Tagline: “It’s a field of screams!” Once, at my elementary school, we had the choice of watching Field of Dreams or Fly Away Home. I chose the latter and I stand by my decision, but I will concede that Field of Dreams is, for once, an age appropriate movie to allude to.
Premise: Jodie and her brother Mark visit their grandparents’ farm every summer to indulge in chocolate chip pancakes, scary stories, hay fever, and moonshine. (OK, not the last one. But sometimes it’s fun to pretend.) But this time around, things are different, as Grandma and Grandpa’s caretaker Stanley recently acquired a book of superstitions and followed its instructions in how to make living scarecrows. In order for Stanley to keep the scarecrows in line, he forces Jodie and Mark’s grandparents to only behave as he wants them to, meaning no pancakes, no stories, and still some hay fever. (This, we don’t find out till the end of the book, but it’s contextually important for summary’s sake.) However, the scarecrows have other plans, and while Jodie and Mark are convinced the scarecrows’ actions are Stanley’s son Sticks’ doing, it has nothing to do with him. They’re moving of their own volition, and they’re no longer under Stanley’s control. So naturally, every character in the book comes together and the scarecrows bear down on them (despite some misdirection on the part of Mark dressed as a scarecrow–don’t ask), ready to attack, when Sticks decides to set them on fire. That works, they’re gone, and everything’s OK again. That is, until we reach the twist of Stanley reading some passage from the book that reanimates the dead stuffed bear in Grandma and Grandpa’s living room, because of course it does.
Creepiness factor: I’m not of the belief that the scarecrows could’ve seriously harmed Jodie and the others, but the idea of inanimate objects coming to life and posing a threat to a previously peaceful location is a good one. It’s not horrifying, or even particularly scary, but it’s a bit chilling.
Signature Stine moment: Oh, so many. I’ve become really attached to this trope lately–the “little did we know” concept.
“I nodded. An evil grin spread over my face. ‘I think so,’ I told my brother. ‘I think Sticks is in for a terrifying surprise.’
Little did I know that we all were!”
Accuracy of title: It’s a repeated mantra of Stanley’s and sounds ominous. So, yeah. Pretty accurate.
Moral of the story: Don’t read chants out loud from a book of superstition-related spells, or just don’t visit your grandparents’ farm and hang out with their creepy caretaker.
Overall rating: 6.5/10. It’s built on a fun concept, and it’s a satisfying read as far as Goosebumps books go, but it’s not particularly memorable. As far as I know, neither is Go Eat Worms!, which I’m not really looking forward to, but hey, 20 books down!