Front Tagline: Finders keepers!
Back Tagline: Talk About A Horror Story!
Official Book Description:
Nobody loves a good story like Justin's dad. He's a famous writer and story collector. That's how Justin and his sister, Marissa, ended up in Brovania. Their dad is searching for an ancient manuscript called The Lost Legend.
Justin and Marissa want to help. But instead of finding The Lost Legend, they get lost. And the woods of Brovania are filled with the strangest creatures. Like hundreds of squealing mice. Silver-colored dogs. And terrifying Vikings from long ago...
With the Legend of the Lost Legend, Scholastic Publishing clearly asked RL Stine to cater his books towards real problems modern kids might face. Siblings Marissa and Justin are lost in the Antarctica and searching for their scientist/explorer Dad. Their father, in his hunt for the elusive Blue Sea Lion, has disappeared, leaving the two kids to fend for themselves in the wintry wild. Redhead Marissa likes to complain a lot, and if there's one thing that's always entertaining to read, it's kids whining. She complains it's too cold, so cold her freckles disappear! I'd complain about things that can't happen too, so I sympathize. Suddenly, in a chapter-ending furor, the sled the two kids are riding shoots off, leaving poor Justin literally in the cold. He runs after the sled and finally catches up just in time for he and his sis to see the elusive Blue Sea Lion!
Well great. Here's a book that starts out with an exciting Sea Lion encounter and I already posted pix from Eight Below in a Goosebumps Blog post last year. I guess I could just repost that horrifying sea lion picture... or actually, better yet:
Suddenly, the ice the two kids are on cracks. They're now literally adrift in the ice. That's twice so far something figurative has become literal, that's just how alive this book is!
Or not. Turns out this rare case of something happening was just a much more common case of nothing happening. Dad's just telling his two kids a story involving themselves. The family is not in Antarctica at all, but rather camping out in the woods of a foreign land. After Justin accidentally knocks over a lantern and sets their tent ablaze, Justin's father lashes out at his kids. Apparently they've been lazy. He no pun intended burns them pretty good when Marissa says she couldn't find any firewood: "You don't know where to look for firewood in a forest? How about on the ground?" Those italics are Stine's own, they make the text more credible.
Richard Clarke, the dad, picks a beetle from his beard as he tells his kids about his search for the Lost Legend. He goes into detail about why they're visiting the small country of Brovania, which is curious because wouldn't he have briefed his kids on why they were in another country already? Well, just in case, he reminds his kids that he's a writer and he's there to find an old, mysterious artifact called the Ark of the Covenant. Wait, wrong globetrotter. He's in Brovania to spin a basketball on his forefinger. Wait, still wrong Globetrotter. He's there to find The Lost Legend, which is an ancient manuscript that is worth a lot of money.
Their father falls fast asleep, as he has worn himself out from chuckling and applauding his own brilliant firewood in the woods joke, so Justin and Marissa try to drift off to sleep in their tent. However, they are awakened by animal noises. At one remarkable juncture, Justin briefly thinks that rather than being a random woodland creature, the animal outside their tent is probably a werewolf. What.
Justin walks outside the tent to see what creature is making noises and he sees a large white dog wagging his tail. Justin goes over to pet the forest dog, and he keeps petting the dog while Marissa reminds him of one of their dad's stories, "the Laughing Ghost Dog." I already made a Ghost Dogjoke earlier on this blog too, I'm a failure. But an even bigger failure is Marissa's story. Once upon a time there was a happy dog that appeared outside of a home in the village. As kids went to pet it, it started howling to the moon. See, it was calling its ghost dog friends to come and eat the villagers. When they found the dog later, he was laughing. Good story.
Justin continues to pet the dog. He is surprised to find the dog is wearing a collar, and tucked underneath it is a note: "I KNOW WHY YOU'RE HERE. FOLLOW SILVERDOG."
The kids decide they must show their dad this note, but unfortunately they can't wake him up! The two realize that they must follow Silverdog, even if their father can't go with them. As they prepare to trail behind the dog, Marissa reminds Justin of their father's story about the Forest Imp. Apparently the story of the Forest Imp taught Marissa a very valuable lesson about not following mysterious dogs into the forest and she refuses to leave the tent with Justin. The dog disappears into the night. Justin almost gives up but then he hears animal sounds again. He grabs Marissa and forces her to accompany him in their quest to follow Silverdog. Except when the kids get to the clearing, they discover they've accidentally been following a stag instead. Oh deer!
The two kids start to panic but then they hear the real Silverdog calling to them and they follow the dog some more. The dog leads them to a cabin in the woods, and naturally the two kids go inside. There they are greeted by a large blonde woman wearing a viking horn helmet named Ivanna. She makes the kids some soup. I know it loses all meaning if I say it for every one of these, but this is the worst book I've ever read.
