Friday, September 28, 2007

Tales to Give You Goosebumps

Goosebumps Special Edition #1:
Tales To Give You Goosebumps

Front Tagline: None, but let's make up one: Moooooon Shiver...
Back Tagline: Reader Beware-- You're In For Ten Scares!

Official Book Description:
From an evil baby sister, to a remote control that can control more than just the television set, to a teacher who's obsessed with snakes, to a cute, cuddly, teddy bear gone bad, here are ten creepy, spooky stores guaranteed to give you Goosebumps all night long!

Brief Background:
Originally released at the height of Goosebumps mania in the fall of 1994, this "Special Edition" originally came with a special Goosebumps-Itty Bitty Book Lite. Look for my Itty Bitty Book Lite Blog next fall after I've worked my way through the rest of RL Stine's oeuvre. Without the book light at hand, the real question is, does this collection of short stories (the first in an astonishing series of six) still have any value? Upon release, the whole package cost something like $12 (the light and book were not sold separately), making it the most expensive RL Stine book at the time. Special included features listed on the back of the book include a single run-on sentence and the promise of Ten Scares.

Ten Spooky Stories:

the House of No Return
Three school kids have formed the Danger Club and are constantly on the lookout for a fourth member, their reasoning being that three people isn't a club, but four or more is. The only way to gain entrance into their club is to spend an hour in the local Haunted House. As the story opens, their newest potential member, Doug, has given up on the challenge ten minutes in, and as he runs away into the night, the three club members speculate who in their school they should get to try out next. They settle on Chris, a new student. Chris is very adamant about not joining their club, even after they carefully explain their 4 is more than 3 principle. He wants very badly to be their friend, but they'll only hang out with him if he joins their club.

The three members of the Danger Club trick him by inviting him to go trick-or-treating. In keeping with their club name, the three friends of course agree to eat any and all unwrapped candy they receive. Once Chris arrives, the three club members force him into the haunted house and wait to see if he will last the hour. Once the hour passes and Chris hasn't come out, the three go into the house to investigate. The three are accosted by some ghosts who tell them Chris left out the backdoor after making a deal with the ghosts that if they let him go, three more kids would soon be in to take his place. The ghosts tell the kids they should get comfortable, as they will be held prisoner in the house forever. Oh, like the title.

Running Total of Scares: 0

Teacher's Pet
It's the beginning of the school year and Becca is super-excited for starting the sixth grade. According to her schedule, her new teacher is Ms. Wenger, the coolest teacher in the whole school. Supposedly she takes her students out rollerblading so that when someone falls, she can teach the kids about gravity. And lawsuits. But all of Becca's excitement over falling down on a field trip is quelled when she discovers that her schedule's been changed and now her class is taught by Mr. Blankenship. Mr. Blankenship loves snakes and fills the entire classroom with cages of the slithering creatures, in addition to gearing all of his lessons towards snakes. Class topics include History of Snakes (Juliusssssssss Caesssssssssar) and Geometry (A squared plus B squared equals snakes). Becca begins to suspect that Mr. Blankenship probably won't even be taking the class to go rollerblading, since snakes don't even have feet.

One day one of the students accidently frees a white mouse that was to be food for one of the snakes, and Mr. Blankenship punishes the entire class. Incensed, Becca and her improbably-named friend Benjy plan to break into the school and free the mice to spite Mr. Blankenship. They decide to do this on a Thursday because that's their parents' Bridge Night (cross-posted under RL Stine Shows He is Down With the Parents). During their daring mission, the two kids accidently break several cages of snakes in the classroom. Suddenly a six-foot tall cobra rises up out of a cage and grows legs and arms. Oh it's Mr. Blankenship. He doesn't eat the kids but makes them a deal that if they feed him mice after class, he'll let the short story end on a really lame note. Good deal.

