Prepare for an announcement guaranteed to leave you with goosebumps.
To help kick off the 30th anniversary of Goosebumps this summer, author R.L. Stine is releasing a brand-new book on Sept. 20. This time, however, he's turning the focus on Slappy's evil life.
E! News can exclusively reveal the cover of Slappy, Beware! And if you couldn't already guess, this work of fiction promises to bring more than a few thrills and chills to readers of all ages.
"My original title for this book was Slappy's Terrible Horrible Very Bad Day," Stine shared with E! News. "I think Slappy fans will get a kick out of it because, unlike most books in the series, it depicts the absolute WORST day in Slappy's evil life."
He added, "I like this book because it shows Slappy in a whole new light. He's in danger of never menacing anyone again!"
For more than 30 years, the Goosebumps series has been delighting fans. And while Stine originally started the series with just a couple of ideas, he quickly realized that readers love a good scare when it's fun and funny. In regards to Slappy, the living ventriloquist dummy is the main antagonist of the franchise who comes to life in more ways than one.
"There is a part in every book where the readers realize they have been completely fooled," he said. "A lot of children's books are linear and predictable. I work hard to keep the readers off-balance and guessing."
To celebrate the release of Slappy, Beware!, E! News is sharing an exclusive excerpt of the first chapter.
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Slappy, Beware! (Goosebumps Special Edition)
In Slappy, Beware!, Slappy experiences his scariest day. Could it actually bring an end to his reign of terror? Prepare for book full of twist and turns when it's released Sept. 20. The special edition also features four full-page pieces of original Slappy art.
200 Years Ago
Where did Slappy come from? What brought him to life? There are many stories and legends about Slappy's origin. Some say that an evil magician carved him out of wood from a haunted coffin. One story goes that he escaped from a puppet factory in Cincinnati. Another legend says that the ghost of a ten-year-old boy lives inside Slappy's head.
I'm not sure about those stories. I think the story I'm about to tell you is the true one.
Slappy's story starts two hundred years ago in a tiny village in Europe. So let's head there—to a cottage at the edge of the deep woods. That's where you will meet Darkwell the puppet-maker. He is also a sorcerer. Darkwell is going to cast a secret spell. A spell that will change many lives as it travels through the centuries.
What is this mysterious spell, you might ask? What is this curse that's been kept secret for 200 years? Be patient, readers. Let me tell you the story...
Flames crackled in the fireplace. They sent shadows leaping and dancing over the walls of the small cottage. Outside, the wind moaned, shaking the glass in the window and whistling through the cracks in the thin walls. Feeling a chill, Ephraim Darkwell pulled his gray robe tighter around him. The old man's hood fell over his forehead, covering his long white hair. He leaned over his workbench, his hand moving a knife quickly, smoothly.
Darkwell's deep gray eyes locked on the rounded piece of wood he was sculpting. A head. He rubbed his thumb over its scalp, brushing away a splinter. He worked the slender wooden eyelids up and down.
The face was nearly completed. Darkwell knew he had little time to finish. He had heard the rumors. The talk in the village. He had explained to everyone that he was a simple dollmaker, a builder of puppets.
But the superstitious villagers didn't believe him.
They spied on him. From the woods behind the cottage, they watched him through the cottage's only window. Somehow, they learned the truth.
Darkwell was no simple puppet-maker. He was a sorcerer who could magically bring his puppets to life. A master of the dark arts. But he had vowed never to use his power for evil.
He came to the village to work in peace. To be left alone to build his creations and explore the magic he had learned. He meant the villagers no harm . . .
Until yesterday . . . when Darius Koben, the Chief Constable, burst into the cottage, grim-faced and wheezing in anger. That moment, Darkwell knew his peace had ended.
"You and your nephew must leave," Koben boomed, banging his cane against the floor with each word. "You are not wanted here. Your evil magic has frightened everyone."
Darkwell bowed his head. "I am a simple dollmaker," he said.
Koben smacked the cane hard against the wooden wall. His cheeks reddened above his gray beard.
"Your lies cannot protect you, Darkwell!" he shouted. "You have been seen talking to your dolls—and they have been seen talking back. They move about your cottage as if they are alive. You cannot deny the truth. It is too late!"
"I mean no harm," Darkwell insisted.
"I did not come to argue," the constable said, waving his cane in the air. "I came to warn you."
"There is talk in the village," Koben said, lowering his voice. "Talk of burning you out. The torches are already lit, Darkwell. Do you understand? The townspeople's anger—it cannot be controlled."
Darkwell stared at the constable, allowing his words to sink in.
"Get out!" Koben shouted. "Leave now! You and your nephew. Pack up and get out if you value your lives!"
The constable spun on his cane and stomped from the cottage. The slender door banged in the swirling wind. Darkwell pulled the door closed, feeling the cold air on his face.
He shivered, but not from the cold. He shivered in anger that his work would be interrupted. He was about to finish his most magical creation yet. He couldn't allow the foolish, ignorant villagers to destroy his masterpiece.
Darkwell leaned over the workbench all night, his hands working feverishly. And now he held the doll in front of him.
"Those fools will be sorry," he told the doll. "They have pushed me too far. Once you are finished, we will make them sorry they are alive."
The lifeless eyes gazed up at him. The wooden lips turned up in a grin. The head lay tilted to one side.
"Almost complete, my little friend," Darkwell said. But then he uttered a startled gasp as the cottage door swung open.
A figure staggered in. His hair flew wildly about his face. His white shirt was stained, one sleeve nearly ripped off. A trickle of blood ran from his nose. His cheek was cut, dark blood forming a crooked line.
"Isaac!" Darkwell cried, staring in horror at his twelve-year-old nephew. "Isaac! Isaac! What have they done to you?"
Text excerpt from Slappy, Beware! by R.L. Stine © 2022 by Scholastic Inc.