Book Review

R.L. Stine Retrospective – Part 3: Superstitious

Here it is, guys, the piece de resistance, the third and final part of this suck-fest, the crown jewel of this shitstorm: R.L. Stine’s debut adult novel, Superstitious! Prepare yourself for adult language in this adult review of this totally for adults book.

After breezing through two teen reads (here and here) by good old Stine (and not yet becoming wise to the fact that he didn’t even write them), I was ready to try out his adult fiction. I wasn’t expecting greatness here – he’s a cheese-factory and we all know it. But I thought maybe it would at least creep me out a little and maybe even get scary here and there!

I was creeped out alright, but not in the way I thought.

Superstitious by R.L. Stine? (the copyright page only says Parachute Press – nowhere does it say his name and knowing what I know, I suspect some poor, nameless ghostwriter shat this one out)
My Edition: Paperback – 388 (grueling) pages – 1995 – Parachute Press – ISBN: 0446603503

Sara Morgan is hot and she falls for her equally hot, Irish, professor, Liam O’Connor. As the two start dating, people on campus are being brutally murdered – like, literally ripped apart – and the local PD consisting of like 3 guys, doesn’t know how the hell to handle it. Also, Liam is pretty perfect, except that he’s obsessed with stupid little rhymes and superstitions and makes Sara follow every single one. But it’s ok, because he’s hot and she probably is deeply in love with him. Could he be somehow involved in the killings? Probably!

Let’s pretend R.L. wrote this one, since I don’t have another name to lay the blame at the feet of. So, I wonder, did R.L. sit down to write an adult novel and think to himself: Ok, Stiney-boy, you’ve got a picturesque college campus setting, a spoopy idea for murderings, plenty of stupidass old superstitions and rhymes and two smokin’ hot main characters. But where to start? Oh, I know what adults like…fucking each other!

The first half of this book is primarily comprised of various adults (and students, I guess, because Sara is a grad student and attends a class, like, once) thinking about how hot other adults around them are and dreaming about having sex with them. Some people do actually have sex later on, but the beginning is just a creep-fest of guys and their fantasies about any hot girl that walks by.

Of course, Sara and Liam are ogling each other from the get-go. We already know they’re going to end up together by reading the back of the book, so no surprise. But Liam’s friend, I’ll call him Hulk since he’s described as hulking more than once, is constantly staring at women’s tits and thinking about fucking them and thinking about jerking off while thinking about them. Look, I’m not a prude, but what purpose does this sort of thing serve? I’m not reading erotica, I’m reading horror! I think, in part, we’re supposed to suspect the Hulk of the murders, because he’s huge and weird and pervy and makes everyone uncomfortable (he’s blatantly a red herring though.) But when he’s not saying suspicious things, flexing his huge, gross muscles or running around campus at night, he’s eyeballing any woman in his vicinity. Pretty sure we get to read about him thinking about jerking it in the shower – I didn’t bother to flag the page. Even Liam’s landlady just wants him to pork her. And if Liam hadn’t found Sara, he probably would have.

The sex we do get is just as poorly written as the rest of the book. Here’s an example, from Sara’s point of view:

“She moved beneath him, watching his face, the dark eyebrows floating over the closed eyes, the mouth frozen in a half-smile of pleasure. Such a handsome face bobbing above hers. She grabbed it with both hands, pulled him down into a long kiss, wet and hard, their tongues probing, probing.”

THE mouth? Not his eyebrows floating – the eyebrows. Not his frozen mouth – the mouth. Bobbing faces, that’s pretty sexy too. And that kiss, so poetic – I feel inspired!

Once upon a midnight dreary, two lovers humped, weak and weary,
Over many quaint and curious superstitions of ancient folklore.
While I nodded, nearly napping, as the foreplay was so lacking,
As eyebrows floated, wet skin slapping, this sex scene was quite a bore.
“Tis some bullshit,” I muttered, “These tongues probing, probing –
Probing, probing, forevermore.”

I put as much effort into that poem as Stiney-boy did into this book.

Alright – so we’re halfway through the book now, and aside from inane conversations and Liam’s constant rhyming, what’s happened?

