It's Christmas time! And there is actually a Christmas themed Goosebumps book. I think this may be the first such thing and it was just released last year in the Goosebumps "Most Wanted" line. I actually checked this bad boy out of the library because I am adult who feels comfortable strolling into the children's section and prying a book out of the weak trembling hands of a child. Hah.
So anyway, in the back we have a very stereotypical haunted mansion looking building except it's been all decked out in Christmas lights. Rather festive if you ask me. Then we have a Santa hat wearing spook who got tangled up in his lights like he is Clark Griswold. Wait, maybe this is the Ghost of Chevy Chase from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation? One year he finally wasn't so lucky after falling off the roof, could it be? Nah, he looks a little too spooky. Like the ghost of a goth guy or something. Ghost of a vampire... Can vampires have ghosts? Like the ghost of a guy who hated Christmas but his family forced him to dress up all festively and then he hung himself with Christmas lights. There, I figured it out!
Anyway, what could this book really be about? Well obviously there is going to be a ghost. The ghost of Christmas past has already been done by Dickens. I am guessing it is the ghost of a guy who died on Christmas. Perhaps his family didn't show up to visit him and he froze to death in a blizzard? Or he seems like a Christmas ghost but is actually an alien because why the fuck not. That is something RL Stine would do.
Oh well. Let's Go. Ho ho ho.
Now, to the present day! Now we focus on Kate Welles. She is trying out for the new school play. She hates Courtney because of... reasons. Also she can see ghosts. This is inconvenient as she is taking a shortcut through the cemetery. Guess what happens? She sees ghosts, just like the last time. Shocking. Now if it turns out that Bruce Willis was dead the whole time in this book I'm going to be pissed. Anyway Courtney and Co. refer to her as ghost girl because of the last time she freaked out seeing ghosts. That is probably one of the reasons she hates Courtney but she certainly didn't bring it up at the time. The ghosts are freaking her out as ghosts are wont to do. Mid freakout she is greeted by her friend Jack who is confused by her screaming. Don't your friends just randomly scream in the middle of cemeteries?
Well they go to Kate's house and she screams about there being a ghost in the house. But get this, it was a line from a play they are rehearsing. Oh RL, what a misdirection you've pulled off you rascal! They are doing a Christmas play with ghosts, like Charles Dickens... kinda. Mid rehearsal she screams because she sees a REAL GHOST that turns out to be Courtney in makeup. Naturally Kate is going up for the same part as Courtney.
So the leader of this school play is Mr. Piccolo who it is pointed out looks nothing like a piccolo. Which makes sense, because I can think of 0 human beings who at all resemble one. He begins by telling a ghost story. You see Cliff wanted nothing more than to be in a school play. He was ill but persevered to star in it. But afterwards no one could find him. After investigating it turns out he did the play AFTER HE DIED. OOOOOOO. And also he is in the audience there! Wait no, that's just Paco the light and sound guy. But it sure did get Kate embarrassed to get freaked out by it. Well Mr. P gives Kate one little task and she manages to fuck it up. He wants her to get the clipboard from his office and she gets locked inside. Eventually Jack shows up surprised to see her there. Courtney told everyone Kate went home. What a cunt. In an epic bout she battles with Courtney and they both fall down the trap door miraculously not dying. Impressive. Underneath the auditorium she gets lost and finds Paco who is actually a ghost! And there are other ghosts! And they want her to... sing. For reasons. When she tries she can't but that doesn't matter because guess what motherfuckers that was all a dream when she got knocked unconscious from the fall. Somehow, however, in this 0 tolerance world of ours neither girl was expelled. They were punished merely by having shitty roles in the play. Some disciplinarian you are Mr. P.
"On the first day of Christmas my true love screamed I see, a buzzard in a bare tree.
On the second day of Christmas my true love screamed I see, two haunted houses and a buzzard in a bare tree.
On the third day of Christmas my true love screamed I see, three ghostly spirits, two haunted houses, and a buzzard in a bare tree."
Beautiful. It is interrupted by the ghosts of the twins Abe and Ned. Maybe they just like spooky Christmas carols? If anyone would, it'd be ghosts I think! They finally spoke to Kate saying cryptically, "we'll be back, Flora."
That night while trying to sleep Kate heard someone whispering, "help me." Doing the only sensible thing to do in a dark dank haunted house she goes outside to see what is going on. It comes from the well and in it she can see a floating red cap. Suddenly he is startled by the reappearance of the ghost of the twins. They want her to be their little sister Flora and come home for Christmas. They seem fine with the prospect of murdering her so she can live with them forever and celebrate Christmas. They don't seem swayed by the pleas that she is not Flora. An irrelevant fact really. Luckily Mr. P comes out to see what in the hell she is doing. She wisely claims she was just getting air, as no one will believe her ghost tales.
The next day they go back to rehearsing. Mr. P demands a "crisper" performance. I don't know what "crisp" singing is. Kate has another freakout when the twin ghosts appear but naturally no one believes her. And in the world's most graceful stunt she runs from the room and right into a bookshelf knocking her unconscious. She should really be taken to the hospital at this point. Two bouts of severe head trauma in a couple days? She is probably concussed. The fact that Mr. P doesn't get her medical attention is almost as negligent as taking a bunch of kids out to a dangerous broken down old house.
Does it work? You're god damn right it works. Except Flora needs help coming up the last bit of the way. Why would a ghost need help climbing up a well? I don't rightly know, but she does ok? Kate tries with all her might but the little ghost girl is pulling her down into the well. How much could the ghost of a 6 year old girl really weigh anyway? Courtney the bitch comes to ol' Ghost Girl Kate at just the right time. Though she mocks Kate for believing in ghosts she helps her dangle down the well and pull up Flora. In thanks, the little ghosts lets Courtney see her, freaking her right the heck out. Now Courtney is the new Ghost Girl! They rehearse the play, and everything is right in the world for Kate. Except the Flora shows up and would rather live with her than her family. The end.
What I Thought
Of course, as with any Goosebumps there are flaws. Firstly, why are the ghosts of the family haunting the house the same age they were when Flora died. Did they die immediately after? Did they not grow up and have lives of their own? I mean I could see the parents never getting over it... but the young twins? Why are they child ghosts? Didn't they get older, move out, get married? Did they die of grief or something? I don't get it. I mean, he could have at least said they all froze in a blizzard that year or something.
But like usual, it's hard to comment a lot on stuff you would usually comment on about books. The characters? They were exactly like every other Goosebumps character. Kate is generic preteen. Instead of playing Super Nintendo and stuff she goes onto Facebook because it is 20 years since the books of my youth. It still kind of feels like an old man writing about what he hears kids are into instead of knowing what kids are actually like. I mean for one thing you have to be 13 to be on Facebook. Kate is violating their terms of service!
When I started the book I skipped passed the page that mentioned it had a prologue. I was impressed that he broke from the norm and had a book based in the past. When it ended quickly and went to current times I was actually moderately disappointed. I mean, when it comes right down to it all these books are just too similar. Even though he does his best to vary monsters and stuff, you still just have generic stock kids that are 12 years old doing the same kind of stuff over hundreds of books. I feel like maybe it wouldn't be bad if he mixed it up a little bit.
It still comes down to the fact that after so many of these books for decades, he is still pulling off the same tricks. They just stop working after so long. You see the dream sequences coming. You know when it is a false scare. You know the twist at the end is coming. It can't help but not be fresh when he doesn't mix it up.
Still, even though it follows the formula pretty closely, it manages to be some festive fun.
Rating: 3/5 Festive Undead Beings
Anyway, Merry Christmas to all and to all a good scare.