Running Total of Scares: 0

Strained Peas
Nicholas is killing time around his grandparents' house while waiting for his parents to come back from the hospital, as his mother has given birth to his new baby sister. Nicholas reads an issue of Iron Man wherein Iron Man battles an evil man with a birthmark on his face. When the baby arrives, she has the mark of evil on her face! Tragically this logic does not make Nicholas's alcoholic father Iron Man.

Nicholas becomes convinced that baby Hannah (another Hannah!) is trying to get rid of him, and for whatever reason he can't get his parents to believe him, not even when she eats his homework. The baby ate his homework, this story's humor is edgy. Eventually baby Hannah tries to stab Nicholas with a pair of scissors and when he finally gets his parents to notice this murderous act, they scold him for letting his sister play with scissors. Then the hospital calls and tells Nicholas's mother that whoops she took home the wrong baby. Evil baby is then reunited with evil mother who both have the same birthmark, and as the story closes, Nicholas relaxes as with his new, non-evil sister. But wait-- new baby sister suddenly says in a gruff voice that she's going to rip Nicholas's arm off!

Running Total of Scares: 0, though by this point I'm a little frightened of there being seven more stories that take the pattern of 1. Set Up 2. False Climax 3. Crisis Averted 4. Identical Crisis Reoccurs, Only Worse!

Strangers in the Woods
Even in Goosebumps short stories, parents go on vacation leaving their children with a distant relative in a rural locale. Lucy's been sent to spend vacation with her Great-Aunt Abigail in the small town of Fairview. Her parents tell her that since they're going to Asia she won't be able to call. Lucy buys that there's no phones in Asia since her parents let her take her dog, Muttster, with her on vacation. Muttster barks at G-A Abigail so much that Lucy is forced to keep him outdoors when she sleeps. That night, Lucy spots strange lights coming out of the forest behind G-A Abigail's house. The next morning, when she tries to bring it up, G-A Abigail quickly changes the subject and forbids Lucy from going into the woods. The two ladies take a trip into town and Lucy's aunt plows down the road like a maniac, barely getting the two to town and back in one piece. This action coupled with her poor cooking skills since she arrived leaves Lucy with only one explanation: Her aunt is an alien and the lights in the woods are also from aliens. That night, after the sun sets (possibly due to aliens), Lucy overhears her aunt making a phone call. The old woman tells the person on the other end not to worry, that yes her niece is with her but that it will all be over tomorrow. Lucy panics and escapes out of the house. She briefly considers taking Muttster with her, who is tied-up in the backyard, but she pulls a Michael Vick and leaves him behind with a dangerous alien. Knowing that no cops would listen to her without proof, she decides to check out the aliens in the woods first by herself. She crashes through the thicket and walks right into a movie set.

Her great-aunt later explains that since the crew filming their movie in the woods was leaving soon anyways, she didn't feel the need to excite her niece. She also explains her erratic behavior by revealing that she has lost her glasses and in a fit of vanity she endangered Lucy's life and taste-buds due to her poor vision.

That night, Lucy finds Great-Aunt Abigail's glasses and takes them to her in her room. Great-Aunt Abigail waves one of her four tentacles at Lucy, inviting her in. Oh I get it, she's also a movie!

Running Total of Scares: 0

Good Friends
Bad story. Dylan and his friend Jordan are killing time after school, shooting hoops in Dylan's front yard. Dylan is a little worried that his older brother Richard is going to get onto him for playing with his friend instead of doing his homework. Dylan's little sister Ashley shows up and the two boys taunt her since she has an imaginary friend, Jacilyn. Dylan and Jordan pretend to tie Jacilyn to a tree and then Jordan suggests the two actually tie up Richard with duct tape and rope. I think there might actually be some real scares here, but not in the way Stine intended.

Jordan gives Dylan the idea of taking Richard's two pet tarantulas, (get ready to groan) Axel and Foley, and scaring Ashley with the spiders. They're even going to tell her that one of the spiders ate Jacilyn. It's The Ultimate Revenge. Just as they're about to make their move, Richard stops Dylan, who is holding the tarantulas, and tells him to quit playing with his imaginary friends, Jordan and Ashley.