Not all that much. Some women get murdered – ripped apart and left lying around campus in hideous ways. The local cop, Garrett McDad-Who-Wants-A-Better-Life-For-His-Wife-And-Child, can’t figure out what the hell is going on. Neither can the other handful of cops who work in the world’s smallest PD for a town that has a college campus. No one cares about Garrett. Moving on.

Things with Sara and Liam start heating up. She finds his quirks endearing – even when he suddenly gets really upset if one of his little superstitions isn’t followed. Despite having dated a psychopath – Sara moved from New York and came back to school to escape the guy after he tried to drown her when she refused to marry him – she doesn’t find this alarming. Her psycho ex comes back around too, but he’s inconsequential, so I’m not going to talk about him.

Liam declares they should get married right away and Sara agrees because she has no brain. They’ve only been dating for a few months and she’s already rejected the proposal of one guy who she dated for much longer but its ok – they’re in love, I guess! Sara just does whatever the hell Liam wants when it comes to his weird superstitions, so why wouldn’t she agree to get married right away?

Sara does manage to persuade Liam to meet her parents before they get married. During dinner, the family’s black cat jumps on Liam’s lap and he’s clearly freaked out by it. Later they find the cat dead, with its head pulled off. WOW; I WONDER WHO COULD HAVE DONE THAT? Liam says he found the back door open or some shit and said an animal must have done it and Miss Brainless accepts that along with all his other b.s.

It’s obvious by this point that we’re supposed to mistrust Liam, as well as Hulk. Even if he didn’t throw salt over his shoulder and rhyme about sneezing and behave obsessively about what entrance you’re supposed to use and when and what side of the bed to roll off of, Liam would still be throwing off red flags simply for the fact he wants to get married ASAP. He and his sister Margaret have had a few cryptic conversations about Sara when she’s not around, so it’s clear something is up. Sadly for Sara, dating a psycho didn’t improve her psycho radar.

Anyway – they get married. It’s a small affair in the Hulk’s backyard or something. Their wedding night sex is comprised mostly of “Ohhhhh. Ohhhhh.” and Sara staring again at “the dark eyebrows” and “the intense brown eyes.” It ended quickly. Literally, Stiney wrote, “It ended quickly.” Liam also announces he wants a child right away – surprising no one – and Sara agrees – again, surprising no one. I mean, she’d been “thinking about a child for weeks, his child. Their child.” Sure. Ok.

Two weeks into the marriage and Sara is finally annoyed by Liam’s quirks. Not sure why it took that long, or conversely, why it happened so quickly after marriage. Probably living with Liam’s sister wasn’t helping either. Oh and during one of Sara’s inner monologues when she’s thinking about how annoying Liam and his sister are, she wonders if she’s premenstrual. That really annoyed me. As a lady, I certainly do become irrationally angry when I’m PMSing. However, having grown up listening to dudes scoff, “What, are you PMSing?” when I’m legitimately annoyed about something, doesn’t make me want to see a female character written by a man thinking that shit! Sara’s reasons for being annoyed with Liam would annoy anyone with half a brain! She doesn’t need to be PMSing to be miffed that every little thing she does is dictated by ancient superstitions! That line was Stine, or whoever, being a dink.

You know what; I don’t even want to rant about this book anymore. It’s not worth it! But the majority of the action takes place at the end of the book, so I’ll give you the quick hits. (Spoiler: I continue to ramble anyway.)

Sara comes home one night to find Liam and Margaret having sex. Turns out they’re not siblings! Liam and Margaret are married. Liam is cursed – he’s been cursed since he was a child. It was passed to him by his father, I guess. He needs to marry someone and get them preggo ASAP so he can pass his curse on to his child. I’m not sure why he didn’t just pick, like, anyone. If he doesn’t care about the mother or child because he’s going to get rid of his curse on the baby and leave the mother so he can go be with his sister-wife, why did it take him so long to get married? Oh, maybe because he’s annoying af and no woman would stay with him.

