Book: “The Sleepwalker” (Fear Street #6) by R.L. Stine
Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1991
Where Did I Get This Book: An ILL from the library!
Book Description: One week after she starts her summer job on Fear Street with old Mrs Cottler, Mayra Barnes begins to sleepwalk, waking up in the dead of night not knowing where she is. Mayra becomes even more terrified when she discovers Mrs Cottler may be a witch…
Is the old woman casting spells on Mayra? To add to Mayra’s horror, she is being followed by a menacing stranger who seems to recognize her – but she’s never seen him in her life!
Mayra’s sleepwalking is leading her into more and more peril. She soon realizes she must take action. She must find out what is happening to her – or she may never leave Fear Street alive!
Had I Read This Before: No
The Plot: We meet our protagonist Mayra, a girl who is starting summer break with a new job. This job consists of being an assistant and companion to Mrs. Cottler, an old woman who Mayra’s mom used to be a nurse to the previous summer. Though Mrs. Cottler is described as a total bitch by Mayra’s Mom, she pays five dollars an hour and acting as an assisted living practitioner builds character, I guess. But as she works with Mrs. Cottler, Mayra finds out a few things about her. One, she’s actually pretty chill. Two, she has a grumpy cat named Hazel who likes to destroy necklaces (sorry, Mayra). And three, Mrs. Cottler, who lives on Fear Street of course, had a son who drowned in Fear Lake years ago. At this point I’m thinking that Mayra’s mother’s accusations about Mrs. Cottler being a bitch are incredibly insensitive. After reading to Mrs. Cottler from “Nicholas Nickelby” (I’m kind of picturing Jo March reading to her sour old aunt), Mayra goes to fetch her new boss a sweater. Instead of asking where to find it, she goes digging through some drawers, and finds some strange black candles. But before she can think too much about it, Hazel stalks in and freaks out as only a cat can. Mayra, properly chastised by a suspicious feline, leaves.
On her way home Mayra provides some plot exposition by thinking about how much she misses her deadbeat Dad, and also how much she misses her new boyfriend Walker, who has been off on some summer adventure for a couple of weeks. As she ruminates about how much she wishes he were home, someone grabs her arm. I would say that it’s not a homicidal maniac, but I can’t because it’s her ex boyfriend Link and he is a total lunatic. He begs her to talk to him, and when she tells him no he really doesn’t want to take said no for any kind of answer. She runs off and he calls after her that ‘she’ll be sorry’. Yeah, nothing suspicious about that.
The next day Mayra is at Mrs. Cottler’s again, and there is an angry knocking on the door. Cottler’s neighbor Mr. Kleeg (we will hear more about him later in this post, because this is my favorite moment in the book) is mad that Mrs. Cottler’s peach tree is continuously dropping peaches in his yard. Look, I don’t like peaches either, but I have a hard time feeling any kind of sympathy for him because you could probably make some rad cobbler out of that that you could share with friends. After hurling angry words at Mrs. Cottler, he leaves. But he dropped a handkerchief, one which Mrs. Cottler picks up and pockets. Mayra is constantly daydreaming about Walker pretty much the whole time, but she’s with it enough to take Mrs. Cottler up for a nap. Though, when she checks in on her one last time Mrs. Cottler is sitting up completely straight and holding the purloined handkerchief in her hand. Mayra leaves, feeling a bit uneasy. So the next afternoon she calls her friend Donna and tells her that she thinks that Mrs. Cottler is a witch. Kind of a jump, but okay. Donna says that Mayra should just ask Mrs. Cottler if she is, but Mayra is too scared. The only other person she’s known in her life who has loved the occult is Stephanie, Link’s sister, well, and Walker, who is into that stuff too. Donna thinks that Mayra’s spending too much time with her new boyfriend. Mayra doesn’t care, and when they hang up she decides to go see Mrs. Cottler….. And sees an ambulance carrying Mr. Kleeg away, as he has just broken his hip. Mrs. Cottler says that ‘she told him something would happen’.
Walker comes home from his trip, and he and Mayra decide to go out for pizza and card tricks. Because remember, Walker is way into magic and stuff. They banter wittily about her sundress and her shoulders, and then Mayra goes home. Her Mom tells her that Link has been leaving insistent (read: harassing phone calls) asking to speak to her. Which doesn’t so much creepy Mayra out as it makes her kind of flattered (ladies: no). That night Mayra dreams about standing in front of Fear Lake, and finds out that she can walk on water. As she walks onto the lake, she sees someone on the shore watching her. Then she wakes up… and finds herself on the front lawn. BOOM.
The next day after work Mayra is spotted and followed by a man who seriously sounds like Mr. Larson from “Happy Gilmore”. Note that this is basically how I imagined this mystery man whenever he showed up. She loses him and decides to go for a pizza at the mall….. BUT SEES WALKER THERE WITH SUKI THOMAS, “Fear Street”‘s answer to town slut, and therefore my favorite side character of the series. Mayra jumps into their conversation, accusatorially, but Walker insists he’s just teaching Suki some coin magic tricks. Mayra believes him because he’s WALKER. That night Mayra confides in her mother about her sleepwalking, and her Mom says that maybe she should see a shrink. Before any solid plans are made, the doorbell rings and Link’s sister Stephanie demands to talk to Mayra. Stephanie says that Mayra is being SO MEAN to Link and that they need to get back together. I can’t even. Mayra says no and Stephanie says ‘You’ll be sorry!!’ before stealing a scarf. That night Mayra sleepwalks again and ends up on Fear Street. Yeah, it’s probably best to see a doctor.
