Yesterday marked the 73rd birthday of thriller and fantasy author R.L. Stine. Known as the king of children’s horror, Stine’s name is credited for over 200 novels including the stories of the Goosebumps and Fear Street series.
He even has numerous original and adapted television productions since his birth on October 8, 1943. Most recently, R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps characters took to the big screen in Sony Pictures Entertainment’s 2015 film Goosebumps.
Having grown up a reader of R.L. Stine, let me share some of my all-time favorite Stine books.
Beware!: R.L. Stein Picks His Favorite Scary Stories
Golems, murderous ice cream men, hellish Christmases, and phantom tigers are just some of the stars in this story collection. With original tales and poems from storytellers Shel Silverstein, Roald Dahl, and Alvin Schwartz alongside Stine’s retellings of the Jewish golem folklore and Bram Stroker’s “The Judge’s House,” there’s something for everyone’s scare preference.
This book delivers light spooks and scream-enticing frights. Though not all the stories are written by Stine, it’s an interesting insight at what kind of tales inspire Stine’s own work. If a chance comes up to get the book, I highly recommend reading Stine’s retelling of Bram Stroker’s “The Judge’s House”, Alvin Schwartz’s “Harold,” and The Vault of Horror’s “A Sock for Christmas” comic.
It Came from Beneath the Sink! from R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series
When Katrina discovers a breathing sponge under her new home’s kitchen sink, everyone in her life becomes victim of sudden and usually dangerous misfortunes. It’s soon revealed that the sponge is actually a Grool, an ancient creature that feeds off bad luck; worse yet, the Grool has chosen Katrina to be its new owner. With the help of her brother Daniel and friend Carlo, Katrina must find a way to end the Grool’s tyranny or have a life as lucky as Friday the 13th.
Though being one of the lesser sought out Goosebumps books, I owe this tale as being my gateway into Stine’s world. I think what I love the most is how the phrase “kill them with kindness” becomes a literal lifesaver to the kids. Who knew an anti-Spongebob that thrives on bad vibes could end up being the key to a successful children’s thriller?
Night of the Living Dummy from R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series
Ventriloquist dummies are creepy enough. In the 7th Goosebumps book, R. L. Stine turns one dummy named Mr. Wood into a manipulative, sadist entity harassing twin sisters Kris and Lindy. Mr. Wood’s evil nature and terrible tactics in this book were the beginning of the Night of the Living Dummy series, where Slappy the dummy becomes the successor of causing young readers terror. Slappy is easily one of the most popular Goosebumps villains, making a large enough impression to be the head antagonist of the 2015 Goosebumps film.
Night of the Living Dummy was the first Goosebumps book to give me nightmares as a kid. Compared to other Goosebumps villains who are straight forward, Mr. Wood’s intensions are open-ended, and he is able to commit well-calculated attacks with an often nonchalant demeanor. Honestly, I’m still superstitious of dummies and ceramic dolls to this day thanks to Mr. Wood and Slappy.
Silent Night from the Fear Street series
R.L. Stine’s Fear Street series is targeted toward teen and young adult audiences. Consequently, these books contain heavier themes of death, murder, and violence while maintaining Stine’s thriller touch. Silent Night is no exception to this rule. When strange happenings at Dalby Department Stores eventually lead to a corpse mysteriously being discovered in a box, Reva Dalby must figure out who is putting her father’s store in danger before the holiday season becomes a living nightmare.
Aside from the irony of a Christmas season that’s far from merry, I love the main character Reva’s eccentric personality. The entitled Reva spends her time being a perfect copy of Mean Girl’s Regina George, spending her time judging people and manipulating others’ emotions to pass the time. As caricature as she sounds, she is such a great mix of sarcasm and brattiness that you often can’t help but laugh at her rude commentary; you may even feel sympathy for her since her mean stride is clearly a counteraction inspired by the other factors in her life. Also, the pacing of the mystery’s unfolding makes this book a pleasant read.