The curse is this – if he doesn’t follow every superstition in existence, people die. When a superstition is broken or goes unfollowed or whatever, Liam pukes up some sort of gross demon monster that runs off to kill someone – usually a random young chick. Liam basically explains this whole thing to Sara after she catches him screwing Margaret. Oh also Margaret gets killed – I think Sara broke a tradition when she caught them in the act, so Liam’s demons killed Margaret by skewering her onto the showerhead in their apartment – I’m not sure that the showerhead would support the weight of a dead body, but we’ll let that slide.

Even after hearing all this stuff and seeing Margaret’s mutilated corpse and remembering all the grotesque murders that have been happening on campus, Sara still doesn’t believe him. (I know I always complain about the lack of disbelief when people encounter magical or paranormal happenings in a seemingly mundane world, shutup.) Sara decides to show Liam that it’s all in his head and breaks every mirror in sight – they were at Hulk’s house I think and also I think he died but who cares. Liam goes ballistic and has like a mile long tongue and a zillion demons come out of him or some shit and then Sara finally believes.

Liam tackles one as its attacking Sara and tells her to run. Instead, she watches the demon lift Liam and snap his back over one knee. “His back made a splintering sound. The sound of a crab shell being cracked.” He lives long enough to literally declare he did one good thing by saving Sara. Only, he didn’t save her because he’s dead and the demons aren’t. After he’s declared dead, his head jerks and Sara asks him if he’s alive. LOL. But no, it’s just more demons crawling out of his dead mouth.

She watches them for a bit before realizing she needs to run away. She leaves the house and runs through the snow until she falls (of course) and they circle her. Then we get this beautiful verse:

“They circled and spun, moving faster and faster, trapping her in the middle, trapping her in their sour wind, darkening the snow as they whirled, darkening the world, her world, tightening the circle, dancing, dancing for her, moving in, bringing the darkness, bringing utter blackness, ugly, dark monsters over the white, white snow.”

Amen.

Sara lives (somehow. who cares.) because she’s pregnant with Liam’s baby! The story ends with her scream.

And with that scream, comes my release from the darkness, the ugly, dancing, trapping, darkness, the whirling horror of bullshit and horny adults and obscure superstitions, release from the brainless heroine and the dark cloud this book brought into my world, darkening it, darkening it with its ugly writing.

I’ll never read anything by R.L. Stine again. Or anything that his name was slapped on after some other poor sap wrote it.

~

Hope y’all got some amusement out of this series! They were fun posts to write, though they also pissed me off. I’ll be glad to rid my shelves of these crap books.

*lady and skeleman here – demon face here

4 thoughts on “R.L. Stine Retrospective – Part 3: Superstitious”

  1. The silly beginning of the story kinda made me want to gag. Okay the sex scene made me laugh. Bobbing face and all. But then yer poem made me laugh even harder. This is such trash of a story. I am not usually a fan of burning books but aye, I think all books written under this name could be used as fuel and the world still might be a better place overall – carbon emissions be damned. While I am entertained by these posts, please for the love of pete, don’t torture yerself with any more of these! Arrr!
    x The Captain

    Like

    1. This whole book made me want to gag! It’s definitely one of the worst books I’ve ever read. I wasn’t a diehard Goosebumps fan, but I did enjoy the series as a kid – I’ll never waste my time on RL again. This book is definitely burn-worthy. I’m glad you were entertained – that was my goal here since I didn’t get any enjoyment from the book, my hope is that others at least enjoy my thoughts on it!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lol! She did not ask dude if he’s really dead, did she? I read that and laughed and thought you were joking. The whole story sounds like a joke with lots of bad sex. (Lol at that part where Stiney wrote “It ended quickly.”)
    This was hilarious and entertaining. Loved your rhyming there. I’m gonna miss this series.

    Like

    1. She 100% was like, “are you alive?” after literally watching the light fade from his eyes and thinking to herself that she knows he’s dead. I almost died laughing lol. If this book was meant as a joke I think I might have almost maybe enjoyed it 🤣 clearly he’s not meant to branch into the romance/erotica genres! I’m glad you enjoyed hahaha

      Liked by 1 person

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