Making its fourth appearance and by now practically a recurring character in Stine’s creep-show opus, the evil mask with a mind of its own kicks off a new Goosebumps spinoff—the first to be originally published in hardcover.
Stine crafts two Halloween chillers and links them at the end. In the first, after an introductory setup set 40 years in the past, Lu-Ann wanders away from a friend’s boring party and discovers a demonic green mask in an old trunk. It not only doesn’t come off once she dons it (natch), but enflames her with uncontrollable and destructive anger issues. In the second, Lu-Ann’s friend Devin’s conviction that his holiday is going to be lame since he has to spend it helping his family sell pick-your-own pumpkins doesn’t last long. The vines start moving, the pumpkins turn squishy when he touches them, and the dead begin to rise from the graveyard beneath the field. Featuring plenty of sudden screams, eerie dreams, creeping dread and spooky undead (but no actual bloodshed), the plotlines ultimately intertwine in a climax that frees both young teens from their travails and allows them (and readers) to laugh at it all the next morning.
Pure, Goosebumps–style terror-by-formula, polished through use to such a high gloss that it slides along frictionlessly—a worthy celebration of the series’ 20th anniversary. (reversible dust-jacket mask [not seen]) (Horror. 10-12)