Goosebumps-like horror series?
November 7, 2017 1:06 PM   Subscribe

Looking for suggestions on 90s-era children's horror fiction along the lines of Goosebumps for a personal project. More inside.

I'm thinking about doing an online review project about the wave of children's horror series that accompanied Goosebumps in the 90's (Spookville, Bone Chillers, etc.). My goal is to look at recurring tropes, the general quality of each series and individual book, and the similarities and differences between them.

However, while I've found references to individual series, I haven't found a comprehensive list of books of that type, which is partly why I've decided to create one. I'm interested in recommendations in children's horror fiction series that other MFers may remember that are relevant to my goal.

Tl;dr - I'm looking for horror series from the 90s that are aimed at a younger audience and with at least some qualities borrowed from Goosebumps - series format, twist endings, child protagonists, and real monsters or supernatural forces as antagonists.
posted by thedarksideofprocyon to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Shivers. I read a few, but Goosebumps was much better.
posted by FallowKing at 1:39 PM on November 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Christopher Pike wrote a few series in this genre. Many of his books are one off stories, but he has a few sets of three or four books that go together.

In my school, you were either an R.L Stine fan or a Christopher Pike fan and there were deeply felt opinions about it. No one was a fan of both. But that could have been a quirk of my middle school.
posted by zizzle at 1:49 PM on November 7, 2017 [6 favorites]

I had forgotten that Fear Street were also by R.L. Stine, but may still be germane for the purpose of comparison.
posted by ITheCosmos at 1:53 PM on November 7, 2017 [4 favorites]

Spinetinglers by M.T. Coffin brought my very favorite kid horror title, Billy Baker's Dog Won't Stay Buried.
posted by tangosnail at 2:06 PM on November 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Scary Stories books were hugely popular when I was in elementary school in the 90s. I feel like they were always at the Scholastic book fairs at my school.

I'd probably include "The Series of Unfortunate Events" in your analysis although they were a bit later.

I feel like there was a Tales From The Crypt had a reboot around this time.

I vaguely remember an X Files kids book series about this time and there was Outer Limits book series.

Also don't forget The Bailey School Kids (Vampires Don't Wear Polka Dots, Werewolves Don't Go to Summer Camp, etc.)
posted by TomFoolery at 2:11 PM on November 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

Oh I remember that the Chose Your Own Adventure books were pretty popular at this time. We loved the gory and macabre and random ways that you could die.
posted by TomFoolery at 2:14 PM on November 7, 2017

I devoured these kinds of books when I was in elementary school.

Fright Time series

Eerie Indiana series
posted by book 'em dano at 2:16 PM on November 7, 2017

David Lubar's Monsterrific Tales series

A.G. Cascone's Deadtime Stories series

You're Invited to a Creepover series by P.J. Night (though this is more recent!)

There was a specific horror version of Choose Your Own Adventure, Choose Your Own Nightmare.
posted by wsquared at 3:11 PM on November 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

Seconding "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark". But with the original, terrifying illustrations, not the bland inoffensive new illustrations they introduced in a recent reprint.
posted by a strong female character at 4:34 PM on November 7, 2017

FallowKing: "Shivers. I read a few, but Goosebumps was much better."

Yup! Here's a nice fan site for the series. One fun easter egg I remember: every book cover illustration had a skull hidden somewhere in it. (Also I will never forget the post-epilogue ad for mail-ordering more books: Let, let, let the mailman give you cold, clammy, SHIVERS SHIVERS SHIVERS!" I don't know how text can be an earworm, but it totally is.)

Also, if you don't mind straying into the sci-fi end of the horror spectrum: the Mind Warp series by Chris Archer. I only ever read book #8 in the series, but it hits a lot of the notes you're looking for -- kid protagonists, actual threat, plot twists, cliffhangers, and lots of horror tropes. Only real difference is that it was an ongoing narrative as opposed to discrete stories -- sort of like Animorphs.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:37 PM on November 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm not sure if these are strictly enough a series for your criteria, but I have fond memories of the short story collections of the Australian writer Paul Jennings. The titles mostly began with Un- (Uncanny, Unbelievable, etc) and I definitely remember them being marketed similarly to Goosebumps et al. A lot of the stories were filmed for the Australian TV series Round the Twist, which was also shown in the UK.

The Wikipedia entries for the books include synopses for each of the stories and links to the books' pages on Jennings' website.
posted by daisyk at 11:38 AM on November 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

For slightly older readers, there was the Point Horror series (imprint might be a better term). I always thought of them as rather trashy, but fun. Here's an AV Club article about them.
posted by daisyk at 11:43 AM on November 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

PS please add your project to MeFi Projects once it's up!
posted by daisyk at 3:24 AM on November 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

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