Sunday, July 01, 2012


Stine, R.L. The Haunted Mask.
1 July 2012, Scholastic

To commemorate the 20th anniversary of this classic horror series for children there is a new story issued in hard cover.

Lu-Ann and Devin are both complaining about Polly's Halloween party. Lu-Ann thinks it's boring; Devin won't be able to go because his father has bought a pumpkin farm and he won't be able to attend. After Polly brings out her most used party trick-- using static electricity to hold a balloon on her forehead-- Lu-Ann can no longer stand it and sneaks off to the attic with Brad and Marcus. There, they find the skeleton of William, who was introduced in the first chapter, who owned a mask store years ago. After coming into possession of a particularly evil mask that adhered to his face, he managed to rip it off but died while trying to hide the mask. Not knowing that the same fate will befall her, Lu-Ann puts on the mask. It takes over not only her body, but her personality, and she goes on a violent rampage through the town. After consulting the owner of a modern mask shop, she finds that only an act of especial kindness can remove the mask, but she's too filled with rage to perform one. At the same time, Devin is struggling with evil on the pumpkin farm, which was built over a graveyard. Ghosts, evil pumpkins, and the undead all haunt him. Can the two friends save each other on Halloween?
Strengths: These are still popular because while scary (things are constantly attacking people, evil is unleashed right and left), they are filled with things children don't actually have to worry about. There are very few Goosebumps books left in my library because they have all fallen to pieces. I will definitely buy this book and am investigating The Nightmare Room series.
Weaknesses: Fear Street books are more widely read than this series in my middle school. While this has been updated, with brief mentions of Wii and cellphones, I would have preferred the update just strip all those mentions. Who knows what will happen in the next twenty years? Readers will still want books about evil masks.

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