Friday, January 27, 2012

The Haunting Hour, by R.L. Stine

(hb; 2001: kid's horror anthology)

Overall review:

Okay anthology from Stine - a few of these stories ("Revenge of the Snowman"; "How to Bargain with a Dragon"; "Take Me with You") feel too-predictable, lazy, hackish, even for a young audience like Stine's: these are not the worthwhile works of a writer of Stine's publishing stature.

On the other end of the spectrum, these are standout stories: "Can You Draw Me?", "Are We There Yet?" and "The Bad Baby-Sitter".

Not a complete waste of time, this anthology is disappointing, at best.

The Haunting Hour - not these particular stories in their published forms - became the basis for a children's horror series, which began airing on October 29, 2010.

Review, story by story:

1.) "The Halloween Dance" - Two boys, bored at home, go out for kicks n' giggles, and discover how sinister Halloween night can be. Decent story.

2.) "The Bad Baby-Sitter" - Fun, excellent tale about a voodoo-minded babysitter (Lulu) and her two young charges.

3.) "Revenge of the Snowman" - A prank backfires in a big, terrifying way for one of the pranksters (Rick Barker). Decent set-up, plot-lame finish.

4.) "How to Bargain with a Dragon" - Interesting story about a peasant boy (Ned) who must capture a dragon in order to work for a cruel (but infamous) wizard.

This would have been a good story if Stine had provided logical foreshadowing for its end-twist. Disappointing, at best.

5.) "The Mummy's Dream" - A boy (Connor Franklin) suffers from a serious case of mistaken identity. Decent story.

6.) "Are We There Yet?" - Oddball, engrossing tale about a family road trip.

7.) "Take Me with You" - A girl (Kat) is given a musty, haunted trunk. This otherwise solid, mood-effective story is marred by a predictable, lazy ending that easily could have been improved with a mini-twist sentence or two. Disappointing, at best.

8.) "My Imaginary Friend" - Shawn, a boy with an imaginary friend (Travis), gets into big trouble because of Travis. Solid work.

9.) "Losers" - Two judgmental brats at the carnival get their comeuppance. Solid morality tale.

10.) "Can You Draw Me?" - Excellent, fun story about a young artist whose talent abruptly, mysteriously takes a disturbing turn.

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