Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Point Horror

Go To
Point Horror was a long-running line of horror novels published from 1986 until 2005, similar to the likes of Goosebumps (it was where their author, R. L. Stine, got his start) but aimed at a slightly older teenage/young adult audience. It was an imprint of Scholastic, the American publisher of numerous young adult and children's books as well as educational materials. Authors that published under the Point Horror label include the aforementioned Stine, Diane Hoh, Richie Tankersley Cusick, Christopher Pike, and Caroline B. Cooney.

The line was briefly relaunched with new titles in 2013, though it turned out to be short-lived.

While there was once a time when Point Horror books could be found on any teen girl's bookshelf, the series died out and was largely forgotten in the Turn of the Millennium. Nowadays, they can only usually be found second-hand, either on Amazon, in car boot sales or in charity shops.

In 2019, it was announced that HBO Max is developing a series based on R.L. Stine's entries, called Point Fear.


This series provides (usually multiple) examples of:

  • Ambiguously Gay: Tristan from Followers. While his sexuality is never confirmed, he is certainly flamboyant enough to fit the role.
  • Darker and Edgier: The entire series could be seen as an adult version of Goosebumps, given their concurrent dates of publication and often similar themes.
  • Deadly Prank: In ''Trick or Treat', a prankster (Wynn) pulls various tricks on Martha, including nearly setting the house on fire.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: In "Bone Meal" from 13 More Tales of Horror, Eunice's father abducts a door to door salesman who insulted his wife and throws him alive into his woodchipper machine in the garden. He also does this to Eunice's ex-boyfriend, when she pretends that he is raping her in order to anger her father enough to do this.
    • In J.R.E. Ponsford in the same book, a boy is being bullied at his boarding school; so he re-animates the corpse of a former star cricket player at the school, who beats the bullies with a cricket bat, killing or severely maiming them (it's not clear which.) Lampshaded when the boy's mother is called into the school and admits it was a tad excessive of her son's "friend" to do this.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: Often.
    • In The Baby-Sitter II, the person who has been terrorising Jenny turns out to be the psychiatrist's receptionist, Miss Gurney. She is jealous of Dr Schindler's attention (as she perceives it) of Jenny. Gurney is able to get details of Jenny's past problems (in The Baby-Sitter) by listening to the tapes recorded of her and the doctor's counselling sessions.
  • Eldritch Abomination: "The House that Jack Built" from 13 More Tales of Horror. At the end, Caleb discovers some horrible creature that is controlling the living house.
  • Fate Worse than Death: In "Something to Read" from 13 More Tales of Horror, Annabel is accidentally drowned by her classmates. Once she gets over the shock, she thinks that it could be great, but then discovers that she cannot touch anything, such as the pages of a book. So she has all the books in the world, but cannot enjoy them.
  • Halloween Episode: Trick or Treat, and the Halloween Night duology.
  • Haunted House: The series uses supernatural creatures like ghosts, vampires and demons as well as serial killers to create fear.
  • Haunted House Historian: Blake and Wynn in Trick or Treat. Justified, since the events only happened fairly recently.
  • Invisible to Normals: Inverted in "The Devil's Footprints" from 13 More Tales of Horror. Everyone at the party can see the mysterious goat costume guy, but Brian the house-controlling computer cannot see him on the camera footage.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The back blurb for the combined edition of both Halloween Night books gives away that Dina is the killer in the first book/
  • Living Toys: "Softies" from 13 More Tales of Horror takes place in an Alternate Universe in which each human has a living toy friend called a 'companion'. The problem is, the companions are angry and secretly planning an uprising against their owners.
  • Louis Cypher: In "The Devil's Footprints" from 13 More Tales of Horror, the Devil mixes among a house party in England, though everyone thinks he is simply an ordinary guy in a goat costume.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Although, as a rule, is it nearly always mundane.
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: In "The Ring" from 13 More Tales of Horror, Kate acquires a cursed ring that enables her to read the minds of everyone around her and is soon driven insane when she hears the thoughts of friends and family who don't like her. In the ending, the ring returns to The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday where Kate bought it, and is purchased by a woman whose husband is about to kill her to claim on the insurance. So while the ring is cursed, it isn't in itself technically malicious - and we keep our thoughts to ourselves for good reason.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: The skoffins are a (theoretically impossible) mixture of a male fox father and a female cat mother in "The Cat-Dogs" from 13 More Tales of Horror. And they're as mean as both put together.
  • Piranha Problem: In The Hitchhiker, James, Christine and Terri are threatened to be thrown into a pond full of piranhas by Art, the son of the old man the two girls killed in a hit-and-run accident. Art himself ends up inside the pond and gets devoured.
  • The Prankster: Julian from The Boy Next Door, whose pranks get steadily more serious and dangerous.
  • "Rear Window" Homage: The Window is about a girl who sprains her ankle on a ski trip and gets sucked into a murder mystery when she starts spying out her window with binoculars.
  • Revenge Before Reason: The wronged person in any of these books will often go to extraordinary lengths to punish whoever wronged them/their relative or friend.
  • "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: Frequently. As a general observation, many of the stories where murders/injuries are believed to be the work of a ghost or other paranormal entity turn out to be caused by jealous/crazy living people.
  • Short Story: A few anthologies of them, most of them surprisingly good and original with regard to the full novels. They are:
    • Thirteen: 13 Tales of Horror (1991)
    • 13 More Tales of Horror (1994)
    • 13 Again (1995)
  • Sinister Subway: In "The Station with No Name" from 13 More Tales of Horror, the eponymous station, which is abandoned and full of ghosts from World War II.
  • The Spook: Julian from The Boy Next Door. He simply appears in the seemingly abandoned house next door to Randy and she knows very little about him.
  • Strictly Formula: A typical book will follow a teenage female character, who falls in love with another teenager boy, set amidst seemingly paranormal occurrences. As mentioned above, the spooky happenings usually turn out to be perfectly explainable.
  • Tomato Surprise: Many throughout the series.
    • In The Hitchhiker, we are led to believe that James, the boy that Christine and Terri pick up, is a dangerous criminal who beat up (or possibly worse) his girlfriend before he left Florida and that he may have something to do with the news on the radio about a hit-and-run accident. In the last few chapters, we discover that James himself is completely innocent and his girlfriend in Florida is alive and fine (albeit upset); it is Christine and Terri that are responsible for the accident.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Several throughout the book series.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: "The Devil's Footprints" from 13 More Tales of Horror takes place in 2004 (the short story collection was published in 1994). Apparently, by that point, everyone should have had house-controlling supercomputers.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Laura's stepmother Sally in "The Piano" from 13 More Tales of Horror. She pushes her stepdaughter to practice the piano constantly. Laura is not too saddened when her piano causes Sally's death, thereby freeing her from oppression.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: