Reader Beware Month: The Haunted Mask

Halloween is one of the only times of the year when people don’t have to be themselves for a while.  Instead, you can buy a costume and pretend to be someone more dashing, more adventurous.  Maybe even someone scarier.  It’s with this in mind that I read today’s classic Goosebumps tale, the Haunted Mask.  And like Monster Blood earlier this month, I’m ashamed of myself for having never read this before.

We follow Carly Beth, a girl who tends to be a little jumpy.  Her friends constantly mock her, calling her a scaredy cat and pulling pranks on her to make her scream.  This Halloween, Carly Beth wants to get her revenge on her friends.  She buys the scariest mask she can find at a party store that recently opened.  However, Carly Beth finds that the mask is changing her, making her more ferocious and hateful.  And she can’t take it off…

This is one of the most original, most compelling, and best stories I’ve seen from the Goosebumps series.  It’s suspenseful, it’s creepy, and it’s dripping with character.  It was able to seem dark without anything dark really happening.  The pacing was perfect (even if one or two scenes didn’t really add all that much to the story).  This was genuinely the most enjoyable and best of the Goosebumps books I’ve read so far.  The ending, admittedly, is a bit hoaky.  However, the awesomeness of the rest of the book cancels out any sickeningly sweet feelings you feel after the defeat of the monster.  I can’t find one thing about it that I truly dislike…. Well, if I had to nitpick…

The character of Carly Beth was well done.  I sympathized with her jumpiness and her wish for revenge.  She was characterized very well and developed naturally through the story.  When she starts turning evil, it does feel wrong for her, which is the whole point.  When she starts noticing that the mask is changing her, the fear is very well done.  However, her friends are a bunch of jerks.  They constantly prank her, scare her, and laugh at her.  I kept wondering why she was friends with these people at all.  It made me yearn for their comeuppance all the more, though.  So, when they finally come across Carly Beth in her mask form, I was very satisfied.

The mask itself felt like a character, though it never said anything for itself.  It was very well characterized and described.  It FELT like an actual monster.  its presence was menacing and threatening.  THIS is how you make a monster.  It didn’t need to do anything on its own and yet it felt like a threat to the main character.

You owe it to yourself to read this book if you haven’t already.  You cannot call yourself a fan of Goosebumps if you have not read this book.  It’s classic, creepy, and satisfies every need for a good story.  It is probably the best book that I’m going to read from this series this month.  Perhaps I should have saved it for last.  Oh well.  I can’t dwell on that now.  I need to get my hands on a costume.  Halloween is almost here…


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