Return to Howliday Inn (Bunnicula, #5)Return to Howliday Inn by James Howe
My rating: 4/5 cats
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fulfilling my vow to read all the sequels i never knew existed to books i loved when i was little.

phew – this was much more enjoyable than Nighty-Nightmare. it’s longer and more substantial and the mystery itself is satisfying – a spoooooky thing happens and the reader is like, “whaaaaaaaa?” and when all is revealed at the end, the explanation is reasonable within the context of the world of bunnicula. not that bunnicula is in this book at all, AGAIN.

in this one, the monroes are going on vacation, AGAIN, so harold and chester and howie are sent back to howliday inn (THAT IS WHERE THE TITLE COMES FROM). you will recall that howliday inn (“chateau bow-wow” on the letterhead) was where howie was born and was the setting of the second book in the series, wait for it… HOWLIDAY INN.

these days, the kennel has opened its doors to animals beyond cats and dogs. bunnicula’s bunnyness was the reason he wasn’t in the first howliday inn book, and you would think this more welcoming stance would be howe (not howie) wielding his authorial power so bunnicula could be with the other animals this time, but you would be wrong! bunnicula’s off with kyle, one of pete’s friends because why not?

bye, bunnicula! we’ll keep your franchise warm for you!!

in any case, it’s a fun, spooooky book, beginning with chester’s attempts to explain the definition of “paranormal” to harold:

”haven’t you ever felt that something was about to happen, you just knew it in your bones, and then, bam! it happened?”

A chill ran down my spine. “Chester!” I cried. “I had a paranormal experience just the other night.”

Chester’s eyes lit up. “Really? Tell me about it, Harold.”

“Well, it was after dinner and I was lying over there by the sofa, where Howie’s sleeping now and…I was yawning and I felt my eyes growing heavy…”

“Yes? Go on…”

“And I had this overpowering feeling that I was about to…”

“What, Harold? Oh, this is really exciting. Go ahead.”

“That I was about to fall asleep. And I did.”

Chester looked at me for a long time without speaking. “And do you have the feeling that you’re about to experience pain?” he asked at last.

“You mean right now? Well, no.”

The book fell off the chair. It landed on my paw.

“Ow!” I cried.

“Never discount the paranormal,” were Chester’s parting words, and he jumped down and headed toward the kitchen in search of a midnight snack.

oh, harold, you so dumb. one wonders how you have managed to write all of these books so far. oh, in case you have never read a bunnicula book, harold is the author, and he hand mouth-delivers the manuscripts to “the editor” in the prologue to each of these books. he also eats a lot of chocolate. this is only okay in the world of bunnicula. stop feeding your dog chocolate chips unless you live in the world of bunnicula.

once at howliday inn, there are all-new characters, and the surprise return of a character from howliday inn (THE BOOK). as far as “animals who are not cats or dogs,” there’s a weasel and a parrot (but no vampire bunnies), and no opportunity missed to cram in a pun – there’s a great dane named hamlet (GET IT???) and two cats named felony and miss demeanor, which – except for the breed, are basically the cats from lady and the tramp

and they quickly outsass chester.

”It sounded to me like you were scheming something.”

“We’re always scheming something,” said Felony. “We’re cats.”

Chester didn’t have an argument for that one.

although he still manages to come out with some oscar wilde-quality bon mots:

”Cats don’t participate in mass hysteria, Harold. If we’re going to be hysterical, we do it on our own.”

i am glad i am continuing with the series (two more to go!), and i’m relieved to know that, while this one wasn’t nearly as good as Howliday Inn (if we trust my 30-plus year ago memory of it), it’s not as blah as Nighty-Nightmare (if we trust my one month ago memory of it), so there’s still some fun to be had.

and hopefully, a return of that bunny.

the next book in the series is called Bunnicula Strikes Again!, so i have a good feeling it’ll happen.

read my reviews on goodreads

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