Book: “Bad Dreams (Fear Street #22)” by R.L. Stine
Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1994
Where Did I Get This Book: The library!
Book Description: Every night Maggie Travers has the same horrible dream. Every night she is forced to watch the same murder. And every night the girl in her dream cries out for help. Maggie is afraid to go to sleep again. But when the terrifying dream starts to come true and the gruesome accidents begin, staying awake is the real nightmare!
Had I Read It Before: No.
The Plot: We open with a girl having a bad dream in her house on Fear Street. She awakens and realizes that it was only a nightmare…. Until she notices someone in the corner of her room who attacks her with a knife! The girl protests ‘but you’re my SISTER!’, and then it’s lights out for her.
So then we meet the Travers family, moving to Fear Street from their posh home in North Hills. Maggie is the oldest, and she’s beautiful, clever, and a great athlete. Andrea is the youngest, and she’s.. less so. They’ve gotten lost on the way to their new home. Andrea says that it’s Maggie’s fault since she’s the navigator, but Maggie says if they hadn’t stopped for Andrea’s bladder they could have followed the moving truck. Mrs. Travers just wants peace and quiet. Turns out they fight so much, they were even fighting the day that their father stroked out and died, POSSIBLY because he was yelling at them to stop fighting. Unlikely, but it’s implied. They get to their new house, and Andrea lets their dog Gus out of the car, who goes rushing down the street. Mom tells her to go get him, but Andrea says that since he’s Maggie’s dog, SHE should do it. Oh this girl is going to be fun. Gus is nearly hit by a car, but isn’t and Maggie is pissed AF at her little sister. Rightfully so, I say. They go into the house, and the girls go to the rooms they called dibs on the previous visit. Maggie walks into her room and sees that the previous owners have left behind a BEAUTIFUL wooden canopy bed, with carvings and pink dressings. Andrea sees it next, and then has the AUDACITY to ask Maggie if she can have it. Maggie reminds her that she got the bigger room, so Maggie is keeping the bed. Andrea starts to temper tantrum, and Mrs Travers says that Maggie gets to keep it. When Andrea whines more, Mrs. Travers gets sad because her family is clearly a wreck.
They go out to dinner that night and Maggie vows to try to keep the family together in spite of her rotten sister. When they get home, Maggie’s new boyfriend Justin calls, and he arranges to come over the next day to see the house. Then Dawn a member of the swim team at school that Maggie and Andrea are on calls. Dawn USED to go out with Justin, but not anymore. Dawn says she missed them at practice, but then asks if Maggie is ready to lose the swimming race the next day. But given that Stine never did care THAT much for the Bechdel test between two girls who could be fighting over a boy, they start talking about Justin. Andrea is jealous of her sister’s seemless popularity. Later that night Andrea is hogging the bathroom and Maggie is getting mad, but doesn’t start a fight. Instead, she gets ready and goes straight to bed. Then she has a bad dream, involving a sleeping mystery girl and a swirling cold mist. She wakes up screaming, and Mrs. Travers and Andrea run in. Maggie tells them about the dream, and Andrea guesses it’s about Dawn, since they were on the phone and both the girl and Dawn have blonde hair. Maggie isn’t totally convinced, but accepts it for the evening.
The next morning Maggie wakes up far later than she wanted (as swim tryouts for State are the next day and she needs to practice!), so she straightens up her room and decides to wait for Justin to come by. She checks in on Andrea, who is jealous that Justin is coming by. She also admits to having ‘strange thoughts’. But soon Justin is there and Maggie is distracted enough to forget about Andrea’s woes. He brings sponges for the housecleaning, and while that may seem dopey, Mrs Travers is won over, and I would be too. Owning a house means lots of cleaning, and I hate shopping for cleaning supplies! Justin and Maggie retreat to her room (how progressive of Mrs Travers), and they talk about the swim tryouts. The coach has narrowed it down to four girls for two spots: Maggie, Dawn, a girl named Tiffany, and Andrea. The odds are in her favor, along with Dawn’s. Then she tells him about her bad dream, and he writes it off as well. They start fooling around, but then are interrupted by Andrea watching them. Maggie tells her to scram, and she says that she worries that the dream was some kind of foreboding. Justin, being a dumb teenage boy, pretends that he’s having some kind of episode…. But then they laugh and laugh.
