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Horrors of the Haunted Museum

(original)
(reissue)
Series: Twistaplot #9
Translated Into: El museo encantat (Catalan)
Terror no museu mal-assombrado (Portuguese)
Author: Stine, R. L.
Illustrators: Klein, David G. (interior)
Stöerrle, Tom (original cover)
Release Dates: 1983 (original)
September, 1994 (reissue)
ISBNs: 0590329308 / 9780590329309 (original)
0590485563 / 9780590485562 (reissue)
Length:93 pages
Number of Endings:19
User Summary: You accept a dare to spend the night in a supposedly haunted museum.
Demian's Thoughts: This horror adventure is somewhat less obnoxious than the average Give Yourself Goosebumps book, but that doesn't make it a classic. Both the Which Way and Choose Your Own Adventure series have had considerably better excursions into this genre.

More reviews by Demian

KenJenningsJeopardy74's Thoughts: Being trapped overnight in a museum rumored to be haunted makes for exciting gamebook possibilities, and R. L. Stine's Horrors of the Haunted Museum is good for a moment or two of paranormal intrigue. Ghosts, mummies, and other phantoms of the supernatural have been said for years to haunt the City Historical Museum, and you want to test the veracity of those stories. All it takes is a well-chosen hiding spot in the American Indian Room for you and your friend Mike, where the night watchman will pass you over without registering your presence when he closes the museum for the night, and you've got your free pass to an adventure you won't soon forget. The creepiness of an unlit museum filled with ancient artifacts of dark magic can't dampen your enthusiasm for the exploration that's about to come... but what happens when you hear heavy, dragging footsteps in this supposedly empty museum? Is there reason to worry now?

Fleeing your unseen pursuer, you can choose to duck into a few different areas of the museum, one of which is the Caribbean Pirates Room. Investigating a pirate ship that actually plundered all over the world's oceans seems a lot better than confronting whatever living thing you left behind in the other part of the museum, but this exhibit isn't as static as you initially perceive. Bad old Captain Johnny Poison himself, a heartless buccaneer given to waving long blades in others' faces to get what he wants, is as alive as ever, and he isn't happy with you. Whether you obey his orders or not makes a big difference in how far you enter this ghostly pirate fantasy, but either way your life is in danger, for pirates are greedy and not overflowing with pity for young ones, and an English navy tired of chasing pirates across the seven seas won't be disposed to believe you aren't one of Johnny Poison's lawless crew. You can hope to survive your battle with the swashbuckling enemy, but not much more than that; just escaping the terrifying fantasy back to reality has to be counted a win, even if you end up in trouble with the night watchman as prelude to him sending you home. At least you're alive, and it's all too easy not to end up that way when you reach an ending in this book.

Choosing the Egyptian Mummy Room proves no less harrowing than your pirate adventure. Now you have to worry about Ancient Egyptian curses and the mummies they have the power to resurrect, and your odds of survival are less than favorable. Getting lost in the pyramid exhibit can leave you wandering its musty tunnels forever, and if you enter the wrong room, be prepared to tangle with the bandaged behemoth pictured on the book's cover. The mummy has powers you aren't prepared for and haven't anywhere near the knowledge to ward off, and he won't easily let you and Mike leave with your brains intact. The rumors of this museum being haunted are true, all right, and even if you find a chest of priceless Egyptian gold, the curse will keep you from capitalizing on it. As with your escapades in the Caribbean Pirates Room, just focus on getting out of the Egyptian Mummy Room alive, and you'll have made out better than most. The secrets behind the City Historical Museum's hauntedness remain a mystery no matter what you do, but if you encounter some of the facility's terrors and are lucky enough to make it back to your regular life afterward, then you've done a good job. Count your blessings and maybe—just maybe—consider going back in for another read, though you definitely aren't guaranteed to come out alive a second time.

The Twistaplot series is written by an assortment of authors, so one shouldn't come to ironclad conclusions about its style and merit from just one book. Horrors of the Haunted Museum was penned by legendary kid-lit horror writer R. L. Stine, and feels a lot like his later interactive series, Give Yourself Goosebumps. There are some twist endings, including a theme in the Caribbean Pirates Room of things happening to noticeably change the makeup of the exhibit. When you and Mike return to reality and agree your adventure must have been a dream, you're surprised to see that the pirate exhibit has changed in accordance with the "fantasy" you just experienced. I kind of like one ending you can get to from the Egyptian Mummy Room, where your mother finds you and scolds you to never "pull a stunt like this again!" The narrative goes on to say, "You'll never pull a stunt like this again—will you? At least, not until the next time you open this book!", reminiscent of some Give Yourself Goosebumps endings. When you're wandering in the pyramid, you really can get lost forever in a three-page loop; once you realize the trap you've fallen into, it's up to you how long you want to keep circling through the neverending maze before giving up and turning back to a previous decision. Probably my favorite ending is when your actions reveal Captain Johnny Poison to be a ghost. The ribald pirate is ashamed to have anyone know the truth, but you think of a way to placate him that leaves everyone with a relatively satisfactory ending.

Gameplay is only slightly more complex than a typical Choose Your Own Adventure entry, with one or two luck-based choice junctures added to make things interesting. Internal plot consistency is virtually nonexistent in Horrors of the Haunted Museum, so don't rely much on what you've learned from following other story paths to guide your next decision. The City Historical Museum is a nutty, ever-changing place, and you're a little nutty for deciding to spend the night there. You probably wouldn't have agreed to your friends' dare if you knew there was not a single totally positive ending to be found, no matter how intelligently you navigate the gamebook. I had some fun with Horrors of the Haunted Museum, however, and I think R. L. Stine fans will want to take a look.

More reviews by KenJenningsJeopardy74

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