Recently, one of my Year 9 students brought a Point Horror book to my lesson as her reading book. It’s safe to say I alarmed her with my excited exclamations of ‘I LOVED POINT HORROR WHEN I WAS YOUR AGE!’ (I always have to resist adding ‘When I were a lad, I walked fifteen miles to school in the snow wi’ nowt but sackcloth on me feet and a jacket tatie in me pocket for warmth and dinner…’) Anyway, somewhat bemused, the student told me that they’d been her mum’s and that she’d recently been given the complete series. After enduring me wittering on for another couple of minutes about the merits of R.L Stine, the poor student eventually asked if I would like to borrow some. And so, she lent me the three titles above- all that I remember reading.
When I was about twelve, Point Horror was a serious pre-occupation of mine. I defy you to find many women who were young teenagers in the late 90s who hadn’t read at least one of the stories from the series, or Stine’s off-shoot series Goosebumps. They were wildly popular and widely swapped amongst my peers, so I was surprised to learn that they’ve been out-of-print for quite a while (although it appears that the series is being revamped and relaunched for modern teenagers.) After all, these were cheap paperbacks that offered all the idealised parts of the American teenage life with added gore and murder.
Reading them as an adult, there was still the element of surprise- although this ended much sooner than it would have done when I read the books eighteen years ago. All three books were around the 160 page mark and dealt with the Hitchcockian (The Window tells the story of a girl stranded in her bedroom after she breaks her ankle on a skiing trip and who witnesses a murder); the unnerving (The Dead Game is a tale of revenge gone wrong); and the supernatural (Freeze Tag is about teenage love, lust, jealousy and, er, the ability to freeze your love rival.)
I can see why twelve year old me would have loved these stories. It was the older teenage life of girls who were a bit like Buffy, a bit like the kids in programmes I liked such as Saved By The Bell- the younger version of the American Dream, sort of. Of course, being a teenager didn’t turn out like it did on TV or the books (even without murder by freezing!)
As a grown up, it was easier to spot the red herrings and twists but that doesn’t make them any less enjoyable. If anything, I felt happily nostalgic as I devoured them. They reminded me of library visits, summer holiday reading and the escape reading offered me during periods of bleakness. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for more on my charity shop jaunts.
Have you got any memories of Point Horror novels?