Scholastic, $3.99, ISBN 0-590-84765-1
Oh boy, you are staying with your grandmother and you are scared. No, it’s not because your grandmother is creepy or potentially a monster from Cthulhu-land – that will be another grandmother. Rather, there is a cemetery right behind the house, and you are getting increasingly spooked by an unusual phenomenon: the tombstones, and presumably the coffins beneath them, are rearranging themselves in bizarre rows. Your grandmother is too oblivious to notice, but oh, you are keeping track, and you find that they are clustering towards the middle of the cemetery for some reason. This is before the ghosts move into the house and give you a hard time.
Not only is something causing the coffins to rearrange themselves, it is also driving the ghosts out of the cemetery… into your grandmother’s place! We are talking about unpleasant, vicious ghosts here, mind you, not Casper the horny ghost. Can you solve The Curse of the Creeping Coffin before it is time’s up for you?
This one is noteworthy in that it manages to capture the essence of a Goosebumps story perfectly, so much so that it won’t be a surprise if this had been an unsold Goosebumps story turned into a gamebook campaign. The diverging arcs aren’t very diverse in nature, suggesting that there is a single overarching plot that the entire campaign revolves around. Hence, this is a pretty unusual entry in the Give Yourself Goosebumps series, in that it kind of breaks the formula present in other entries in this series.
Having said that, you will find that the diverging arcs are uneven in nature. One is actually pretty good, as you will be playing the hero in a plot straight out of a campy yet fun horror tale that manages to capture a menacing vibe while still being kiddie-friendly. On the other hand, the other arcs feel random, full of “things pulled out of a big arse” moments, and come off as filler added in after the main plot of the unsold Goosebumps story had been fully converted into a gamebook and there are still many blank entries left. You will come across instances where both options given lead to bad ends, or you find yourself encountering a bad ending because you happen to be playing on a certain day. The last is probably unfair but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this is a Goosebumps thing, there is no shame in cheating.
Anyway, The Curse of the Creeping Coffin has some really inspired moments, but stumbling upon them requires you to waddle through some mediocre, bewildering moments. It’s uneven, and hence, it is only fair to award it a three oogie score.