The Funhouse of Dr. Freek (lost Ghosts of Fear Street book; existence unconfirmed; 1998)
One of the few listings for The Funhouse of Dr. Freek on Amazon. Note how there are no images available for the book.
Status: Existence Unconfirmed
The Funhouse of Dr. Freek was supposed to be the thirty-sixth book in the children’s book series Ghosts of Fear Street. There is a remarkable lack of information on Funhouse. It was reportedly in 1998 — that's what most sources say. However, no photos of the cover exist online, and there is little evidence to suggest the book was ever published.
In 1989, children’s author R.L. Stine’s Fear Street series launched with its first book, The New Girl. The series was geared toward young adults, and followed teenagers experiencing bizarre events in the city of Shadyside. Most stories were set at the eponymous Fear Street. Contrary to Stine’s other well-known children’s series (such as Goosebumps), murder, gore, psychological horror, and sexual content were prevalent throughout Fear Street.
As an alternative to the dark content of Fear Street, a spin-off series that catered to younger children, Ghosts of Fear Street, was created in 1995. The series was akin to Stine’s Goosebumps series, featuring pre-teens involved in outlandish supernatural situations. Unlike Fear Street, the series was entirely ghostwritten. Ghosts of Fear Street ran until 1998, amassing over 30 entries.
The Funhouse of Dr. Freek was supposed to be the thirty-sixth book in the Ghosts of Fear Street series. According to Goodreads, the synopsis is as follows:
- When Joe breaks a funhouse mirror at a carnival, he releases an exact double of himself. Can he stop his evil twin before he takes over Joe's life? Though, it's not entirely clear where this summary came from.
The reported release date of this book varies based on different sources. One early report said that it would be published as early as May 1998, one said August 1998, but most sources agree upon November 1998. The release of this book was likely pushed back when the series switched publishers; Pocket Books was the original publisher, and Golden Books was the last publisher. Golden Books was an imprint of the now-defunct Western Publishing company.
Very few pieces of information can be found about Funhouse. No copies of the book, used or new, seem to exist, and no cover art for the entry has ever surfaced online. (This is unlike other "rare" books in the series, such as the thirty-fifth book, which have cover scans available online.) Adding to the case that this book was never published, the thirty-fifth book in the series makes no reference to The Funhouse of Dr. Freek. The earliest mention of "The Funhouse of Dr. Freek" seems to come from a 1997 publication entitled Children's Books in Print, 1998, by the R.R. Bowker Company. Funhouse was mentioned again in Forthcoming Books, Volume 33, Issue 1, which was also by the R.R. Bowker Company.
Possible Proof of Funhouse’s Existence
A handful of websites feature listings for Funhouse, and Amazon provides an ISBN number. Upon inspection, the book’s ISBN number lists Funhouse as published in November 1998 by Golden Books. Despite there being an ISBN number, it is possible Funhouse was given a number before it could be produced.
Bizarrely, some of the online listings for Funhouse feature user reviews. An anonymous, somewhat cryptic Amazon review from 2005 states that a contest from a previous Ghosts of Fear Street book, Monster Dog, published that book’s winners in Funhouse. The review also tells readers, “If You [sic] feel like readfing [sic] this order it.”
Despite this user's broken grammar, it is true that there was a contest promoted at the end of Monster Dog. Pocket Books (the publisher for the series at the time) said:
- Grand Prize: A photo of you and your creepy canine will be featured in R.L. Stine's Ghosts of Fear Street® #36 (on sale mid-August 1998). Plus, you'll win 25 copies of the book and a "pawtographed" photo of R.L. Stine and his dog, Nadine.
However, when the series switched publishers, this contest was seemingly abandoned. (Note: Monster Dog never directly gives a title to the thirty-sixth book.)
On R.L. Stine’s official website, a complete listing of books he published up to 2012 is provided. Funhouse is in the Ghosts of Fear Street section, though much of the information on this site is sourced from areas online.