Book: “Ski Weekend” (Fear Street #10) by R.L. Stine
Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1991
Where Did I Get This Book: InterLibrary Loan from the library!
Book Description: Snowbound!
“Red” Porter was a stranger they’d met on their ski weekend. But Ariel Munroe, Doug Mahr and his girlfriend Shannon Harper were grateful he was there when they set out for home on the icy roads. Thank heaven for Red! He spotted the hilltop lodge when they were stranded by the blizzard. He took charge when they stumbled into strange surroundings, scared, tired and looking for refuge. But can he save them when their refuge becomes a trap? Suddenly their hosts are acting very sinisterly. Doug’s car is gone. The phones are dead. And the house is full of guns. If they steal one, maybe they can escape! Until a shot is fired and the real terror begins…
Had I Read This Before: Yes.
The Plot: We start out in a car with a group of friends from Shadyside who are coming home from vacation. We have Ariel, a science minded girl who is also our protagonist. There’s Doug, Ariel’s oldest friend who is kind of a tough guy who makes bad choices. There’s Shannon, Doug’s girlfriend who is pretty bland but very pretty. And then there’s Red. Red is NOT part of this group. You see, the fourth is supposed to be Randy, Ariel’s boyfriend. But they got in a fight over the fact that he wanted to cut the ski weekend short so he could go play basketball. After a blow out argument they had in public (which led to Randy leaving with his car), Red approached Ariel to see if she was okay. After he got along with her and her friends, he asked if they could drop him off in Brockton. I don’t know, but an older guy swooping in on a teenage girl who is vulnerable after a fight isn’t someone I would trust, but here we are. Doug is driving like a maniac in spite of the fact there’s a snow storm falling on them, Red suggests that they turn down a country road, because according to him the plows clear those out before the highways. Horseshit, Red! But these city kids don’t know up from down, so Doug turns down the road, and doesn’t get far before his car dies. Red says he’s overheating the engine, and they should ask one of these farm houses to give them shelter for the night. So they grab their gear and go to ask if they can crash.
The door is opened by a guy straight out of a backwoods horror movie, at least in mannerism and stereotypical personality. He says his name is Lou, and introduces them to his wife, Eva, who sounds like she’s a mouse of a woman to his boonies son of the soil demeanor. He says that they can stay overnight, and tells them to make themselves at home. He also blatantly lusts after Shannon, and let me tell you it’s disgusting. He also tells stories about misfortune that his acquaintances have met in the past, and laughs about it. Amazingly, their phone works, so Doug calls his parents, and when Ariel tries it’s very hard to hear anything. She asks Eva for a cup of tea, and notices that Eva is very quiet and kind of jumpy. Back out in the living room, Lou opens the door and sees that a branch has crashed through the porch roof. The men go outside to move it, and Lou is mad that Doug doesn’t listen very well. I sense the start of a rivalry.
After dinner, Ariel, hoping to escape Lou and his awful stories, asks Eva where she can sleep. After being led to a room, she tries to sleep… But wakes up to the noise of the front door opening and closing. She sees no one has gone outside, but hears footsteps downstairs, though everyone seems to be in bed. She goes to investigate, but chickens out when she hears a lamp crash to the floor. She runs into Red, who tells her he thought he heard Lou and Eva fighting, and Lou hitting Eva. Ariel votes that they should try and bail, but then they start kissing a bit. Which is pretty gross, R.L. It sounds like Red is definitely older than 18. They eventually stop and go back to their separate rooms. No thought as to whether Eva could be hurt. Oh the 90s.
The next morning Ariel wakes up to the smell of bacon. She goes downstairs and finds her friends at the kitchen table, and Lou making them breakfast. When asked where Eva is, he says he’s letting her ‘sleep in’, and I’m suspicious because I don’t remember Eva from my time as a kid reading this book. Doug announces his intentions to check on the car, though Lou berates him for thinking about that because there’s no point until the road crews come. Red and Ariel opt to go with him (WHY SHANNON STAYS BEHIND WITH PREDATORY LOU IS BEYOND ME). They find that the car is gone, and when they do find it it’s been pushed into a ditch. When they return Lou offers to call for a tow, but NOW the phone is dead. Lou freaks out about the phone, and says that while he does have four wheel drive he’s not going to take them anywhere because the snow is too deep. After they beg, he says that he’ll give it a go and tells them to get their things.
WHile they wait for him they have a snowball fight, and when Lou pulls up Ariel notices his plates are from Alabama and not Vermont. Red says that there are lots of cars with out of state plates and it doesn’t mean anything. Lou smells of beer (SO GREAT that he’s driving), and tells Shannon to sit next to him. But the the Jeep also sputters and dies. Lou freaks again and storms into the house, and the gang is getting more worried. That afternoon while Red works on the Jeep and Lou gets more drunk, Ariel goes to find Eva. Eva is NOT dead, but she’s pretty beat up and says that Ariel and her friends shouldn’t be there. Seemingly not so concerned, Ariel goes downstairs just in time for Lou to yank the phone out of the wall. So stable, this Lou. Ariel, Doug, and Shannon play cards, and when Ariel looks out the window SHE SEES A STRANGE MAN IN A SKI MASK! She screams, and Doug and Shannon see him too just before he vanishes. They tell Lou, but Lou is too drunk to care. Red comes in and says he doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Then Lou asks Doug if he works out. I have to assume this is the kind of thing those self proclaimed Alpha guys do. Instead of calling Doug a cuck, he challenges him to a wrestling match. Doug is on the school wrestling team so he agrees, and I’m just flabbergasted. They fight, and Lou smashes Doug in the knee and hits his head against the floor a bunch, until Red pulls him off. Doug is convinced his leg is broken, but Ariel, who wants to be a doctor, reminds him that she did a school project on the knee, and after examining it says it’s just sprained. Lou shrugs it all off.
