Escape from the Carnival of Horrors is the first book in the Give Yourself Goosebumps gamebook series. It is a gamebook, which means that the main character is the reader.
The cover illustration featured a purple alligator breaking out of its cage. The tagline was, "Take a ride if you dare...".
You sneak into the closed annual carnival with your friends, Patty and Brad. But then you need to escape, because the carnival is evil. It is owned by a man who traps you and your friends inside the carnival. He forces you all to "test" out the rides, before the carnival opens and traps the entire city's population inside. The reader can decide to fight the monster of Booger Bog, face the psychotic carnival freak, the evil Snake Lady, brave the Supersonic Space Coaster, risk the attack of every reptile in the Petting Zoo, become slaves to Slappy or Mr. Wood, or ride the Doom Slide.
You decide to try out the carnival's rides. Having been separated from Patty and Brad (which happens no matter what choice you make), you then have to find them and escape the carnival.
You visit the sideshows, and are told that you have to play carnival games. But if you lose, you'll pay with your life...
Side Story C
From Story B, you get involved with the freak show, whose inhabitants are being held prisoner by an evil fortune-teller. You try to save the freaks as well as finding a way for you and your friends to escape.
There are twenty-three bad endings and two good endings.
- You, Patty and Brad get trapped in a "Reptile Petting Zoo", but it turns out the petting zoo is for the reptile. You all become an alligator's new pets.
- The Wheel of Chance lands on NO CHANCE.
- The Space Coaster breaks down, and Patty and Brad vanish. You decide to stay where you are, but the ride fills with perfume, which immobilizes you. You're taken away by carnival workers as a dummy for a space display.
- Going back in time to when you first happened upon the Carnival of Horrors. Patty and Brad don't remember anything, but you do, and now you're going to have to go through it all over again...
- After playing "Guess Your Weight on Mars", you get blasted off to Mars for 20 years (with a chance of either 10 more or less years). The game determined that you are the perfect weight to be sent to Mars.
- You fall down a gorge and try to grab onto the side of the bridge above, but miss. It's implied you fall forever.
- Two of Dr. Frank N. Stone's monsters use you as a volleyball in their game. You're told they have spiked hands.
- Getting caught and presumably eaten by a swamp monster.
- Riding forever on the Doom Slide for the rest of your natural life.
- Becoming the slaves to Slappy (or Mr. Wood) after saying the mystic words "Karru Marri Odonna Loma Molonu Karrano" (You're given a chance to escape if you ran into the fortune teller before).
- Alternatively, you say the wrong magic words, and get turned into a chicken.
- A giant crane scoops you up and dumps you into the log flume. The log goes over a waterfall and sinks; you end up drowning.
- Whilst riding on a train, you dodge a ghost in front of you, but fail to notice that another one has come up behind you. The ghost eats you and you turn into a ghost too.
- You're dropped from a height onto a giant trampoline, and bounce up and down forever.
- You try to pull off a monster's head, thinking he might be an animatronic. But he turns out to be an actual monster, and he rips your head off instead.
- After you decide not to trust Patty, she turns into a monster and eats you as she doesn't want you ruining her plans.
- A giant slams you into a wall so forcefully that you crash through and fly far out of the carnival, killing you.
- You get saved by a man in a boat. But he turns out to be a monster who saves you for a midnight snack.
- Cannoned into outer space. You are seen as a small speck on NASA's radar screen.
- Being stuck together with Brad and Patty by a glue-like substance forever. Now you are the "Siamese Triplets" — a new addition to the Freak Show.
- A giant vulture drops you into a nest for its babies to eat. But you fall out of the nest to your death.
- You're trapped with a bunch of demented elves with axes. Since you're in a horse-drawn cart, you try to make the horse move faster. But it won't move, and the elves decapitate you.
- The Giant, the Fat Lady, and the Three-Headed Man from the Freak Show follow you home, in gratitude for you freeing them. You're worried about how much they will eat.
- You're stuck in the mirrored hallways after going left, turning between two pages.
- You ride on a choo-choo train for little children, and go through a tunnel. The Carnival of Horrors is replaced with the same boring old carnival that's always been there before. But you and your friends appreciate it and deem it to be fun.
- Escaping from the carnival with the help of Monster Blood. After you're outside, the carnival vanishes. All that's left is a spooky silver mist.
Cover Art Gallery
- There is an ending that involves the reader stuck between turning to two pages, unable to get out of the Hall of Mirrors. This is actually the only time Give Yourself Goosebumps had an ending like this.
- The cover was not illustrated by Mark Nagata, who illustrated many of the Give Yourself Goosebumps books covers, contrary to popular belief. It was actually illustrated by Tim Jacobus, the artist who illustrated Goosebumps and Goosebumps Series 2000. This is especially noticeable due to the plants in the background. His signature is obscured on the front cover illustration by a sticker that says CHOOSE FROM OVER 20 DIFFERENT SCARY ENDINGS! However, it is visible on the back, on a brick to the lower right hand side of the alligator (or crocodile).
- There are many notable references to other Goosebumps books, I.E. Night of the Living Dummy, Monster Blood, and more.
- There is a reference to the 1971 movie adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
- This is the first book which quizzed you on your knowledge of the main Goosebumps series. Many others would do the same.
- While this book has two good endings, Return to the Carnival of Horrors assumes that only one of them (riding the little kid's choo-choo train and the carnival becoming normal again) happened. This presumes that you followed the "rides" storyline, since the other good ending comes from successfully completing the "sideshows" storyline. However, Return to the Carnival of Horrors also states that "you" encountered certain things in the sideshows storyline as well....which would be impossible from this book.
- The book has a later sequel named Return to the Carnival of Horrors