Ivanna stops the kids mid-meal in a panic and informs them that she's made a terrible mistake: she forgot that she poisoned the soup. Except j/k, not really! She pulls the noodles out of their soup and reads their fortune. No really, the worst book I've ever read. She tells the kids that they are going to have to face a survival test in the morning if they hope to find the silver chest containing the Lost Legend. Now wait for it, Ivanna tells them she's serious, as she would never joke about the survival test in the Fantasy Forest. This time the italics are mine, and nothing could make the text less credible.
Now, I know what you, the Blogger Beware reader, are thinking. Well, besides "He took three months to update again." You're thinking, "Well, now this story is pretty bad and all, but I don't see how it could get any worse." Firstly, shut up. Secondly, oh yeah?
Justin is suddenly knocked out of his chair by a furry creature with a human face. Why, it's Luka, a boy raised by wolves, who will serve as the children's guide in their survival test.
The children fall asleep in the strange woman's strange cabin and awake the next morning to find themselves in a clearing in the woods. Their test has begun! Luka scampers around while the kids put on their empty backpacks, which have been left for them in the clearing. They start down their path when Luka spots a squirrel and chases after it. They try to stop him but Luka disappears, leaving the kids alone. Conveniently, the kids find a note in a back pocket at that exact moment warning them to keep Luka with them, because if Luka is not there, the kids will surely die. Good note.
The kids keep on their quest and encounter a bunch of trees that are dropping large nuts. This torrent of nuts lands on the ground and the nuts pop open, and mice come out. Mice come out of the nuts from the tree. The mice swarm around the kids. Okay, participation time!
How can this scene get worse?
A) Their father magically appears to save the day
B) Ivanna magically appears and leads the mice away with her flute
C) The mice are really robots and the kids merely turn their off/on switch off
D) The kids turn out to be dogs or something
Believe it or not, the answer to the question and the actual answer are both "C." The mice are robots. The kids switch them off. Justin shoves a couple into his backpack to use later. Marissa runs off and gets smashed by a falling tree.
Except the tree, like the book itself, was artificial. Marissa lightly brushes the tree off her body. She then happily goes around smashing the fake trees in the forest until she finds a real one. When she pummels the real tree, bats come out. This whole book is one big "What." The bats "swoop in for the kill" and the kids flee.
Of course they flee into quicksand that lies on the edge of the stream in the woods. Justin helpfully informs his sister not to worry, as he can see the drain in the middle of this stream. Then some giant cats, towering taller than the treetops appear. I don't even know what to say anymore, this book is doing a better job burying itself than I ever could.
The giant cats pick the kids out of the quicksand with their teeth and start batting the kids around. They're playing with their food. The cat then tries to swallow Justin. Justin's plan is to use the mice from his backpack to distract the giant cats. That doesn't work but luckily for no reason the cat spits Justin back out. The kids run away and somehow make their way back to Ivanna's cabin. They spot Ivanna sitting motionless with her back to the door. In her back is a large wind-up key. So she's a robot doll or some shit.
Silverdog shows up to whimper a little and then Luka shows up and pounces towards the kids. But surprise, Luka can speak perfect English and he congratulates the kids on passing the test! Luka then strips off his fur and explains what has happened to the kids. He built Ivanna and all the artificial aspects of the Fantasy Forest to protect the forest's treasure. The kids passed the test by realizing what was fake and what was real in the forest.
Luka gives the kids the silver chest containing the Lost Legend and tells them to follow Silverdog back to their campsite, as the dog will protect them from thieves in the forest. The kids get panicked by footsteps behind them and in a confused flurry they topple over themselves, sending the chest flying through the air and into the arms of... GOOD OL' DAD.
Dad's relieved to have found his kids, and even more relieved to see they found his treasure. They all gather around the treasure chest, pry it open and find...
But the Twist is:
...an egg! They decide to take the wrong treasure back to Luka. Luka is awfully embarrassed, as he was sure the kids and their father were in search of the Eternal Egg of Truth. Luka takes back the egg and explains that he doesn't possess the Lost Legend but some folks across the way do, although they may not be willing to part with it. The family treks off to meet with the protectors of the Lost Legend. They politely ask for the Lost Legend and are shocked when it is handed over immediately. The family starts walking back through the woods, treasure in tow, when they get overcome with a need to check out the Lost Legend for themselves. They open the chest, read the scroll, and find out the only thing written on it is the following: "Whoever Owns the Lost Legend Will Be Lost Forever." The family looks up and sees the trees have grown taller. They're lost.
the Platonic Boy-Girl Relationship:
Marissa and Justin Clark, who disappears into a cat's mouth halfway through the book.
Dad can only be awakened by his prepubescent daughter tickling his beard.
Early 1970s Cultural References:
The Wild Child
Insightful Pondering Alert:
"Is anything darker than a forest? I wondered."
Memorable Cliffhanger Chapter Ending:
Marissa cries out in horror as Justin... pets a dog.
Great Prose Alert:
'"Nooooooo!" I let out a long, terrified wail. "It's The Pit With No Bottom!"'
When "Silverdog" becomes the most credible aspect of a story...