Book ID help, please..

Yes, another one of THESE threads. :smiley:

When I was a wee lass, I had a horror book that I’d like to re-read. Here’s what I remember:

  • It was a haunted house/monster-type book, but not by any of the usual suspect authors.
  • On the cover was an embossed mummy (not a typical mummy- more of a stylised one, with red eyes, with the bandages falling off and spreading across the cover).
  • The protagonists were pseudo Boy/Eagle Scouts- one in particular was very into bird watching, and this leads him to the haunted house.
  • I believe it was a young adult-type book, but it was (to my mind) REALLY scary for a YA book.
  • I would have read it somewhere between 1982 and 1986.
  • I keep wanting to say it was named Phantom, or something like that. It was a very simple title.


I got nothing.
You say there were pseudo Boy Scouts. How many? All boys? Was this a series? Was it a hardback or paper. I really wish you’d read it later, it would have to be a Point horror series.
There’s a mummy on the cover, but they find a haunted house? Is that right?
So was there a mummy? Any ghosts?
Do you remember if it was a real haunting or just a reasonable explanation ending?
And, mummy. Was there an Egyptian theme of some sort?

I found a few I dismissed, Troll books were never ever scary and the Point and Twilight horror series were too late for you.

I’m willing to keep searching if you are!

I attempted a search as well.
Various Point Horror books kept popping up, but none actually sound right.

The only bird watching reference that I could find in the teen fiction/horror/thriller genre was My Secret Admirer. A girl is out bird watching and meets a boy. That’s about half a match on one detail.

Are you sure you can’t recall any more?
Was it a short, average, or long book?
What was it’s ISBN?
What country do you think it was from?
Was it bought new by you, or was it yellowed with age?

The Mummy, The Will and The Crypt by John Bellairs. This was the copy I had.

Sadly, that’s not it Teacake.

Let’s see…

  • It was a paperback, definitely not a short book. Maybe 250-300 pages? A one-off (not part of a series).
  • I think there were 4 boys. There might have been another group that they had a rivalry with, or a specific bully they had trouble with. I very very clearly remember the one main protagonist boy who was into birdwatching.
  • There wasn’t an Egyptian theme. I think the mummy was… part of the house’s haunted theme somehow, like the house manifested visions based on each person’s thoughts/fears. There definitely wasn’t a reasonable explanation at the end.
  • As far as I remember, it was an American author. The book was in English, but didn’t have quirky language that would make me think it was from across the pond.
  • I want to say there was a scene with the protagonist being chased away from the house by a dog (doberman/rottie/slavering hellbeast type) through a weird courtyard/overgrown garden, but honestly I can’t say that with 100% certainty.
    It’s quite possible that I’m mistaken and it wasn’t meant for young adults, as I was not known for sticking within my age range for reading… but I owned the copy, which means I either got it from a book sale at school or a library sale. I don’t remember it being particularly beat up or particularly new- it was well-read, certainly, but the pages were that odd manilla color that so many of our books had back then.

I really appreciate the help!!!
ETA: The majority of the cover was black, with the scary mummy (head and a little of the shoulders) facing outward covering about 3/4 of the cover. Dark red eyes, dark brown bandages.

Ok. There was one book that came to mind, but I dismissed it early on.

Now, with your new details, I feel I should verify with you - is there any chance it could be It, by Stephen King?
Maybe a book club re-issue?

Yeah, that was my thought, too. There was a scene in there that was very similar to what you describe: mummy, old rotting house, group of kids, one of which was both a Boy Scout and a birdwatcher. The other kids weren’t Boy Scouts (in fact, they weren’t even all boys) and the book was a lot longer than 200-300 pages, but it’s worth a check.

Sorry, had trouble with putting a link in that last post. Here’s what wikipedia says about It:

I suppose I should present the argument to support my suggestion. IT has the following:
-A simple title.
-A shape shifting monster.

  • A main character (Stan?) is a bird watcher.
  • There is a rival gang involved.

Between these and the size you suggested for the book, it sounds close to the middle section of It. Maybe a book club condensed It, or issued it in 3 parts? Or maybe Steve read the same book as you and it inspired him.

Anyway, let me know if It rings any bells, or not.


Nah, you’ve got the title right all along - it’s Phantom, by Thomas Tessier. I searched through reviews in the Novelist database (available through all finer public libraries everywhere), then cross-referenced in Goodreads and a Google Image Search. See if this is the cover:

OMG, montag, that’s it!!! I wonder why I was never able to find it before??

I can totally see why other folks were thinking of “It,” which is why I mentioned in the OP that it wasn’t by the usual suspect authors. I’ve had a copy of It in one form or another since it was published, so I knew that definitely wasn’t it. But a very good guess nonetheless!!

Now I can’t wait to re-read it; some of those reviews mention the ending being unexpected, and I don’t remember it at all. Doubt I’ll find it as scary these days, but it’ll still be nice to read.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone!!!

Good - you found the book you were looking for.

Bad - I went digging for my copy of IT. And started skimming. And then started reading. And now I can’t put it down. :smack:

Only 800 pages to go.
Because of this thread I’m going to get nothing done this weekend. Thanks a bunch.


Ha ha ha ha ha ha!!! Sorry about that, ** Snerky**! :smiley: