoubtedly my favourite of the three. R.L.Stine conjures up such a tauntingly mysterious story. I remember reading it in one sitting when I was about 9 or 10 tens old. The only thing is, re-reading it recently, I could remember everything that happened! Which can only be a good thing. Just shows what a memorable book it is, I suppose! Jenny is the main character, an average teenage girl, who takes the position of babysitter for the night in the Hagens’ household. It reminds me of one of my favourite horror films: When a Stranger Calls.
So when the Hagens leave, Jenny starts receiving anonymous phonecalls and hearing strange knocking sounds. She is stalked by chilling noises and angry threats. It is a great book, and in my opinion, the scariest of the three that I reviewed today. I would give it a 4.2 out of 5 stars.
I know these books aren’t exactly ‘up to date’, but I hope my review has conjured up some reminiscence for those of you who read these books as a teenager. And they’re really good books – maybe they should be republished and they would go on to be loved by another generation?! I know the likes of Goosebumps are still popular, today. Anyway, thanks for reading anyway, everyone! 🙂 🙂