It might strike some as odd that I associate happy memories from childhood with horror stories, but that’s me for you. I grew up on The X-Files, was glued to the TV screen for Are You Afraid of the Dark, and I spent a lot of time with my head in a book, usually a Sweet Valley novel or something from the Point Horror series.
From the age of ten or so, I devoured every book in the Point Horror young adult series I could get my hands on. A few years ago, I wrote a short post on my Point Horror obsession and my last blog post was a review of Trick Or Treat.
My mom was a primary school teacher. She worked in the boys’ school near my own, and almost every day at half past two, I’d hurry to the library at her workplace to see what gems awaited me.
The colourful artwork and fun stories inside were perfect bizesize reads. I couldn’t make do with simply borrowing library books. I made it my mission to collect as many Point Horror books as I could. For birthdays and Christmases my parents and relatives would give me book shop vouchers, allowing me to build my own collection, and I saved my pocket money and hunted down used copies in secondhand bookshops.
Even through my teens and twenties, I’d take a stroll to the young adult section of any secondhand book store I came across, just in case there was a Point Horror book I hadn’t read or didn’t have in my collection.
In case you never read Point Horror or have forgotten the series, I’ve chosen a selection of books below that may jog your memory.
The Accident by Diane Hoh.
I actually read this one pretty recently and twenty years later, still enjoyed it. The Accident is a unique ghost story that manages to be pretty terrifying. What if you swapped places with a dead girl so she could experience a couple of brief weeks in your body as a normal teenager, but she refused to trade back?
Nightmare Hall: The Roommate by Diane Hoh
College dormitory life, psychotic roommates and murder. What more do you need in a good thriller? I’m struggling to remember the full storyline for this one, but I must have enjoyed it as I went on to pick up others in the Nightmare Hall series.
The Mummy by Barbara Steiner
Lana works part-time in a museum. A lover of all things Ancient Egypt, nobody is more excited than she is when her museum holds an exhibition from Cairo, which includes the mummy of a legendary Egyptian prince. It isn’t too long before Lana hears a man calling out to her in the dark corners of the museum. Everyone tells her she looks like the murdered princess, the prince’s tragic lover, but it’s just a coincidence, of course. Then why does she feel like she knows and loves someone who died thousands of years before? With a handsome Egyptian prince, a museum setting, the mingling of magic and romance, and reincarnation, it’s no wonder I loved this one.
The Forbidden Game trilogy by L.J. Smith
L.J. Smith wrote a fantastic story in The Forbidden Game. At her boyfriend’s 17th birthday party, Jenny and her pals end up playing a game. They build a paper Victorian house and put paper cutouts of themselves inside. The game states they’ll each have to face their worst nightmare. They don’t bargain for the house coming alive around them and trapping them inside. Fantasy, horror, sexual tension, a female protagonist with agency! How this book hasn’t been made into a TV show or movie, I don’t know. It’s probably only a matter of time.
The Vampire’s Promise by Caroline B. Cooney
A group of high schoolers find themselves trapped in a vampire’s lair. This vampire doesn’t just want to suck their blood, he wants them to choose his victim. His bite won’t kill, but it will leave the victim sluggish, zombie-like and devoid of personality. The vampire in this one is a sadistic bastard, taking great pleasure in the terrible decision he forces these kids to make. The author, Cooney, never includes blood or gore in her books, but she is skilled at creating psychological terror.
The Baby-Sitter by R.L. Stine
While I can vividly recall the cover for this one, I can’t remember reading it.
The Invitation by Diane Hoh
When a group of kids generally viewed as losers by the elite of their high school get invited to a party by one of the popular students, that should immediately get their warning bells sounding. They attend only to find themselves key players in a nightmarish game they never signed up for.
The Stranger by Caroline B. Cooney
Unusual, beautiful and sad. This story tugged at my heartstrings. Caroline B. Cooney is a terrific writer. She is one of the most gifted writers of horror in the young adult genre. I reviewed her novel The Fog earlier in the year.
Have you come across any Point Horror books? What books from childhood do you remember with fondness?