I picked up a beat up copy of Beware, the Snowman at the Goodwill last year, because Creepmas. I decided to finally read through the book this Creepmas season, as it is fairly short, as are all Goosebumps books. R.L. Stine cranked out 62 books for the original Goosebumps series, and this gem was #51. This book was never made in to a subsequent TV episode, which is a real shame, because it would have been a perfect Christmas special!
The book gets off to a great start by leading with a cute little snowman poem:
He brings the cold."
"When the snows melt.
And the warm sun is with thee,
Beware, the snowman—
For the snowman shall go free."
Jaclyn, the main character, has moved from Chicago to a strange village on the edge of the Arctic Circle called Sherpia (I won't lie, that made me laugh! People forget that Stine has a sense of humor. His books were as much about comedy as they were about horror, I think). We learn that Jaclyn's mother dies when she was 4 and her father mysteriously disappeared shortly there after, leaving her aunt as legal guardian.
I love how the end of every single chapter of every single Goosbumps book end on a little mini cliffhanger! They range from goosebumps inducing to downright cheesy and predictable. My absolute favorite cliffhanger had me literally laughing out loud! When Jaclyn is face to face with the evil snowman, she is shocked by a startling revelation:
“DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?” it demanded.
I swallowed hard. The question took me totally by surprise. I opened my mouth to answer, but no sound came out.
“DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?” the snowman thundered.
“No,” I squeaked. “Who are you?”
“I AM YOUR FATHER!” the snowman cried.
“Nooooooo!” A long wail escaped my throat.
I wanted to get away from there. I wanted to run. To slide down the mountain. To fly away.
But I couldn’t move.
The snowman trapped me in his icy grip. Held me there on the ledge. Froze me in wave after wave of cold.
“Jaclyn—I am your father,” the snowman repeated, lowering his booming voice. He stared down at me with those frightening, round glassy eyes. “Believe me.”
“Th-that’s impossible!” I stammered. I hugged myself, trying to stop my body from trembling. “You’re a snowman! You can’t be my father!”
Turns out that the snowman is not actually her father, rather the mysterious bearded hermit with the trained wolf (named Wolfbane!) is actually her father, a great sorcerer. She finds out too late and frees the snowman with the second verse of the poem, revealing the monster within:
I turned to the snowman and saw him begin to melt.
The white snow oozed down his face and body like melting ice cream.
The black eyes dropped to the snow. The face melted, melted onto the body. The snow poured off the round body. The tree branch arms thudded heavily to the ground.
Slowly his real face came into view.
Slowly his body emerged from under the snow.
I stared as the snow dripped away.
And then I opened my mouth in a shrill scream of horror.
An ugly, snarling, red-skinned monster stomped out from under the oozing snow.
Aunt Greta had told the truth. A monster was trapped inside the snowman. Not my father.
Not my father.
A monster… such a hideous monster!
Its head and body were covered with crusty red scales. Its yellow eyes rolled wildly in its bull-shaped head. A purple tongue flapped from its jagged-toothed mouth.
Luckily, good old Pops came to the rescue, using his sorcery to summon all the snowmen of the village to save the day:
The snowmen rumbled up the icy ledge. The steady thud thud thud grew louder as they neared. The sound echoed off the snowy mountaintop until it sounded as if a thousand snowmen were marching to attack us.
Aunt Greta and I shrank back against the glassy cave wall.
We had nowhere to run. The monster blocked the cave entrance. The marching snowmen cut off any escape down the ledge.
Closer came the snowmen. Closer. Close enough to see the anger in their round, black eyes. Close enough to see the snakelike scars cut into their faces.
Aunt Greta and I couldn’t move. We raised our hands as if to shield ourselves.
And then we gasped in surprise as the snowmen marched right past us.
They rumbled up to the monster. Bouncing fast. Thudding over the ice. Arms waving, dark eyes glowing.
Bounced up to the startled monster. And pushed him. Pushed him back.
The snowmen crushed up against him. One snowman. Then two. Then ten.
They crushed against his scaly, red body. Pushing him back. Back.
The monster tossed its head in an angry roar.
But the roar was smothered as a snowman rolled over the monster’s head.
Aunt Greta and I gasped in amazement as the snowmen swarmed over the monster.
Pushed him back against the cave wall.
We saw the monster’s powerful arms flail the air, thrashing wildly. Helplessly.
And then the monster disappeared behind a crush of snowmen.
The snowmen pushed forward. Pushed hard. Pushed silently.
Like a silent avalanche.
And when they finally stepped back, the monster stood frozen, arms stretched out as if to attack. Not moving. Frozen inside the ice wall.
The snowmen had pushed him into the wall. Trapped him inside the glassy wall of ice.
The horror and suspense do not end there however. After a warm father daughter reunion the army of snowmen suddenly turn against their master!
Before my father could answer, one of the snowmen came thumping out of the group. He rumbled up to us, arms twitching, eyes flashing.
I grabbed Dad’s arm. The snowmen had us totally surrounded.
Nowhere to move. No chance to run away.
The snowman stopped inches from my father—and opened his mouth to speak.
“Can we go back down now?” the snowman asked. “It’s really cold up here!”