Hello, Spongey here.
Hall of Horrors time again! This time we go another interesting-ish one. It’s interesting because it’s like Weirdo Halloween. Yes, another extra long special edition that is a Halloween book. Meaning it’s Halloween in May!
Actually, it’s Halloween in July as that is when this book came out. What.
This time, it’s shorter at about 170 pages which is a bit more manageable than 200 plus. I don’t recall if it pads itself with a 2nd story or if it earns that length with the main story. So it’ll be fun to revisit, as these always are.
So far we’ve a good one and an eh one, and hopefully this is a good one. I remember liking it but let’s see if it’s good when I critique it more carefully. Time to have some extra long fun in the Hall of Horrors.
This, is The Five Masks of Dr Screem
The book opens with our main character, Monica, and her annoying little brother. As in, he’s annoying to me as well as Monica. In that typical Goosebumps way of course. She has to take him Trick or Treating but of course she really doesn’t want to.
Interesting that we’re starting on Halloween night, most GB books like this build up to it. Given the length of the book, I can smell the mid section padding from here!
Also, there’s a few part where Mom does nothing about Peter being annoying and apparently she just says he’s “High Energy”. Fantastic parenting.
They meet up with Monica’s friends and soon get very annoyed by Peter being a little shit. He gets so bad that the friends ditch her and frankly I don’t blame him with how he’s acting. Come on, didn’t the last book also have people I hated off the bat?
Monica complains a bit but they just move on and later, they’ve gotten their fair share of candy but Peter whines when we gets an apple. Stine, you’re trying too hard to make him annoying, calm it down.
They end up on a block they’ve never been to before and Peter wants to explore this unfamiliar place with Monica actually wanting to be smart and leave. But of course he has none of that and approaches a creepy looking house.
I’m just going to assume everything bad that happens soon is his fault.
For now, nothing is too wrong as the woman that shows up seems nice enough, until she says their names before they reveal them. She pulls out a book that says Monica and Peter will help Bella.
Yeah, nothing off about her at all.
“It is written in this book, so it must be true”
But of course.
She says they have to get back these 5 masks.
“They are called the Masks of Screem”
So close to a roll credits moment. She actually has the masks at the moment and she explains things. But first, this:
“There is magic involved. I am 130 years old”
“And I’m SpongeBob SquarePants”
We took a break from the random SpongeBob name drops but there you go. Nothing can top the reference in Weirdo Halloween.
A bunch of years ago, a Sorcerer that was born on Halloween made these masks (because….he was bored) and gave them to “Dr Screem” because….he felt like it. It has evil magic that comes to life once a year for reasons and Bella I guess took the masks from him because it’s too evil.
This is a really well written and explained backstory.
“He didn’t know of Screem’s Evil”
I get it, Dr Screem just sounds like a nice fellow.
Every year, Monica and Dr Screem battle over the masks, as he takes them and Bella needs someone to hunt them down every year. The sorrcer put a curse on Bella for reasons to make all of this happen.
So he had no idea Screem was evil yet he himself puts curses on people?
She can’t touch the masks or she’ll die, which explains why she doesn’t just destroy them. But why can’t your helpers destroy them? Just saying. A bit later, Dr Screem finally shows up and spoilers, he’s evil just his name suggests.
He takes the masks and leaves, while doing creepy stuff. Naturally, the kids run for their lives as even after all that talk, they still don’t care about Bella and her plight. They pay the price by having their house suddenly be gone when they get back home.
“Was Bella telling the truth?”
No, a guy just took 5 masks after Bella went on about them for no fucking reason. Come on!
They go their neighbors house to ask what happened, but they only find two strangers who claim there has never been a house there dun dun dun. For some reason, this book is spit into two parts and part 2 starts here, even though it’s all one story.
Shockingly, it’s Peter who decides it’s a sign they should help Bella. Good on him at least. They go back to her and says Screem did the whole house thing because he can change reality. That’s quite a big power for someone who dedicates their life to stealing masks.
In order to fix that, they gotta get all the masks from Screem. Gotta catch them all, and all that. Yes, this book is now a fetch quest, woo hoo. They are given a list of the masks and they head off, with no hints because they are easier find than to keep or some shit like that.
Right away, they find a mask in a hedge. Wow, Screem already sucks at this. Unless he gave them an easy one for false hope Nah, that’s too smart for Goosebumps. The kids mention this as a possibility…so maybe it’s not too smart but whatever.
The mask is filled with bugs but they get over it and after Monica puts it on, they find themselves teleported to some place with Giant praying mantis’ ala Shock Street.
We get an actually intense scene with them trying t escape them and their caccons, especially compared to the Shock Street one, in both the book and big movie. Can’t describe it but it’s pretty cool.
They escape but still have 4 masks to go and we’re 80 pages, meaning the rest will be rushed. They figure the Mummy mask will be at the museum so they head there. This place is on “Museum Drive”
That’s like if there a street called “Hospital Lane” or something. Huh.
