Let’s Go Play at the Adams’ – disturbing book review

“more terrifying than Lord Of The Flies & The Exorcist combined…”

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Let’s Go Play at the Adams’
by Mendal W. Johnson

Let’s Go Play at the Adams’ was written by Mendal W. Johnson (can’t find a Wikipedia page for him) and published in 1976. It was Johnson’s only novel – which seems a bit weird and shifty to me. Well no not really. But the book is so damned horrible, so darn twisted and fucked up (“man that is some repugnant shit!”) that it’s hard to imagine the author wasn’t a bit of a weirdo to be honest.

I’ve actually owned two copies of the book. The first one I found discarded on top of a recycling bin (true story) and because it looked interesting and scary and was also in pristine condition I took it home. I was only about 14 at the time and after I started leafing through it and looking more carefully I was so disgusted by the content that I threw it away OUTSIDE IN A PUBLIC BIN. In a public bin – I was so shocked and sickened that I didn’t even want it in the house (over dramatic teenager, I know I know).

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As Captain Hindsight from South Park would definitely know – this was a huge mistake. It’s now pretty much impossible to buy a new copy of this book and Amazon are currently advertising second-hand publications that range from £30 for a paperback to £100 or so for a hardback. O-kay then. Wish I hadn’t been quite so hasty. Or dramatic.

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Because yeah, inevitably I got thinking about it as I got older. I was curious and felt I was finally hard enough to handle it (though still slept with the light on) so I found myself an old, decrepit copy for a few quid online – at least a third of the yellow pages already falling out.

This (on the left) is the true cover by the way. The original, real front cover. Both the one I hastily chucked and the one I bought again had this cover. I think I like it the most (though the dark one with red writing up the top is pretty cool too).

SO ANYWAY, time for the general synopsis of this mental and depraved story. A young girl (in her early 20s) called Barbara is booked to babysit for some children for a few days, whilst their parents are out of town. UNFORTUNATELY – upon arriving at their house she is chloroformed, gagged and painfully tied up. The vicious and out-of-control kids are very much in charge and from here until the end of the book Barbara is the subject of torture, humiliation and much, much, much worse – as the children go from youthful rebellion to sick curiosity to downright depraved behaviour. You can imagine. If you want to. Though it might be best not to.

It has been said that the story is loosely based on the true life torture and murder of Sylvia Likens. I don’t know about that, I’m just passing on the speculation. But one thing I DO know, is the book has a very uneasy feel through-out. I think because it’s kids as the evil perpetrators it’s just that bit worse. You can tell who the ringleaders are and who’s more ‘brought along for the ride’ but they inevitably egg each other on and there’s barely any compassion at all. You really do root for poor old Barbara, willing her to escape or hoping one of her kidnappers will show some heart and free her (yeah right). Sorry to be a *SPOILER* but there aren’t any happy endings here.

It is a horrific story to be frank, with the final chapter being the most haunting of all. Certainly the most evil tale I have ever read (and Take a Break or That’s Life magazines don’t count) and I’m not sure I’d be in a huge rush to read it again.

Rest assured this story is not for the faint hearted or children, but I certainly recommend it to all fans of seriously horrid horror novels (wouldn’t it be great if that were a real genre?). Let’s Go Play at the Adams’ is a cruel, unsettling and disturbing book – make no mistakes about it – and I have to admit I feel a little bit like a weirdo myself even recommending it. But it’s also important to note, it‘s well written and worth it for the shocks (if you like that kinda thing).

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About emmakwall

Films, books, soundtracks, good humour
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24 Responses to Let’s Go Play at the Adams’ – disturbing book review

  1. Akhiz says:

    i watched “An American crime” same story as the girl next door just diff cast both came out same year and it shocked me that it was based on a true story, did some research on it and learnt that the actual brains behind everything Gertrude Baniszewski was released just after 14 years of imprisonment (why on earth) American judicial system can be so funny sometimes.

  2. vinnieh says:

    Sounds terrifying Emma.

  3. Zoë says:

    Hmmmmm, if I can find a copy I may very well just check this out. Sounds rough!

    • emmakwall says:

      God it’s awful!!! But I’d feel the same if I read this on someone else’s site, I’d want to read it now!!

      What is wrong with us ha ha ha 🙂

      • Zoë says:

        We are all a little broken. I didn’t read too much where you put the plot in, just to see the babysitter got kidnapped or whatever. Hmmmm, sounds so deranged!

  4. This sounds even worse than American Psycho by Bren Ellis which was at the top of my list of most disturbing books. Now I have go find a copy!

    • emmakwall says:

      Morbid curiosity prevails!

      I’ve never read American Psycho, I’ve seen the film but don’t know if that’s a great representation or not? Judging the movie, I’d say Let’s Go Play… is the more disturbing book.


  5. Cici says:

    sounds like this book Fading by Blair E.K couldn’t finish it i got creeped out by the rape…maybe i’ll read the end pages of this one only or wait for the movie…

    • emmakwall says:

      I sometimes wonder how much talent really goes into writing stuff like that. If you’re a good writer is one thing, but it takes no imagination to shock people. It’s easy to shock. It’s harder to make people laugh 🙂

      Having said that, I am now opening another google tab and typing “fading by Blair E.K” as I need to know more!!

      • Cici says:

        i prefer to be happy than shocked i leave creepy books to be made into movies I have way too much imagination for my own good. and movies freak me out less. there’s also torn from you by Nashoda Rose, which is about sex slaves, only read the first 3 chapters so i cant be sure.

  6. Cici says:

    now i want to read it…

    • emmakwall says:

      you know it! it’s morbid curiosity at its best isn’t it 🙂

      I’m pretty sure there is a PDF version doing the rounds on the net somewhere. I’ve not looked myself but I’ve seen it come up in search terms etc

  7. guyportman says:

    Let’s Go Play at the Adams’ evidently takes disturbing to a whole new level. I’ll add it to my to-read list.

  8. theipc says:


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