By GLENN TOLLE
Ghosts and time travel, two staples of children’s fiction, collide to create a wild ride in R.L. Stine’s forgotten roller coaster tale THE BEAST published in 1994 by A Minstrel Book.
THE BEAST centers on 12 year old cousins James and Ashley as they travel back in time to June 15th 1931. That day, Kings Island amusement park, then called Firelight Park after the torches that light its boardwalks, was hit by a tornado taking the lives of many. James and Ashley get trapped in the park after dark and decide to return to The Beast, their favourite roller coaster, after hearing that it’s haunted. There, they meet an old man named P.D. Walters who claims to have witnessed the tornado that hit 63 years ago. He invites James and Ashley to ride The Beast, which he maintains; what follows is nothing short of suspenseful and frightening.
I bought THE BEAST at a Goodwill for 50 cents. It’s a fun and fast piece of children’s fright fiction that unfortunately gets buried under other more notable titles in Stine’s extensive canon. Rereading THE BEAST for this article, I was transported back in time to when I could ride roller coaster after roller coaster without getting sick. As a rule, I generally avoid amusement parks these days but I make an exception with THE BEAST. It’s a great little book that’s perfect for this time of year.
THE BEAST can currently be purchased on Amazon for $5.26 in “good” condition.
The follow-up book, THE BEAST 2, can currently be purchased on Amazon for $4.99 in “good” condition. I have not read this installment yet but I can only imagine it lives up to the first.
THE BEAST is a real roller coaster at Kings Island and is considered one of the greatest roller coasters in the world.