Thursday 9 March 2017

Retro Reading

A couple of weeks ago I was feeling sorry for myself. I can't remember why, but I expect I was probably having a flare-up of my wrist/arm/shoulder problems and in a lot of pain, since that's the most common reason I would feel sorry for myself. My usual solution in such times is to buy myself something nice, like a new bag of loose leaf tea or a huge bar of chocolate. This time, however, inspired by a Facebook post, I headed on over to Amazon and searched for "Point Horror."

I must have read hundreds of Point Horror books as a teen. My parents were leery of letting me read Stephen King, but I guess they figured books like The Window couldn't possibly be psychologically damaging.

Eventually I ran out of bookshelf space and sold all my Point Horrors on, and mostly forgot about them. But once I remembered, thanks to said Facebook post, I was suddenly seized with an urge to revisit my childhood favs. It turns out there are a lot available for the Kindle now (sadly, The Cemetery, my hands-down favourite, is not...yet). But a fair few of my most cherished reads are there, including this one:

I absolutely loved the Nightmare Hall books (although they probably left me with a really warped view of American college life). I actually started with book two in the series, The Roommate, which I borrowed from a friend. Then I went back and read the series in order, although you don't really need to. Starting with The Silent Scream does give you the full story on why Nightmare Hall is so-called, though.

Anyway! I snapped this one up to make myself feel better. Then by sheer coincidence I discovered a podcast called Teen Creeps which recently did an episode on this very book. I decided to read the book, then listen to the podcast episode to get that full nostalgic whack. It was really fun to revisit this series, and I'm definitely going to pick up some more. The book is a lot shorter than I remember, but I guess when I was thirteen or so, it probably seemed like a pretty thick tome. I remember really loving the female friendships in The Silent Scream, and I was pleased to find on re-reading that they do hold up. Our heroine, Jess, is smart, relatable, resourceful, and kind. The horror is...well, it's teenaged horror, so it's definitely not psychologically scarring, but some scenes are still pretty creepy even to 33-year-old me. Like Jess finding her clothing drawer full of fucking worms omg, or being locked in a basement that's slowly filling with gas.

The villain, I think, got scarier with time, because I'm better able to appreciate now that a controlling, dominating man is a figure of genuine fear. When I was a kid, the villain's motives and actions seemed a bit lame, but experience has taught me that, no, this kind of thing actually happens. Maybe not the way it plays out in this particular book, but there are guys like him out there, and women are vulnerable to them.

I'm now trying to figure out which Point Horror to revisit next. I remember adoring Help Wanted (but being disappointed that the love triangle didn't turn into some kind of open relationship) and Freeze Tag, but there are a fair few available that I never read, so I'm debating picking up something brand new and seeing if those nostalgia googles affected my feelings on The Silent Scream. We'll see! Now I'm off to nurse my wrist/arm/shoulder, because typing thos post off definitely made it all hurt, which I guess is sort of poetic. Stay creepy!

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