When I was a tiny, little thing, not long having entered the five-year soul crushing machine that was secondary school, I discovered the school library. I hadn’t avoided it for any particular reason, I just kept my lunchtimes outside. Especially when it was sunny and the field was there for the taking. However, once discovered, I couldn’t be kept away from it, with its strange balcony which could have just as easily been a second floor. Well, until a year or so later when the outside world called once again. My first jaunt through the shelves was not un-aided, no. I discovered the school library because of not one but two boys. One, my oldest friend, who would go to the library most lunchtimes at that point in our school career (though I have no idea why, I should ask) and his friend, a new kid, who would later become my first boyfriend. Oh.
What started as a casual, silly, young ‘I’m going to follow this boy around for a while and hope that he notices me and thinks I am pretty’ ritual, kindled my love for a series of books which I still, if somewhat guiltily, reread today. At this point, Harry Potter was the current big thing (unsurprisingly). I liked it as much as the next kid, having been introduced to it in primary school by a teacher (the wonderfully named Mrs Chodyniecki), who read the greatest Hagrid I have ever heard. We were between books, I think, though I couldn’t tell you which, and I was hanging around by the shelves on the left wall, trying to look like I wasn’t just gawping at my oldest friend and his newest friend. (I definitely was.) I am not sure how I discovered the shelf or why I was even looking at it as I definitely hadn’t been in there for the books. It was one of the bottom three and on it, with crinkles down their spines and battered edges, yellowing pages, sat a large collection of Point Horror. I needed something to read, what with the gap between Harry Potter instalments, what better way to fill that gap than by scaring myself silly?
This was probably at around the same time as my witchcraft obsession, so the pull towards horror was unsurprising. The first title I read was The Mall by Richie Tankersley Cusick, who still remains my favourite Point Horror author. I still remember the juddery feeling in my stomach. What started out as a casual perusal quickly warped into an obsession in and of itself, and when I found out that another friend liked them too it kept growing. My Point Horror novels are the most dog-eared and visually read of my entire book collection (followed by Trudi Canavan’s Age of the Five trilogy and one of my copies of Neverwhere, I think), and I still can’t keep Decayed in my eye line when I am trying to sleep. The front may not look so bad but the back is worse and I can’t help but feel like she’s going to crawl out of the cover and eat me – I am a bona fide wimp.
I charged my way through pretty much all of the titles held in the hallowed halls (not so much hallowed as yellowing…) of my secondary school – The Baby-sitter, The Stranger, Blood Sinister, April Fools, The Perfume, Freeze Tag, to name a few. My favourite, and the one that I find myself crawling back to at regular intervals, is Trick or Treat – I could probably recite parts of that novel if I wanted to. It was the first pit stop for James Dawson’s Point Horror Book Club – a merry parade I wish I’d found early enough to join in myself.
It is with this in mind that I have decided (once I have finished my current reread of the first two of Catherynne M. Valente’s Fairyland series) to embark on a Guilty Reread-a-thon and I invite you, possibly non-existent reader, to join me. Pick up your guilty reads, give them a review, as honest as you like.
What are your guilty reads? Are you, like me, an avid reader of Point Horror? Is there some kind of devastatingly cheesy series that I have been missing out on? Let me know!