My favourite books when I was about eleven were The Forbidden Game trilogy. My older sister read a lot of teen fiction and I would pretty much just pick up and read whatever I could find around the house if I couldn’t be bothered to walk to the library, so I ended up getting quite hooked on Point Horror books.
I remember my father picking up the first Forbidden Game book The Hunter at a scout fete bric a brac stall for me. What stood out where the eyes gazing out from the cover, as you can see in this cover art. In the books they are described as the blue at the centre of a flame, the blue when you press your fingers over your eyes when washing your face in the shower or electric blue. It was the first time I ever thought about the colour of electricity.
Jenny is walking in the rough part of town one day when she notices two men following her. She ducks into a shop to avoid them, and while there is sold a board game by an attractive young man with white hair and captivating blue eyes. She plays the game with her friends at a party, and they find themselves trapped inside a house, at the mercy of the young man from the shop- a Shadow Man who is in love with Jenny and wants to win her. The Hunt begins. In order to survive they must act out their worst nightmares and escape, but not everyone can make it out.
In The Chase, Julian the Shadow Man is back with a new game, Lambs and Monsters. One by one Jenny’s friends start disappearing until only Jenny is left to save them. She manages to track them down to the school canteen where they are being held, but in order to get out they have to walk through a wall of fire. Most manage it, but Jenny’s cousin and boyfriend are taken away to the shadow land.
The third book in the series The Kill sees Jenny and her friends break into The Shadow Land hoping to find their stolen friends. But they soon learn that Julian is kind and caring by the standards of the shadow men and there are more sinister forces at play in this game. Who will make it out alive? I remember buying the last two books in the series when I was in my last year of primary school and I had won £20 in a poetry competition. Reading the ending of the third book is the first time I can remember crying at a book, which shocked me at the time, that you could connect with a story that much.
I googled L. J. Smith to see if she had written anything since these books (I’d forgotten who wrote them if I’m honest) and found out what you probably all know, that she’s gone on to even greater success with The Vampire Diaries which I haven’t read. They seem to have rereleased the series for the new generation but the cover art sucks in comparison (pouty blonde devoid of any personality anyone?) Rumour has it that she’s going to write a sequel to The Forbidden Game. I’m not sure how she’d manage it but I’d love to read it if she does.