July 4, 2013

A Midsummer Night's Scream - R.L. Stine

A Midsummer Night's Scream - R.L. Stine
A Midsummer Night's Scream by R.L. Stine
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: July 2, 2013
Source/Format: Publisher (Thanks Ksenia!) || ARC
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]

It was a horror movie that turned into real horror: Three young actors lost their lives while the cameras rolled. Production stopped, and people proclaimed the movie was cursed.

Now, sixty years later, new actors are venturing onto the haunted set. In a desperate attempt to revive their failing studio, Claire's dad has green-lit a remake of Mayhem Manor, and Claire and her friends are dying to be involved.

At first, Claire laughs at Jake's talk of ghosts and curses. He's been too busy crushing on her best friend, Delia, or making out with that slut, Annalee, to notice that she's practically been throwing herself at him. What does he know anyway? This is her big chance to be a star!

But then, Claire runs into a creepy little man named Benny Puckerman, and gets her hands on a real love potion! Unfortunately, the course of true love never did run smooth... (from Goodreads)

What could possibly be better than a familiar author from your childhood writing a book inspired by one of your favorite classical authors? The promising combination of R.L. Stine, master of my favorite childhood horror series Goosebumps, and Shakespeare's work A Midsummer Night's Dream made me eager to read this.

Unfortunately, A Midsummer Night's Scream didn't exactly blow me away. The characters are forgettable and lack dimension. They act as you would expect characters in most horror movies do, scared but still determined to do stupid things like forging ahead to get what they want (and in this case, it's a completed remake of Mayhem Manor). You'd think that they would know better after the bad stuff starts happening, but it's fairly obvious they're either delusional or plain stupid. And yet, this is exactly what I'd expect from them because the novel wouldn't move forward or be as entertaining (in the way horror movies can be) otherwise.

The story, on the other hand, is fairly simple, and almost childlike in its telling. In fact, were it not for the teenage characters, the occasional mention of parties and physical attraction and the like, this book could probably be read by children. It follows the formula of most horror movies I've watched, as you can see in my helpful chart:
horror movie formula
I didn't mind because this is pretty much what I was expecting to encounter. In fact, if I hadn't encountered this, I would have probably been really surprised. In spite of the simplicity, the story was still entertaining - as entertaining, in fact, as one of the awful horror movies that my friends and I often subject ourselves to.

What really disappointed me was the lack of Shakespeare's influence in the story. There are only slight nods to this particular play, such as the character of Puckerman (a reference to Puck) and the climax occurring on Midsummer's Eve. I suppose we could also consider the magical potions and the crazy paths of romance as inspired by the play, but it's a bit of a stretch. A part of me really wishes there had been more of a connection between the two, but it doesn't bother me to the point that it took away from my reading experience.

A Midsummer Night's Dream is basically a fluffy horror novel (and yes, I'm well aware of the strangeness of that statement). The novel is really fun, and still characterized with the horror and humor of Stine's other books. It was a purely entertaining read for me, bringing back memories of the days I'd hoard my Goosebumps novels. It's basically like watching those horror b-movies, the ones that are predictably silly and mostly gory, but still purely entertaining if only to scare you out of your wits. If that's the kind of read you're in the mood for, then this novel definitely fits the bill.


  1. Yikes. This has to be the third or fourth negative review I've read concerning this book, and I can't say I'm surprised. It sounds as though R.L Stine has stagnated and is still re-hasing the same storylines and tropes that made him popular in the 1990's (Which was, coincidentally, the last time he was truly relevant) It sounds like this is definitely not the book for me, as you've identified a lot of the same problems that I experienced with Gretchen McNeil's Ten.

    On the plus side, at least it's one less book I feel compelled to read. My ever-growing TBR list can always used a little break! ;) Great review, Alexa!

  2. I was quite curious about this one, mostly because I adored R.L. Stine's books when I was younger. I doubt they'd have the same effect on me now, though. It's a shame that this wasn't as strong as it could have been, but I'm glad you found it quite entertaining overall. I'm not too interested in picking it up any time soon, however, but I won't cross it off the list altogether. Great review as always, Alexa!

  3. I see R.L. Stine and my instinct is OMG NEW BOOK MUST READ! But then I remember last year's "Red Rain" disappointment and... well, I just understand your meh feelings.

    I think I've just outgrown RL Stine, disappointing as that is.

  4. "fluffy horror novel" is just so wrong! bahaha. I would hate this book so hard I know it. I guess if I was looking for a child-like horror but... yeah that's not for me. I'm glad you didn't absolutely hate it at least. I did love my Goosebumps collection, too! But I was 10.

  5. Aww. It's a shame this wasn't better! I mean, R.L. Stine! But the lack of Shakespeare and lack of complex characters give me pause. Maybe I would have enjoyed this as a kid, but not now. Sad.

  6. I can tell this isn't going to be a book I enjoy. If I read a horror novel, I don't really want fluff, you know? It's really the fact that there's so little connection to a Midsummer Night's Dream that's disappointing, though. Thanks for your thoughtful review!

  7. When I first got an ARC of this I kind of assumed that it would be like a Goosebumps novel, only for an older crowd so I am not surprised to hear that this is what you felt while reading it! I do think I will still read it so that I can reminisce about my Goosebumps days :] Sorry that you didn't love this one though!

  8. So basically this is the book to read when you want to be entertained. I can dig it. I have to admit I freakin LOVE the cover of this book and initially wanted to read A Midsummer's Scream because of the cover. Also, I realize this isn't the best book you've ever read, but at least it delivers on the promise of a B-movie-esque read. :-)

  9. I've read only bad things of his last book, but this one sounds interesting! I love a good horror book ... even if it compares to a b-movie. :)

  10. I have this one on my TBR but I thought it really was a children's book. Interesting that it is actually geared towards an older group.


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