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Publisher's Summary

Only on Audio! A new horror novel from the bestselling author of The Only Good Indians and My Heart is a Chainsaw.

A mother carries her six-year-old daughter into the tiled bathroom where the bathtub is already running, is still running, is overflowing, and for a moment the girl calms, seeing her little brother floating facedown in the water, his hair a golden halo around him, but then this mother is guiding her face-first down into that water, that, as it turns out, isn’t just water but scalding water, and eleven years later her scream is the drawer screeching out of the counter by the sink.

When high school senior Charlotte agrees to babysit the Wilbanks twins, she plans to put the six-year-olds to bed early and spend a quiet night studying: the SATs are tomorrow, and checking the Native American/Alaskan Native box on all the forms doesn’t mean jack if you choke on test day.

But tomorrow is also Halloween, and the twins are eager to show off their costumes—Ron is a nurse, in an old-fashioned white skirt-uniform, and Desi has an Authentic Squaw costume, complete with buckskin and feathered headdress. Excitement is in the air.

Charlotte’s last babysitting gig almost ended in tragedy, when her young charge sleepwalked unnoticed into the middle of the street, only to be found unharmed by Charlotte’s mother. Charlotte vows to be extra careful this time. But the house is filled with mysterious noises and secrets that only the twins understand, echoes of horrors that Charlotte gradually realizes took place in the house eleven years ago. Soon Charlotte has to admit that every babysitter’s worst nightmare has come true: they’re not alone in the house.

The Babysitter Lives is a mind-bending haunted house tale from the Jordan Peele of horror literature, Stephen Graham Jones.

Featuring a note from the author.

©2022 Stephen Graham Jones. All rights reserved. (P)2022 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Wow

There's a reason Stephen Graham Jones is my favorite author today. His stories are dark, twisted, disturbing, and yet full of heart and humor. He's probably the only author that could make me listen to an audiobook, and I will definitely have to listen a couple more times to catch everything, but I definitely don't regret it! Another great novel!

3 people found this helpful

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So. Good.

Stephen Graham Jones is the best horror writer of our time, and this story shows it. Compelling multi-faceted characters, plot twists that acknowledge and subvert the genre, truly terrifying moments, and emotional heart -- you couldn't ask for more!

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Plenty of Twists and Turns…

All in all, a decent, tight little story. Definitely keeps you guessing all the way to the end.
Honestly, I felt lost a couple of times, but the narrator manages to bring you back whenever you find yourself falling through the cracks. Her voice and tone turn a 3.5 star story into a 4, possibly 4.5, enjoyable listen.

2 people found this helpful

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A mind-bending, unnerving haunted house story

When Charlotte shows up at the Wilbanks’ house to watch their twins, she’s expecting a calm night with plenty of time to study for the SATs the next day. However, her dream evening rapidly turns into a nightmare when she discovers that she and the twins are trapped in the house with a murderous entity, leftover from a long ago tragedy. Further, space and time are more than a little malleable in the house, and only Ronald, the Wilbanks’ son, can figure out how to navigate the house’s secrets. Racing against the clock, and with Charlotte’s own past, present, and future crashing together, she must use all the skills she’s been preparing for the SATs to find a way to escape the house, fight back against its spooky resident, and survive the night.

This book delivers on its premise 100%. Charlotte is assaulted on all sides by the dimension-twisting nature of the house and the entity that knows how to use the house to its advantage. She’s an average teenager, and it’s satisfying to see the way she uses her wits to get past each obstacle. I particularly liked the way this was tied into Charlotte preparing for the SATs, with her frequently pausing to consider her options like “If Babysitter X…,” approaching each challenge like a test problem. The house frequently screws with time, pushing her to relive the past or view the future, in order to disorient and frighten her, making her fight against the entity in the house even more difficult.

The situation Charlotte gets trapped in is connected to a tragic event that happened in the house 11 years ago, and I liked that there was a touch of mystery to that event. Charlotte vaguely remembers when the tragedy (a murder-suicide) took place, but no one really knows all the details, so instead there are a lot of different versions of the story that have circulated in the local community. Some layers are peeled away from the mystery across the first half of the book, slowly leading both Charlotte and the reader to realize what she’s truly up against.

This book also touches on a wide variety of topics, particularly racism, homophobia, and sexual harassment. As a queer, Native American teenager, Charlotte finds herself contending with all three through her interactions with the Wilbanks, and through her relationships with her mom and her girlfriend Murphy. I think the book manages to balance and explore all of these really well, and Charlotte’s experiences of each contribute to her experiences in the house, and how she approaches the obstacles put in her way.

My only gripe with this book is that I think there are a couple of threads left hanging at the end that are unsatisfying. In particular, I wanted to know more about Charlotte’s relationship with her mom because it was brought up a lot, but I never quite understood how it mattered in the context of the story or for Charlotte’s characterization. The other thing is that I never quite understood how Charlotte’s previous babysitting gig - in which a child escaped her notice and sleepwalked into the street - connected to the house, although it was clear that that memory was an important element. I think you should take these points with a grain of salt, though, because I think this could be a case of something going over my head, rather than it not having been explained in the book.

Overall, I think this book will appeal to anyone who loves a haunted house story, and in particular I would recommend this to anyone who read and was disappointed by You Should Have Left by Daniel Kehlmann. I think the two books have some similar elements (i.e., a house in which strange things happen as a result of some weird collapse of space and time), but The Babysitter Lives is a much better realized and more satisfying story.

P.S., If I could give this book 5.5/5 stars I would, just for the way I both was grateful that my desk faces away from the door of my cubicle so that no one could see the faces I was making at some of the scenes, while simultaneously being unable to rid myself of the feeling that someone was behind me, since I had my back to the door.

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Fantastic and Unexpected

Another great book from Stephen Graham Jones, who both respects the tropes of horror stories and knows how and when to turn them on their head. You won’t be able to predict where it’s going in the best way.

LaBlanc is a great narrator, emotional without being overwrought, made great use of Jones’s unusual prose style. Worth the listen!

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WOW! Stephen Graham Jones does it again!

Without a doubt this book is making my Top 3 favorites from Stephen Graham Jones. His ability to totally honor horror and all the things that make a certain story or trope special but then flip it on its head and totally give the reader a brand new, exhilarating, and scary experience is unmatched. Babysitting in general has always made me feel uneasy (THANKS, When A Stranger Calls... and others) and that was before the creepy house, some itchy & terrifying spider scenes, and --GASP-- trying to be a teenager and get ready for exams at the same time! The narrator did a wonderful job and I can't wait for this book to make more rounds around the horror community... and more people are as impressed, mesmerized, and freaked the hell out by SGJ's writing and storytelling!

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That title!!!

I wanna swear, a lot. I won't. This title had me twisted in knots because I know now that you're tricky.

I want a Meow Wolf of this book in the vein of People Under the Stairs.

My teeth hurt from gritting them for 5 hours straight as I downhilled this creepy and emotional rollercoaster. Thanks 😊

I am not usually a fan of female narration but she's good which is exciting since I can chase her around audible now.

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Not in the house, well not exactly

No one is calling the babysitter from inside the house.. It's much worse than that... A really fun read. I highly recommend this, and check out all of SGJ's books while you're at it.

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A Haunted House Tale Like No Other

In The Babysitter Lives, Stephen Graham Jones tackles the haunted house theme with the same unique style and flair readers have come to expect. When Charlotte arrives at the Wilbanks' house to babysit their twin six-year-olds, she has no idea she's walking into a place more dangerous and horrifying than anywhere else she's been. In what could be described as House of Leaves meets Stranger Things, Jones weaves a disorienting tale that leaves the reader questioning what's real just as much as the narrative forces the same confusion on Charlotte.
Charlotte, Ron, and Desi are not alone in the house, and there's a depth to the shadows and dark corners that threatens to swallow anyone who ventures into the dark spaces without caution.
Ultimately, the story succeeds in being a unique and tense haunted house story, capturing the highest stakes on a small scale. The natures of reality and identity are questioned in a big way, but Jones isn't satisfied simply leaving us with questions. He wants to delve into the how and why of it all. Jones forces us to think about everything happening through the lens of Charlotte's analysis and the horrors of the past she's forced to witness.
This might be my second favorite story from the author, following the masterpiece that was The Only Good Indians, and with good reason.
The narration provided by Isabella Star LaBlanc combines with Jones's writing to make Charlotte feel like a real girl. She's smart, funny, and thoroughly out of her depths but too stubborn to give up. The supplemental material from Jones himself adds a nice touch, touching on his inspirations and what he hoped to accomplish with The Babysitter Lives. I'd say he was more than successful.

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the best haunted house book of all time

I have chills over this book.
and it was also totally gross. I would recommend this to anyone.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-11-22

Creepy and unsettling

Amazing haunted house novel full of twist and turns, with a great and likeable protagonist. Great performance too.