PHBC – The Mall by Richie Tankersley Cusick


Do you remember the Point Horror Book Series from the 90’s? The Point Horror Series was a series of young adult point horror books and was launched in 1991 by Scholastic always with the Point Horror banner on the spine and on the top of every point horror book. There were a number of authors that wrote these books for Scholastic: R L Stine, Diane Hoh, Caroline B Cooney, Sinclair Smith to name but a few.

Are the Point Horror books we loved as a teenager still our favourites on the re-read? Are you new to Point Horror? Has our opinion changed? Are they still as good? Do they stand up to modern day YA Horror? Or are they a whole load of cray cray?

Lets find out…

#pointhorrorbookclub

Join in the discussion with this months pick….

The Mall by Richie Tankersley Cusick

Don’t forget to use the #pointhorrorbookclub on twitter so I can see your thoughts or tweet me using @chelleytoy

For links to #pointhorrorbookclub posts old and new, Point Horror guest posts and interviews with Point Horror authors please click here

Vote for the next #PointHorrorBookClub read here!


** Please note that as this is a discussion there will be spoilers**


The Tagline

Shop till you drop….dead

Okay ….so…What’s It All About?

Things are disappearing all over the mall, but no alarm systems are going off!

Ohhhhh creepy!  Tell me more!

Well The Mall was apparently one of the very first Mall’s and was built into the surrounding mountains…like a huge creepy house with secret passage ways, dodgy lighting, creepy elevators and surround by fog…..

Stop!  Not about the actual Mall we are here to read about the actual book!

*coughs*

Sorry I got a little carried away then….

Trish Somerfield has just started working at The Mall at Muffin Mania serving muffins to all manner of people….including a creepy guys who loves muffins a whole lot!

I mean you gotta love a good muffin right? *scoffs muffin*…tell me more….

And then the creepy phone calls start, numerous amount of car trouble, mysterious tapes, dead bodies and the feeling that someone is watching Trish every where she goes……

*chokes on muffin*

The Girl

Good old Trish Somerfield…..well she was our classic Point Horror girl really….you know the type….never thinks guys are after her, doesn’t do dares, Mom out of town in Europe somewhere……yes that old chestnut!

She wasn’t the brightest spark bless her…..I mean who gives their full address and details and the fact she is home all alone to a man who insisted on putting a band aid on her knee….oh yes that’s right…..Trish or Point Horror Girl.

*rolls eyes*

To be fair she did have everything thrown at her – fooled by grey wigs and beards, creepy phone calls, fake car accidents, car trouble complete with scraping sounds, seeing dead bodies in bin bags with ice picks sticking out of them….you know just the norm really.

She did give us some great moments though.  Some classic Trish/Point Horror moments.  Like the time she tried on a dress in the changing rooms and felt like someone was watching her so she LEAVES THE CHANGING CURTAIN OPEN!  NO TRISH!  JUST NO!  Oh and how could we forget when she fell off that escalator…..oh come on we have all done it *chuckles*  Oh just me then?

*coughs*

*moves along swiftly*

Awwww maybe we are being a little unfair on the poor thing….she was actually being stalked to all kinds of wrong levels, but of course she had everything under control.

Disclaimer – she really didn’t!

She kind of redeemed herself when she bravely goes to try and help her friend Imogene when she thinks she has been taken by the stalker…..she takes a lot of time to go down in the creepy elevator to save her friend only just to turn and run back at the first sign of a bloody ice pick!

In fact Trish does a lot of running back…gets a creepy call in the library….decides to run out of the back door, car breaks down….decides to run back to the Mall, creepy man tries to put a band aid on her knee…..sit’s there and trusts him….

She is not our best Point Horror girl we have ever had, but she certainly made me laugh quite a lot…even if this was perhaps unintentional….

The Love Interest

Storm Reynolds….I mean what a name!

*sniggers*

All I kept thinking about was Gladiators (you know the 90’s TV Show not the film or the historical gladiators lol).  The music even played in my head every time he appeared on the page.  Anyway, it turns out there was only a Storm in the American Gladiators so I’m not sure what planet I was on!  But the pleasure was all mine googling him….

Anywho….moving on….

Storm Reynolds (*plays Gladiators music*) with his high cheekbones, cute grin, thick dark hair, his tall slender well built frame, broad shoulders and lean muscle forearms was our love interest/red herring/ undercover cop ……yep you heard me right…..Stormy went all 21 Jump Street on us!  Kind of unbelievable I know… I mean who would have thought that the guy who cocks his head to one side when he speaks, takes women to secluded run down cottages and kisses them was a cop and not some kind of serial killer lurking in the shadows of the Mall.

