The Goosebumps Series 2000 book with a card game/RPG that comes to life.
Connor and his friend Emily are bored on a summer day. So they visit a garage sale over at the yard of the local grumpy neighbor Mr. Zarwid. He doesn't like kids and accuses Connor of trying to steal something. In retaliation, Connor steals a card game. He and his friends start playing it, only to discover that everything that happens in the game happens in real life. However, as they play things prove to be even stranger than they imagined...
This book provides examples of:
- Cranky Neighbor: Mr. Zarwid, who is quick to accuse Connor of wanting to steal from his garage sale. He takes it further by also being an evil wizard.
- Evil Sorcerer: Mr. Zarwid, who uses his magic to put the kids into the world of the game.
- The Game Plays You: The premise of the story, as a card game comes to life.
- Here We Go Again!: The book ends with another set of kids getting the cards, implying that events are likely to repeat themselves.
- Lost in the Maize: In the fantasy world the kids get sucked into, they find themselves in a field of corn stalks. It then takes an interesting turn as the stalks themelves are alive, being monsters called Stelks.
- Nested Story Reveal: Done twice. Both times, the chapter cuts off with "You Finish The Story", and the next chapter starts with a person reacting with disgust to this reveal.
- Schmuck Bait: As it turns out, the card game is alive and the kids end up summoning monsters, knights, and other creatures into the world as they play. Even though Mr. Zarwid warns Connor and his friends that it's not an ordinary game, Kyle brings up a logical point about why Zarwid had the cards out in the open during a garage sale if he knew they were dangerous. The final ending implies Zarwid/Wardiz is deliberately trapping kids within the game and story structure, so he probably wanted Connor or some other kid to get their hands on the cards.
- Significant Anagram: The name of Mr. Zarwid is one for Wizard, which he turns out to be. Then at the end the third set of kids give their thanks to a Mr. Wardiz.
- Shout-Out: When they are in the game world, they want to find a wizard and on the way they sing "We're Off to See the Wizard".
- Sneeze of Doom: How they are caught in a field.
- Something Completely Different: The story takes a rather meta turn for the series in the third act with the reveal of this being a book someone was reading and then that is also a story being read by a different set of kids.
- Title Drop: Mr. Zardwid warns the kids to be afraid, be very afraid.
- Who Writes This Crap?!: The protagonists comment twice on the cop out reveal that it's a story within a story ending with the words "You finish the story." This is done twice.