Bookworm Infested #4


It was only natural that the success of Goosebumps would prompt a corkscrew crest of disputers to the throne.  My buddies remember spotting Bone Chillers in bookstores and school libraries, but oddly, I don't.  I don't even remember the Saturday morning TV show.  Yes, it had a boob tube counterpart and yes, some of the books were adapted for the small screen.  This is my vestal voyage reading a BC tome (probably my laziest abbreviation to date...I am not proud).  Is it similar to Goosebumps?  Do cyborgs peculate tiled hopscotch diagrams from the offices of prepubescent masons?  Um, yes!  It's another horror series aimed at tweener consumers.  To my utter shock, this one is legitimately good.

For all I know, the companion BC titles could be drivel, but I can vouch for the validity of Strange Brew.  It manages to entertain without banking on drippy nostalgia.  Betsy Haynes cooked up an original premise for this, the fifth link in her chain of chillers (later entries were authored by different folks).  Tori's best pal - Heather - is leaving for a family trip, so she is faced with the prospect of a lonely, woebegone summer.  Gah, she is gonna be so bored, you guys.  In the weeks preceding her doomed "off-season," she begins to find recipes in strange, random places.  These aren't regular recipes, though.  In fact, they read more like magic spells.  One calls for toenails, horsefly wings and six cups of pond scum.  This putrid potpourri is supposed to conjure a tempestuous thunderstorm out of thin air.

Can you believe that shit?  I mean, as if!  BUT HOLY FUCK, IT WORKS!  Tori's makeshift monsoon (I'm trying not to alliterate, I swear to Abyzou) floods the neighborhood and stamps out her brother's baseball game.  Pretty exciting, but she proceeds with cautious awareness.  Spells keep materializing around her, intensifying with each discreet invocation.  Who is sending them?  Heather warns her to stop playing with danger.  "Stop playing with danger," she warned.  God, this synopsis is too fucking long.  Should I spoil the identity of the entity sending the spells?  I mean, it's fairly easy to predict within a few chapters.  It's Tori's imaginary friend from when she was younger.

An evil imaginary friend.  I dig that.  If Strange Brew was penned by R.L. Stine, it would be called My Imaginary Friend is Trying to Kill Me!  And I'd still read it.  Haynes isn't Mark fucking Twain, but she does know how to frame action and suspense.  The characters are realistic enough.  I enjoyed the subtle application of literary tools to drive a worthy message home.  Remember, kids...learn to love yourself.  Otherwise, your imaginary friend will try to kill you with shoelace serpents.  I'm looking into obtaining further Bone Chillers bookies.  If anyone wants to donate Frankenturkey or Toilet Terror to the site, I'd be down to review those bitches.  Holla.

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