Book 13: Piano Lessons Can Be Murder
This is another one of the Goosebumps books who’s cover is forever etched into my brain. Floating hands playing a piano... what a creepy concept.
The book itself isn’t particularly terrible. Stine creates an likable enough prankster in Jerry and manages to create and eerie enough situation.
Jerry and his family move into a new house and while there they find a piano in the attic. They decide to move it downstairs and Jerry decides he wants to learn how to play. The phonebook has only 1 name in it (Dr. Shreek) so they schedule some practices. Jerry does quite well and Dr. Shreek eventually asks Jerry to start coming to his school.
Jerry keeps hearing weird stories about the school (specifically by fellow student and next door neighbor Kim). Also he has this weird ghost that plays the piano at night and warns him to avoid the school. Finally he decides to quit but Dr. Shreek won’t allow him.
Turns out Shreek is just a robot built by the school mechanic Mr. Toggle who is cutting off hands of pianists and forcing them to play music for him. Yeah it’s a weird twist.
The hands rebel and attack Mr Toggle and Jerry gets away.
THE BAD: I have a few issues with this book. First of all Toggle literally says “I programmed Shreek to say that” early on in the book. Obviously Shreek is a robot, that’s not like a typical phrase people use. Also there’s a ‘it was just a dream’ scare in the middle of the book and I hate those. Finally I’m confused how literally dozens of piano students go missing and no one checks out the school they were all getting classes at.
THE GOOD: The ghost portion is quite good and eerie plus the idea of cutting off hands and making them play piano is just ridiculous enough to have made a great episode of Tales from the Crypt. Now let’s see if it made a great episode of Goosebumps...
THE TV SHOW EPISODE: This was shockingly one of the best episodes of Goosebumps I’ve watched thus far. All the performances are quite good and I loved seeing Dr Vink (from Are You Afraid of the Dark) as Dr. Shreek. Furthermore the ghost effects were pretty good including the floating hands playing piano. I can understand some of the changes made in the TV series but I don’t understand why they even introduced Kim if she was there for about 30 seconds and did nothing to change the story. It did feel like a Tales from the Crypt episode. Specifically with the ending where Mr. Toggle is confronted by the ghost of his old Music teacher.
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Book 14 ----->