I first stumbled upon the Goosebumps series in September of 1993, and it thrust me into a world I would never escape. Even after an eight year gap between new books, I still gleefully pick up the latest one on release day, like I’m a drug addict and my addiction is tween horror. At no point will I say these are the most inventive, original, or complex stories, but they don’t need to be to be enjoyable. Just don’t go in expecting a Stephen King novel, and you might get some enjoyment out of the Goosebumps series.

If you don’t know, there is a new Goosebumps films hitting theatres on October 16th, and you know I’ll be there opening day because I am excited for this film. Branden asked me to come up with my ten favorite Goosebumps books, which is easier said than done when there are 124 novels in the main series, and that isn’t counting the Tales To series, the Give Yourself series, or the TV adaptation novels. I was able to narrow it down to ten, though, after some tough deliberation, and without further ado, here are my top ten Goosebumps novels of all-time!


10. It Came from Beneath the Sink! (April 1995, #30)

Plot: Kat and her brother, Daniel, are so lucky. They just moved to a new house with tons of rooms, two balconies, and a lawn the size of a football field. But all that good luck is about to run out. Because there’s something really evil living in their new house. Something that’s moving. Watching. Waiting. Something that comes from beneath the kitchen sink…

Analysis: I’m not entirely sure why I love this book besides its great cover. It’s up there in my most read, though, and I enjoyed the odd nature of it all, without it having to be a typical type of creature. This one might be more of a guilty pleasure than anything else but, hey. It’s available on Kindle, but not paperback, so you can still get your hands on it.


9. How to Kill a Monster (August 1996, #46)

Plot: Hating to stay with their deaf grandfather and baking-crazed grandmother, Gretchen and her stepbrother, Clark, fear the strange growling noises that they hear coming from the room on the second floor.

Analysis: This might sound a little like the recent horror film The Visit, and it’s fair to make that connection, but they have very little in common outside of the basic plot line. This is one of my favorites, and I was torn on where to place it. It’s original and creepy, but not as strong as the others featured here. Sadly, this one isn’t available anymore, but hopefully they re-release it again so new fans can get a chance to experience it.


8. Attack of the Jack-O’-Lanterns (October 1996, #48)

Plot: Nothing beats Halloween. It’s Drew Brockman’s favorite holiday. And this year will be awesome. Much better than last year. Or the year Lee and Tabby played that joke. A nasty practical joke on Drew and her best friend, Walker. Yes, this year Drew and Walker have a plan. A plan for revenge. It involves two scary pumpkin heads. But something’s gone wrong. Way wrong. Because the pumpkin heads are a little too scary. A little too real. With strange hissing voices. And flames shooting out of their faces . . .

Analysis: This one is great for a number of reasons, but to explain them would be to reveal the ending. I not only love the idea behind this book, and the way it’s executed, but I actually used the creatures from this book to make my Halloween costume one year. Much like How to Kill a Monster, this book is no longer available for purchase, but hopefully they re-release it soon!


7. A Night in Terror Tower (January 1995, #27)

Plot: Sue and her brother, Eddie, are visiting London when they run into a little problem. They can’t find their tour group. Still, there’s no reason to panic. No way their tour guide would just leave them. All alone. In a gloomy old prison tower. No way they’d get locked inside. After dark. With those eerie sounds. And a strange dark figure who wants them…dead.

Analysis: Okay, this book is the very reason I wanted to visit England, and the Tower of London. I have since done both, and it was a fantastic trip, but this isn’t about me. This book is great. I love the twists and turns, the tension is fun, and much like the last two books, I’ve mentioned, this one is really original. If you’ve ever read this series before, you’ll know that many stories are based off ideas from classic (or not-so-classic) horror films. This one actually did get re-released, so you can easily find this at your local book store, and on the Kindle.


6. The Scarecrow Walks at Midnight (June 1994, #20)

Plot: Jodie loves visiting her grandparents’ farm. Okay, so it’s not the most exciting place in the world. Still, Grandpa tells great scary stories. And Grandma’s chocolate chip cookies are the best. But this summer the farm has really changed. The cornfields are sparse. Grandma and Grandpa seem worn out. And the single scarecrow has been replaced by twelve evil-looking ones. Then one night Jodie sees something really odd. The scarecrows seem to be moving. Twitching on their stakes. Coming alive . . .

Analysis: This book was creepy as a kid. There’s a lot of suspense and build up. The big finale doesn’t tie up things as well as I would like, but it is a Goosebumps book so expect there to be a “shocking” twist at the end. Still, this is one of the creepiest books in the series. This one also got re-released so it’s available at books stores and for digital download.


5. The Werewolf of Fever Swamp (December 1993, #14)

Plot: There is something weird happening in Fever Swamp. Something really horrible. It started with the strange howling at night. Then there was the rabbit, torn to shreds. Everyone thinks Grady’s new dog is responsible. After all, he looks just like a wolf. And he seems a little on the wild side. But Grady knows his dog is just a regular old dog. And most dogs don’t howl at the moon. Or disappear at midnight. Or change into terrifying creatures when the moon is full. Or do they?

