Book: “One Evil Summer” (Fear Street #25) by R.L. Stine
Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1994
Where Did I Get This Book: ILL from the library!
Book Description: Summer at the beach and Amanda Conklin’s stuck in summer school. Well, at least she doesn’t have to take care of her little brother and sister. That’s Chrissy’s job.
Chrissy seems like the perfect babysitter — so kind and trustworthy. But Amanda soon discovers Chrissy’s terrible secret. Babysitting is Chrissy’s job — but killing is what she does best!
Had I Read It Before: Yes.
The Plot: Amanda Conklin awakens in her bland and cramped room at Maplewood Juvenile Correctional Facility. She’s been there for three days, and is surrounded by other teenage psychopaths and delinquents, and it seems that she may be in there for murder. How did she get there? She’s perfectly happy to let us readers in on the fact that it’s all because of an evil girl named Chrissy, and we start the flashback to earlier in the summer….
Amanda and her family and leaving Fear Street and Shadyside behind for the summer in favor of spending it at a rental house in Seahaven, a seaside town that sounds actually pretty fun. Amanda’s dad is a public defender who made sure not to schedule any trials this summer (not sure that’s how it works, Stine) while he catches up on paperwork, and her mom is a reporter who is writing a story about the stresses of today’s youth. Amanda has two siblings, a little brother named Kyle and a little sister named Merry, whose speech impediment is like Cindy Brady and is written out phonetically! Oh joy of joys! Since the Conklins are going to be ‘working’ while on this family vacation I’m just not sure either of them could afford on their salaries, they will need to hire a live in ‘mother’s helper’ to help with Kyle and Merry, as Amanda has to go to summer school for Algebra, as she failed the previous year.
I am immediately calling bullshit for a number of reasons.
- If Amanda has to take summer classes, wouldn’t they have to be taken at her school in Shadyside? Would credits from Seahaven transfer to Shadyside?
- I’ve done summer school before. It is not a full school day. I think that my classes (also for math) were about three hours a day at most, so Amanda could easily care for her siblings in the afternoon.
- How hard would it be for Mr. or Mrs. Conklin to work on their various work projects in the morning while watching the younger kids? Couldn’t they trade off shifts? They’re both working from the beach house, aren’t they?
Anyway, they get to their summer home and it’s isolated and really chic, with a pool and everything. Mom and Dad take Kyle and Merry into town, so Amanda sets up the family canaries in a sunny spot and brings the family cat Mr. Jinx into the house. As she settles in, there’s a knocking on the door. She answers, and sees a blonde and beautiful teenage girl outside. She says she’s here about the mother’s helper ad, and says her name is Chrissy Minor. Amanda tells her that her folks are out at the moment, and Chrissy says that she has another job interview so WHATEVS. Amanda, knowing her folks are kind of desperate to not have to deal with their kids at all that summer, says she can try and get a hold of them. She does, and Mom says they will come right back. Chrissy then has a run in with Mr. Jinx. Mr. Jinx hisses at her, and Chrissy hisses right back, looking like a complete nutbag when she does it. Mr Jinx freaks, and Amanda is immediately wary.
Her parents return and they interview Chrissy. She says she lives with her aunt outside of town, but her cousin is home for the summer and the house is a little cramped, so a live in job for Chrissy would be perfect.
THIS IS A LIVE IN POSITION WHEN SHE WOULD ONLY BE LOOKING AFTER THE KIDS FOR HALF A DAY??? WHY?!
She says she has references and provides the phone numbers, so Mrs. Conklin goes into the kitchen to give them calls. Amanda tells her about the weird interaction with Mr. Jinx, but Mrs. Conklin isn’t phased. She tries the phone numbers and neither work, but Mrs. Conklin says that she has a good judge of character, and so therefore she is going to hire her anyway!! Amanda tells her that that’s totally irresponsible, and her mother basically says NO YOU by saying that AMANDA was irresponsible for failing Algebra. So…. let me get this straight, Mrs. Conklin, you don’t think that you have to get references for the person who is going to be responsible FOR YOUR CHILDREN FOR THE WHOLE SUMMER????
