by Dan Thompson
Yep, that’s right. Halloween is nearly upon us – and it is celebrated worldwide, making it just as important to some people as Christmas and Easter. The meaning and ways in which the day (or rather night) are celebrated have changed throughout the many years.
Children are impressionable – they have open minds that make them believe in the magic of, well, magic. They are naive – brilliantly so, which also means that they are open to the scariest time of the year too. It isn’t just a time for Trick or Treat (even though if you shouted ‘Trick’ to them when you opened your door they would probably look at you all confused) but Halloween is also a time for scary fun.
I must admit, I never went Trick or Treating. I never used to get dressed up – I’m not really sure why. The ethics of it have been questioned from time to time, often being compared to some sort of door to door begging. I’m not sure I think of it like that.
What I did used to do though was take my prized library card along to my local library (where I am also doing my own book signing!) and bearing in mind that you used to be allowed to take 12 books out at the same time, I raided the shelf for …
Yep! RL Stine’s Goosebump series. I remember this is where my OCD probably started to take shape. I have to read things in order – even if they don’t have to be. I started with the first book – Welcome to the Dead House. And then carried on with Stay Out of the Basement, Monster Blood, Say Cheese and Die! …..
Did you know that the Goosebumps books have sold more than 400 million books worldwide! Before JK Rowling came along, they were bestselling series of all time. RL Stine has aptly been named ‘The Stephen King of children’s literature’ and I’m not surprised.
During October of every year, I used to haul my stack of Goosebumps books, safely wrapped in a Kwik Save bag, up to the attic and start reading. I was terrified! But happily so! I used to jump at every noise and creak. In my attic, there used to be a slanted sort of sky window, and when the rain came down, it almost sounded as if it would break the window any minute! Which of course only added to the halloween atmosphere.
Whether it was discovering ghosts, using a cursed camera that causes accidents of its subjects, a dummy that comes alive or a terrible werwwolf of Fever Swamp – the goosebumps series preys on every cultural, sociological and phobia known to children. In essence they are pretty harmless – mild may even be too extreme a description of their horror-ness, but like I’ve said – children are impressionable.
I wonder what I would think if I took along my library card (the same one!) and took out one of them to read again? I remember them being very Americanised – even for a British audience. Didn’t they turn it into a TV series? I think I remember watching it.
My reading habits have changed significantly over my teenage and young adult periods, but I do have a guilty pleasure for anything dark. I often describe things as ‘deliciously dark’ because I know my friend thinks I’m ‘wrong in the head’ at how dark subjects can be entertaining to me.
Speaking of which, did anyone watch Penny Dreadful? I loved it.