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3.6 out of 5 stars
Mischief
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 5, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book reads more like a stream of consciousness than it does a well-written novel. It's comprised of a series of unusual events (none of which make much sense or are explained well) that are loosely tied together with a razor-thin plot. The characters are dull and their actions and motives make little sense. The plot itself is nearly non-existent and meanders from one point to another without focus. By the end of the book I didn't care one way or another about any of the characters, and didn't even understand what was going on. Everyone seemed to be a confused idiot wandering around in an alternate reality. Mischief could have been the very first draft of what later became a good novel, but should not have been published as is. Clegg can write when he wants to, but this book doesn't cut it. If you're a fan and want to give it a try anyway, be my guest. But if you've never read Clegg before, don't use this as your starting point.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 3, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was fortunate enough to read the e-serial novel Nightmare House last summer. Clegg dealt with Harrow's history in that one, which involved the ultimate haunted mansion, where black magic, spirit summoning, and gruesome murders took place. I was so enthralled that I went ahead and ordered the hardback from Cemetery Dance, which is coming out sometime this year. I would recommend that you buy this first, just to get the true nature of Harrow, its founder (Justin Gravesend), who was heavily into the black arts, and its chamber of horrors. It's not necessary, though, because although Harrow is the backdrop of this story it is Jim Hook who is the central figure. Having lost his father and older brother in a car accident, he is determined to live up to their legacy. The pressure becomes too much, and he is caught cheating on a history test. Then comes the Cadaver Society, who are determined to save him from being expelled and make him one of their own. They try to brainwash him into thinking that his father had an illicit affair the night he and his son were killed. The Club puts Jim through a series of mind-numbing initiation tests. The first involves sleeping with a corpse in a mausoleum. After he passes that test, he seeks out the girl whom his dad had had that affair with. The girl tells him the truth about that night (I won't spoil it.) and he goes back to the dorm. The boys snatch him up for the final initiation test, where they take him into the bowels of the Harrow mansion. They stick him in a small chamber with another corpse, that of a boy named Miles, whose ghost has haunted Jim since the beginning of the story. Thus begins a trip into a hell which Jim may never come out of. Does he? Well, you'll have to read the book to find out. What I like most about Douglas Clegg's work is that he doesn't rely too heavily on gore to get his message across. He weaves his plots together with an intriguing twist that always keeps the reader guessing until the final climax of the story. He is definitely an author to watch out for.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Jim Hook, a resident student and famed alumni of Harrow Academy has a problem; he's about to be kicked out of school. Not so lucky for him, there are some kids willing to help, but there's a price. A hefty one.

This novel hooked me like a Marlin. Clegg brings Harrow School to life, scaring and entertaining from the start, but even more, his main character is interesting enough to get you engrossed in the novel simply for that reason alone. Jim's a kid with a past, one that's been dotted with heartache and death. He felt something once, something ghostly, something supernatural, and now he realizes that it's all tied to Harrow Academy. Everything.

And the ending to Mischief will absolutely floor you.

Clegg's a master. This was the first novel I've read by him, but certainly not the last. I just picked up The Infinite, and am looking forward to another great read.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on November 13, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Forget the chills, the gripping, sleep-robbing prose and meld with the main character of Mischief. That's what Mr. Clegg does for his readers with this tale -- he pours an apathetic individual into the skin of Jim Hook and offers the reader an opportunity to spend time as another -- and not just any other.
