By R.L. Stine
Warner Books, 323 pp, 1995
R.L Stine is best known for writing
children's horror books, like the series Goosebumps and Fear
Street (this according to the book's cover jacket). Since I'm no
longer a child, I have not read these, so I don't know if they're any
This book is billed as Stine's first
adult horror novel. It is not very good.
The premise sounds promising, though. A
local small-town college is shocked and terrorized at a series of
gruesome murders on campus. In the meantime, a new professor has wowed
students and impressed his colleagues by teaching classes on mythology,
folklore, and superstition. Not surprisingly, the professor, Liam
O'Connor from Ireland, is superstitious himself.
Graduate student Sara Morgan returns to
her alma mater from New York City, after a failed relationship with a
loser, psycho boyfriend and being released from her job as an associate
editor at a book publisher. She's majoring in psychology, meets Liam,
falls in love, beds him, and marries him. She also goes to work for the
dean of students, who spends the whole book leering at her and other
So that's the story. As you might have
guessed, Liam is connected to the murders, but in a shocking, shocking
way! It's actually rather pedestrian.
In fact, the whole novel is quite boring.
Not enough happens to make it scary or even interesting. I had to
struggle just to finish the thing.
Stine is an okay writer, but he has some
quirks that are very annoying. He likes to repeat himself, such as when
Sara discovers her ex-boyfriend's hand in her house:
"Ohhh." The hand fell to the dresser, the
fingers spreading slowly.
That's right, he repeats it three times.
And does it again on the next page, as if dreary repetition will somehow
make us more shocked. It's a desperate, sad, contrived device that tires
the reader. If it's so scary, it shouldn't need to be repeated.
But he does this throughout the book,
repeating the same word or phrase. And every other page, a character is
"snickering." Sara, Liam, the other forgettable characters - they all
"snicker" multiple times. Find another word!
So that's my take on Mr. Stine. The book
was written in 1995, so maybe he's written better books since. But I
don't think I care enough to find out.