Goosebumps for Grown-Ups

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Goosebumps for Grown-Ups

Stories about Ghosts, Goblins, and God Knows What

"Reader, beware... You're in for a scare!"

So, you're in your 30s, you live alone, and just as your head hits the pillow, you hear a sound in your kitchen. *CREEEEAAK* Is it just the house settling? Could it be the furnace? The ice maker? Surely, it's just the cat... but... the cat is right there beside you in bed. Could it be, in fact, a ghost from beyond the grave?

When I was in middle school, checking out R.L. Stine's Goosebumps series from my school library was my first taste of literary horror. And thanks to the annual Scholastic Book Fair (and my mom, who spent the money), I was able to feed the cravings they produced with those oozy, spooky, neon paperback purchases. And by the time I hit high school, there was the darker Fear Street series to fall into, a series still producing new titles today.

Now that I'm an adult, I've expanded my horror collection to include the greatsfrom Lois Duncan to Tom Tryon to Stephen King. But what do you reach for when you're home alone, reminiscing over the '90s nostalgia those Goosebumps titles rouse? Keep reading for some spooky, thrilling and downright disturbing titles that will have you hiding under your bed like old times.

Strange Weather by Joe Hill
New York Times bestselling author Joe Hill has really hit his stride when it comes to the thriller, horror and science-fiction genres. His titles have been made into films (such as Horns featuring Harry Potter's Daniel Radcliffe), and he is an Eisner Award winner for his graphic novel series, Locke & Key. Strange Weather embraces the theme of "what if?" A collection of four short novels, the book reads like a printed Twilight Zone. Addressing real-life horrors like gun violence and global warming, Strange Weather allows the reader to fall into the uncertainty of the real world. If you enjoyed R.L. Stine's Say Cheese and Die as a kid, then I highly recommend Snapshot, which involves a young man coming into possession of a camera with supernatural abilities. 

Thornhill by Pam Smy
This title is actually classified as a juvenile title, but after reading it, I must admit I found it far more unsettling than the average "spooky" middle grade read. Thornhill is told partly through diary entries and partly through silent illustrations. Think of a graphic novel with no words, no thought or conversation bubbles. The illustrations are black and white, and the more you flip, the more unsettled you become, as you realize what their lack of words are really saying. If you enjoy hybrid formats, ghost stories and can handle heartbreak, then I highly recommend this one-of-a-kind tale about a lonely girl who finally finds a forever friend. But beware... the ending will give you goosebumps.

Final Girls by Riley Sager
One of 2017's best thrillers, Final Girls is for anyone who read and enjoyed Gone Girl. Final Girls pays homage to the great horror films from the 1980s, minus the summer camp scenery. Like Friday the 13th or Sleepaway Camp, this is both suspenseful and terrifying, right up until the final bloody twist.

Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
I was somewhat devastated when the queen of teen horror, Lois Duncan, passed away in 2016. I made it my mission to find her titles I hadn't gotten around to reading yet. Killing Mr. Griffin was top of the pile. A well-executed young adult read, this dark tale follows a group of high school students who decide to teach their English teacher a lesson he'll never forget. When the prank goes terribly wrong, the students must face panic, guilt and paranoia as they try to come to terms with what they've done. This is not graphic, and perhaps not really what most would call horror, but Duncan truly convinces her readers of the panic and despair felt by her guilty characters. If you ever read and liked I Know What You Did Last Summer by Duncan, then this read will appeal to you even more. It possesses her typical twist ending, revealing a character to be so much more dangerous than they seem.

Six Scary Stories collected by Stephen King
What I enjoyed most about this collection of scary stories is that they were all handpicked by the master of horror, Stephen King. While judging a competition held by Hodder & Stoughton and the Guardian, he was so impressed with the entries that he suggested they be published as a collection. Since the origin of each work is so varied, each writing style and content so different story to story, this book is a quick little page-turner. From dangerous swimming in rock quarries to homicidal stuffed animals, this short story collection grabs your attention with a death grip. My favorite of these is "The Unpicking" by Michael Button, a tale about how a little boy's toys come to life late at night, but it's no Disney's Toy Story... unless the toys in Toy Story were equipped with malice and scissors.

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero
If you enjoyed Stephen King's IT, then you'll find the New York Times Bestseller Meddling Kids a pleasurable read, for sure. Revealing the Blyton Summer Detective Club's last adventure in the '70s, and flashing forward to the '90s when its members are grown and determined to come to terms with the inexplicable ghosts of their past, Meddling Kids is a perfect medley of all things nostalgic from one's youth. Think one-part The Goonies and one-part Super 8, and you'd have the printed pages of Meddling Kids.

Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook by Christina Henry
Christina Henry is rather magical, if you ask me. She has this knack for taking fairy tales (which are already kinda twisted, if we're being honest) and turning them into the darkest rendition possible. If you ever picked up Henry's previously published Alice, then you know despair, gore and mind-bending realities are ever present in its pages. Lost Boy is no different, in that it picks apart a beloved "childhood" read, exposing the agenda of Peter Pan as something far from charming and innocent, and the development of one of literature's greatest villains, Captain James Hook. If you enjoy twisted tales based on classics, as well as a good dash of psychological horror, then Christina Henry is right up your alley.

Red Rain: A Novel by R.L. Stine
Since this is a post dedicated to R.L. Stine's bestselling, award-winning Goosebumps series, it'd be wrong to exclude him, don't you think? For the 30-somethings out there like me, you can still pick up a Fear Street or Goosebumps title and finish it on the train, but you also can't go wrong with this stand-alone novel, Red Rain. In Red Rain, a travel writer endures and survives a terrible hurricane, then impulsively adopts two twin girls to take home with her. Little does she know in a few weeks' time, her husband will be accused of two brutal murders, and the two thankful, innocent twin girls will be revealed as anything but. Paying homage to the kids who grew up reading his Goosebumps series, this title is engrossing, grisly and downright creepy.

*CREEEEAAK* There's that noise again... Did you hear it? *THUMP... THUMP... THUMP...*

Well, look at the time! It's time for me to go now, but don't worry... *THUMP... THUMP... THUMP...* I'll leave the nightlight on for you. No judgment.