top of page

Goosebumps: One Day At Horrorland by R.L. Stine (BOOK REVIEW) 5/5

There is something magical about opening an R.L. Stine novel for the first time since childhood. I immediately sunk into the writing, following sweet Lizzy, annoying Luke, scaredy-cat Clay, and the clueless parents of the previous two, merely known as Mom and Dad. Stine is a master at building a connection to his characters while showing very little about them. They’re almost blank slates, simplistic, described lightly and given roles and key character traits. Lizzy, the MC, is the most neutral of all the characters, making it easy to slip into her shoes. Luke is the one who is bold and races forward, getting them into the most trouble. Clay is a little more level-headed, but he forms Luke’s lackey in the way that he pretends to be just like Luke, while being much more timid and cautious. The mom, like Lizzy, is rather neutral and calm, but the dad plays a hot-headed role. A normal family, they have their fair share of bickering along the way through their experiences of Horrorland, but they also stay banded together- if one goes, they all go (except for when the parents left these children to explore an unfamiliar, scary park on their own, but I’m not going to judge that too harshly. One, it’s fiction, and two, this was written in a different time). As always, spoiler warning for this review!

The plot flows effortlessly, and I can spot the theme. A scare that seems real, a big “Ah!” cliffhanger moment, and then it gets explained away as harmless. This happens a few times, not enough to become an issue, and always with the suspicion that there could have been true harm. It’s perfectly conducted, making your heart race as you go through the trials of these children as they explore Horrorland. Along the way, these signs of “No Pinching” are brought up again and again, including Luke’s pinching antics, and you just know that it is significant.

The conclusion of the novel was well-written, in my opinion. Stine, being a writer primarily of children’s books, tends to stray away from the risk of death or graphic harm. Even so, the fear felt real, and I kept wondering who of the five would be killed by the Horrorland horrors and other monsters. I truly believed they were in jeopardy because of the simple-yet-effective writing. I was pleasantly surprised to see that, when the five came out of it, they were not completely unscathed, with the dad mentioned to be injured. It gives a certain realness to the feeling of true risk, masterfully making the reader hold onto their seats by the end. But as always, Stine keeps it lighthearted- ending on a joke that gives both a scare, and a sense of relief.

I can think of no one better to write this type of story, and I smiled the whole way through it. Knowing there is a sequel only fills me with more glee, not to mention the entire Horrorland series. This book sets the expectations of it all, and it sets it high, an easy 5/5 for someone who has mastered the formula of writing simplistic horror.

1 view0 comments
bottom of page