Friday, 19 October 2012

13 Days of Halloween: Review - Goosebumps Wanted: The Haunted Mask

Goosebumps Wanted: The Haunted Mask
By R. L. Stine
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
ISBN: 9780545417938
Pub. Date: July 1, 2012
Pages: 240

A few months ago R. L. Stine released a new book, Goosebumps Wanted: The Haunted Mask, in a rare hardback edition. The new sequel doesn't include the characters of Carly Beth and Sabrina, but focuses on two new kids, Lu-Ann Franklin and Devin O'Bannon.

The books begins at William's Mask Emporium, in which the owner and his dog, Hansel, get a late night visitor - his brother, Randolph, who happens to brought along a few creepy masks that were made from human flesh. William recognizes that the masks are nothing but pure evil. He plans on destroying the masks, but the masks may get him first.

The plot jumps forty years into the future, where twelve-year-old Lu-Ann and her friend Devin are dreading the upcoming annual Halloween party that is being hosted by their classmate Polly Martin. Every year the party gets more boring and if Lu-Ann has to attend, she is going to make it a frightening evening by pulling some pranks with her best-friend Devin. Her plan changes when she learns that Devin can't come to the party. She attends the party anyway and talks two other friends, Marcus and Brad, into following her to Polly's Attic while the other kids played a silly balloon game. They hear an unknown voice coming from a closet - a half skeleton, half human corpse holding the green haunted mask falls out of the closet when Lu-Ann yanked it open. It was the ugliest mask that Lu-Ann had ever seen and it would make the perfect prank, but once she slips the mask on, the mask becomes part of her flesh.

Meanwhile, Devin is having a horrible time with his parents and his six-year-old twin sisters, Dale and Dolly. His father had recently bought a pumpkin farm and now he's been stuck on the farm helping sell pumpkins to complete strangers. Strange thing begin to happen and Devin learns that the farm was once a graveyard. There is a legend of an angry spirit known as the Grave-Master. He can travel through the pumpkin vines and eventually into an actual pumpkin, where he can then take either a human or animal form. Is it just a legend? Or is the pumpkin patch alive?

Goosebumps Wanted: The Haunted Mask is a standalone book (but technically it is actually the 4th Haunted Mask book) that is twice the length of a typical Goosebumps. I grew up reading the original series and I have continued to collect each new book over the years. I was somewhat disappointed that Carly Beth didn't return, but I guess R. L. Stine thought she had had enough of the mask mayhem. The book is broken down into four different parts: Part One: The Haunted Mask; Part Two: Lu-Ann's Story; Part Three: Devin's Story; Epilogue: Polly's House. The previous series (Horrorland, Hall of Horrors) contained humor and campiness, but Goosebumps Wanted: The Haunted Mask is more horror than anything else. It may be written for the ages 8 and up, but I don't know if children that young should be reading it, even though at that age I was already watching horror movies. I recommend parents to read the book first before letting your kids read it.

Lu-Ann's Story goes by the formulaic plot that was established in the original Haunted Mask, Haunted Mask II, and the Scream of the Haunted Mask. One would think the fourth entry would get stale, but R. L. Stine bumped up the frights for this tale. Devin's Story is a combination of Children of the Corn and Pumpkinhead. It is truly frighting and you'll think twice about buying a pumpkin. Both the stories are tied together near the end where the two friends have to help each other to defeat the evils. Goosebumps Wanted: The Haunted Mask is the scariest Goosebumps title and I'm looking forward to reading the next series, Goosebumps Most Wanted.

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