Time for the 4th Tale To Give You Goosebumps, "Strangers In the Woods." Be sure to check back each day in October for a new short story review. Anyway, here we go.
Lucy is dismayed to be going to her her Great Aunt Abigail's house in small farm town Fairview. Her dog Muttster seems to be dismayed too, because he is acting weird and won't get out of the car. Out of the car he does no better, barking up a storm at Great Aunt Abigail.
That night, something weird happened. Strange moving lights in the sky. Not stars, not planes. What could it be? Next morning Aunt Abigail doesn't seem to know anything about them.
Speaking of Aunt Abby, things seem to be odd with her. Her cooking tastes strange. She keeps changing the subject from the lights. Her driving is erratic. Could these be signs that something is wrong? Or is she just an old lady with dementia? Muttster the dog keeps barking at her. Does he hate old people?
And the lights. The lights keep coming back each night. Alien spaceships? It's the only logical explanation! Suspicion confirmed when she overhears her aunt talking to someone about how her niece Lucy doesn't know anything, and won't until it is all over." She could ONLY be talking about an alien invasion. How does Lucy know? Because Great Aunt Abigail's face is GREEN!
Lucy has to find out what is going on for herself. She goes out into the woods she has been forbidden from wandering out into. The lights are there. Odd sounds, strange voices, lights blinding her, she has walked right into... a movie set? Yes, a movie set, and she ruined their damn shot too. Damn kids! There are dogs on set a movie person is using a dog whistle to handle them. Is that why Muttster has been barking?
Finally Aunt Abigail comes to find her niece. She even adds to the explanation that everything is normal by explaining her green face comes from a beauty facial mask. Also she lost her glasses and would rather endanger the lives of herself and her niece than admit she lost them.
Time to wrap this story up in a nice little bow. They have some hot chocolate before bed and laugh over the misunderstanding. Lucy even finds her Aunt's glasses while looking for a spare blanket. She goes to give them to Aunt Abigail and notices the aunt has green skin again. Also tentacles. Plus three lips and a blue tongue. She is awfully glad to get her glasses though!
This has a lot in common with the last short story. A kid convinced something is wrong with a family member only to discover that things are actually fine only to at last to discover NO REALLY THEY ARE WRONG AFTER ALL. This seems like another story playing a bit more for humor than for scares. That is fine though, if we are being honest Goosebumps has seldom been very scary.
This also of course has a lot of things in common with various other Goosebumps books. The beginning where she has to spend her summer vacation with a strange great aunt and she really doesn't want to is basically the opening premise to Monster Blood and probably several others I can't think of right now. The end reveal is not unlike other Goosebumps finishes as well.
It would be nice if Stine used the short story format to play around with Goosebumps and try something different. This seems very much "the same," as so many other things. Once again he seems to be writing towards a jokey payoff twist that is predictable.
Proper full length Goosebumps books can get to feel awfully samey and predictable after reading 30 of them in a row. I am worried reading 30 Goosebumps short stories is going to feel that way even more so if I can already see the patterns forming after story 4. I am eager to see something fresh, and this isn't it.
Rating: 2 out of 5 of Great Aunt Abigail's alien tentacles
Check back tomorrow for the Goosebumps short story "Good Friends." What can be more terrifying than friendship?!?!