Also what was with Storm actually man handling Trish and physically forcing her out of the library against her will….not on Storm Reynolds….not on at all.

I don’t think I was too keen on old Stormy….just ugh!  UGH!

The Gang

We had some great supporting characters in The Mall…

Best friend Nita Hanson….who made me think of actual Hanson…you know MMMBop….what happened to me whilst reading this book!?

Anyway, where was I?  Oh yes Nita Hanson with her short blond hair, pretty face and tall willowy dancer frame made me laugh lots.  I loved her!  I also love how she loved muffins with no calories in them….yes please Nita although I’m kind of off muffins at the moment for reasons explained below.  She was quirky, boy mad, flirty and just hilarious.  The perfect Point Horror best friend!

Then there’s Imogene….Nita’s twin sister, but the total opposite.  SHE WORKED IN A BOOKSTORE!  That’s all you need to know!  What can top that!  With her mousey hair, round stare (?), wise old owl woman with glasses to big for her face and who eat, sleeps and breathes her work (I mean who wouldn’t …she works in a bookshop) and she always had a theory about everything.  I loved her too….and not just because, I think I forgot to mention, SHE WORKED IN A BOOKSTORE!

Wyatt….the total opposite of our Storm Reynolds….and yes you have guessed it….Chelley had a thing for Wyatt!  With his long combed back hair, holey jeans, combat boots, denim jacket and quirky personality….what was not to love?  And he loved rock music!  Teenage Chelley’s dream come true!  My love for Wyatt this time round came form the Nina and Wyatt car scene!  Classic!  Loved it!  And just like Storm he turned out to be an undercover cop…..where has he been all of my Point Horror life?!

Mystery Creepy Man aka The Muffin Man aka Athan – you know that protector, that guardian, that devoted keeper, THAT STALKER! With his pointed chin, pale complexion, smooth palms, soft voice, gaunt pale face and numerous disguises including grey wigs, facial hair and fake scars what’s not to love.  And lets not forget his passion for ice picks!  I will never ever look at or eat a muffin in the same way ever again *passes sick bucket*  He really did give me the creeps and that was even before he watched Trish sleep in her hospital bed and her little pulse at her throat *shudders*!  I give him one thing though….he took making a playlist tape for your beau in the 90’s to a whole new level!

I’m just going to be quite blunt and come out and say it but he was a borderline rapist and basically a paedophile.  It was well creepy and so wrong on so many levels.  So wrong in fact that it made me actually wonder how the hell this was published for teenagers!  That was some serious creepiness that was just plain wrong!

Special mention goes to mean manager Bethany who was the most frustrated manager on earth who had apparently worked in every store and failed and who apparently was the owner of the Mall’s wife.  I bet stalker features didn’t really kill her off that’s all I’m saying……

Anyone for ice….I mean muffins?

Fashion Faux Pas

I think I was too busy thinking how on earth was this acceptable for teenagers to read so may have missed some fashion Faux Pas but I did notice a denium jacket with the sleeves cut off!

Good old 90’s eh?!

Dialogue Disasters

“Storm Reynolds.  With a name like that he should be in the movies”

Or Gladiators….just saying!

“The way that honey looks on your fingers…..one could almost….taste it”

*gags*

“I’m eating the muffin….it tastes like you”

Ewwwwwww.  I just can’t!

“This can’t be happening to me.  Things like this don’t happen to real people in real life”

Well duh….you’re in a Point Horror and this is the 90’s!

“Oh Mom of all times for you to be out of town….”

Trish has never been in a Point Horror before….this is her first time…..she’s a lucky thing!

“Where’s my Mother?”

“We couldn’t find anyone who’ll claim you”

Awwww Trish….maybe not so lucky? *coughs* *convenient* *coughs*

“We don’t have any all-night guards here at the mall”

I’m really not sure why I wrote this down, but it must have amused me in someway?!

“Then why don’t you ask her who she’d rather be with?”

Storm knows how to be the best kind of cop and prioritise the best questions for interrogation!

“What are you doing?”

“I want to show you something”

“What?”

“Take it easy.  You’re going to like this”

“I want to go home.  Please….I don’t feel good, I….”

“This will make you feel good…trust me”

And here we were thinking that the creepy muffin man was the stalker…..This was actually Storm……You know the super cop off Gladiators!

“Oh how could I have been so stupid”

*stares at Trish with that look….yes you know the one*

Body Count

I counted 3 possible dead people persons!

We had Freida at the beginning – remember her?  Possibly killed …. not sure this was ever confirmed?

Bethany……but she kind of deserved it!  You thought it too *gives stare*

And then of course the potentially dead, but still possibly alive bad guy Athan who in classic horror movie style disappeared after being shot!

Dum dum duuuuuummmmm

Is it scary?