The next day before work, Mayra is visited by Walker, who says that maybe his amateur hypnotism skills can find some answers. Mayra says no thanks, and goes to work. Since Mrs. Cottler is showering when she arrives, it’s prime snooping time. Mayra finds her broken necklace (which Cottler said she’d fix) next to a melted black candle, and she freaks out but goes to make some lunch so she can act natural for Mrs. Cottler. On the way home Link drives by and offers her a ride. She accepts, and it’s not as molesty as I thought it would be. When she gets home Donna is there and says that a tall guy named Cal was asking for her. And he sounds like a Mr. Larson looking motherfucker. Uh oh.
Mayra goes to see Mrs. Cottler, who says she’s going out of town to see her ill sister, and asks Mayra to house sit and cat sit. When she gets home that night her mother tells her Donna has been in an awful car accident. She’s alive, but hurt. When she visits Donna, Mayra finds out that a red pickup ran her off the road. Mayra thinks that sounds like Link! She goes to talk to Walker, because has a theory: her Mom worked for Mrs. Cottler. Mrs. Cottler thinks her Mom tried to kill her. Now Mrs. Cottler is trying to kill Mayra! Seems like a leap. Walker thinks that they should investigate while Cottler is out of town. The next day they go looking, and Walker sees Hazel and is immediately convinced. They also find books on sleepwalking. Okay, kind of odd. They then see some pictures on the desk.. of Link and Stephanie! And a note that says that they are her NIECE AND NEPHEW!
Mayra visits Donna to run her witch family theory by her. Donna isn’t convinced, but Mayra decides to go confront Stephanie. She finds Stephanie wearing her purloined scarf on her head, and chanting with black candles lit around her. Mayra accuses her of being a witch. and Stephanie says no she isn’t. Then tells Mayra that Walker has been seeing Suki behind her back and really Mayra should just get back together with Link already. Then they make up to progress the plot or something and Mayra goes home (but inspects Links truck. No dents. He’s in the clear for attempted murder on Donna). That night she dreams again. But this time she can see the person on the bank. It’s Walker! And then she starts to drown in her dream… and wakes up to find herself DROWNING IN FEAR LAKE! Luckily a fisherman taking a pleasure cruise in eel infested waters is there, and saves her.
The next day Mayra goes to the psychiatric unit of the hospital to see a shrink (and has a run in with Cal! She escapes, but still, what’s up with this guy?). He says that her sleepwalking may be due to repressed trauma and writes her a scrip for some pills. The next day she goes to the lake to try and remember some things, and Link shows up, begs her to take him back, and LITERALLY ATTACKS HER. She punches him in the head, and jumps in the water to swim away…..? But in the water she remembers something. And asks Link, who just attacked her, to take her home so she can think.
Flashback time. God this plot is so long. Mayra remembers a night awhile back where she and Walker were at the mall. To prove he’s cool, he decides to steal a car. They go on a joyride, but he hits another car, which falls into the lake they’re driving past. One man splashes up, but Mayra is pulled away by Walker before they can see if the other person is okay.
After she remembers all this, Mayra asks to meet Walker. They go to the lake, and Walker tries to hypnotize her about forgetting that night in the car. Mayra, not one to play hte long game, angrily confronts him about all this. He says that he’s just been using her hoping she won’t tell on them or remember what happened, and that he’s actually seeing Suki. He then tries to drown her now that she remembers everything, because his magic career comes first. But Hazel the cat shows up and saves the day! She claws the shit out of WAlker, and Mayra runs away back to Mrs. Cottler’s house. For some reason Mr. Larson is there, and when he sees Walker chasing after Mayra he says “YOU ARE THE ONE WHO KILLED MY BROTHER!” That’s right, Mr. Larson and his brother were in the car they ran off the road. He was also the one who ran Donna off the road, but gets a pass because it was an oopsie and he thought she was Mayra. As if that’s okay.
Regardless, in the end Mayra is back together with Link (I CANNOT) and he tells her that his aunt Mrs. Cottler isn’t a witch, she’s a former professor of occult studies with a Ph.D and a number of books she’s written on the subject. And a badass cat. The end.
Body Count: 1. Poor Jerry.
Romance Rating: 0!!!!!! Absolutely not! You have Walker, who is using her/hypnotizing her, and Link who has a serious problem with taking ‘no’ for an answer!!! Fuck these guys!
Bonkers Rating: 6. If only because this isn’t how hypnotism works and Cal is only mildly relevant, but Hazel the cat is a goddamn hero.
Fear Street Relevance: 9. Mrs. Cottler lives on Fear Street and lots of stuff happens in the woods and by the lake!
Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:
“Oh no!” she cried, pointing to the photos. “Walker – Look! I don’t believe it!”
…. and then it’s just photographs of Link and Stephanie because they’re related to Mrs. Cottler.
That’s So Dated! Moments: There were LOTS of people sporting cut off jean shorts, and in once scene one of the girls was rocking a Hard Rock Cafe tee shirt. Remember when those were huge???? I do!
“Is that you again, Mr. Clean?” [said Mrs. Cottler]
“It’s Kleeg – NOT Clean!” he shouted angrily. His face got even redder.
“What do you want this time, Mr. Clean?” Mrs. Cottler asked, appearing beside Mayra in the doorway.
Well if you ignore the fact that all the boys in this book were predatory as hell and that Mayra’s big traumatic reveal was super lame, this one had Mrs. Cottler and her cat Hazel, and my girl Suki made an appearance! So meh. “Haunted” is up next! Severe lack of hero cats puts it at a disadvantage.