The Babysitter Lives is a haunted house horror novel by Stephen Graham Jones. This book is currently only available as an audiobook, which clocks in at a little over seven and a half hours and is narrated by Isabella Star LaBlanc. The author also reads his own acknowledgements at the end of the book.
Charlotte is a queer half-Indigenous high school senior, studying for her SATs. It’s the night before Halloween, and she’s babysitting the six-year-old Wilbanks twins. Her most recent babysitting gig nearly ended in tragedy when the child she was watching sleepwalked unnoticed into the middle of the street, though her mother found him unharmed. Charlotte plans to be more careful this time. But the Wilbanks house is full of creepy noises and secrets, and she and the kids may not be alone in there. Will she be able to protect her charges and get all of them through the night alive?
As per usual, the author includes smattering of social commentary in this book about Charlotte’s Indigenous status and the fact that she is a queer young woman. Also as per usual, I enjoyed SGJ’s prose a lot. He writes things in such a visual way that I demand one of his books be turned into a movie or television show.
This book made me feel like I was watching a more confusing and adult episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark. I felt even more that way once I got to the ending, which didn’t fully land for me. I get where he was going with it, but it felt a little off course.
I think things may have been a smidge less confusing if the narrator included the name of a chapter while she was starting it; things flowed together for me and I didn’t feel any actual chapter breaks. (Not a dig at the narrator, though, because she did a great job.)
Tropes in this book include: sapphic main character, sapphic side character, slasher, ghosts, time travel/multiverse
CW: physical violence, body horror, blood, bugs (spiders, maggots), jack-in-the-box, murder, suicide, drowning, child endangerment, racism, sexual harassment
Special thanks to Simon & Schuster Audio, Simon & Schuster, and NetGalley for providing an audiogalley of this book for me to review. All opinions contained herein are my own. The Babysitter Lives comes out today, Tuesday, August 9th, 2022.