At the swim tryouts the next day, Dawn, Maggie, and Tiffany are hanging out while Andrea keeps to herself. She only says something when she accuses Maggie of stealing her swim cap, only for Tiffany to point out that it’s in Andrea’s own backpack. HOW EMBARRASSING. They line up to race the 200 IM, and once they are in the water it becomes a real nail biter! But, luckily, Maggie is a beast of a swimmer and she comes in first with Dawn second, followed by Tiffany and Andrea. Maggie and Dawn are going to the tournament! Dawn tries to accuse Maggie of cheating since her wave crest knocked the lane line into her, but Coach says no dice. They have practice as usual, and Maggie is feeling the burn. As she leaves the locker room into the pool area, SHE SEES A BODY IN THE POOL!! And it’s DAWN!!! Maggie jumps in to save her, but Dawn is just fine, only practicing her breath control. They laugh and laugh.
The next night, Maggie has sleep problems again. The dream really pulls her down into a weird state on consciousness. This time she sees the girl in her first dream lying in bed, writhing around, and someone with a knife suddenly attacks her! Maggie wakes up, and comes to the horrible realization that this is the bed she saw! She then realizes that someone is in the room with her! But it’s just Andrea, who heard her making noises. They talk about the dream for a bit, with Maggie describing it all in detail: the knife, the bed, everything. They are having a lovely sisterly moment…. Which is then ruined when Andrea suggests that Maggie is so stressed out that maybe she should cut back on swimming. Maggie finds this UNACCEPTABLE, and tries to pull off a joke that Andrea wants to swim in the tournament herself. Which then ANDREA finds UNACCEPTABLE because Maggie is ALWAYS insulting her and then pretending not. Andrea says Maggie is dreaming about stabbings, so who does SHE want to stab? But Maggie feels more like the victim in the dream….
At school the next day Maggie thinks she sees Andrea’s red hair in the busy hallway, and tries to catch up with her. Then she sees Dawn, and starts calling her name. The crowd is a mad rush between classes, and as she meets up with Dawn on the steps, suddenly Dawn is THRUST FORWARD, and tumbles down the staircase!!! The paramedics are called, and Dawn accuses Maggie of pushing her! Maggie is shocked and asks Andrea for backup, but Andrea says she didn’t see. Maggie realizes the girl in the dream had blonde hair, and so does Dawn. Did she somehow do this? When she sees Tiffany, Tiffany says she doesn’t think Maggie did anything wrong. When Maggie gets home, she falls asleep on the couch, and has a very nice rest. Better than any rest she’s had on the bed!
That Saturday Maggie is still having trouble sleeping in her bed, and falls asleep under a birch tree. Her neighbor, Mr Avery, wakes her up, afraid she is going to get sunburnt, and proceeds to tell her that her new house was unoccupied for awhile, and tells her that it was a terrible thing that happened there. When she asks him what it was, instead of elaborating, he invites her inside to meet his wife. Because OF COURSE, you story cock blocking old man! Maggie says sure, though, and meets Mrs. Avery. Finally, the neighbors come out with it. A family called the Helfers lived there, and they had a teenage daughter named Miranda who was stabbed to death in her own bed! She goes to the movies with Justin that night, feeling more paranoid than ever. They see Dawn and Tiffany in the parking lot of the movie theater, and Dawn says no hard feelings, and reminds us readers that Tiffany and Maggie now have another race to compete in soon to secure a spot in another race in the state tournament. Maggie and Justin go parking and fool around a bit, but Maggie is still too distracted by her dream to let him get past first base. She tells him all about Miranda and her theory that the bed is trying to tell her something. And Justin has the patience of a saint.
So now we have the next tryout for the next race! With just three girls now, that gives Andrea more of a chance for a spot. But if you put your money on her, sorry to say that it is, indeed, Tiffany and Maggie who come in first and second. Dawn, who was watching, only congratulates Tiffany because apparently no hard feelings is for losers. Andrea is crestfallen that she’s only the alternate. But that night, Maggie has the dream again, and this time she wakes up and is convinced someone is with her in the room. She sees Andrea, who says she came to borrow her curling iron (in the middle of the night?). Andrea leaves, and Maggie decides to leave the bed for awhile, walking around the house and going to the kitchen. She hears a floorboard creak, but chalks it up to losing her mind. When she returns to her room, there’s a huge knife shoved into her pillow. She screams and runs to get her Mom, but of COURSE when they return to the room, the knife is gone. Maggie runs to Andrea’s room, and accuses her of it all. Mrs. Travers and Andrea tell her she’s losing it.
