The cover illustration shows a headless ghost walking down the stairs, while carrying his head.
They've Got a Real Head Start...
Everyone knows about Hill House. It's the biggest tourist attraction in town. That's because it's haunted. Haunted by the ghost of a thirteen-year-old boy. A boy with no head! Duane and Stephanie love Hill House. It's dark. And creepy. And totally scary. Still, they've never actually seen the ghost. Until the night they decide to go on a search. A search for his head...
Duane Comack and his friend Stephanie Alpert live in the relatively ordinary town of Wheeler Falls, where the two of them terrorize the neighborhood- pulling pranks like looking into windows wearing masks and making scary noises in the bushes. Due to their pranks, and an idea Stephanie came up with one Halloween night, the two of them become "The Twin Terrors of Wheeler Falls"
However the one place they refuse to haunt is a house known as Hill House, rumored to be haunted. Hill House is the only real tourist attraction in Wheeler Falls, and regular tours are held there, which Duane and Stephanie attend often. Their favorite guide is an elderly man named Otto. During a tour, Otto recounts the story of how Hill House became haunted. According to legend, the house was built by a sea captain for his wife, Annabel. When it was finally finished, the captain was called to sea, and his wife was forced to spend her time alone in the house, waiting for her husband to return. However, the captain never came back, and so the wife fled the house. Later, the people of Wheeler Falls reported seeing his ghost, holding a lantern, and looking for his wife, calling her name.
Later, the Craw Family moves into the house. Their son, Andrew, is a rotten, nasty child- he pulls horrible pranks on others, and once even dropped a cat out of a window for fun. One night, Andrew discovers a room in the house, waiting for him there is the ghost of the sea captain, now more monstrous than before. The ghost tells Andrew that since he saw him, Andrew cannot leave. The captain's ghost then grabs ahold of Andrew, and pulls his head off, hiding it somewhere in the house. The captain then vanishes from the house, leaving Andrew as the new ghost that haunts Hill House- forever searching for his lost head.
When they leave the tour, Duane and Stephanie go terrorize a boy named Ben Fuller by throwing fake spiders in his window. Stephanie tells Duane she's grown bored of pulling the same pranks, and that she has a much better idea. She tells Duane that the two of them need to hunt for Andrew's head during the tour. Duane is reluctant, but eventually agrees.
The two go back on another tour, where Otto reveals more about the spirits of Hill House. Otto tells the guests that after Andrew's death, his little sister, Hannah was driven mad, staying in her room and collecting dolls. His mother, apparently died when she fell down the stairs, and his father seemingly died in the house's fireplace, his only remains being a pair of burnt hands. While on the tour, Duane spots a boy looking at him oddly, but Stephanie tells him to ignore his looks, and the two break off from the group to search for Andrew's head. The two head upstairs- where the tour never goes. They hear voices, and go investigate. Otto catches them later on, and sends them out of the house.
After leaving, the two are confronted by the same boy on the tour, he says his name is Seth, and that he can help them see a real ghost in the house. According to Seth, the ghosts never reveal themselves on the tour, and only come out at night. The three of them enter the house through an entrance in the back, and they go about looking around the house. Seth tells them another ghost story- about a boy who was killed in the house's dumbwaiter. Eventually when they reach another room, Seth locks them in a pantry,
Seth reveals his real name is Andrew- that he is the ghost. Andrew reveals that the head he has on now is one he borrowed, and that he has to return it. Andrew tells Duane that he now wants his head. Andrew attempts to take Duane's head, and both him and Stephanie stumble across a hidden tunnel behind the house's walls, where a ladder leads to another secret room beneath it. Inside the hidden room, they find Andrew Craw's missing head. Andrew lets out a cry as the real spirit of the boy appears, grabbing ahold of his head. Andrew's ghost thanks them, before vanishing inside the walls, now free to go into the afterlife
Otto stumbles across them later on, and scolds them for being inside the house. Seth, revealed to be Otto's nephew, is also scolded for telling ghost stories. Duane and Stephanie swear they saw a real ghost, but Otto doesn't believe them.
Weeks after their encounter, Duane and Stephanie have now given up scaring the neighboorhood, and taking up new hobbies. However, during the winter, the two decide to take one final tour of Hill House. Otto, and another guide, Edna are pleased to see them. After the tour is complete, Duane and Stephanie are approached by police officers. They question why they were there, the pair tells them they were taking the tour. The officers tell them that that is impossible, because the tour shut down several months ago. The officers laugh, and say they must have been given a tour by a ghost.
Duane and Stephanie take one last look at the Hill House. Peering at them from the window is Otto and Edna, now revealed as ghosts.
Reprints and rereleases
2003 - 2007 reprint series
|July 31, 2018||Standalone||Paperback|
- In Portugal, this is the thirteenth book in the original Goosebumps series, and it was released as a special edition.
- In the Portuguese adaptation of the story there are some notable differences:
- Duane Commack and Stephanie Alpert are called 'Duarte Coelho and Estefânia Liberato'
- Andrew Craw is called 'André'
- Seth is called 'Lázaro'
- Otto and Edna are called 'Olavo and Elvira'
- The ending implies multiple things: Otto and Edna were always ghosts, just waiting for Andrew's head to be found. Or that as the house has been closed for three months, they were killed after that evening Stephanie and Duane had been there.
References in other Goosebumps media
- Andrew Craw (the headless ghost) appears as the main villain in the 1995 board game, Terror in the Graveyard.
- This book is referenced in "Goosebumps: The Game". A portrait of Andrew Craw appears on a staircase wall inside Dead House.