I found a small pile of miscellaneous SHIVERS books at that Shoprite book sale, so, since I loved any horror as a kid and vaguely remembered a couple of these, I picked them up. They’re short books; this one had about 115 pages. The funny part is that after reading a couple of them, I can see where the ideas came from. The sources include fairy tales, but also, in the case of THE ANIMAL REBELLION, I can definitely see at least a couple scenes from Animal Farm.
The stories themselves aren’t anything too deep, even for children’s horror. As with most books in this genre I’ve found, there are almost always two siblings, a boy and a girl. Honestly, since the narrator isn’t always immediately named and almost never described, there were a couple of times where I didn’t know the age or gender of the main character until a surprising number of pages into it. It seems safe to assume that they’re usually about ten or twelve, though, since kids in these novels usually are.
So, in THE ANIMAL REBELLION, the forgettable main character-though this one described himself a wee bit so that we’d know he was a city boy and ‘computer geek’-is going to stay at his uncle’s animal farm in Vermont. It starts off with his uncle and cousin-a ‘jock’ and his best friend-making up stories about an old murder in the house and Winston-I checked-being all dramatic about it before discovering it was a joke. This sort of joke continues between him and his cousin for what feels like half the book, though it was probably a quarter. The boys’ reactions became really annoying really fast. I am good with kids, and if you told a five-year old a story and then admitted it was a joke, the kid would not believe you if you told them another story ten minutes later! I suspect these novels had multiple writers under the same name, because the others haven’t been as bad in treating their narrators like toddlers.
The parts that remind me of Animal Farm are only subtle if you’ve never heard of that novel. A friendly horse bites Winston’s cousin, making our ‘city boy’ nervous. He wakes up at night and sees the animals all out of their stalls holding a meeting in the yard. He can’t understand them, but it becomes pretty clear that they are actually making plans. I’m pretty sure the cousin points out that they are all herbivores somewhere in there, but, because this is a children’s horror novel, the boys end up running around the farm alone while all the farm animals try to eat them. Since I doubt anyone here will read this, I can tell you that the culprit is a new computer game the uncle just bought the boys for their vacation. There is obviously no explanation as to why the computer game would be able to control the animals, or if that sort of thing is happening elsewhere, but it’s not really the type of novel to worry about that sort of thing.
Overall, this wasn’t the best example of a novel in this genre, or even in this series. I’ll probably give it to a book sale or something, but, without my nostalgia factor, I can’t imagine who would want to read this.