Scholastic, $3.99, ISBN 0-590-43378-4
Well, well, so this is a good one. Perhaps Give Yourself Goosebumps isn’t a complete flop after all! Then again, One Night in Payne House is a “Ultimate Challenge Special Edition” entry, which means it’s at the tail end of the series, so maybe there are many bad gamebooks prior this one, heh. More importantly, it has more entries and functions more like a conventional gamebook, with items to pick for your character’s initial inventory, note-keeping, map-tracking, and more. Even more importantly, this one is a fun dungeon crawl instead of just picking up “LOL random!” entries over and over.
You and Trevor Walker can’t resist a dare to save your lives, and this time around, your lives indeed may be on the line: the two of you are going to sneak into Payne House on Halloween. Payne House is the location of your favorite scary movie, One Night in Payne House, so it’s going to be fun! You pick three items from what seems like a LOL random list, and off you go. Surprise, the “haunted house” may just be actually haunted after all…
Unlike some previous entries in this series, the cover art is actually quite indicative of the content inside, but don’t be fooled by the cuteness of that thing: this thing is Baby’s First House on Haunted Hill. This thing can be gory. Sure, nothing explicit is really detailed here, but you and Trevor could be crushed to death by moving walls in a room, for example, with your death screams ringing in the walls to terrorize future idiots foolhardy enough to sneak into Payne House. Your head can be bitten off by a monster, or you are fatally impaled in a spike trap, or so forth. The whole thing is just awesome, although some kids may find it a little too scary. Why those kids are reading a Goosebumps title – well, that’s something only their parents can answer, I suppose.
If there is any issue here, it’s how, even more than before, certain life or death choices hinges on how well you know of trivia from other Goosebumps book. Is that really an issue, though? After all, if you refuse to cheat in a Give Yourself Goosebumps gamebook, you really need to sort out your life’s priorities. Also, getting a bad ending can be fun too!
Spend One Night in Payne House – it’s truly one of the better entries in this series.