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Even though Steve, the main character, undergoes more horrors when compared to Carly Beth in the initial “Haunted Mask”, “The Haunted Mask II” does not appear to be much scary – probably for the reason that Steve is not snowed under self-hatred. Just as a normal adolescent, he desires to cause shock and assert his authority on other people. “The Haunt Mask II” by R.L. Stine is a coming of age narrative published by Scholastic Inc. In this narrative, the novelist dives into the themes of horror and the supernatural and builds a slow and creepy tale regarding a trouble young boy.
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The book was no. 36 in the Goosebumps book series; it came after “A Shocker on Shock Street” and was followed by another book, “The Headless Ghost”. It is a follow-up to “The Haunted Mask”. The plot develops a year after the events depicted in “The Haunted Mask”. Steve, an obnoxious prankster, is the chief protagonist – a friend of chuck and another lad who was constantly harassing Carly Beth Caldwell in the first chapter (Stine, 1995).
“The Haunted Mask II” is a narrative that brings back the villainous and wicked mask back to reality when Steve commences a quest to find a mask just like Carly Beh. That Halloween, Steve finds a mask at the same store where Carly Beth got hers. Your imagination should pick up from here. There should have been reasons as to why the shop was planked up and closed for Halloween sales. However, Steve never considered all these. The story becomes interesting when Steve starts to transform just like Carly Beth in the first book. After a while, Steve discovers that no one knows about him anymore (Stine, 1995). Consequently, he grows lonely and tired of everything. Moreover, it is very late that he cannot change his costume.
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There are a number of similarities and differences in this book as compared to the preceding “Haunted Mask”. The level of evil appears to be augmented, and the theme of revenge is in full swing. Steve is in danger as the book comes to an end; however, synonymous with Goosebumps style, the ending has a surprise or two. In this narrative, ageing is taken to be a huge curse – the elderly are depicted as resentful and ineffectual whole lot. There are several frightening situations: children slip into a scary deserted store basement. A Halloween mask gets stuck to the head of one boy; the boy then notes that his while body is aging. Spiders get out of his body, and kids get scared when the boy gets close to them.
There are some obvious moralss expressed in “The Haunted Mask” – it is not right to steal and torture people. Yet, it is lacking in the core of the better Goosebumps chapters, whose main focus is on the importance of family ties plus friends learning certain good values from each other. Such a theme appears to be looked at with more convincing consequences in “Hercules”, where the hero discovers that his heart is more essential that a frightening outward manifestation. “The Witches” could be another story example where children get to know about the evil close to their homes and face the consequences after they get a spell. Here, Anjelica Huston appears to be more subtle and scarier than the store proprietor in “The Haunted Mask II”.
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“The Haunted Mask II” is pretty awful for the most part of it. However, towards the end, the book somehow veers off the course and dives into the inanity of the situation and embraces for laughs and not “scares”. A boy of six years who was perturbed by “The Haunted Mask” was not nearly as perturbed by the “Haunted Mask II” although he did show concern regarding aging, which the narrative depicts as a fate that is worse than death itself. Nonetheless, I would recommend the book to kids who have read the first one.
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