Jim Hook walks, he talks, and you'll soon believe he could be found on Any Street, USA. By slipping into Jim, you're immersed in a seemingly real event of love, fear and breathtaking terror. When you re-emerge as yourself, you're heart will be racing just as if you experienced the horror in the flesh. Jim Hook is a character that will live with this reader her entire life. Thank you, Mr. Clegg.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I've been a fan of Douglas Clegg since I first read Goat Dance, and I've never been disappointed with any of his works. Since the publication of his debut novel in 1989, he's been one of the few horror writers who never turned his back on the genre - and his books always deliver the goods. My personal favorites include his larger scope novels (Goat Dance, The Children's Hour, and You Come When I Call You are all excellent reads), and while somewhat shorter, Mischief is very satisfying read - a tight, fast-paced story that is compelling from the opening prologue to its conclusion. Harrow is a facsinating setting for this tale, and Clegg populates the novel with real, identifiable people. Don't be the last one on the block to discover this truly talented writer.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
For readers unfamiliar with Douglas Clegg's e-serial novel NIGHTMARE HOUSE, this serves as an excellent introduction to his Harrow Mythos. For readers of the e-serial, this is a fine return to their favorite house of horrors. For Harrow just happens to be a haunted house -- a Hudson Valley monstrosity one could easily imagine as part of some weird subdivision of Hell, nestled between Jackson's Hill House and the Overlook Hotel.
This time around, Harrow's heyday as a mansion has long ended. It's now a private boarding school.
Enter Jim Hook, a sympathetic & realistically portrayed adolescent. Jim's father and brother both attended Harrow. Jim's about to encounter both the haunting of Harrow and the secret Cadaver Society (sort of a cross between Yale's "Skull and Bones" society and Peter Pan's Lost Boys). What Jim finds within Harrow threatens to tear his world apart.
By narrowing down the focus to Jim's personal encounters with Harrow's mysteries, Clegg has created a very successful novel, where the horror is at times claustrophobic. But there are also tantalizing glimpses of the hold Harrow has on others, showing just how deeply the house's roots of evil are sunk into the cursed soil of Watch Point.
Foremost a novel about the loss of innocence, this is another wonderful story from Clegg, who continues to amaze me by writing some of the best horror being published today.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 19, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
MISCHIEF is Clegg's 2nd take on Harrow, the house that is the focus of THE NIGHTMARE HOUSE eserial. This book takes place in the here and now and follows a teenager, Jim Hook, when he goes to the Harrow Academy after his brother and father die in a car wreck. Jim catches the eye of a secret society on campus and, after going through a series of tests and initiations, becomes a member. The problem is that Jim has the ability to bring something back from Harrow...something that has been haunting old Harrow for years.
Clegg's take on adolescence is refreshing and enlightening. The friends Jim hooks up with all have nicknames and shine right off the page. He hits the nail on the head when he discusses the feelings and ramifications of first loves and falling too hard in love. The characters are richly defined and seem to come off the page, take your hand and say, "Here, come with me and I'll show you..." The dialogue is crisp and not forced, the internal machinations of Jim are vivid and understandable.
The best parts of the novel are the scenes in Harrow and all of the intitiation rituals. A very literate subplot is the book, THE INFINITE ONES, that Jim locates in the Harrow library. My only bicker is that the book is too short. Clegg gives us a lot of glimpses of other characters and their histories with Harrow, yet we are only given those too-short introductions. Here's hoping that in the future, Clegg rereleases this book with ALL of the subplots and characters fully displayed.
For those that don't know Douglas has a loosely built trilogy that surrounds the Harrow estate. THE NIGHTMARE HOUSE is an ongoing eserial right now that looks at the history of Harrow. MISCHIEF is the first in-print book and coming in hardcover next Sept. 2001 is THE INFINITE. You don't need to read one to get the impact of the others but it is like visiting an old friend if you do read all three.
Douglas Clegg is the busiest man in horror right now. Consider he has put out a metaphysical meditation on the duality of love and life with THE HALLOWEEN MAN, a story collection that showed off his range in THE NIGHTMARE CHRONICLES, an epic horror novel with YOU COME WHEN I CALL YOU, NAOMI was the first horror eserial for free on the internet, THE NIGHTMARE HOUSE is the 2nd free horror eserial going on now...and all this within the last 2 years or so. The quantity is remarkable for the quality of the books, each one is different but all of them satisfy a different urge for the horror fan.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the fourth Douglas Clegg book I've read, and is easily my least favorite so far. I heard about Clegg over the summer and read his "Nightmare Chronicles" short story collection. I was impressed by that and went on to read "You Come When I Call You" and "The Halloween Man," both of which I enjoyed quite a bit.