I'd so much rather be talking about the book light right now.

Running Total of Scares: 0

How I Won My Bat
The narrator of this short story tells the reader all about how he got his bat, which we're all admiring. Let's humor him: That's a wonderful bat, Mike, how did you get it? It all started when Mike played baseball for his little league team. In the middle of a slump, he's offered a magic bat by the small man who runs the local sports museum. The man shows up in the locker room and tells Mike that he can keep the bat so long as he returns it to the museum when the Big Game is over. Mike wins the Big Game with the magic bat and when he returns the bat to the museum, he pleads with the man to let him keep the bat forever. The small man grants him his wish and the boy is turned into a display at the museum, holding his bat in mid-swing for eternity.

Running Total of Scares: This story, as you can tell from the description, was absolutely terrifying, and contained 8 scares.

Mr. Teddy
Willa is Gina's spoiled sister. Willa always seems to get what she wants, except for a better first name I guess, and as the story opens, Willa has just talked her mother into buying her a new teddy bear, one with large ruby eyes. Gina complains about her sister being allowed such a frivolous treat, especially when she already has plenty of stuffed animals, but her mother caves. Willa names the bear Mr. Teddy and mocks Gina with the bear, although really Gina has already won this round by not buying a teddy bear and calling it Mr. Teddy.

Willa shows Mr. Teddy around her room, stopping to show him her porcelain egg collection and her, quote, collection of rock star posters. OMG That is so freaky because as I write this entry, I'm listening to rock star's music. She introduces Mr. Teddy to her old bear, Old Bear, who she then places on a shelf, Shelf. Mr. Teddy is her new sleeping partner now! The next morning however, Willa discovers Mr.Teddy propped on the windowsill, even though she fell asleep with him in her arms. Willa goes downstairs and accuses Gina of sneaking into her room and moving Mr. Teddy. Gina denies it. The next morning, Willa wakes up to see Mr. Teddy resting on top of the dresser, surrounded by the broken pieces of her porcelain egg collection. Willa again accuses Gina of the act, Gina again denies it. The next morning, Willa wakes up to Mr. Teddy sitting in a pile of her ripped clothing. Willa again attempts to blame it on Gina but her mom informs Willa that she's at choir practice. In an incredible bit of prose, Willa shakes her fist and utters "She'll be singing a sad song when I get through with her!"

That night, Willa wises up and moves her dresser in front of the door, thinking that would stop Gina from coming in. Hours later, Willa wakes up to her dresser pushed halfway across the room and all of her rock posters torn off her wall. Furious, she storms downstairs and tells her mother what Gina has done, only to learn that Gina spent the night at a friend's house and couldn't have done the deed. Willa runs back into the room, picks Mr. Teddy up, and tears him into shreds, ripping off his head in anger at what the bear did. She then picks her old bear, Old Bear, up off the shelf and cuddles him. Old Bear figures she won't abandon him again like that after all the work he did. After all, he's going to be with her forever whether she likes it or not.

Running Total of Bears: 2

Workaholic architect Michael Newman (Adam Sandler) stumbles on a universal remote control that allows him to pause events in his life or fast-forward through them. But things get really bizarre when the gadget develops a mind of its own and takes control of Michael's viewing choices, causing him to see how much of his family life he's sacrificed for his career. Christopher Walken and Kate Beckinsale co-star in this high-concept comedy.

Broken Dolls
Tamara collects dolls, the shelves of her room are lined with the fragile figures. As the story opens, her brother Neal has just broken the arm off of one of Tamara's treasures. She's quite upset, but used to his antics and puts it back on the shelf to fix later. The siblings are dragged to the local craft fair and Neal is left if Tamara's care to wander around the flea market-type craft tent for a half-hour while their mom haggles down the price of a Bedazzler. Tamara comes across a wrinkled old woman selling incredibly lifelike dolls. The dolls are as heavy as a small baby and the facial features are remarkably precise. Neal starts running around like a brat and the old woman offers him a cookie. Neal eats the cookie and the old woman runs her hand over Neal's head, tussling his hair softly. Suddenly, Neal calms down. The whole ride back Neal remains quiet. Tamara notices a sticky substance in his hair, which he quietly says is "doll jelly." Gross.

The next morning, Neal has run a fever and developed a rash all over. Tamara realizes that the old lady might have slipped him something and so rather than say, you know, "The doll lady might have slipped him something," she rides her bike down to the fair grounds. The booths are being dismantled so Tamara waits until the old lady leaves her trailer to pick up more of her boxes from her booth and sneaks inside.

The interior of the trailer is filled with boxes of dolls. Tamara picks up a doll with hair that looks remarkably similar to Neal's. The doll's face however is completely blank. However, as she holds the doll, the features of Neal's face slowly appear. From behind her inside the trailer she hears a cacophony of low voices. She stops and listens and realizes the rows and rows of dolls inside the trailer, and in the boxes, from all corners of the trailer, are calling out to her, "Ssssssstop her." She notices the dolls all moving, slowly, their small pink arms reaching out.

Holding onto the Neal doll, Tamara runs out of the trailer and right into the old woman. The old woman tells Tamara that the people of her generation simply have no appreciation for fine art such as her dolls, and that hundreds of children like her disappear all the time, one more won't be missed. She removes a small jar from her pocket of what Tamara quickly realizes is the doll jelly. The old woman moves towards her and begins chanting. Tamara grabs the woman's jar of doll jelly and runs across the fair grounds, coming across a wading pool. She throws the open jar into the wading pool and suddenly a plume of smoke rises from the pool. The old woman cackles out and disappears into the fog. Tamara can hear the collective voices of the dolls cheering from the trailer, or at least she thinks they're cheering, as she has decided not to stick around.

Tamara races home to see her brother Neal running around. Her mother informs her that he was miraculously cured while she was out.

Several weeks pass until one afternoon, Tamara receives a small parcel in the mail. She opens the package only to see a small, doll version of the old woman. Panicked that the woman has tracked her down, Tamara calls her brother over and bets him that he can't break her new doll.

Running Total of Scares: Broken Dolls wasn't scary, but it was the first story in this book that wasn't terrible and for that, it gets a pity vote of 1 scare.

A Vampire in the Neighborhood
Okay, here it is, the last story in the book, surely this is where RL Stine really pulls out all the stops and justifies the entire collection, rite?
Kids, I hope you enjoyed your $12 book light.

A group of middle schoolers is convinced that new student Helga is a vampire. After all, she wears all black, is deathly pale, she even wears black lipstick. Instead of inviting her over to listen to Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, the kids decide to spy on her. Every night the kids sneak out to her house, trying to see if she casts a reflection in the household mirror, sleeps in a coffin, or extolls the virtues of chocolate cereal while counting. Finally, Helga grows tired of the stalking and confronts the kids. They ask her if she's a vampire. She sighs and says she is. They ask her to show them her fangs. Jokingly she tells them to show theirs. And they do. Helga is horrified, as she was just joking. But the other kids weren't, they were vampires, and were hoping Helga was too. The kids attack her, making her a vampire. This book sucks lol get it vampires.

Final Total of Scares: 1.

Well here we are. Two abandoned houses, one parents-on-business vacation with distant relative, and zero(!) scientist parents. Exactly one of these stories was even remotely interesting ("Broken Dolls," which if it were 100 pages longer would probably be better than most Goosebumps books, which actually says a lot about both really), and at least half of the stories included didn't even try. This book originally came sealed inside a box; it should have stayed there. The scariest aspect of this book is that there are five more similar collections on the horizon. Blogger beware indeed.

Monday, September 10, 2007

#14 the Werewolf of Fever Swamp

#14 the Werewolf of Fever Swamp

Front Tagline: Who's afraid of the big, bad wolf?
Back Tagline: What Big Teeth You Have!