Synopsis: This is one of my favorite episodes from the TV Series, and while it does it justice, the book is still fantastic. It’s an obvious nod to The Wolfman, but fun, creepy, and has some solid twists. The characters are likable and interesting, and the the finale is solid. This is available in bookstores and on Kindle as well.


4. The Haunted Mask (September 1993, #11)

Plot: Carly Beth thinks she’s found the best Halloween mask ever. With yellow-green skin and long animal fangs, the mask terrifies the entire neighborhood. Before long, it has a surprising effect on Carly Beth, too. She tries to take it off . . . but it won’t budge! Halloween is almost over, but fright night is just beginning

Synopsis: This is the book that started it all for me. It’s definitely a classic, and it’s what I would say is my go to book if you’re looking to see what kind of stuff R.L. Stine can come up with. While I’m sure he didn’t mirror this after Halloween III: Season of the Witch, I’ve always gotten the same vibe from it. This one is just so good. The TV episode, which started the whole series off, is good, but doesn’t hold a candle to the original source material. This is available in stores as well.


3. How I Got My Shrunken Head (January 1996, #39)

Plot: What has two eyes, a mouth, and wrinkly green skin? Mark’s shrunken head! It’s a present from his Aunt Benna. A gift from the jungle island of Baladora. And Mark can’t wait to show the kids at school! But late one night the head starts to glow. Because it’s actually no ordinary head. It gives Mark a strange power. A magical power. A dangerous power…

Synopsis: This book is about a shrunken head… A SHRUNKEN HEAD! How cool is that? Whenever I think of this book it fills me with joy. It hits all the marks I want from a book, especially as a kid. Video games, shrunken heads, and an island. This is also one of my favorite original covers. This has also been released and is available now.


2. Welcome to Dead House (July 1992, #1)

Plot: 11-year-old Josh and 12-year-old Amanda just moved into the oldest and weirdest house on the block, and the two siblings think it might even be haunted! But of course, their parents don’t believe them. You’ll get used to it, they say. Go out and make some new friends, they say.

Synopsis: Not only is this the very first Goosebumps book, but Stine says it’s what he considers to be his scariest, as he didn’t know how to write it geared towards kids yet. There are some stolen ideas from classic films here, but, my God, is this book creepy and good. There was supposed to be a sequel book, but it never happened, and that makes me sad. But at least the series is still ongoing, so one can only hope! This is also available at bookstores and on the Kindle.


1. Ghost Beach (August 1994, #22)

Plot: Jerry can’t wait to explore the dark, spooky old cave he found down by the beach. Then the other kids tell him a story. A story about a ghost who is three hundred years old. A ghost who comes out when the moon is full. A ghost . . . who lives deep inside the cave! Jerry knows it’s just another silly made-up ghost story . . . isn’t it?!

Synopsis: This is my hands down favorite Goosebumps book ever. Some don’t like it, stating it shares too much in common with other books in the series, but I love it. The original cover art is pure gold. The plot moves along at a fast pace, and feels like an episode of Scooby-Doo. Everything just fits perfectly, and I’ve probably read this one about ten times. I’ve actually owned about three different copies of this one as I wore them out so much as a kid. Thankfully, it’s available in stores and on the kindle!


Honorable Mention:

One Day at Horrorland (February 1994, #16) is a classic book, there is no doubt about that. It even spawned a sequel. It’s about a horror-themed amusement park. What’s not to love about that? The reason I didn’t add it to the list is because the third Goosebumps series is called Goosebumps: Horrorland. It’s a 19-book series that released over a 3-year span. What makes these books different than any other in the series is that each book is split into two parts. The first part is a classic tale in typical Goosebumps fashion, and Slappy, of course, starts off this series. Once that aspect is over, our heroes of that tale get an invite to Horrorland, and they arrive there. So each new book has our heroes meeting up in the second half and forming a team over the numerous books. This overarching plot line is not only great, but it leaves you guessing over the course of the series who is sending these invites out, and what their ultimate plan is. It’s also fun because they bring back a number of classic characters and tag team them up, both good and bad, and it’s a fan’s wet dream.


Here’s to hoping the Goosebumps film is as good as it should be! The plot is original enough, and probably the best way to bring the characters back to life in a feature film. Hopefully you’re able to find as much enjoyment out of these ten books as I did, and if you feel like cheating, all ten were made into episodes of the TV Series.

Note that all plot descriptions were courtesy of Amazon (one was altered to remove a spoiler).

Chris Ranson
Film Critic at Cinefessions
Chris was raised on horror films, which gave him a deep love for the genre, especially its most quirky and offbeat titles (like A Nightmare on Elm Street 2). This love quickly turned into an obsession for cinema in 1997, when he decided he needed to see every major theatrical release. Video games (JRPGs), reading (anything but fantasy), and reality television (Survivor) are just some of his other passions. He's been with Cinefessions since 2013, and has been writing reviews all over the internet for the past twelve years.