I've been a fan of the horror genre for quite a while now, but it's been some time since I've tried reading a new author. I don't think Clegg's writing is as good as Straub's, King's, or McCammon's, but his books tend to be a lot of fun to read.
I guess I was surprised by how poorly written "Mischief" is. The story's language is very sloppy. It feels like it was written quickly and not really revised other than for technical errors.
The story is interesting enough, and for a while, in the beginning, there was a love story that I thought was going to become really involving and save the book from the less-than-stellar writing. But, as in "You Come When I Call You", the love story is dropped half-way through. I think this is too bad. Clegg is talented at getting two characters together and beginning to engage them, but he doesn't follows up.
Still, I don't want to be too harsh in this review. I did enjoy the book and plowed through it pretty quick, which is something for me since I'm such a slow reader normally. I still look forward to reading more books by Clegg. This just isn't his best. I'd recommend reading "Nightmare Chronicles" first.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
For the first time, I picked up a Douglas Clegg novel. I've heard great things about this guy so I was curious. But based on this novel, I have to admit that I was really disappointed.
The story revolves around an old school that has a dark past. We have a young boy going to this school (the boy also has a dark past) and slowly, strange things start happening to him.
That's pretty much it. The story has been told a million times, and much better (if you want a great book about a haunted school, read Dan Simmon's Summer Of Night, one of the best horror books ever written). It doesn't help that Clegg doesn't really have a style. His writing in primitive and boring. This reads more like a young-adult novel than a full, fleshed out horror novel.
I will not give up on Clegg just yet, but this story just didn't cut it for me. In a horror book, I look for something different, something that will be able to grab me by the throat from the very first page on. I want something that will bring me on a wild and strange ride. Mischief did none of that. The story is predictable and not very original.
Fortunately, this one's a quick read. If you're looking for something as a quick fix in between books, than this could be a good one. But if you're looking to be blown away or if you're looking for something more than a very unoriginal tale of ghosts and spirits, than skip this one. It didn't do it for me and it won't do it for you either.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Mischief is a great book!
I practically devoured this in one sitting because it's a real page turner. Douglas Clegg is now my favorite horror writer, up there with the best. The first book I read of his was You Come When I Call, and it was this shocking saga of terror and now, Mischief. Mischief is more quiet horror that's nearly a coming of age story twisted into a ghost story. It even feels literary without being difficult to read. One of the most interesting aspects was how Clegg manages to create a mounting feeling of dread and horror without any gore to speak of in this one, and how even at the end (I won't spoil it for you), the subtlety of the last pages adds a chill that's also quite moving.
Mischief is not for people who want blood in their face, that's for sure. It's atmospheric and fascinating, and as with You Come When I Call, Clegg juggles various storylines within the story that all add up in a kind of literary puzzle to the final conflict of the story. I would suggest people read these books back to back to get a sense of the range here. You Come When I Call is very much in your face horror with shocks on every other page and what feels like a cast of thousands. Mischief is a fast read with a slow build all circling around one character and the small world he touches.
As with the end of You Come When I Call, I found Mischief very moving and disturbing but with this kind of redemptive moment, another thing that feels different in horror fiction.
I highly recommend Mischief, give it five stars. I will admit that you might have to be a serious reader of fiction to really move through this book. Someone who comes at it wanting gore and gross outs will have to look elsewhere. It captures an aspect to the coming of age story really beautifully and a lot about the school rings true and a lot about what it was like to be a teenager having made a mistake seems right on the mark. Mischief is also a good hybrid of a literary novel with a solid popular fiction of the genre of horror.
Other recommendations: Peter Straub's Magic Terror, Bentley Little's The Town, Stephen King's Bag of Bones, Clive Barker's The Great and Secret Show, Christopher Golden's Strange Wood, Dean Koontz's False Memory, Douglas Clegg's You Come When I Call.
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