Official Book Description:
There's something horrible happening in Fever Swamp. Something really horrible.
It started with the strange howling at night. Then there was the rabbit, torn to shreads.
Everyone thinks Grady's new dog is responsible. After all, he looks just like a wolf. And he seems a little on the wild side.
But Grady knows his dog is just a regular old dog. And most dogs don't howl at the moon. Or disappear at midnight. Or change into terrifying creatures when the moon is full.
Or do they?

Brief Synopsis:
In what has to be some kind of coup for these books, narrator Grady and his sixteen year-old sister Emily have both moved to a new house and their parents are scientists. Their father, Dr. Tucker, studied deer in Vermont until he came into possession of six "Swamp Deer" from South America. Because of this, Dad had to move with his scientist wife and the two kids to Florida so he could test his revolutionary hypothesis: Deer can live in Florida. Though he keeps them in a pen in the backyard for now, Dr. Tucker intends to release the deer with tracking collars into the wild. (Topical Eve joke goes here)

While lazing around the new backyard, Grady spots a crane with his binoculars and attempts to get Emily to accompany him into the swamp to follow the bird. Emily, not being Colin Meloy, declines until their scientist father exits the house holding a clipboard and tells her to follow that bird.

The two kids go exploring in the swamp. Emily learned all about forests and swamps in school so she fills Grady in on all the scientific details. This goes on for like ten pages and so just reading the Werewolf of Fever Swamp counts for as much as 20% of the science curriculum in smaller schools.

After some riveting discussion of peat moss occurs, Emily and Grady suddenly find themselves lost in the swamp. They wander around, eventually finding a small shack. A crazed white-haired man exits the shack and chases after the two children, who run around until finally they find the exit to their house. Once inside, they tell their parents about the wild man. Dad cooly tells the kids that he's just "a swamp hermit." Then he no kidding says three different times that the guys at the hardware store said the swamp hermit was completely harmless.

Later that night, Grady is just kicking it in the backyard when another twelve year-old boy, one of his new neighbors, introduces himself as Will. Will is a big kid and tells Grady that the only other kid their age on the block is a "weird girl." Will walks over to the deer pen, picks something up and utters the instant-classic line, "Yuck. Deer Slime."

Will tells a cheerful story about how Fever Swamp got named. A hundred years ago, everyone in town caught something from the swamp that started with a fever and most died and those who didn't die went crazy. Late that night Grady comes down with a fever, which I'm sure is the equivalent to when I read a medical book and become convinced I have cervical spondylosis. Woken from a fever dream, Grady hears howls coming from outside. He goes down to the kitchen to investigate and hears scratching on the exterior door. Emily wakes up too and the two siblings sit in the kitchen, listening to the howls and scratching at the door. Grady bravely opens the door but sees no one outside, and since it's midnight, doesn't go outside to investigate further. The two siblings listen to the sounds some more and then their Dad wakes up and insists on taking both of their temperatures.

The next morning, no sooner does Grady leave the house than he is attacked by a lovable but huge, 100lb+ dog. The dog starts licking Grady's face and Emily comes out and pets the dog, figuring this is the source of the scratching from the previous night. After some discussion which basically amounts to "Oh I guess we should huh", the parents decide that a huge giant stray dog would be fine to let into their house with no precautions.

Will shows up to go investigate the swamp with Grady, and suggests to the family that the dog might be part-wolf. So they name the dog Wolf. Too bad it wasn't part-an-actual-dog-name. The two boys leave the dog at the house and are not in the swamp for more than a few minutes before Wolf shows up and accompanies them into the thicket of foliage. They tool around the swamp for a while and then Wolf starts growling as he spots the Swamp Hermit. Despite what the guys down at the hardware store say, Will thinks the Swamp Hermit, whose shirt is covered in blood, might in fact be dangerous. They remain still as the Swamp Hermit quietly leaves their line of sight.