I will admit I thought the whole lift scenes were terrifyingly scary…..the whole lift doors opening and the lift getting stuck and dropping and the person on top of the lift shaft….my little heart was racing so much at that point.

Other than that…..not particularly scary, but the presence of the actual Mall and the atmosphere it created gave the book a chilling feel.

Oh and those spider webs / spiders in the tunnels at the end……we all know what it’s like to walk through a spider web but can you imagine it being thick and full of spiders……oh my….I just can’t type any further about this…..*freaks out*

Did the best friend do it?

Erm…no….we had some creepy muffin man stalker who was all kinds of wrong on so many levels!

Some Mild Peril?

That lift!  Oh my gosh!  That was terrfifying!

And okay I guess being stalked by some creepy, muffin lovin guy who wants to marry you!

Is it any good?

This was basically a Point Horror version of Phantom Of The Opera…..you know it’s true!

I thought it was actually an okay read….but so so wrong on so many levels, but in a weird kind of way….

There was no big reveal even though we were meant to think that Storm and Wyatt were the red herrings and I think it’s important to remember what Richie said herself in our interview we did with her….this was one of the book that actually wasn’t written for the Point Horror brand, but was branded as such in the UK and other countries as it fitted the banner of the market.

Not my fave Richie Tankersley Cusick, but still a worthy addition to the Point Horror collection.

Final Thought

Honey Muffins…..

Cover Wars!

I found this really awesome alternative cover!  Which do you prefer?


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over to you!

As well as your thoughts on the book I’ve added some fun questions to ponder!

  • What actually happened to Freida?  Did it get forgotton that she went missing on the first page?  Did they ever find her?  Was it death by ice pick?  YOU decide!
  • What would you do in The Mall after dark?
  • Exactly how old were Storm and Wyatt?
  • What would your Mall shop be called?

You can leave a reply by using the reply button at the top of the page!

Also one of Point Horror Book Club members, Mark, who lives in Australia as been in touch with some wonderful people….

*hands over to Mark*

What do ‘Star Wars’, ‘Batman’ and ‘Bob the Builder’ have in common? Stumped? I’m not surprised! The answer is that they all involve actors who were part of the Point Horror Tapes (PHTs) between 1994 and 1997! As a club we touched upon this series about 18 months ago when we listened to ‘The Accident (PHT 5)’ as part of our review. After collecting all 8 tapes over the past few years, I thought it would be fun to see if we could learn a bit more about this part of the PH universe and I have been fortunate enough to make contact with William Dufris, Laurel Lefkow, Garrick Hagon and Liza Ross who were all involved in the series over its journey. They have all graciously agreed to field some questions from the PHBC gang, so please send your best-est queries through to Chelle ASAP! For those of you without a totally ace twin cassette boombox, might I suggest a quick trip over to YouTube where you can listen to all the PHTs J

A brief background…

William, Garrick and Liza met around 1990 – 1991 in London when their work with film dubbing, audiobooks and BBC radio dramas brought them together. All three already had lengthy resumes (just check out IMDB!) and around 1994 they made the decision to produce some work of their own and, after looking around for a suitable project, it was actually Garrick and Liza’s daughter, Allison, who suggested that they look into Point Horror. With the PH line only being relatively new in the UK (the first titles published in the UK were around 1991), Scholastic’s David Fickling was obviously keen on the idea of the creation of a series of audiobooks when the idea was brought to him and William, Garrick and Liza’s new production company, The Story Circle, was created.

Although published in the UK, the PH titles were still very American, so the first challenge for the fledging Story Circle team was to locate as many quality US actors working in the UK to help bring the stories to life. Laurel Lefkow, fresh off her role as Florence Maybrick in the Edward Woodward hosted ‘In Suspicious Circumstances’, was exactly the type of actor the Story Circle needed and she was to soon feature regularly in the series, including lead roles in ‘The Cemetery’ (PHT 3) and ‘The Witness’ (PHT 6).

All 4 of our PHBC guests are still very active in the industry – acting, producing and directing – so we’re very lucky to have the opportunity to speak with them and, on behalf of the PHBC, I extend a warm and sincere thanks to William, Garrick, Liza and Laurel for their time.

So do you have any questions you would like to ask William, Garrick, Liza and Laurel?  Leave your questions in the comments below……

Vote for the next #PointHorrorBookClub read here!

What will you pick?

NB – As I’m so late getting this post up and really want to get the next one up on the 13th September I have picked the next read already and will start the voting for the next read next month.

Our next Point Horror Book Club read for the 13th September is…….

For links to #pointhorrorbookclub posts old and new, Point Horror guest posts and interviews with Point Horror authors please click here

Thanks for joining in….