The gang gathers in Ariel’s room and tries to plot an escape. Red tells them that he heard Lou and Eva conspire to rob them and make it so they can’t leave, and that he found some photos in a drawer of a couple that isn’t Lou and Eva. Come to think of it, Eva doesn’t know the kitchen and Lou’s clothes don’t fit. So this must not be their house!!! Red says that he lied when he said the Jeep was still dead, he just wanted to wait for the right moment to get in it and leave. So they decide to wait Lou out. So after Lou goes to bed around midnight, they wait another hour to sneak out of the house with their things, Doug grabbing a gun. THey go into the barn, ready to go, but then are surprised by a strange man standing in the doorway in the dark. They assume it’s Lou, and Doug fires the gun, shooting him… BUt it’s not Lou!! It’s some random guy! Ski mask guy?? It’s at the very least the man in the photos Red showed them! Lou runs in and says that they just killed Eva’s brother JAKE?!?! Who must have been coming to save them in the storm?! They find a ski mask in Jake’s coat, so he was the guy looking in the window. Which makes NO sense, but everyone buys it. Lou tells them they have to help him hide the body in the basement.
While Lou is telling Eva that her brother is dead, Ariel feels like something is off. She goes into the basement to check out the body. She examines poor dead Jake, and notices that not only is there not a lot of blood, but the body is completely frozen even though he’s only been dead for a short while. Red interrupts her examination, and she says they need to find Doug and Shannon! They find their friends, and Ariel says that she thinks Jake was already dead when Doug shot him. If he’d been alive he would have bled a lot, which he didn’t. And his body wouldn’t be frozen solid yet! I like how brainy Ariel is! Red isn’t convinced, and thinks they should confront Lou. The others outvote him and opt to leave. They run outside, and Ariel tells Red that he doesn’t need the pistol he’s carrying… But he tells them that HE DOES. AND HE POINTS THE GUN AT THEM.
Red takes them back to the porch and he and Lou tell them the whole scheme: Red was the one in the ski mask (the cover of this book is officially wrong then), the phones have worked the whole time, and not only are Eva and Jake siblings, Red is the THIRD sibling! Apparently Jake stole the inheritance from his siblings, and Lou killed him because of it. Eva, however, tells them that she never wanted this, and JUST CALLED THE COPS ON LOU! While Lou is processing this, Ariel hocks a snowball at him. He drops the gun and Doug tosses it (why he didn’t hold onto it is beyond me). The teens run back to the barn, but realize that Red has the keys to the Jeep! Ariel, always thinking, jumps on a snowmobile and just as Red and Lou are running in, she plows through them and towards the lake. She falls off the snowmobile and skids onto the ice. The guys catch up with her and grab her, but with the police sirens blaring they argue about how to proceed. Lou wants to give up, but Red wants to take her as a hostage. While they fight Ariel runs onto the ice, and Red follows her. But then the ice starts to crack, and Red falls through, as his sister screams on the banks (this is actually way sad). Ariel almost falls through, but Doug saves her. Lou gives himself up. Eva’s life is ruined.
A tow truck comes and is able to get Doug’s car out of the ditch, and it runs just fine now. They’re driving home and Ariel jokes that they should go on another ski weekend next weekend. Doug, as if predicting her bullshit joking in lieu of a trauma, pulls a snowball out of the glove compartment and smashes it in her face. The end.
Body Count: 2. Luke didn’t deserve that, but Red sure did!
Romance Rating: Gotta be 1. Domestic abuse, statutory make outs, attempted murder, and basketball being prioritized over a ski weekend. At least Doug seems to care about Shannon.
Bonkers Rating: 3. I’ll give some credit for the Red twist, but otherwise it’s pretty milquetoast.
Fear Street Relevance: 1! It has nothing to do with Fear Street besides Ariel living there, but she lives there off page! It probably should have been a standalone like “The Babysitter” or “The Snowman”.
Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:
“I started to say something else – but stopped. Doug and I both cried out in surprise when we heard the snap of a gunshot right behind us!”
…. And it’s a mousetrap. PLEASE.
That’s So Dated! Moments: Well besides Red on the cover looking like David Hasselhoff (seriously, look at him), when Lou and Doug are having their awkward and stupid wrestling contest Lou keeps calling Doug ‘Hulkster’. As in Hulk friggin’ Hogan.
“Be a scientist, Ariel, I told myself. Examine the corpse… scientifically.”
Okay, Ariel’s determination to be STEM-y is kind of adorable.
SO, it doesn’t fit in on the “Fear Street” roster at all, but I remember that child me was totally blown away by the Red revelation. “Ski Weekend” is pretty okay, and at least it was memorable all these years later, unlike others I’ve read. Next up is “The Fire Game”!