Goosebumps: Beware, the Snowman

Beware the SnowmanHey, look, a seasonally-appropriate Goosebumps book. Look at me being fancy. A couple of you have e-mailed me and asked if I was still doing these, and wanted to know when my next one would be, and I really appreciate you guys’ enthusiasm and support. These recaps naturally slow down during the months I’m in school, but this past semester they halted altogether because school really kicked my butt. College Chemistry is scarier than any Goosebumps or Fear Street book could ever hope to be. Still, I’m persistent, I’m resilient, and I make an effort to finish everything I start, so here I am.

I only wish I was bringing you guys a recap of a better Goosebumps book. Sadly, when I was snowed in a couple days ago and was searching for my next Goosebumps book to cover, this one, with a snowman on the cover, naturally jumped out at me. This is an entry in the series I had never read as a kid, so I didn’t know what to expect. I’m so sorry, guys.

Cover

I actually really love this cover! This snowman is depicted exactly how he is written in the book: he is wearing a red scarf, he has sticks for arms, and he has a scar on his head. I like the expression on his face. I can see how he could be frightening (or cool!) to a kid in fifth or sixth grade. 

I like the contrast of the red scarf and the purple night sky. Red just so happens to be my favorite color, and it really pops on this snowman.

Tagline: He’s got a heart of cold!

The tagline is so cheesy and I love it for being cheesy.

Title

I don’t normally comment on titles, but this one bugs the crap out of me, and I can’t keep it to myself. What the heck is up with the comma between “Beware” and “the Snowman?” Is this snowman named Beware? No! But that’s exactly how the comma makes “Beware, the Snowman” read.

That comma is more than unnecessary; it’s incorrect! I can’t believe that comma made it to publication. I almost understand grammar issues within books like these that were rushed to meet a deadline, but a grammar issue on a title is just unacceptable. Scholastic Circa 1997, you should be ashamed.

This comma made me look into punctuation use on other Goosebumps titles. Books like You Can’t Scare Me! and Say Cheese and Die! use exclamation points at the end, which are okay and appropriate.  Say Cheese and Die — Again! uses a dash, which is again, okay and appropriate. Be Careful What You Wish For… uses a trailing ellipses which is okay, because a trailing ellipsis implies more words can come between the last word and the ending punctuation, and “Or You Just Might Get It” could easily follow “For.” This comma, though?

I kept reading the book hoping and praying the snowman would tell us his name is Beware. Hell, I just needed a random character to infer his name might be Beware, but alas, it didn’t happen. 

I’m just so confused.

Plot Synopsis

Jaclyn Deforest is a Goosebumps protagonist, so we all know she has to have just moved to a new town, is visiting distant relatives, is going on vacation, or is going camping. I have these books down to a science. Too bad that science in no way related to or helped me with Chemistry this past semester. But yes, Jaclyn just moved to a new town. Ding ding ding, we have a Goosebumps protagonist.

Jaclyn’s mother died when she was little, and her father hasn’t been in the picture. She has been living with her Aunt Greta in Chicago, but for some random reason unbeknownst to Jaclyn and the reader, the two move to a small house in a snowy town. The house is so small that it only has one bedroom. Naturally, Greta gets the bedroom and Jaclyn sleeps in the attic. Might Jaclyn craft paper flowers and partake in incestuous relations up there? +1 Family Inheritance to anyone who gets this reference.

Jaclyn goes out to explore her new town. She notices every yard has a creepy snowman with a scar on its face and a red scarf around its neck. I made one of these snowmen myself the other day, but didn’t have a red scarf, so I used a red solo cup to give him some red.

Hands Solo

Meet Hands Solo.

Jaclyn runs into neighborhood kids, Rolanda and Eli, who warn her about an evil snowman that lives in an ice cave atop the mountain. Jaclyn explores too far up the mountain and runs into Conrad who lives in a cabin away from everyone in town and keeps a wolf for a pet. The two give chase when Jaclyn goes too far up the mountain.

We all know Jaclyn is going to eventually go up to the ice cave, but Stine decides to torture the reader with a plot that goes absolutely nowhere until Jaclyn climbs the mountain and enters the cave toward the end of the book. 

Jaclyn helps her aunt unpack (exciting), freaks out about a wet puddle in her aunt’s bedroom, and meets Rolanda in a church to hear a story about two sorcerers who created an evil monster that they were not powerful enough to control. Legend has it that that monster, the snowman, lives in the ice cave atop the mountain. No villager dares go up there. Conrad lives the closest to the snowman, but Rolanda tells Jaclyn that no one in town has anything to do with Conrad. They don’t know what his motives are. For all Rolanda knows, Conrad is working for the snowman. 

