Superstitious by RL Stine – 1995
Superstitious is a great Stevie Wonder song, but it’s also the single most terrible novel I have ever read. In fact, a novel written by Stevie Wonder about the song would be much better.
Superstitious was released in 1995 and I read it shortly thereafter. It was curiosity more than anything else, because Stine was being billed on the cover as “The World’s Bestselling Horror Writer”, but I had never read any of his fiction, and I was only vaguely familiar with his name.
Of course, the reason my knowledge of his work was limited was because – until this release – his audience had been children. This was his first story for grown-ups… and boy does it show.
The novel belonged to my future brother-in-law, so the silver lining is that he was the one who paid for the book. He read it first and recommended I read it as well. I guess he didn’t want to be the only one with a sour taste in his mouth. We were (and are) both writers, and we both would have been embarrassed if this was our work.
I can remember writing a list of all the terrible phrases, sentences, and unintentionally funny moments, and wondering why this guy had a publishing contract and I didn’t. Unfortunately I don’t have the list any longer, but I’ll offer you this, the opening to Superstitious, exactly as it is presented to the reader. And trust me, it gets a lot worse from here.
Charlotte Wilson stares up at the ceiling. Pale yellow light from the street filters through the venetian blinds, spreading a shadow pattern of lines over her head. Bars, Charlotte thinks, prison bars. The guy beside her stirs. She hears him muffle a burp. His after-dinner burp, Charlotte thinks bitterly. I was dinner.
After we were done ripping it apart figuratively we decided to rip it apart literally… so we took turns using it as a surfboard to slide down his staircase. Okay, it was silly and disrespectful, but I promise you, it was a thousand times more fun than reading it.