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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up-Claire and Jake's parents run a Hollywood movie studio. It has always done well, but lately they've been churning out more flops than blockbusters. In a last-ditch effort to save the studio, they decide to remake Mayhem Manor, a horror film from the 1960s that was never completed. The original cast all met gruesome deaths during the filming. Most of Hollywood thinks the movie is cursed, but that doesn't stop Claire and Jake's parents. After all, the publicity surrounding the actors' deaths and the notoriety of the curse just might save the studio-if the curse isn't real. Stine doesn't disappoint with this remash of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Teens unfamiliar with Shakespeare's play might consider the use of magic a little out of place, but it won't detract from their enjoyment of this story. For the most part, Brittany Presley's narration perfectly fits the characters, but her bizarre interpretation of the villain's voice is distracting.-Jennifer Furuyama, Pendleton Public Library, ORα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

It’s the ultimate publicity stunt for a failing Hollywood studio: remake an infamous horror movie in which the actors were literally killed on set. While the original was never completed, it became legend, and, for Claire, landing her first lead role in the film is her ticket to stardom. Even the footage of the gruesome deaths and rumors that the set is cursed don’t discourage her. Her first day, Claire meets Puckerman, a strange little man who possesses magical potions, and soon she’s trying them out on her friends. But the potions are a diversion: Puckerman intends to finish what he started 60 years ago. Stine’s latest is rife with shallow characters, implausible behavior, and laughable dialogue. It’s hard to believe that filming would continue when actors are being murdered on camera—again—and even harder to believe that Claire would continue to steal potions, making her friends violent, old, and (in a nod to Shakespeare) in love with a dog. Diehard Stine fans exist in droves, though, and they might approve of this array of bloody murders. Grades 6-9. --Krista Hutley --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 - 18 years
  • Audio CD: 4 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan Young Listeners; Unabridged edition (July 2, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1427231648
  • ISBN-13: 978-1427231642
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,489,025 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Why is Tim Jacobus R.L. Stine's favorite illustrator? Maybe because they've done so many scary books together. Tim did the cover paintings for more than 80 Goosebumps books, as well as the six amazing Amazon books. Recently, the two of them got together and asked the questions they've always wanted to ask each other...


TIM (the illustrator) asks R.L. STINE (the author):

TIM: When I illustrate, I can "see" the image in my head before I start to draw. Do you "hear" a story when you write?

R.L.: I hear kids when I write. I try to hear the voice of the boy or girl who is telling the story. I visit schools a lot and talk with kids so I can keep up with what they are saying these days and what real kids sound like. Then I try to hear their voices tell the story as I write it.


TIM: You've written so many books I can't do the math, but I bet you've used millions of words. What's you favorite word?

R.L.: Someone once got in an elevator with a very witty author named Noel Coward and said, "Say something funny." And Coward said, "Kangaroo." Kangaroo has been a favorite word of mine ever since I heard that story. But as a horror writer, I guess my favorite word is SCREAM!


TIM: Where is the strangest place you have come up with an idea for a story?

R.L.: An empty movie theater. My wife and I went to see a scary movie in a big, old movie house-- and we were the only ones in the theater. It was kind of creepy. Then about halfway through the movie, I turned around and saw that the back row was filled with people sitting straight and still. Suddenly, I thought-- They are zombies! I'm trapped in a dark zombie theater! And that's where the idea for the book Zombie Town came from.


TIM: If you couldn't write-- and you possessed all skills-- what would you like to do for a living?

R.L.: I drew comic strips from the time I was in 4th grade, and I always dreamed of being a cartoonist. You can imagine my shock when the other kids told me how bad my art was. They were right. I stunk! I got over my extreme disappointment by starting to write. But if I had the skill, I would love to do what you do, Tim.


R.L. STINE (the author)asks TIM (the illustrator):

R.L.: If you couldn't be an artist what would you like to be?

TIM: I would like to be a "Snowmaker" at one of the big ski resorts, out west, like Mammoth Mountain in California. You work at night when everyone goes home. Set up the snow guns, cover the slopes, and groom them with the Sno-Cat track machine. It's kinda like a snow tank! Then, you get to ski for free! I love that snow!


R.L.: When we were kids, my brother and I used to go to a horror movie every Saturday. We loved them all. The covers on our six Amazon books look like movie posters to me. Were you also influenced by horror movies? If so, which ones?

TIM: I was a complete "chicken" as a kid. I couldn't sit through any horror movie. The first scary movie I saw was on TV. It isn't really a horror movie. It was the Hunchback of Notre Dame-- the black-and-white version with Charles Laughton. That movie freaked me out! The mutant, Quasimodo, was something that REALLY could exist. Black-and-white movies, black-and-white photos--they all seem more "real" than full color to me.


R.L.: You have painted so many great covers. I think your scariest Goosebumps cover was for The Barking Ghost. And the black cat on The 13th Warning is really creepy. Do you have a favorite cover? Is it a scary one or a funny one?

TIM: It's hard to pick a favorite. But you gotta love the blue bathroom blobs in Monster Blood IV. That one is a little creepy and WAY funny. For just outright scary, I love the ticket taker in Zombie Town!


R.L.: What was the weirdest thing someone ever asked you to draw?

TIM: Oh, I have drawn a lot of weird stuff. One time, I had to paint a pimple! You know... acne! It was a medical illustration. Gross. When I first started illustrating, I painted pictures of food. My food illustrations were used in the Sunday newspaper for the local supermarket. I painted every food you can imagine. I can draw a pretty mean potato!

Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Megan Nicole [Books i View] on November 17, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
This review first appeared on Books i View. I received a copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.

R.L. Stine, the author of the Goosebumps series, brings us a horrifying retelling of one of the most beloved plays of all time. I originally picked this out for one of my Halloween reads this year hoping that it would be creepy and frightening. I have never read R.L. Stine before so I didn't know what to expect.

The book starts off with four teens, a broken down truck and a eerily empty house. As they explore the house to find help one by one they start to die gruesome and unexpected deaths. In my opinion this opener is the best part of the book. However that was only the first 18 pages and we find out that it was original movie which is going to be remade.

My main problem was the characters. They all were self-absorbed and had no true feelings at all. That is Hollywood I guess, it would have been nice if the characters were a smudge relatable or had any kind of sense. After someone died they ate food... every time! That would be okay sometimes, but after the gore they witness?! It's like it they are robots and it doesn't phase them at all. Of course the movie always continues no matter how many accidents or deaths which is just plain stupid.

Another thing which I did not like about this book were the relationship dynamics. I didn't get why Claire liked Jake. There is no hint or explanation as to why she likes him in the first place. It just seems like a child throwing a temper tantrum because she doesn't have something someone else does. None of it made sense to me.

The most confusing part was all the inconsistencies.

A recurring issue in the book is the studio going bankrupt and this movie is the only hope.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Teen Reads on July 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Prolific author R. L. Stine, well-known for his Goosebumps and Fear Street series of stories for Middle Grade, has a new YA horror out!

Claire's parents run a studio in LA. They are going to do a remake of a horror flick that was never finished 60 years earlier because three of the six actors in the film were killed on the set in a series of what were then called freak accidents. Production on the film stopped after the third death.

That was the end of the story until Claire's parents decide to take on the project. They are desperate to create a money-making movie because without one, they will be forced to close the studio. They are going to film the new version of the movie on the original set, a creepy looking house that was built just for the film and then never used again. It has been sitting empty on the studio lot for 60 years.

Of course, many people are nervous about re-making a horror film gone bad. Claire is especially so because she has a part in the movie --- a dream come true for her --- and she doesn't want anything to go wrong and mess up her chance to be in the movies. At first, Claire laughs when anyone suggests there is a curse on the set, but when strange things start happening, and horrible accidents take place in the house, Claire wonders if maybe the house is maybe haunted or the curse is real.

As if that weren't enough to occupy her mind, Claire is trying desperately to get Jake's attention. They are friends and have been since they were kids; their parents co-own the film studio. Jake thinks of Claire as just as friend, and Claire wants Jake to think of her as his girlfriend. But Jake has his eyes on someone else, and someone else has his eyes on Claire. No one ever said the road to true love was going to be a smooth one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Beauty but a Funny Girl on August 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover

I struggled through this book. Struggled to make it to 50 pages.

So the book starts out with a group of friends in a creepy mansion and one of them dies. Boom. Right off the bat. And instead of trying to get out of there and flee for their lives, what do they do? They look for food! "Gee our friend was just murdered in front of us. I'm famished!"

Seriously? Seriously.

Turns out this isn't real! It's just the beginning of a movie that is being remade. Supposdly these actors really died in the scenes we just read. Few questions. If they really died, why did the film crew keep, you know, filming? Why is the footage still around?

Anyway. Our sage follows Claire, whose parents own the movie studio remaking the movie, and her BFFN (best friend for now) Delia to a pool party and another rich kid's house. Drama ensues and I'm apparently reading the diary of a 14-year-old preteen.

I couldn't do it anymore. I got a chapter or two past the end of this party and checked out. The sentences were choppy, the story unbelievable and unrelatable.

Part of me was also expected this novel to be somewhat related to Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. If you're going to play on the title so heavily, there should be some relation to the original other than the fact that this all takes place on midsummer night.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Liviania VINE VOICE on July 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I outgrew R.L. Stine's books pretty quick. I still kept reading them regularly, at least through seventh grade, because they were fun. Formulaic, yes, but the Fear Street books especially were chock-full of inventive deaths. For a morbid little kid an inventive death goes a long way.

Nowadays, I have a fond nostalgia for Stine. It helps that I met him once in person and he was incredibly nice. (I was super awkward because my friend dropped out on me and I was the only person over eighteen there alone.) Without that nostalgia, I might not have finished A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S SCREAM. But I'm sure the intended audience for the novel will enjoy it. There's one death that's probably going to make my dreams a little freaky for a night or two.

The plot is simple: Claire and her best friend Delia have small roles in Mayhem Manor, the remake of a never-finished horror film. Three members of the original cast died on tape. Pretty soon, bad things start happening to the new cast too. It's made clear that the studio will shut down if the production fails, but it's still hard to believe they don't close down the film for everyone's safety. As for the connection to A Midsummer Night's Dream, it's fairly faint. Each girl has a crush on a guy who has a crush on the other girl. There's also a hairy man, Mr. Puckerman, with potions.

There was one aspect I found disappointing. I remember Stine being delightfully gross, but I don't remember him being gross about gender. There's a third girl, Annalee, who goes after Jake when Claire keeps failing to make a move. She's catty about it, but it still grated on me when Claire and Delia constantly derided her for being a slut. No wonder she didn't care to observe their unspoken hands off.
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