Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Reader's Diary #1115- R. A. Montgomery, illustrated by Keith Newton: The Haunted House
Looking for a Choose Your Own Adventure title, since I was such a fan of the series as a kid, I came upon The Haunted House by R. A. Montgomery. If you're familiar with the series, you may note that this one doesn't look the way they did in the 80s. That's probably because this is from an updated Dragonlarks series, which is aimed at younger audiences. There's nothing on the book indicating that this series is aimed at a younger audience, though it says so on their website, and in any case, it becomes pretty apparent early on.
It also becomes pretty apparent that they don't think too highly of younger readers. It's awful. My son, who read it before me, was most unimpressed by the fact that every ending was happy. Hmmm, I thought, I don't recall that always being the case. Why do they all need to be happy? Young kids shouldn't learn that there may be negative consequences to their actions?
Nor did I remember all the cop-out endings where it all turned out to be a dream . The cover I show above says "12 possible endings," whereas our copy had 18, 3 of which ended with "you" (they're written in the 2nd person remember) waking up. There was also almost no attempt to stick with a theme. Besides entering the house (which you end up inside even if you choose not to), there's little in the way of scary, except for a crocodile-- not exactly a haunted house creature-- which ends up having rubber teeth and crying because he just wanted to be your friend. Gag. Then there's unicorns, a cream-puff house, a flying boat, and at one point you're walking on a sunbeam. It's more fantasy than horror. Again, I know it's aimed at younger readers, but even a friendly ghost or silly witch would have been on topic.
I wondered if, because it was written in the 2000s and for younger readers, maybe it was just a poor attempt at rebooting the series. But then I noticed that the author was responsible for so many of the classic ones from my youth.
If you want to keep the illusion that your childhood tastes were great, leave them as memories.
If you want to destroy that illusion, reread and rewatch your old favourite books and TV shows.