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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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!
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 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.