As a child there were a few series of books that really inspired my interest in reading. One was the series Alfred Hitchcock and The Three Investigators. They followed three young adults who acted as private investigators. They solved lots of spooky crimes which took place near their home in Rocky Beach, California.

I also loved Choose Your Own Adventure and Which Way books. In them, you were the hero of the story and were able to make decisions that altered the outcome of the tale. For instance, if you entered a haunted house and encountered two sets of doors, it would say, “If you choose the door to your right go to page 23, If you choose the door to your left go to page 13.” Some of the choices would lead to your death, but then you could go back and choose again. I started with The Choose Your Own Adventure series but later grew to like The Which Way books more because they seemed to have more of a horror bent to them. There were several other great books that fit this mold such as: Grail Quest, Endless Quest, Be An Interplanetary Spy, Plot-Your-Own Horror Stories and Find Your Fate Adventures, which included a couple Three Investigator’s themed books. For this article I will only focus on the first two but I may return to the others at a later date. Listed below are some of my favorites.


THE MYSTERY OF CHIMNEY ROCK By Edward Packard (#5) (1980) – This was one of the first I read, and I became instantly addicted. While on vacation you become interested in a huge, boarded up old house on a hill. Is the creepy old house haunted, or is it something more mundane going on inside? Only by investigating and choosing wisely will you find out.


HYPERSPACE By Edward Packard (#21) (1983) – You become friends with a new neighbor who turns out to be a brilliant professor delving into the mysteries of hyperspace. After being zapped into it, you travel to other bizarre dimensions, encountering the strange denizens of these unearthly realms.


PRISONER OF THE ANT PEOPLE By R.A. Montgomery (#25)(1983) – A fun futuristic sci-fi adventure where you and your allies, Rendoxoll (an R2D2 type robot) and Flppto (a Martian) are combating The Evil Power Master. You must deal with ant warriors, underground passages and The Evil Power Master himself.



THE CASTLE OF NO RETURN By R.G. Austin (#1) (1982) – This is a wonderfully odd book in which you enter a castle that suddenly appears in the woods behind your house at the same time all the TV’s in your town become disrupted. Inside are numerous odd creatures such as the Frankenstein-ish thing that wants you to eat a plate of live worms, or the ghostly woman who wants you to play monopoly with her forever.


CURSE OF THE SUNKEN TREASURE By R.G. Austin (#7) (1982) – A mysterious green glow wakes you up at night from the fishing village you live in. When you go to investigate it in your rowboat, you are enveloped and can’t see where you are headed other than toward the light. A ship picks you up, and you help them investigate the bizarre light source. This story includes sea serpents, ghost ships, werewolves, and aliens.


INVASION OF THE BLACK SLIME AND OTHER TALES OF HORROR By R.G. Austin (#10) (1983) – A mining town you visit has been infested with a bizarre black slime that makes animals and people hissing, violent beings. There are lots of horror-themed things to do in this book of mad scientists, evil people, black slime, insect swarms, and more, but my favorite was the eerie haunted house choice. You don’t get to make a lot of choices, but it is a decently spooky tale, particularly considering it was written for young adults.


TRAPPED IN THE BLACK BOX By R.G. Austin (#12) (1983) – A museum shaped like a giant black box is the setting. Inside, people can travel to other places and times, and you’ve gone in. You can choose between three different worlds, The World of Fantasy Beasts, The Earth of the Future, or The World of Dreams. Each is dangerous and depending on what you choose, you could encounter everything from a vampire, a manticore, futuristic “clobots” who want to dissect you, among other things. This is a really fun read.

POLTERGEISTS, GHOSTS AND PSYCHIC ENCOUNTERS By R.G. Austin (#14)(1984) – While visiting your uncle, a supernatural investigator, you can become involved in several paranormal investigations. There’s a house with a poltergeist, a phantom wedding, and more.


Let me know if you’d like more reviews of these types of books. I have a bunch of them on my shelf which I haven’t read since I was a kid.

Article by Matt Cowan


  1. When I was a kid we were in a restaurant and my brother was reading a Choose Your Own Adventure book. The waitress was impressed and said she couldn’t get her son to read, so she said she’d try those. I don’t know if it worked, but those books were entertaining enough to keep kids’ interest.

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