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Literature / The Forbidden Game

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He's playing with her heart. . . and her life
A series written by L. J. Smith. The Forbidden Game tells the story of Jenny Thornton, a girl who buys a board game for her boyfriend's birthday party. She finds herself drawn to the strange boy who sold her the game. When her and her six friends start to play the game, the fun quickly turns to terror as they are sucked into the game. The first three books in the series are:
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  • The Hunter, 1994
  • The Chase, 1994
  • The Kill, 1994
Lisa has stated on her site that she is going to write a sequel called Forbidden Game: Rematch, after she is done writing Strange Fate and Brionwy's Lullaby.


The Forbidden Game contains examples of:

  • Amusement Park of Doom: The nightmare backdrop of the third book, based on the fact it frequently appears in people's nightmares. It includes headless bodies in the water that attack when Dee wades in, a paper eating lion that bites down on Audrey's hands and the reveal that the souls of those the Shadow Men have captured are imprisoned in the penny arcade games.
  • Axe-Crazy: Book two opens with the perspective of a boy obsessed with hunting.
  • Betty and Veronica: Devoted boyfriend Tom is the Betty while the obsessive and dangerous Julian is the Veronica to Jenny's Archie.
  • Body Horror: Michael's nightmare is all about turning into a plant. He claims it's a silly fear based on a story he read as a child but after the gang nearly turn into plants themselves, they claim that his fear is just as horrid as everyone else's.
    • The Shadow Men when they appear at the end. Jenny is shocked because they are supposed to be beautiful but Julian states that over time their true natures shine through and their beauty transforms to ugliness.
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  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: When Julian makes it clear that Jenny will be his prize should they lose the game, Tom tries to tackle him. Then Julian starts the game for real, nightmares and all.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Used In-Universe. After an accident at her Grandfather's house, Jenny was covered in scratches, her clothes were torn and she refused to talk to anyone. Jenny's friends had been under the assumption that her Grandfather had hurt her before disappearing, but after confronting her memory in the game they eventually find out it was the Shadow Men.
  • The Fair Folk: The Shadow Men.
    • The Erl King and his men appear in the first book as Audrey's nightmare, when a group of handsome men intend to give the girls over to them.
  • The Game Plays You: The entire premise of the first book's story is that a bunch of teenagers play an evil role-playing game. They make characters and have to navigate through a model of a house.
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  • Gilded Cage: Compared to what Julian could be doing the settings for the first two books qualify.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Julian is willing to die in order to save Jenny from his fellow Shadow Men so they unmake him. However he manages to help them get back to their world before he ceases to exist.
  • The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday: Julian originally sells the Forbidden Game out of a shop located in the middle of a mural that disappears as soon as Jenny leaves it.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: What Julian is offering Jenny without quite understanding why it would be frightening and horrible for her to completely give in.
  • Love Triangle: Jenny, Julian, and Tom are part of one.
  • Nice Guy: Tom. It's why Jenny cares about him so much.
  • The Pig-Pen: Summer. Her nightmare is her bedroom taken Up to Eleven as it ends up covered in garbage, filled with bugs the size of sneakers, cracking apart as an earthquake hits and covered in howling fungus. She doesn't make it out.
  • Satellite Love Interest: Tom is not characterized as much in The Hunter, but gets some Character Development in the other books.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Julian acts this way towards Jenny.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Jenny mainly but all of the friends to some extent.
  • Villainous Crush: Julian towards Jenny. He even compares it to Hades and Persephone.

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