During the 1980s, kids around the world were given the chance to make life-or-death decisions. Should you grow gills? Should you explore the dark, scary cave? Should you confront the people hunting you?
These terrifying choices were turned into rousing gameplay thanks to the Choose Your Own Adventure book series. Started in 1975 through Vermont Crossroads Press, CYOA moved to Bantam Books and became a phenomenon. From 1979 to 1998, Bantam Books released 184 self-guided adventures. According to Chooseco, the current publisher of CYOA books, there are 260 million of the books in print in over 40 languages.
Those numbers are about to get even bigger. PR Wire recently announced that Choose Your Own Adventure will be releasing a new story on April 15 called Escape from the Haunted Warehouse, which promises to be the scariest journey yet. Oddly, the book was originally announced in 1997, and it was intended to be the final entry in the initial publication of the Choose Your Own Adventure series. Even stranger, it was never actually put into print – until now.
This book kept me up at night, recalled the author, Anson Montgomery. “My research took me through some of the most horrific murders, unsolved crimes, and haunted places on record.”
The rules of the series remain the same. Readers are expected to follow the instructions the book provides instead of reading straight through all the pages. But as Cracked, Maximum Fun’s Rendered podcast and other CYOA adventures have revealed, sometimes you have to break the rules.
Prepare for Choose Your Own Adventure’s glorious return by seeing where these surprising CYOA facts lead you.
1. Escape from the Haunted Warehouse has been called the scariest CYOA book ever written
The story, in which “you encounter the torturing ghost of Countess Elizabeth Béthory, a famous murderer from the late 1500s, a bloodthirsty wolfhound, a ‘Wild Hunt’ in which YOU become the prey,” was first announced in 1997 but was never printed. The manuscript was recently discovered and reworked for publication.
“This book is a legend among the Choose Your Own Adventure fandom, and rumors have always swirled online amongst collectors, but almost no one claimed to have even read it,” says the associate publisher, Melissa Bounty. “Working with Anson, it was clear that the book deserved to see the light of day – it’s very well-written, and much scarier than other Choose Your Own Adventure titles.”
2. You can get stuck in a deathly CYOA endless loop
As the books gained popularity, the writers started to play with the format. One of the ways they did this was by trapping readers in loops that continually led them to the same death. The only way out was to give up and restart the book.
3. You can be rewarded for not following the rules
Readers of CYOA’s Inside UFO 54-40 were rewarded for breaking the series’ cardinal rule of not reading straight through. The only way to reach the book’s paradise planet of Ultima was by flipping through all the pages. There were no answers to lead readers there.
4. Choose Your Own Adventure started as a bedtime story
The writer of the first CYOA book, Edward Packard, got the idea after telling his two daughters a story about a shipwrecked man named Pete. When Packard got a bout of writer’s block, he asked his daughters what should happen next, and they both gave different answers, sparking the idea for the series
5. Choose Your Own Adventure has inspired YouTube and Twitter copycats
A dreadful start will lead users on a dark and medieval journey through Twitter in which your only goal is to escape.
Several YouTube puzzle lovers have also created video series of the CYOA persuasion, in which your choices determine what clips you watch next.