Welcome to Dead House is the first book in the original Goosebumps book series. It was first published in 1992. Along with this, it was rereleased in 2010 as the thirteenth book in the Classic Goosebumps series, featuring new artwork by Brandon Dorman.
The cover illustration features an old, dark house at night, with the front door slightly ajar, and a strange figure illuminated in the window by an orange light.
Amanda and Josh think the old house they have just moved into is weird. Spooky. Possibly haunted. And the town of Dark Falls is pretty strange, too.
But their parents don't believe them. You'll get used to it, they say. Go out and make some new friends. So Amanda and Josh do. But these new friends are not exactly what their parents had in mind. Because they want to be friends...forever.
The Benson family takes their first trip to Dark Falls to meet with the local real estate agent Compton Dawes, and see their new home. Mr. Benson inherited a house that belonged to his late great-uncle that he didn't even know existed. Amanda Benson, her little brother Josh, and their dog Petey immediately sense that something is not quite right. Despite the fact that it is the middle of July, the entire neighborhood seems covered in an artificial darkness created by the shadows of massive, overhanging tree limbs. Dead brown leaves, shade, and shadows are everywhere. Then there is the creepy old house, that appears to have been built many years ago. It is an enormous, dark, antique home with two large bay windows on the second floor that look eerily like a pair of dark eyes staring down at the street below. While Josh proceeds to impatiently whine in protest over the family move and how tragic it is for him, Mr. Dawes welcomes the family into the home. Whilst exploring her new room, Amanda watches with amazement as she catches a glimpse of a boy standing in the doorway, before quickly disappearing down the hall.
Amanda feels much better after seeing her bedroom. She goes outside to tell Josh about it, but both he and Petey are gone. Mr. Dawes offers to provide directions while the family drive around town to find the missing pair. On the way Amanda finds it odd that there aren't any people in the houses or yards, or even on the street. Eventually, the group find Josh trying to catch Petey amongst the gravestones of the Dark Falls cemetery. The kids' father Jack ends up catching Petey and putting him on a leash despite how frantic his behavior is. The family then drops off Mr. Dawes at his real estate office in Dark Falls, where he mentions to the Bensons that they can come back the following week to finalize the contracts for the house. After an eventful first visit, the Benson family leave Dark Falls and head back home to their old neighborhood.
Amanda's best friend, Kathy, comes over on the family's last night in their old house, reassuring Amanda that Dark Falls is only four hours away. The following morning is moving day, and it's a rainy, windy arrival in Dark Falls for the family at their new house. Amanda keeps seeing other children in her home and hearing strange sounds. Amanda and Josh start meeting the locals, such as Ray Thurston who seem friendly enough, but also seem a bit strange and off putting. Both Ray and a girl named Karen claim they used to live in their house.
Two weeks later, Petey goes missing and they can't seem to find him. That night, Josh comes into Amanda's room and theorizes that Peter went into the cemetery, just like last time. When they head out to check, they bump into Ray, who warms them about being out here so late. In the cemetery, they find gravestones with their new friends names on then, including Ray's. Ray confirms that it's his, and he is actually one of the living dead.
Once a year, they must have the blood from a freshly killed person to sustain their "living dead" existence for another year. They killed Petey because dogs always sense the living dead. Ray attacks Amanda but Josh saves her at the last moment, when he shines his light on Ray's face. This results in Ray disintegrating and becoming a pile of bones. Amanda and Josh run home but when they arrive, they are attacked by the dead children who explain that there is no dead great-uncle and that the letter sent to their parents was a trick to bring the Benson family to Dark Falls. Suddenly Mr. Dawes, the real estate agent, appears at the door and the dead children vanish.
He tells them that he has already found their parents and that he will take the kids to join their parents. Although Amanda and Josh think he's saving them at first, a gravestone reveals Mr. Dawes is also dead. He explains to the children that Dark Falls used to be a normal town years ago, but a yellow gas escaped from a nearby factory and spread throughout the town, transforming the citizens into the undead. Amanda and Josh manage to escape Mr. Dawes after Josh hits him on the head with his flashlight. It turns out the dead children are zombies that crumble under light, and they knock down a tree to kill all of the living dead. They rescue their parents and go home to quickly pack up.
As the Benson family is leaving Dead House, they see a new family on the driveway. Amanda notices that these people are being guided by someone that looks like Mr. Dawes. She brushes this off and tells one of the kids that she used to live in their house, and the Benson family drives away.
Reprints and rereleases
Welcome to Dead House is the most rereleased Goosebumps book. It has received four standalone reprints, was included as a story within the omnibuses of Monster Edition #1 and Hair Raising Collection, and included is in the Retro Scream Collection tin. Additionally, it appeared as one of three stories within Scholastic's Tales of Suspense for Boys omnibus (alongside Chasing the Falconers from On the Run and The Invasion from Animorphs).
- In 2008, before the Classic Goosebumps series officially began, Scholastic printed Welcome to Dead House: Special Collector's Edition. It used Tim Jacobus' original artwork and came with a limited edition poster. This reprint features the same logo as books in the Classic Goosebumps series.
- The gravestones in the Classic Goosebumps version were updated. Each character's date of birth and death were moved forward multiple years.
- There are a few renames:
- Amanda is called "Anna"
- Josh is called "Jimmy"
- Petey is called "Pat"
- Ray is called "Eric"
- The town of Dark Falls is called "Tombstone"
|Audiobook||Release date||Length||Narrated by||Published by|
|May 1997 (limited release)||46 minutes||Ted Kryczko||Walt Disney Records|
|April 2015||2 hours, 43 minutes||Tara Sands||Scholastic Inc.|
- Amanda and Josh's father was mentioned by name in the book: Jack Benson. Their mother was Penelope Benson in the television episode, but it is unknown if that really was her name in the book.
- Early in the book, Mr. Dawes offers to drive the Benson family around. The story suggests that Mr. Dawes is driving his own car; he even retrieves his hat from the trunk. After driving the family, Mr. Dawes stops by his real estate office and gets out, and the Benson family drives off with their car. Either Mr. Dawes had a car in or near the Benson's driveway (that he got his hat from), or R.L. Stine forgot that Mr. Dawes was not driving his own car.
- Stine claims that this book may be too scary for kids, because he didn't have his funny elements yet, and he says that if he could rewrite the book, he would make it a little funny.
- A follow-up to the book titled Happy Holidays from Dead House was planned for the Goosebumps Gold book series in the year 2000. However, both the book and the series were never released due to R.L. Stine's fallout with Scholastic.
- First edition copies of the book did not feature a number on the spine.
- At one point, Amanda has a dream where her family are all skeletons. A similar dream appears in Say Cheese and Die!
- However, the dream sequence in this book is much more detailed in comparison.
- Certain copies of the original book advertise not one, but two books on the back cover; Stay Out of the Basement and Monster Blood.
References in other Goosebumps media
- In the Goosebumps Series 2000 book, Revenge R Us, protagonist Wade Brill is forced to enter an abandoned house which her friend, Carl Jeffers, has nicknamed "The Dead House".
- The original cover of the book is featured in the end credits animation in the film Goosebumps.
- The Dead House appears as a location in Goosebumps: The Game, as well as on the original cover.
- There is an event based on this book in Goosebumps HorrorTown.