Thursday, June 9, 2011

Spine Chillers Mysteries

I am not sure how I feel about Christian horror books, but if you are looking for a faith-based alternative to the Goosebumps series, Fred E. Katz's SpineChillers Mysteries is for you.

The book has a shiny, alarming, three-dimensional clown image on the cover, and includes three separate books in one volume. Dr. Shiver's Carnival, Attack of the Killer House, and Birthday Cake and I Scream all feature heroes who are between eleven and thirteen years old. The children are Christians who don't believe in ghosts, but are capable of being terrified, nonetheless. In each adventure,the children deal with fear by praying and remembering Bible verses they learned at youth group. There is a logical explanation for each scary mystery, and Katz is sure to emphasize ghosts are not real, and God is bigger than anything frightening the children.

In Dr. Shiver's Carnival, Kyle and his friends visit Kyle's uncle in Hollywood. Kyle's uncle, a well-known movie producer, secretly arranges for the children to visit a spooky carnival. Kyle and his friends become more and more afraid, the longer they are at the carnival. They have no idea Kyle's uncle is filming them for an upcoming movie trailer, until they finally escape the carnival.

In Attack of the Killer House Jonny and Anna are chased by heat-sensitive appliances in the "smart house" their father designed. A lightning storm causes the appliances to malfunction and target people. When their dad's creepy, new computer screen saver begins popping up on televisions all over the house, Jonny and Anna are even more afraid.

Birthday Cake and I Scream
tells the story of MacKenzie's birthday party at a local pizza place. When MacKenzie and his friends stumble across a chapter in an old history book telling about hauntings at the pizza place, they are a little concerned. However, unbeknownst to them, their party gets mixed up with a booking for the "National Horror Movie Fan Club." In the end, Mac is relieved to make it to the age of thirteen!

What I Like: I like the way the children all pray and trust in God through their fear. In the books, the children have friends of both genders, several of whom are from church. The books provide a healthy, positive, non-romantic view of friendship for junior-high students.

I also like the way Katz includes Bible verses throughout the books. The characters show a believable balance between remembering verses and knowing what is true, and allowing their imaginations to run away with them.

Just when I was starting to identify with the characters enough to get worried or feel trapped, Katz provided a way out.

What I Dislike: Horror is not my favorite genre, in general. These books really are scary, and will definitely cause shivers.

I didn't like the way Kyle's uncle tricked him in the first book. I think you need to be able to trust the adults in your life. For some reason, Kyle's uncle told one of his friends the carnival was rigged, but didn't tell Kyle.

Overall Rating: Very Good, if you like horror! (Also, you can't beat the Amazon price.)

Age Appeal: 10 and up (but not before bed)

Publisher Info: Tommy Nelson, 2010; ISBN: 978-1-4003-1643-7; Hardcover, 3-in-1, 378 pages, $14.99

Buy it Now at for $10.99

OR Buy it at for $2.96.

Special Note: The book is also available in audio version.

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Kathy C. said...

We read about ten of these aloud in the late 90s to our children as an alternative to Goosebumps. I thought they were a little tacky but a good alternative to the bad attitudes the main characters displayed in Goosebumps. They must have updated the covers. said...

Just surrender and pray in Jesus, therefore everything will be OK. We'll have a extra power from it to conquer everything that disturb us. Jesus bless you.

Erin said...

Thanks so much for your comments. I hope these books help others who want to help their children put fear in the right perspective. Thanks for reading CCBR! Erin