 

 

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I am often known to be a bit clumsy and a little loopy! Book loving (obsessed), theatre loving, slasher film loving csi geek!

Winner of UKYABA Champion Newcomer 2015 and nominated for Champion of Social Media 2016 and Blogger Of The Year 2016!


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4 thoughts on “PHBC – The Mall by Richie Tankersley Cusick

  1. mcstewart1978@gmail.com'Mark

    Hey guys! Took a while to find you – it feels like every escalator is broken in this place…

    Valentine’s Day was a few months ago now, but I hope it’s not too late for me to declare that I love ‘The Mall’! It’s one of those classic YA horrors that made me a lifelong fan of spooky stuff, and I’m not ashamed to say that even as a grown man, this was still a scary book! Being trapped in a shopping centre after hours is a terrific and terrifying concept! This is one of those ‘in between’ PH novels – in its original printing it was released by Archway books; it appears that it was only in a subsequent printing in the UK that it was rebadged as a PH novel. More of an interesting bit of trivia than anything else, as ‘The Mall’ clearly fits well into the PH stable. Right up front, RTC throws in a wacko in a window – such a creep prologue. I found it a bit different that we didn’t get much of a description of Trish Somerfield. Stine, for example, would’ve probably spent a page letting us know her hair style, body type, fashion sense etc. All RTC gave us (as far as I recall) was that Trish thought she was “boring and unpopular” but others thought she was “nice”. Oh! And she’s Muffin Mania’s latest employee and is already giving her friends freebies! *cough* thief *cough* Maybe that’s why Bethany doesn’t like you? #Justsayin’… So, given that the story is centred on The Muffin Man, Athan’s, obsession with Trish, I would’ve expected a more thorough bio of her. In contrast, we were told that her BFF Nita Hanson had short blond hair and a tall, willowy dancer’s frame and a straight and prim twin sister with mousy brown hair and glasses. Perhaps RTC deliberately left Trish vague so that the reader could imagine her in their own mind?

    Is this possibly the creepiest / grossest / skin crawling-est PH quote ever? “The way that honey looks on your fingers…one could almost…taste it” Oh, the horrors! But then we get a close 2nd: “I’m eating the muffin” he said “it tastes just like you” *shudder*

    The wonderfully named Storm Reynolds, our hunk from Pizza Park, probably needs to work on his game a little bit. I think his opening moves sounded a tad – just a tad – over the top! So full on! But he, and the other red herrings, were effective.

    What’s PH without a TSTL (too stupid to live) moment? Once Trish got through explaining to a total stranger posing as a guard who she was, where she lived, how long her mother was away for, which downstairs window had a faulty latch, where the spare back door key was kept, the best back lanes and alleys to take to avoid police and what time she goes to bed, I imagine we were all rolling our eyes! In Trish’s defense, at least she twigged afterwards that maybe she shouldn’t have divulged quite so much info! *smacks forehead*

    I really rate RTC’s writing style, she created a gripping page turner. The tension was relentless; many PH books tend to punctuate their scares with lighter counter points, but as soon as Trish was first placed in peril, RTC just put the foot down and put her heroine through the ringer for the rest of the book. And THEN threw in a room full of spiders on top! Sheesh!

    Stine has his egg cracking deaths, RTC gives us…an ice pick through the neck?! Yikes! Take THAT Uncle Bob!

    ‘The Mall’ is PH’s version of ‘Phantom of the Opera’ with an all-too-real modern day serial killer / stalker spin. Great book.

    Question time!

    • What actually happened to Freida? Did it get forgotton that she went missing on the first page? Did they ever find her? Was it death by ice pick? YOU decide!

    Allergic reaction to honey muffins; spent the remainder of the book in hospital.

    • What would you do in The Mall after dark?

    Anyone see ‘The Simpsons’ episode where Bart and Milhouse got into a mall after hours? That. Totally that.

    • Exactly how old were Storm and Wyatt?

    In true soap opera fashion, they were at least old enough to be Trish’s father

    • What would your Mall shop be called?

    “Creepy Couture: clothes for the fashionable man with an ambiguous age”

    Great to be back at PHBC! Get your questions in for the PHT interview, too 🙂

    Reply
  2. cmilton81@gmail.com'Cazzy

    I didn’t actually read this one, so don’t have anything to add, except I’m glad to see the PHBC back and looking forward to reading Beach Party again! it was one of my favourites vs k in the day…whether it still is, remains the be seen!

    Reply
  3. taramatthews1981@gmail.com'Tara

    I mostly enjoyed The Mall. I was also scratching my head wondering about Frieda!

    Looking forward to reading Beach Party next. Glad to see the bookclub is back Chelley- thank you from all of us.

    Reply

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