Eli runs into Jaclyn after she meets with Rolanda and says that he saw the snowman himself. What’s more, Eli says the snowman saw him.

Alright, enough with this crap. Let’s get up to the cave already. Rolanda and Eli meet Jaclyn in front of her house one morning and insist she build a creepy snowman of her own. They insist it’s the only way she’ll be protected. Jaclyn humors them and builds the snowman in exchange for them agreeing to distract Conrad so that she can make it past him and enter the ice cave at the top of the mountain.

Jaclyn’s plan goes pretty much exactly like that, and she finds herself at the entrance of the cave (finally)! Inside, she discovers a snowman. The stories were true! The snowman moves around and yells at her, “WHO ARE YOU?” Jaclyn tells him her name, and the snowman tells Jaclyn, wait for it, “Luke Jaclyn, I am your father.” I’m not making this up.

He tells Jaclyn that her mother and her Aunt Greta were sorcerers and trapped him as a snowman. He says that she can save him, but he can’t tell her how. He can only give her a hint, which is a poem Jaclyn has been trying to remember since the beginning of the book.

Jaclyn knows that the secret to saving her father is reciting the second verse of the poem. Jaclyn tells the snowman she will BRB, and heads outside and runs into Greta. Greta has a poem book Jaclyn searched for earlier in the novel, and tells Jaclyn she can’t allow Jaclyn to free the snowman.

Jaclyn tells Greta what the snowman told her, and Greta laughs at the absurdity (much like I did). In Maury fashion, Greta tells Jaclyn that this snowman is not her father. 

Not the Father

Jaclyn doesn’t believe her and has to find out for herself. In a drawn out scene where pages fly in the wind, the two wrestle for the book, and Jaclyn eventually reads the second verse of the poem. 

The snowman begins to melt …into an ugly red monster. Turns out Aunt Greta was right. The monster descends on Greta and Jaclyn, but an army of snowmen, the snowmen that were stationed in front of each house in the village, bust in and save the day. They kill and trap the monster in a wall of ice.

Conrad enters the cave and reveals that he sent the snowmen to save Jaclyn. He explains that he was one of the sorcerers in the story Rolanda told her, and that he and her mother created the monster. He stayed behind in the village to protect it out of responsibility and guilt for creating the monster. 

Greta, surprised to see Conrad, tells Jaclyn that she moved them to this village because she thought he might be here. Conrad is Jaclyn’s father.

A snowman interrupts the family reunion and asks Conrad if they can go back down the mountain because it’s cold up there.

My Thoughts

THE COMMA. I’m just kidding. Okay, no, I’m not.

This book was okay, I guess. I felt like it took forever for not a lot to happen, and when stuff did happen, it was trite and cliche. The “I am your father,” scene made me roll my eyes. I’m not even kidding.

My biggest issue with the book is Jaclyn. She’s a Goosebumps protagonist, so I don’t expect much from her, but she gives us nothing. She has no passions, no entertaining history, no depth whatsoever… She’s just a body that stuff happens to. Anyone could be Jaclyn. I don’t mind flat characters, but flat protagonists are annoying.

The book didn’t really feel scary, either. I mainly just feel relieved that I finished it, relieved that this entry is coming to an end, and relieved that I don’t have to think about this book anymore.

Next Time

Oh, crap. I said I was going to do Egg Monsters From Mars next, didn’t I? Oops.

Until next time, don’t go building any snowmen. Beware the snowmen.

-Todd, the Grammar Nazi
(This is how to use a comma correctly.)

2 Responses to Goosebumps: Beware, the Snowman

  • Fun as always! This is one that I’m sure I had never read back when because none of this rang the slightest bell, and wow, I was not expecting the entire potential snowman father subplot. I was almost hoping it would be true in the end just because of how… one part of me wants to avoid thinking too much about snowman reproduction, but the other finds it absolutely hilarious. Still hilarious that this was an actual plotpoint though.

    That comma still sounds like the most haunting part of this book.

    Your snowman though is actually really cute… the cup makes it look as if it’s wearing a fez! Hands Solo, lol.

    • Thanks, dubiousdisc!

      The snowman father plot was ridiculous. The only thing I can think of is Stine might have been inspired or moved by the then-recent Star Wars Darth Vader/Luke Skywalker revelation? In 1997 this might have played out well, but reading it in 2018, I just rolled my eyes. Surprise parental reveals are overdone in media today.

      I think maybe the snowman could have procreated as a human and was cursed into becoming a snowman? That’s what I was imagining.

      Thanks for the comments on Hands Solo! He melted. May he RIP. I found a solo cup and some sticks in the yard today. 🙁

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