Literature · Novels and Novellas

Let’s Go Play At the Adams’ by Mendal Johnson | Underrated Horror Book


Let’s Go Play At the Adams’ is a horror novel about a babysitter named Barbara who is kidnapped and held captive by a group of kids whose parents are away. While Barbara is completely helpless and afraid the kids have many awful things in store for her. That’s the basics of the plot and before reading I was expecting just a non-stop torture and gorefest. In fact that’s exactly what I was looking for so I went in with high hopes. But the book turned out to be a lot more than that.

There is torture, of course but not much gore. And that’s fine because the most terrifying thing about this book is the psychology of the kids and Barbara’s fear. It’s told in third person omniscient so the reader gets to see the thoughts and feelings of all characters. It’s very well written and one of the best horror stories that I have read.

It’s also insanely underrated. Most people seem to have completely forgotten about this great book, except for a few horror fans that is. It seems to be out of print and I had to get a copy from one of the libraries in my state. I really want to own a copy of my own, it would be great on my bookshelf. However, the used copies on Amazon their selling are about $40 and up, no way I’m paying forty dollars for a single book.

Despite sadly not owning my own copy, I feel like this novel is a real treasure. It was the author’s one and only novel and there doesn’t seem to be much information on him.  I know it was published in the 70s but I wish it would somehow get more attention than it does. It’s not just some cheap horror book that gives you a quick scare, it actually stay with you. At least, that’s how it was for me.

Let’s Go Play at the Adams’ was possibly inspired by the Sylvia Likens case. There are some similarities due to the fact it involves suburban kids terrorizing someone. Although In the book there’s no adult leading them. A fairly well known horror book inspired by the case is The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum which I have read and own a copy. The two books can easily be compared.

So when I compare the two I definitely enjoy Mendal Johnson’s book a lot more. In fact despite all the praise it gets from many horror fans, I didn’t like Ketchum’s novel that much. It’s still good and definitely a page turner but it wasn’t as shocking or as terrifying as I expected…it just wasn’t deep enough for me. The narrator was annoying and maybe that was intentional but the book just wasn’t what I wanted it to be.

Adams’ on the other hand wasn’t exactly what I expected it to be but it was definitely something I wanted.

One thought on “Let’s Go Play At the Adams’ by Mendal Johnson | Underrated Horror Book

  1. I read this book a long time ago, scared the stuff out of me. It definitely stuck in my mind…I did not remember title but remembered the babysitter’s name and Google did the rest. It was a very good book, glad it did not put me off babysitting, haha!


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