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3.8 out of 5 stars24
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 13 February 2006
I bought this book from a market stall about ten years ago simply from it's statement that it was more frightening that Lord of the Flies and The Exorcist (I had just finished reading The Exorcist). However, for some reason that I seemed to have forgotten, I never actually got round to reading the book and eventually misplaced it. I don't know what made me fancy reading this all of a sudden, but I did, so I went and bought it again. I am glad to say that it was well worth the wait, if at least in a rather disturbing sense.
I simply cant quite believe how disturbing this book is. Johnson really throws the reader into the paralysing psyche of Barbara, the baby-sitter. He also allows the reader to develop a reading relationship with each of the children. This throws the reader from one point of view to another and makes for gripping reading.
I wont get into how horrific this book is because I don't want to spoil anything, but all I will state is that the book is VERY disturbing - do not approach unless you have a strong stomach/psyche.
The only downside of the book, for me anyway, was at times I felt some of the narrative was rather dull. It seemed a little slow at points. Fortunately, these dull points were made up for with some gripping scenes.
There will no doubt be some controversies presented by this book but I felt that Johnson dealt with some very taboo issues rather well. This book allows its reader to finish it and take away many different feelings. It left me baffled but made my me consider modern society and the overpowering fear of helplessness. Personally, this was the major theme that left me gobsmacked and had me shaking my head many times.
If you like a good thriller/horror, this book is well worth a visit. It will leave an impression on you and I believe will at least have you considering many of its themes.
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If youve ever wondered what that sly look in the eyes of groups of children could be hiding, this is the "extremis".
I have a sturdy and robust stomach and psyche when it comes to horror fiction, but this book had a profound effect on me that has endured for the best part of the 30 years since I first read it.
It is well written, and steps into the psyche of a group of youngsters who are left in the care of a young adult babysitter.
What starts as a childhood game quickly spirals out of control and plunges into the depths of innocent depravity. (yes, I know that is an oxymoron, but believe me, it fits the tale perfectly).
The gardiated buildup to the inevitable finale is tense and almost unbearable, leaving me as the onlooker/reader clinging manfully to the hope that common sense will prevail and that at any point the wickedness and sheer horror will subside and some acceptable conclusion will be furnished by the author.
This is NOT a normal horror story... there are no charicature symbolic "Monsters" with satanic influence.
This tale`s horror lies in a much darker place... the innate base human instincts tempered with the naivity of childhood.
Quite simply... horrific.
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A novel that claims on its cover to be "more terrifying than Lord Of The Flies & The Exorcist combined". I picked this novel up having never heard of Mendal Johnson before, but I thought that I would give it a go. And how glad I was to do that. This horror tale will engulf you from start to finish with an incredible degree of suspension that will end up harrowing you as it brings you to its deeply disturbing climax. A novel well worthy of the five stars I have given it.
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on 28 April 2002
It is about a group of children who decide it would be fun to capture their babysitter. What makes it so creeepy is to the children it is just a game and the end makes it even worse. It would definitely make you think twice about what your kids might be playing with their friends!
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on 17 March 2008
Simply the most horrific and frightening book i have ever read. I will never forget it. A must read for those who like horror!
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on 3 August 2014
I appreciate that this is a classic in many respects, so I want to be clear that this review is entirely personal. I think it may be because I am getting older but I am just tired of the banality of evil and the wanton, needless infliction of pain. That is what I hate about this: not the writing (although it now feels slightly dated) or the imagination which went into the pace, plotting and storyline. There are many badly written books out there and this is certainly not one of them. My revulsion though overwrites any admiration I can have for the writing.
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VINE VOICEon 2 February 2003
I read this book when it was first published in 1976 and it has haunted me ever since. A group of children capture their baby sitter and put her through an unimaginable nightmare. It is the only book ever where I HAD to read the back page to see what happened, it really had that effect. I bought a first edition recently and my daughter read it,it took her three months to make herself finish it and I think she still wishes she did'nt. If you have an extremly strong stomach and love being scared to death....give it a go!! Don't say I did'nt warn you.
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on 22 January 2016
...or let's not!!!

I read this book as a young teenager. I found this to be a disturbing read that has stayed with me to this day!

The thing that gets me every time, is that I repeatedly forget it was based on a real event, until I click on it on Goodreads, and see one of my friend's reviews directly below mine, reminding me of this fact.

I still have my paperback copy (see photos below), and wonder if one day I will dare to read it again. As I've read a lot of horror and dark psychological thrillers since reading this, I wonder if a re-read will make it seem less scary, but at the same time, I fear the images in the darkest corners of my mind will come flooding back upon reading it again.

So, while I spend probably another decade considering whether I dare read this again, it will sit on my bookshelf where I know it can behave itself. It is one of those books that I thought was very good, but I do not take pleasure in recommending it to others in case it makes them feel how I did as a young girl.

On the back cover, Publishers Weekly state "A horror tale that will harrow you and haunt you long after you have finished it." I see why I was attracted to it in the first place, with loving horrors, lol. However, I don't think I ever expected it would still have such a strong impact on my thoughts and feelings about 25 years later.
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on 9 December 1998
This book is really something else, a powerful and chilling story which gives an insight into the darker side of human nature. A group of children chloroform and tie up the babysitter who is supposed to be looking after them. The details and psychology of this situation are described so well that the implications take a while to sink in - this gets the book off to a slow start, but the scene soon develops far beyond what the children or their captive can be expected to deal with. In the end the book is a kind of cautionary tale or religious parable, with set-pieces which engrave themselves on the memory. Despite being a fan of disturbing books in general, I found this one to be completely off the scale compared to most horror/crime fiction, and without exaggeration, it disturbed my sleeping patterns for months. I can't understand why it isn't better known - it certainly is a classic - except for the title perhaps, which should really be changed to something like "Secret Absolution" or "Beyond The Garden of Eden". Recommended for all fans of strong stuff.
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on 23 November 2015
Years ago, I read the Turkish translation. Unless the translator performed entirely incorrect translation (which is very highly unlikely) , this is the worst book I have ever read. Mercifully, the author did not write another book. The children will commit a crime (in fact, total two murders) and crime investigators will not discover it???? Are you joking???? It could be realistic for high school or secondary school pupils only!!!! Apparently the author was under the influence of some real facts (which resulted in police intervene and trial, ignored by the author) and wrote a stupid, dumb story. Even the film named as THE COLLECTOR (starring Terence Stamp and Samantha Eggar) was not as silly garbage as this one. I would give the book zero star if I could.
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