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JoJo's Bizarre Book Blog

The horror. The boredom. The reviews.

Horror High #1: “Mr Popularity” by Nicholas Adams

Not to be confused with another teen horror series called Horror High, which was a collection of Point Horror and some other YA horror titles re-printed. “Nicholas Adams” doesn’t really exist, but was a collective pseudonym the publishing company used. When this happens, it usually means the quality of the books will vary wildly – but I guess we’ll see how that one turns out.

One thing to note is that all the Horror High books were re-named for their release in the UK. I don’t know why the titles needed to be changed. I can understand Pep Rally being changed to Blood Game, because schools in the UK don’t have pep rallies (although if you’re a fan of American high school stories presumably you would know what a pep rally is), but the others didn’t really need it?

US cover:

popular

A diary left open, with the words “Tonight I met the perfect guy” written in huge handwriting all across one page. Underneath that is a blood smear, and there are two roses lying across the book. This image implies that as the diarist was in the middle of writing, their “perfect guy” showed up, gave them the roses and then killed them. If he were going to do that, why waste money on the roses?

Continue reading “Horror High #1: “Mr Popularity” by Nicholas Adams”

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Quick update

I’ll be returning to posting soon but unfortunately won’t be able to finish the Zodiac Chillers series right away. #5 (Never Love a Libra) is so inane and pointless that I’m struggling to get through it; and #6 (Pisces Drowning) is taking a while to reach me, since I had to order the books from the US.

But! Butbut! We’re starting a new series: Horror High by Nicholas Adams, a lesser-reviewed ’80s-’90s teen horror series that thankfully was published in the UK so I can get the books fairly quickly! Until then, head over to the Point Horror blog for many amusing recaps of Point Horror books and hijinks involving evil twins!

Bonus Post: The Mystery of Zodiac Chillers’ Cancellation

Actually, it’s not much of a mystery. It was probably cancelled because of poor sales, same as any other book series that gets pulled. The books evidently never reached the success of the likes of Fear Street or Christopher Pike, and they get progressively worse in quality; switching focus from OK-ish teen horror to what is basically glorified abusive romance with some pseudo-astrology thrown in. Maybe Zodiac Chillers hit the market at the wrong time – they were published towards the tail-end of the YA horror boom, but too early for the supernatural romance wave popularised by Twilight.

According to a notice inside the final book (Pisces Drowning), there were supposed to be thirteen Zodiac Chillers in total. If the full series had been published, we would have got:

  1. Rage of Aquarius 
  2. The Scorpio Society 
  3. In Leo’s Lair 
  4. Twisted Taurus 
  5. Never Love a Libra 
  6. Pisces Drowning 
  7. The Thirteenth Sign 
  8. Virgo’s Vengeance
  9. Gemini Divided
  10. Claws of Cancer
  11. Psycho Sagittarius
  12. To Kill a Capricorn
  13. The Aries Oracle

There are entries for #7 and #8 on Amazon.com but it seems they were never published. We do get summaries though:

The Thirteenth Sign by Ellen Steiber – “Learning on her thirteenth birthday that she is adopted and that no one knows what day her actual birthday is, Camellia confides in her friend Tom and learns that he is an emissary from an advanced alien civilization of healers.”

Well, this definitely sounds more interesting than any of the books that actually made it into print. Aliens, and a younger protagonist, bring the refreshing promise of something different. The title suggests that the book would have focused on Ophiuchus, an apocryphal “thirteenth sign” of the zodiac.

Virgo’s Vengeance by Ruth Koeppel – “Judy, a cautious Virgo, becomes obsessed with her boyfriend, Kyle, and will do anything to keep him, even when he sets his sights on another girl.”

This does not sound refreshingly different, and seems like it would have been pretty much a repeat of Twisted Taurus In Leo’s Lair. Koeppel did not write any of the existing books, so I don’t know whether she would have done a better job with this storyline. Given that most of her listed bibliography is cringey TV tie-ins for kid’s TV shows, I’m willing to bet the answer is “no.”

I can’t find out any more on the other books, but several of the titles suggest they too would have been variations on the theme of “jealous/obsessed person stalks love interest and kills anyone they see as a rival.” So perhaps it’s just as well Pisces Drowning was the last one.

Zodiac Chillers #4: “Twisted Taurus” by Ellen Steiber

It’s been almost a year. Have you missed me? I’ve missed you, too!

It’s easy to stop blogging if you lack time or energy, which is why a lot of book reviewing blogs die out. I’d like to keep mine going a while longer, though, and I’m going to try to get back to posting a bit more regularly.

I’ve been promising Twisted Taurus for a while, so here it is! This is the best (or worst) cover so far:

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A blonde girl with bright red eyes is groping an unconscious Backstreet Boys reject, because She gets what she wants – always! You can’t really see the red eyes in this picture, but they do have a creepy effect when you’re looking at the actual cover.

It’s taken me long enough to post this review. Will it be worth the wait? (Hint: No)

Continue reading “Zodiac Chillers #4: “Twisted Taurus” by Ellen Steiber”

Zodiac Chillers #3: “In Leo’s Lair” by Carol Ellis

Finally I get around to it.

This is the absolute clearest picture of the cover that I could find. I’m sorry it’s so small:

An ’80s-looking girl is holding her equally ’80s-looking friend, who has apparently collapsed, and for some reason is wearing a panther-print skirt. They clearly haven’t been buried alive, despite the tagline saying they have. Why do these covers always lie?

But who are these girls, and how did they get here? Is the book as homoerotic as the cover? Click the read more link. You know you want to.

Continue reading “Zodiac Chillers #3: “In Leo’s Lair” by Carol Ellis”

Bonus Post: “Stories to Tell in the Dark” covers

If you’re wondering why I didn’t include a picture of the cover with any of the Stories to Tell in the Dark series, it’s because I read them as e-books without cover art. The original print editions had something a bit more interesting, so let’s take a look at those:

We have an image of a spooky old tree at sunset, with Josef Stalin superimposed over the scene. This is almost certainly an illustration of “The Death Tree” although I don’t know what the Communist dictator has to do with it. Maybe the publishers decided to put a real scare up the kids by reminding them of historical events. I applaud that thinking, and I’m glad that (in my opinion) the best book in the series gets the best cover. Even though that’s not saying much either way.

Continue reading “Bonus Post: “Stories to Tell in the Dark” covers”

Zodiac Chillers #2: “The Scorpio Society” by Carol Ellis

So this post took a while longer than I would have liked, but never fear. Just give it a couple of paragraphs, and you’ll be wishing I’d waited another decade or two.

Well, the lantern and robe do make an appearance; and the girl holding them does match the book’s description of Rachel. But the other girl looks more like Sally (a supporting character) than Elizabeth, the protagonist. Or maybe she’s just a reader uncertain about the tagline: “She’s becoming one of them …” Who’s becoming one of what? Do we really want to know?

Continue reading “Zodiac Chillers #2: “The Scorpio Society” by Carol Ellis”

Zodiac Chillers #1: “Rage of Aquarius” by Carol Ellis

OK, forget everything I said I was going to do previously. I would like to do an Anthony Masters retrospective, but I’m still feeling a bit burned out on that series. I also have a great book I would like to review at some point that will have to wait until I can think of a way to do it justice, as the book’s design is key to enjoying the … experience. So we’re moving on to Zodiac Chillers. It’s short (only six books) and rest assured I will, at different points, review stuff that isn’t children’s/young adult horror.

Where do we start with Zodiac Chillers? They’re pretty similar to Fear Street (and its rip-offs), they’re based around the theme of astrology, and they’re written by a few different YA authors. The series doesn’t seem to have been that well-received; a total of thirteen books were announced, but seven of them were apparently never published, which suggests they were cancelled due to poor sales. Are these books lost gems, or were they trashed at the right time? Let’s find out with Book 1: Rage of Aquarius.

Here’s the cover:

A ghost, who’s wearing a horrible toga-style dress, is floating above her grave in front of a full moon. In keeping with her Rapunzel hairstyle, she’s posing like she’s in a shampoo ad. Her tombstone informs us that she is “Rebecca Morris, died 16 years”, with a picture representing Aquarius because apparently her star sign is more relevant than her actual dates of birth and death. A tagline warns us “Becky’s killing from the grave …” Or is she?

Continue reading “Zodiac Chillers #1: “Rage of Aquarius” by Carol Ellis”

“Werewolf Stories to Tell in the Dark” by Anthony Masters – Part 2

Previously:

  • Werewolves in a zoo!
  • Werewolves in a dream!
  • Werewolves on the London Underground!
  • Werewolves in a refugee camp!
  • Werewolves on an oil tanker!

Where will those werewolves show up next?

Continue reading ““Werewolf Stories to Tell in the Dark” by Anthony Masters – Part 2″

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