Thankfully, it is open for a party so no need to sneak in. They find the Mummy section and take a peek to find the mask. The find the mask after fumbling a bit. How exciting, so much better than the intense scene was just had.
Suddenly, the mask teleports them to what looks like Egypt, fittingly enough. Side note, gotta love how obvious Screem is with his hiding places. So what’s happening?
“We were about to be mummified…mummified alive!”
While this part is decent, with them escaping, it is somewhat breif and as a result, pointless. But my logic so was the mantis so whatever. By magic, they end up back home too. The next mask is of a Hymalan Snow Wolf because going from hot to cold is ironic.
They look for the mask at a hill in town called Wolf Hill, because why not. Sure enough they find it…being worn by an angry dog. She gets away and puts on the mask and once again teleports…only this time she’s been turned into a wolf.
Well, okay then.
Peter is a wolf (how ironic) and their new instincts make them fight over food. Not that Peter was much better as a human. But once again, it’s only a short scene before an avalanche or something takes them back home and makes them human again. I get why these scenes are like this, but it just makes them feel like filler.
The next mask a Skull so it’s on to a Graveyard on Halloween. I’m sure nothing will happen. They get there and find the mask but incur the wrath of a skelton and after a bit with him, Screem finally shows up again to try and stop the kids.
He asks them for his masks back and claim’s Bella is the evil one. I would be shocked but earlier, Bella said he is a big liar so he is lying. They foreshadowing it but come on, that’s on the nose.
Unless Bella is the liar….well darn.
And thankfully, the kids remember she said that and don’t believe him. At least these kids are smart, kinda. Screem drags Peter into this tunnel thing but Peter escapes and even grabs the remaining masks from him so we don’t have to repeat a sequence formula again.
They go back to Bella, who asks them to hand her the masks. Wait, hand her? She said she couldn’t touch them. Well, shit I think my theory was right. Speaking of twists, turns out the Peter that escape was actually Dr Screem.
They traded places back there after Peter bought into his statements and now I guess he was right. A decent mislead although kind of obvious in it’s own right. He and Monica starting fighting over the masks, but then the sun comes up and in a bright flash of light, they vanish.
That’s…very anti climatic. What’s the real story of the masks then? Peter pops up, having gotten here incredibly quickly. Also, since they just kind of vanish while fighting each other, the identity of the evil one was kind of irreverent.
They go back to where home is but it’s still gone. But they come up with a way to fix it. They find that book that creepily said their situation and had no reason to exist, and cross out what it says right now and make it say that it was Halloween night again and everything was normal.
This book was set up but it STILL feels like a Deus Ex Machina.
It works but you see, they also said they would forget what happened, so they do. So thus, they hit the reset button and the entire book was pointless. Yay. But we need a twists so the masks appear in the bags and they laugh.
The end. Laaaame. As is the Storykeeper’s puns. Why this extra long?
This one was…okay. I somehow remember it being a lot better. There’s nothing too terrible here but nothing too great and the ending makes everything kind of pointless. I will say I did enjoy most of it but not a whole lot.
The concept is a decent one, and some of the scenes themselves can be intense and enjoyable. But the best thing I can say about this one is that it has fun ideas and some cool scenes, there’s nothing that rises above just enjoyable. Yeah, Goosebumps rarely ideas but you’d expect more from a longer book, even Weirdo Halloween did.
There really is no reason for this to be longer. It takes too long to get going, and while it does have all those scenes for the masks, the ending makes it so the extra length was not needed. Speaking of, that’s my biggest problem.
As I said the reveal of the villain doesn’t really have any real effect on the story, and the “climax” is lame. And of course, their memories are erased for no real reason. You can have the lame ending without doing that.
It just makes the whole book pointless. We never get a good enough reason for why all this is happening, and no one even remembers it. Why read a long-ish book if nothing even matters?!
I’m conflicted, as I can say I mostly enjoy it but it has little problems,and an ending that makes all of it pointless. The length makes it worse. I can’t say I like it but I can say I don’t dislike it. It really is the ending, as the rest is perfectly fine.
But not good enough to make up for the ending, to me at least. However, the ending isn’t enough to make this one too bad. See why I’m so conflicted? It’s taken me a bit to write this sum up as there’s not much to say besides what I just said.
So I’ll wrap it up. This book can be fun but with the lame ending a such, it feels a bit shallow and not worth the length it has. I’ll never let that go, don’t put an ending like that if the book is longer than normal.
Overall, kind of a disappointment, oddly enough.
Grade: ….B-? I don’t know, maybe I’ll change my mind but at the moment, it’s closer to here than a lower grade.
Yeah, not my best for a longer book but blame Stine this time.
Next time we finally get another Goosebumps Zombie book. Hope it’s good.