Tag Archives: diane hoh

Point Horror: Happy Childhood Memories

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.

accident

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?

 

roommateNightmare 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.

 

mummyThe 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.

forbiddenThe 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.

vaThe 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.

babysitterThe Baby-Sitter by R.L. Stine

While I can vividly recall the cover for this one, I can’t remember reading it.

 

invitationThe 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.

 

strangerThe 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.

 

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Have you come across any Point Horror books? What books from childhood do you remember with fondness?

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Point Horror: Best Young Adult Books of the 90s?

I have an old trunk stored in my shed filled with these books, having collected them from the age of nine or ten all the way through my teens and even now, some ten years later, I’ll pull a random book out, pour myself a cup of Barry’s tea and curl up on the couch to while away a couple of hours.

Some of my favourites back as a kid were Barbara Steiner’s The Mummy, Diane Hoh’s Funhouse, Richie Tankersley Cusick’s The Mall and Freeze Tag & The Vampire’s Promise by Caroline B. Cooney.  The best trilogy was The Forbidden Game by L.J Smith and that’s still one of my most read books as an adult.  What girl can resist Julian eh?  L.J. Smith’s Vampire Diaries series has been re-released thanks to the success of the tv show (which may have got the go-ahead based on the global popularity of Twilight).  The Forbidden Game is also available as a 3 books in 1 paperback.  Similarly her Night World books have been reprinted with covers that bear a striking resemblance to Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga books.

A rival of Point Horror was Nightmares which seemed to be a little more daring in their content, striving for a more adult feel.  The most memorable for me were The Nightmare Inn books written by T.S. Rue.  These were set in the New Arcadia Inn which despite its fun, family oriented exterior seems to exude a sinister and creepy atmosphere.  Room 13 is a ghost story featuring a romance between a bored teenage girl on holiday with her family and the mysterious guest staying in number 13.

I was also a frequent reader of Christopher Pike.  Browsing in a local bookstore recently I saw that The Last Vampire has been reprinted with a new cover.  Sita is an ancient vampire who falls for a highschool boy and when her maker comes to destroy her and mortally wounds her lover, Sita is forced to turn him into a vampire.    Pike’s Road to Nowhere was a darker, more grown up young adult tale than other similar books of that time, dealing with relationships and depression.  Fall Into Darkness differed in that it wasn’t a supernatural story but a murder mystery and was adapted into a film starring the late Jonathan Brandis and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air‘s Tatyana Ali

Despite the plethora of young adult horror novels that abounded in the 90s, it’s always the Point Horror collection that draws me back.  Maybe it’s the colourful graphics of their front covers, the memories of a delicious shiver running down my spine, or just plain old nostalgia for a simpler time that keeps me casting a protective eye on that old trunk filled with my childhood treasures.  Today the vast majority of my own writing focuses on the supernatural, a genre I grew to love and explore thanks to Point Horror.

Point Horror:  Best Young Adult Books of the 90s? For me, I would have to answer Yes!