The next day at swim practice, Maggie is starting to falter a bit, losing to Tiffany in a for funsies run. Coach asks her if she’s getting enough rest. Maggie lies and says that she’s fine and will be great for the meet. In the locker room Tiffany and Maggie share a light ribbing of each other (though Maggie is worried that Tiffany is right and she IS slipping), and Andrea is sulking still. Maggie goes to talk to coach one last night, and when she leaves she goes back into the pool area… AND SEES TIFFANY LYING IN A PUDDLE OF HER OWN BLOOD!!! Maggie rushes to her side, and finds a knife! Later that night, we find out that Tiffany will be okay, but can’t swim in the tournament, leaving Maggie and Andrea as the only options. And Andrea seems PRETTY HAPPY about the whole thing. Maggie wonders aloud if her dream was trying to warn her, but Andrea shuts all that down. That night, Maggie has the dream again, but this time when she wakes up, THE BLONDE GIRL IS STANDING ABOVE HER, GLARING DOWN AT HER WITH A KNIFE!! Maggie asks if she’s Ghost Miranda, and the girl nods. Maggie darts away, and Miranda goes after her again, until she hears Mrs. Travers calling for her. Miranda jumps out the window, and Maggie is left alone when Mrs. Travers comes in. Still babbling about a ghost, Mrs. Travers says that it’s therapy time!
But first, it’s field trip time at school! To the caverns! Which is all an exercise in paranoia, as Maggie gets separated from her group and is convinced Miranda is chasing her. But it’s just Justin. When she starts with the dream stuff again, he too has had it. The next day he’s back to being his perfectly understanding self, and she says that she’s seeing a therapist now. She didn’t dream about the bed or Miranda the night before. She is worried that the stigma will chase Justin away, but he says that he wants to see her again, and how about tomorrow night after the swim tournament? She hugs him, thinking all is well, but then sees Miranda staring at her from across the parking lot!! She freaks out, but then demurs when Justin asks what’s wrong, and says she’ll see him tomorrow. She goes home, and is roped into a cookout with the Averys and her family. She wonders if the answer is in the bed, but when she goes back to her room, it’s disappeared!!! Andrea comes up behind her and tells her that her therapist said that the bed has to go, and I’m inclined to agree. Mr Avery helped Mrs. Travers take it down, and it’s now in the attic. The attic, hmmmmmm? Andrea says Maggie better not go up there because Mom will be mad, and Maggie says she won’t and returns to the cookout, while totally planning to go into the attic.
SO, that night after everyone else is asleep, Maggie does, indeed, go into the attic. She wants to sleep in the bed one last time, hoping to get the answers. But then she realizes that someone else is in the bed already!!! And it’s Miranda, the ghost! Maggie reaches out and touches her, and Miranda wakes up! She’s not a ghost at all! In fact, she’s not even Miranda!! She’s GENA, Miranda’s sister… and KILLER!!! Miranda had everything, and Gena was jealous, and so Gena murdered her. But Miranda was also a bit psychic, apparently (wat?), and must have been trying to warn Maggie about Gena, who has been living in the attic this whole time because THIS IS HER HOME, DAMMIT, the hospital she escaped from never was!! And now she wants to kill Maggie because Maggie is a BAD OLDER SISTER TO ANDREA, JUST LIKE MIRANDA WAS!! Andrea then pops into the attic, and Gena says that this is all for her!!! At first Maggie thinks that Andrea planned the whole thing, but of course not! As she keeps attacking Maggie, Gena tells Andrea she also attacked Dawn and Tiffany because she knew that Andrea wanted to go to state!! She also pushed the knife in Maggie’s pillow and has caused the general havoc as of late. The sisters struggle with Gena, and tie her up in the canopy before calling the police. As the police take Gena away, the Travers family sits around the table drinking coffee, the sisters now fighting about who HAS to keep the bed, and lamenting how little sleep they got with the swim tournament that afternoon. As Maggie goes upstairs to try and get SOME sleep, she says ‘goodnight…. and sweet dreams!’ The End.
Body Count: 1.
Romance Rating: 5. Maggie and Justin seem like a perfectly functional couple, but there isn’t much to be said for chemistry.
Bonkers Rating: 7. True, there was the combination of psychic dead girl AND a crazy person hiding out in the attic, but it was so poorly constructed I’m docking points.
Fear Street Relevance: 8. The Travers family has just moved to Fear Street AND the house has a haunted bed.
Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:
“She opened her eyes with a startled gasp. And saw a frightening looking man reaching for her throat. ‘This won’t take long,’ he said.
… And then it was actually just the nice next door neighbor saying ‘you been baking long?’, as he was worried about her getting sunburnt.
That’s So Dated! Moments: Maggie is rocking a pretty sweet Trapper Keeper, but could it possibly have been as cool as my once mentioned Catwoman Trapper Keeper???
“‘Welcome to burglar city,’ Andrea joked, pretending to do a tour guide voice. ‘Our neighborhood is proud to announce we have one of the highest crime rates in the country.'”
I mean, she isn’t wrong.
Conclusion: “Bad Dreams” was a big ol’ jumbled mess that didn’t know what it wanted to be. I say skip it completely and spend your time on other “Fear Street” books. Up next for us is “Double Date”!