As soon as the coast is clear, the boys continue exploring and come across a bloody mauled heron. The bird has been ripped apart and there are paw prints around the body. Grady guesses a dog did it but then Will tells Grady that dogs don't rip apart birds. I commend him for having that sort of knowledge available at will. Will goes back home and Grady enters his house only to be greeted by the single most terrifying image in the book, as he finds his Dad dressed in denim cutoffs and a yellow tanktop. Dr. Tucker tells Grady that the swamp is filled with scary stuff and that another bird probably killed the heron. The words of a scientist.

Grady gets permission to let Wolf sleep in bed with him, because his parents must have been really sold on the idea of allowing a giant stray dog to be confined in close quarters with their young son. Boy, these two are without question the worst scientists in the entire series, and that's counting the guy who chopped off children's hands.

The entire family is awoken in the middle of the night by crashing from downstairs. They all huddle together and make their way down to investigate. The noise was caused by Wolf, who has ran around the living room, smashing into the furniture in a desperate attempt to get out of the house. Dad gets especially dismayed when he discovers the dog had broken the lamp, and he refuses to believe either Grady's story about how a purple-breasted bird flew in the open window and broke the lamp or Emily's story of how a black and white-checked bird flew in the open window and broke the lamp. The dog starts ramming its body into the plate glass sliding door until finally Dad opens the door and Wolf leaps out of the house into the swamp. The family goes back to their rooms, but before long, Grady hears howling coming from the swamp again. In the light of the full moon, Grady can make out a four-legged creature in the shadows below his window. The creature leaves something resembling a rag at the foot of the deer pen and leaves. Grady goes down to get a closer look and sees a chewed up rabbit.

The next morning, after breakfast, Grady takes dad to see the dead rabbit. Wolf shows up and gently licks the kid's face. Emily is convinced that Wolf killed the rabbit and begs their father to get rid of the dog. Grady tells her she has no proof that the dog killed the bunny. Emily says there's no proof he didn't either. I bet this would all be pretty dramatic if I cared. Will shows up and tells Grady that a neighbor, Mr. Warner, has gone missing. Apparently Mr. Warner left early the day before to go turkey hunting in the swamp and never returned. They have turkeys in the swamp. A voice from behind them suggests that a werewolf did it. That voice belongs to a redhead named Cassie, the weird girl Will mentioned. Will tells her to shut up, that what she's saying is stupid. Cassie presses the issue and tries to convince Grady that the howls can only be made by a werewolf that has made a fresh kill. Where do these kids get this information?

Cassie freaks out when she sees the Swamp Hermit in the distance, yells and points at him. J'accuse! The Swamp Hermit has a wild turkey slung over his shoulder, leading the kids to wonder if he swiped the it from the missing Mr. Warner. The Swamp Hermit is close enough to hear these accusations and runs out of the swamp towards the kids, yelling "I'm the werewolf! I'm the werewolf!" over and over, cackling all the way. The other kids flee as the hermit grabs Grady's ankle, keeping him in place. The old man just cackles and waves at him with his free hand and tells Grady he was only playing. Wolf trots up and barely acknowledges the hermit, who lets Grady loose from his grip. The Swamp Hermit tells Grady to be careful about his dog and heads back to his shack. Then Grady gets bitten by a snake.

Wolf leads Grady back to safety and he tells Will and Cassie, who've I guess regrouped on his lawn, to get his parents. Cassie tells Grady's mom that he was bitten by a werewolf. If I was Grady, I'd definitely stick with that story over being grazed by a garden snake. Grady's mom puts an ice pack on Grady's ankle and jokingly tells him that his father is a werewolf and that she shaves his back every day so he'll look normal. Hey, gross. Grady persists that a werewolf could be responsible for the events in the swamp, like the howls. The mother replies that a lot of things howl in the swamp, even Grady when he got bitten. Man, when even your mom is scoring points on you...

