When I was a kid, I was obsessed with scary stories. I loved everything weird, dark, and spooky. (Not much has changed.) I remember this one book, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, that I would read over and over and over again. Do you remember that one? The illustrations were great!
I couldn’t get enough. There was another book of stories as well. I can’t remember what the title was, but the cover was orange, and the final story in the book was about a woman with a ribbon around her neck. She never took the ribbon off, and her boyfriend always wanted to know why. Then, after being married for years and years, the woman was on her deathbed and told her husband he could untie the ribbon…AND HER HEAD FELL OFF.
DUN DUN DUNNNNN!
I loved that book. I borrowed it from the library over and over again. I’m pretty sure no other kid ever got to read that particular copy.
And then there was Goosebumps.
Oh, R.L. Stine.
The Haunted Mask was one of my favourites, but I loved them all. Some of the covers were so creepy that I would have to flip them over at night or I would think they were looking at me. I grew into Fear Street as well, but Goosebumps always stayed close to my heart. In fact, just talking about the Goosebumps series makes me want to buy them and re-read them all just for nostalgia’s sake.
Which I sort of already did over the last week.
I randomly discovered that R.L. Stine wrote an adult horror novel, Red Rain.
Naturally, I had to read it. I downloaded it onto my Kobo and got going. I had high hopes.
Okay, just in case you decide that you want to read Red Rain, I will warn you that there might be some spoilers in the next couple paragraphs…but trust me, you could probably guess them without even knowing the basic premise of the book.
The story is centred on Lea and Mark Sutter. He’s a psychologist who has written a very controversial book about raising children, and she’s a travel blogger.
Yeah, she just travels and writes about it. Which would be believable if Stine made any hint that she’s successful at it, but the way he writes it, it’s just a hobby, and that left me wondering how the hell this couple can afford their lifestyle. Also, based on the two or three “blog chapters” (cue my giant groan and an eye roll), Lea Sutter is a terrible writer. But I digress.
Anyway, Lea travels to an island called Le Chat Noir (OMG! The Black Cat! Black cats are totally bad luck!), gets stuck in a crazy ass hurricane, and discovers two pristine, Children of the Corn style twins in the ruins of the storm.
Naturally, she brings them home.
Oh, and also, there’s some weird shit going on on the island. Like, bringing the dead back to life, etc., etc.
With the exception of the terrible “blog” chapters, the beginning of the novel is fun. It’s super campy, old-school horror. Like the whole name of the island. It wasn’t scary. It made me laugh and go, “Aha, I get it.”
I’m picking up what you’re throwing down, R.L. Stine. I got you.
But then he lost me.
It’s just way too predictable. Reading Red Rain is like watching a terrible, overly stereotypical horror movie. I mean, of course something’s wrong with the kids. It’s so obvious off the top that it seems impossible the entire book will be about that. But it is. And Stine makes the twist at the ending so easy to guess that you spend the whole second half of the book just waiting for your suspicions to be confirmed.
(Also, the twins have a ridiculous “dialect” that made me want to set the book on fire. Except that wouldn’t work, because I was reading on my Kobo…)
That being said, it was fun (and funny) enough (though maybe for the wrong reasons) that it kept me reading until the end. It was a campy, brainless read after the more serious, heartbreaking book I finished the week before. Even if, as I read the last sentence, I literally said, “ARRGHUGGGGHHH NO!”
Lesson learned: R.L. Stine isn’t scary anymore. (But he’s still fun.)
P.S. I realized in writing this post that I haven’t read anything as an adult that has scared me. Not in terms of a horror novel, that is. I’ve been scared by violence and hatred and ignorance, but I’m talking about setting out to be creeped out by a book. I don’t think it’s ever happened. Now, I’m a bad example, because horror movies don’t scare me either, but if you have any horror novel suggestions, I totally want to hear them, because I’m always up for it. (Please note that I am pretty much entirely DONE with vampires. No more vampires.)