Top Six Goosebumps Books
R.L. Stine is undeniably one of the biggest names in children’s literature, thanks in large part to the Goosebumps books, a middle-grade horror series that dominated the 90s and early 00s. The series was incredibly popular, earning several spin off series, a television show, and a live-action film adaptation. The original series was comprised of fifty novels, and below are my absolute favorites. Fellow 90s and 00s kids, take a trip with me down memory lane, won’t you?
Welcome to Dead House
I’m going to start this list off with the book that started it all. Amanda and Josh are furious when their parents move them to the town of Dark Falls, and are even more irritated when they see how creepy their new house is. Intent on bettering a bad situation, the siblings, along with their dog Petey, go out exploring and discover several strange things. All the plant life is dead (in the middle of July!), the town seems to be cast in perpetual darkness, and there are no neighbors to be seen out in their yards or walking the streets. When they finally do meet some children their own age, they’re sickly pale and off-putting. So, what’s going on? Do they just need to warm up to their new home, or is something more sinister at play? Biggest takeaway: always listen to the dog.
Stay Out of the Basement
This is the first Goosebumps book I read as a youngster, and so it’s always held a special place in my heart. Dad is acting strange, but that’s not exactly new to Margaret and Casey. After all, he’s a mad scientist (well, botanist) who spends most of his time in his basement laboratory after being laid off from his job. Still, he’s definitely acting weirder than usual, evading all his children’s questions about his work and ordering them not to go down to the basement. Of course, this is exactly what they do next, leading them to discover their father’s collection of long-tendrilled plants, plants that are. . .breathing? What exactly is their dad up to? The weirdness only ramps up when Margaret catches her father eating plant food, and is almost forced by him to eat gloopy green mashed potatoes for dinner. Soon, she suspects that he’s not just doing harmless experiments. And maybe. . .he is the experiment.
The Werewolf of Fever Swamp
When Grady’s father moves his family to Florida to study a species of deer, he quickly becomes fascinated by the swamp in his backyard and decides to explore. There, he meets a dog whom he names Wolf, and the pair soon develop an unbreakable bond. Unfortunately, animals soon begin turning up mutilated around Grady’s house, including one of his father’s deer, and the blame is quickly laid on Wolf. Intent on proving his new friend’s innocence, Grady sets out to discover the truth, and thanks to a local boy named Will who explains the strange, sad history of the town, he becomes convinced that the culprit is really a werewolf! But who is the wolf/man hybrid? Could it be the creepy hermit living in the swamp who once chased Grady off his property? Could it actually be Wolf? Whoever it is, Grady knows he must stop them before they lose their taste for animals and begin going after people.
Night of the Living Dummy II
Slappy the Dummy is undeniably one of R.L. Stine’s most well-known villains, but he actually doesn’t feature very heavily in the first Living Dummy book at all. It isn’t until the sequel that he comes out in full force. Amy is a talented ventriloquist, but when her old dummy starts to fall apart, her father purchases her a new one from a pawn shop, and you guessed it. . .it’s Slappy. While examining her new dummy, Amy finds a card in his pocket with strange words on it and reads them aloud. Smart. It doesn’t take long for things to start going awry. The dummy spits out insults at audience members during Amy’s performances, and someone destroys all of the belongings in her sister’s room. Everyone blames Amy, and her explanations don’t do anything to help her situation. . .she believes it’s Slappy behind everything! Can she prove that an inanimate object is the true culprit before it turns all her friends and family against her?
Say Cheese and Die!
Greg and his friends are exploring the mysterious Coffman House on an uneventful fall day when Greg stumbles upon a weird looking camera and decides to take it home with him. While experimenting with the camera, taking pictures of everything around him, he discovers something odd: the pictures aren’t turning out right. And I’m not talking overexposed or something else like that. . .there’s something really wrong with these pictures. A picture of Greg’s dad’s new car shows it completely totaled, and a picture of his friend Shari shows her missing from the frame entirely, even though she was standing right in front of him! Chillingly, soon after these pictures are taken, bad things start happening. Can Greg reverse the damage, or will his friends and family have to suffer with these permanent consequences?
The Ghost Next Door
Hannah isn’t having the best summer break. All her friends are on vacation and no one in her neighborhood is paying attention to her, not even enough to wave at her as she passes by. So, she’s excited when a new kid, Danny, moves into the neighborhood (even though it’s kind of odd that she never saw the family actually moving in). They spend some time together, and it quickly becomes apparent that there’s something odd about Danny. He’s always disappearing when she’s not paying attention, and it seems he’s being stalked by a shadowy figure. Hannah soon comes to the conclusion that Danny is a ghost, and sets out to prove her theory. Along the way, though, she discovers some hard truths. There’s definitely a haunting going on, but the identity of the ghost. . .that’s less clear. Fair warning, this book made me equal parts scared and sad.