Frightmares / Eva V. Gibson / Book Review

Frightmares House of Horrors might be falling down around him, but Dave doesn't care. This is just a summer job, after all, a way to save up money for college in the fall. Cheap replicas and glitchy animatronics are held together with F/X blood--and the stellar acting of Dave and his coworkers, of course.  

Improv is a must, and when one of Dave's coworkers no-call-no-shows for a weekend shift, Dave is resigned to an evening in the unfamiliar haunted mummy room, completed with malfunctioning haunted sarcophagus. When the animatronic mummy doesn't deploy, however, Dave discovers something awful: there is no mummy on the set tonight. The sarcophagus contains a real body instead. And when Dave returns with help in tow, the body is gone--and the killer still on the loose. 


My reaction to this book: meh. It's a sort of typical horror book. It's not terrible. It's not great. Fans of the genre will likely enjoy it, but this one won't be winning over new horror fans anytime soon. 


  • Dysfunctional Workplace: Dave works at a near-defunct haunted house. It groans and creaks. The equipment (and the lights) are prone to breaking down. This makes for a great and unsettling setting for a murder. Dave has to be there--he gets paid to be there--and the scene is familiar to him now. But a house of spooks and specters (with its fair amount of fake blood spattered on the ground) sets a certain precedent: who can tell the real dead body from the fakes? 
  • Obvious Suspect: There is one rather obvious suspect in this grisly murder from the beginning. Dave, of course, doesn't believe this person could have done it, and so he never questions the assumption. (Dave, for anyone unaware, is an idiot.) And sure, the obvious suspect ultimately had a hand in the murder but wasn't the end-all-be-all. This obvious (to me) suspect didn't do the deed . And I appreciate that. I appreciate that my suspicions were both confirmed and, ultimately, denied. 
  • Male Protag: It's nice to get a male protagonist. There are so few in recent YA books. It's especially nice to have Dave, who isn't a shy, wallflower type protagonist like his contemporaries tend to be. Dave is unusual in the current market, and that's nice. 


  • Aged-Down: Something about this book felt tonally... off. It felt like perhaps this book was written originally for an older audience and then aged down for whatever reason, be that market viability or something else. It just didn't feel YA in its execution, though it did in protagonist age. Any book that uses the phrase "sun-baked scrotum" doesn't feel quite right for this particular intended market. 
  • The Daves: There was an abrupt change in the protagonist that also didn't feel right. After Dave gets trapped under his coworker's body due to the malfunctioning replica sarcophagus, he isn't the same. Now, I'd buy that--who would be the same after something like that? He comes out talking about little shoulder Daves who give him advice and hearing his dead coworker's voice in his head. This, however, is apparently normal for Dave--or the shoulder Daves are normal, at least. But that doesn't feel normal. That feels a little odd, to say the least. Dave appeared to be perfectly normal at the start of this book, and if he isn't (if he listens to the advice of himself personified on his own shoulders), then maybe this should be set out form the beginning. The shift seemed abrupt, and it seemed even more so when I knew it wasn't actually supposed to be a shift in character at all. 
  • Massive Morons: I mean, I know it's horror. I know these characters can't be the brightest. That would defeat the point. That's just not what horror MCs do. But even for horror, Dave felt exceptionally stupid. Call 911. Go home. Quit your job. Do something that makes some sort of sense. Dave and later Maya do nothing sensible or even sensible-adjacent. Nothing they did made even the remotest sense, and therefore, absolutely nothing they did felt relatable. They were just too stupid. 



Fans of Tori Bovalino's The Devil Makes Three will appreciate this new horror-flick-style book. Those who appreciate R.L. Stein's Fear Street will like this aged-up Goosebumps style. 


Publisher: Underlined
Date: July 5, 2022
Series: N/A
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Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.


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