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Literature / The Haunted School

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The Goosebumps book where a school has a strange secret.

Tommy Frazer's just moved to a new town, and a new school. A school that's so big, it's easy to get lost in. One day, Tommy does indeed get lost, and stumbles upon a room dedicated to the Class of 1947, who all disappeared mysteriously after getting their class picture taken. Later, the night of a school dance, he and his friend Ben find an elevator that goes sideways, leading them to the truth about the missing students.

It is one of the nineteen original series books that was not adapted into the 1995 TV series. There was an event based on it in Goosebumps HorrorTown.

The book provides examples of:

  • And I Must Scream: An entire class has been teleported to a strange black and white world where they never age. When Tommy and Ben arrive here years later, most of the students have devolved into insane, bloodthirsty savages, and want to keep them there forever.
  • And Then What?: When thinking of how he and Ben can escape from the savage class of 1947, Tommy tells him that he and him can just spontaneously run away in different directions, to which Ben then replied with this trope. Tommy didn't want to answer that question, and didn’t know the answer itself, but just tells him to do it. Indeed, it doesn't work.
  • Axes at School: Tommy brings a lighter, one that his grandfather gave him right before he died, to school. He knows he's not supposed to have one there, but he keeps it around as a good luck charm. It proves to be important later on.
  • Blinded by the Light: To distract the wild children in Grayworld, Tommy flicks open his lighter, which shoots up a yellow flame. Because they hadn't seen such a bright color in a long time, the others are anguished by the sight of it, complaining that it hurts to see it and shielding their eyes. And then Tommy uses the flame to torch a pile of leaves nearby, which exacerbates the children's horror.
  • Bystander Syndrome: When Greta steals Thalia's lipstick, she fights with it and even starts crying while trying to get it back, yet none of the students around her attempt to help her. Heck, some of them are even cheering Greta on. It takes Tommy the courage to stand up to her and try to take the lipstick back.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Tommy's lighter and Thalia's lipstick, which help them escape Grayworld.
  • Compliment Backfire: Tommy's new stepmother, who tries to relate to him, tells him that maybe he will grow out of his "baby fat" and become handsome later in life. Tommy does NOT appreciate this comment.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: The kids escape Grayworld, only to find out that their class photo will be taken by Mr. Chameleon, whom they realize too late was the photographer who sent the Class of '47 to Grayworld in the first place.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The Grayworld is a dimension without color.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Mr. Chameleon, the only photographer in town, was heavily annoyed because the class that he was supposed to be taking a picture of were messing around and wouldn't stand still. This prompts him to send them all to an obscure place in another dimension seemingly for all eternity.
  • Downer Ending: The protagonists escape Grayworld with help from Thalia, but can't save her and the other trapped students. They return to the school dance in time for a class picture, where they discover way too late that the photographer is the same one who sent the class of 1947 to Grayworld. He snaps the picture, presumably trapping them for good and stealing Bellwood's children all over again.
  • Evil Elevator: Tommy and Ben run into this trope when using the old school elevator to get to the third floor for art supplies. Instead of going there, it breaks down for a bit, and then sends them sideways to Grayworld.
  • Fate Worse than Death: The main characters end up trapped in an alternate dimension with no color, where you never age.
  • Foreshadowing: Tommy reads a Ray Bradbury story about "these kids who live on a planet where it never stops raining," and are miserable because they can't go outside in the sun. This general idea of kids being sad they can't experience sunshine becomes similar to the Grey kids, who are stuck in the grey world with no natural sunlight, and are sad about it.
  • For Want Of A Nail: If one were to think about it, what Greta did at the school dance was most likely the direct cause of the serious events of this book. She accidentally broke the party banner, which caused Tommy and Ben to go look for tape to patch it back up. But they then stumble upon the elevator that transports them to Grayworld. And it's their disappearance that causes Thalia to go looking for them, which brings her back to Grayworld, and she gets them back to the normal world. But it's then that the principal finds them, leads them back to the dance, and gets them in the group shot to have everyone dance worker's picture taken. And Mr. Chameleon, annoyed yet again that the photo shoot was held up because of Tommy and Ben's abscence, is heavily implied to send yet another class to Grayworld. None of these events would have happened if a banner hadn't been broken.
  • A Good Name for a Rock Band: A band that is scheduled to perform at the school dance, which was formed by some students, is called Grunt. It have five guitar players (whom were all boys) and one drummer (who was Greta). Tommy heard rumors that three of the guitar players didn't really know how to play.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Mr. Chameleon, the sinister photographer who sent the children to Grayworld in the first place. Even worse, he's still alive in the present day.
  • It Only Works Once: When warding off the deranged students of the Grayworld class, Tommy uses his lighter to burn some leaves on the ground, in which the colorful flames distracted the children and caused the rest to escape. However, when he tries this again to provide a passage out of Grayworld, it only causes the flame to come out grey like almost everything else in this world.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Ben Jackson, one of the main characters in the book, may be a bit of a prankster who likes making jokes and can be serious when he needs to be but he means well and is, for the most part, fairly friendly.
  • Magical Camera: Mr. Chameleon's camera acts as a portal to another dimension.
  • Mythology Gag: The picture of the skull on the back of the locker as seen in the cover is Curly the Skeleton.
  • Never Trust a Title: Despite having the word "haunted" in the title, the book doesn't involve ghosts of any kind.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Mr. Chameleon is, judging by the impact of his actions, one of the most horrific characters in the series. We never actually meet him, or learn who or what he is or why he's sending children to the Grayworld.
  • Old School Building: The titular school, which dates back to at least 1947 and hides some pretty dark secrets, as Tommy finds out after taking the wrong elevator.
  • Ominous Fog: The outside surroundings of Grayworld is full of this.
  • "Ray of Hope" Ending: The ending implies that Tommy and the kids in his class will be sent to Grayworld by Mr. Chameleon and trapped like the 1947 class was. However, Thalia can just as easily open another doorway into the color world using her lipstick if it still has its color by the time Tommy and the others show up. And even if it doesn't, Tommy can most likely burn open a doorway using his lighter, or any of the many other kids in their class can easily have an object that can allow them to open a doorway.
  • Sanity Slippage: Most of the kids from the original class of Bell Valley Middle School have gone insane from being trapped in Grayworld.
  • Terrible Artist: Tommy and Thalia turn out to be not great at painting. They tried to make a big poster of a bison (the school mascot) for the dance, but it didn't look much like a real life bison. Ben said it looked more like a cow that had been sick for a long time.
  • This Is No Time to Panic: When Tommy and Ben get into the old school elevator, only for the doors to initially not open while they're inside, the former tries to reassure the latter this trope.
    Ben: How are we going to get out of here?
    Tommy: Don't panic. We’ll get the doors open.
    Ben: Why shouldn't I panic?
    Tommy: Because I want to be the one who panics first!
  • Uncanny Valley Makeup: Thalia wears such heavy makeup that she looks completely unnatural and even creepy (she is only twelve years old), leading to bullying from her classmates. It turns out this is because she escaped from the colorless world and her skin is completely gray.
  • Wrong Assumption: When he hears that one of the class of 1947, a girl, somehow escaped into the real world, Tommy assumes that it was Greta, the one who gave him a hard time back in the school. He believes this because she has almost white hair, steel-gray eyes, and pale skin, like the gray children of Grayworld. It turns out that this girl wasn't Greta all along, it was Thalia.