Scariest. Book. Ever

Scariest. Book. Ever
Age Range
Release Date
September 19, 2023
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The only thing to fear . . . is everything. Twins Betty and Billy are visiting their Uncle Wendell at his secluded house in the Wayward Forest. What they think is going to be a boring stay quickly turns into a real nightmare. Wendell is in possession of the scariest book in the world. And someone is after Wendell. To keep the book safe, the siblings will have to plunge directly into the heart of the dangerous forest. There they must escape manbats, cannibal crows, and giant insects, among other horrors―and make it out alive!

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What worked:
Once again, Stine masterfully manipulates words and descriptions to develop a creepy, eerie setting. Fraternal twins Billy and Betty don’t want to spend two weeks with their weird uncle in the middle of nowhere, and their dog anxiously frets during the drive there. This immediately sets readers on edge as they anticipate upcoming horrors. The uncle’s home sits amongst a dense forest and there’s obviously no cell reception for phone calls. The twins are left alone until they’re greeted into the house and introduced to a cousin they didn’t know they had. They’re only in the house long enough to be attacked by a manbat before they venture into the Wayward Forest.
The plot does not have a shortage of action and adventure as the twins are thrown into the middle of it. Their uncle says they must retrieve a stolen book from the Wayward Forest before it unleashes evil into the world. The book’s synopsis mentions several of the creatures the kids must survive and the forest holds even more mysteries and dangers. The beasts in the forest have been untouched by man which has enabled them to grow to immense sizes. Being among the dark trees and meat-eating plants and animals is spooky but being lost and alone is even worse. Readers are forced to reboot their minds halfway through the plot when they discover things may not be entirely what they seem. The author isn’t finished yet as he later decides to play with readers’ thoughts and twists characters and events once again. It’s a fun rollercoaster that will keep readers jumping.
Stine is a master of fright as he affects multiple senses to get full-body scares from readers. The dense, dark forest hides huge monsters that wield huge claws and teeth to shred their victims. Other dangers are soft or slimy which the kids unfortunately discover by chance and quickly regret. The twins hear sounds of scratching and growling and they even cringe when their uncle screams out in fright. Touching readers’ senses really helps to get imaginations working to create the most terrifying creatures in their minds. My descriptions don’t do the story justice but you can believe the story will get your heart pumping a little bit quicker.
What didn’t work as well:
The sudden changes in the plot may make some readers uncomfortable when they’re forced to rethink what’s happened. On the other hand, this strategy keeps them guessing and open to new surprises.
The Final Verdict:
Stine has mastered his spooky style over the decades and this book is the first installment in a new series. It’s sure to creep out a new generation of young readers and I recommend you give it a shot.
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