Dr. Tucker tells Grady that since the moon will only be full for two more days, they'll know after that whether or not the howls came from a werewolf. Then he too starts laughing, as he said it to mock his son. I changed my mind about these parents, they're amazing. The mom picks up a newspaper and shows her black newsprint hands to Grady and tells him it's hair that's grown on her palms. Your mind already went there, so make that joke yourself; kids read this blog. Emily suggests that the dog is the werewolf. Oh I read the back cover too, Emily.

Cassie and Will come over that night to eat and after dinner Grady sits with the two as they trade barbs about just who in this book is the werewolf. This quickly turns into the two just calling each other names while Grady watches. Then each accuses the other of being the werewolf. This section of the book is a lot like The Crucible, but only in that it was written.

Laying in bed, trying to sleep, Grady hears the howls from outside again. Then a commotion below his window again. This time when he goes to investigate, he find one of the six "swamp deers" mauled, the other five deers huddled together in their pen, away from the gaping hole in the metal. Grady calls his dad down from the lawn to see the corpse. Using all his MacGuyver talents, Dr. Tucker patches the WOLF'D pen with a piece of cardboard. Quick, hire this guy to head FEMA.

After dragging the dead deer to his workshop (?), Dr. Tucker tells his son that clearly his dog is a killer. Grady's father tells him that tomorrow morning, he's taking the dog to the pound to be killed. Grady waits to see if this too is an elaborate insult at his expense, but it seems his dad's serious.

The next morning, Grady's dad tries to take Wolf to the pound but Grady musters all his intelligence and comes up with a plan. He tells his dog to run away and it does. Grady's dad tells him that was dumb, because the dog is bound to come back, and when it does, he's going to take it to be killed.

Wolf manages to stay out of sight all day and it isn't until late that night that Grady spots him from his bedroom window, lingering at the swamp clearing. Grady goes down to greet his dog and runs into Will. Will claims to have heard the howls and was trying to investigate when he ran into Grady. The two boys spot Wolf, who has edged back into the swamp. Grady runs after him, losing Will in the process. Following his dog, Grady ends up at the Swamp Hermit's hut. He hears the horrible howling coming from near the shack and he realizes the hermit was the werewolf.

Except no, of course not, because then Werewolf Will attacks Grady. The two struggle and Werewolf Will takes a big bite out of Grady. Rising up in the moonlight with the blood dripping from his jaws, Werewolf Will lets out a howl, only to be trampled by a leaping Wolf-- the dog! Wolf wrestles with Werewolf Will until finally Will slinks away on all fours back to his house. Grady passes out.

When he comes to, he finds himself safely inside. Grady's dad tells him that the Swamp Hermit found him and carried him home, and that he also saw Wolf fight off a large creature to save Grady's life. Grady's dad submits that they can keep the dog. After listening to Grady's werewolf story, Dr. Tucker figures he might as well try to see if his son could be telling the truth, so he goes to visit Will's house. Except, the house is empty, abandoned, as though no one had lived there for months.

But the Twist is:
Grady is so happy that he got to keep Wolf around because the dog makes for an excellent companion on nights when the full moon is out, as Grady became a werewolf when Will bit him.

the Platonic Boy-Girl Relationship:
Grady and his sister Emily, but we can't forget Grady's friend Cassie who appears halfway thru the book.

Questionable Parenting:
Dr. Tucker's response to his son being attacked by a werewolf is to briefly debate whether a scientist should visit a suspected werewolf's house.

We Get It Alert:
Number of times the reader is reminded that Grady's parents are scientists: I stopped counting after 20.

Reinforcement of Negative Stereotypes Alert:
Emily, a blonde, once was so freaked out by getting a flat tire that she abandoned the car and ran away. Not one of the better blonde jokes I've heard.

Miss South Carolina Alert:
RL Stine informs the reader that Vermont is a long way from Florida.

Great Prose Alert:
Mom is a scientist too.

In a book with too many characters, Stine still somehow manages to make the "surprise" identity of the real werewolf painfully obvious. The series will tackle much of this same territory to much better effect later with Werewolf Skin, which remains one of the strongest Goosebumps books. The Werewolf of Fever Swamp: less so.