Saturday, June 8, 2013
Howliday Inn & The Celery Stalks At Midnight, by James Howe
Publisher: The Listening Library
About 4 discs (Howliday Inn) and 1.5 discs (The Celery Stalks At Midnight)
Narrator: Victor Garber
1982 & 1983
Source: Library book
Description: Howliday Inn
Harold and Chester could hardly believe it. The Monroe family was going on vacation without them. Bunnicula, the family rabbit, would be boarded with a neighbor. But they, the family's loyal dog and cat, were to be sent away with strangers; to a place called Chateau Bow-Wow. Chateau Bow-Wow, observed Chester, soon after they arrived, could more properly be called Howliday Inn. Though what was howling, neither of them knew. Chester had his suspicions however; only a werewolf could make that chilling sound.
The Celery Stalks at Midnight
Bunnicula is missing Chester the cat makes a chilling discovery--Bunnicula the vampire bunny has vanished from his cage in the Monroe household. Everyone knows that vampire victims become vampires themselves--and the neighborhood gardens reveal the ultimate horror: bloodless zombie vegetables Determined to save Bunnicula's victims and the unsuspecting Monroes, Chester leads the valiant friends on a wild bunny chase. (From the back of the audiobook)
Review: I decided to review these together, because a lot of the problems I had with them were very similar.
In Bunnicula, Chester is a cat with a somewhat outlandish theory that explains the strange events going on around him, and Harold is his erstwhile, but somewhat dubious, friend.
In Howliday Inn, Chester is a cat throwing around really outlandish theories, before anything remotely strange actually happens. Then when "strange" events start happening, his theories are really a great deal stranger than the events warrant. A missing pet causes him to jump straight to murder, at the hands of one of the other pets boarded at the facility, and strange howling causes him to conclude that two other dogs are part werewolf, for no obvious reason. Harold seems to accept his theories a lot more easily, despite there being less evidence than there was that Bunnicula was a vampire.
We also get introduced to a whole lot of new characters, most of whom are fairly forgettable, and seem to only exist to give a supply of potential suspects for the murder mystery plot. The solution to the mystery is pretty obvious, and for all the references to werewolves, that element has had no pay off by the end of book three.
Also, in a move I consider odd for a sequel to Bunniula, Howliday Inn doesn't actually have any appearances by Bunnicula. He's been packed off to stay at a neighbor's house before the book actually starts.
The Celery stalks at Midnight is better in the department of giving Chester a reason to have a weird theory, Bunnicula is missing from his cage and there are drained vegetables in the neighborhood, but in order for his theory to make any sense you have to assume 1)that the Munroes have avoided discussing various plans they've made in front of their pets for no obvious reason and 2)that none of the pets have noticed that no one has ever seemed even slightly interested in eating the vegetables Bunnicula has drained, despite the conversations they overhear about them all seem to center around throwing them out.
Frankly, the Chester in the first book seemed a lot smarter than the one in the second and third books.
The Celery Stalks at Midnight also suffers from an influx of extra characters, but with less obvious reason to include them. A puppy from the "part werewolf" dogs in the second book has been added to the Munroe household, but other than bad puns, he only seems to serve to bring up werewolves again in this book. We also get a see a dog they boarded with in the second book and the violent cat he now lives next to. Both fail to add anything to the story.
It's possible these characters, and the werewolf references, pay off in later books in the series, but I stopped reading at this point as a kid.