Mrs. Conklin goes back to the living room and Chrissy mentions that Mr. Jinx hissed at her, and it was probably because she cleaned a mousetrap that morning. Yeah, okay. They hire Chrissy on the spot, and she goes out to her car to get her things that she brought ‘just in case’. Amanda notices that Salt and Pepper, the canaries, stopped singing when Chrissy was in the room. Amanda helps Chrissy to her room, and when she drops Chrissy’s suitcase a bunch of things spill out, including some old newspaper clippings. Chrissy first hides it, but then thrusts one of the articles at Amanda. It talks about a girl named Lilith Minor, who was in a coma two years prior. Chrissy informs Amanda that Lilith is her twin sister, and that she’s still comatose. Amanda gives her condolences, but Chrissy says not to be sorry because ‘Lilith is EVIL!’
Amanda starts summer classes that Monday, biking into town. While the family has really come to like Chrissy, Amanda is weirded out by the whole Evil Sister Lilith thing. In class she meets a cute boy named Dave, who ends up becoming her partner on the math problems and totally flirts with her. After class she asks him about Chrissy and if he knows her, and he says no, and asks what she’s like. Amanda says she seems okay, but Mr. Jinx hates her and wonders if that’s weird. Dave doesn’t think so, and they part ways. When she gets home, she can’t find anyone, and goes out to the deck with the pool… only to see Merry floating face down!!! She runs out and jumps into the pool to try and help her, but finds out that Merry is fine, and Chrissy was below helping her float and Amanda is crazy! Mrs. Conklin sees the commotion, and calls Amanda out to yell at her!! I’m getting the feeling that Mrs. Conklin is going to be the worse Fear Street Mom by the end of this. Amanda explains, and Mrs. Conklin lightens up a bit. Amanda tells her about the lack of bird singing, though, and the fact that Chrissy said her sister is evil, and of course Mrs. Conklin doesn’t think anything of it. And no, she still hasn’t talked to Chrissy’s references, but she’s perfectly lovely so what’s the problem? This woman. Amanda relents, and goes to let Mr. Jinx out of the house. She watches Chrissy, Merry, and Kyle play in the front yard, when suddenly a car on the road swerves out of control!! It barrels towards the kids, but Chrissy knocks them out of the way just in time, and the car ends up crashing into the family vehicle. The driver claims he has no idea what happened, the car just went nuts on him…. And sadly, Mr. Jinx was a casualty. GOD DAMMIT, STINE. Amanda, devastated, notices that Chrissy is smiling. Amanda goes to bury her cat in the woods by the house, Kyle going with her, and they give Mr. Jinx a proper funeral together. The family plays charades on the deck that night, and Chrissy, being a horrible bitch, does “The Cat in the Hat”.
Amanda has a bad dream and wakes up in the middle of the night. She goes to get a glass of water, but as she passes Chrissy’s room she sees Chrissy laughing evilly. Also, she’s floating in the air. Next thing Amanda knows, she’s waking up on the floor to her worried parents faces, and they tell her she fainted. She tells them what she saw, and they, surprise and shock, don’t believe her. And hey, I don’t think that I can really blame them, even if Mr. And Mrs. Conklin are just the absolutely worst. Amanda tries to prove it, by running into Chrissy’s room to catch her in the act of witchery…. but Chrissy is sound asleep. Amanda attacks her, as this is obviously how to prove that you aren’t crazy. Her parents pull her off and tell her that she’s probably super stressed and sleepwalked/dreamed the whole thing.
So I need to put in another aside here. This book sure seems to take a lot of influence from the classic Lois Duncan teen creep “Summer of Fear”, in which a teenage girl named Rachel suspects that her cousin Julia, who has just moved in with her family after a tragedy, is a witch who is manipulating those around her to garner favor, all the while pushing Rachel out of her life. It was made into a TV movie starring Linda Blair. The parallels seem way too similar and it really takes me out of this book.
Anyway, Amanda tries to fall back asleep, but can’t. She hears Chrissy leave her room and goes to see what she’s doing. Luckily, she’s just going on an Oreo binge in the kitchen, so Amanda takes the opportunity to try and gather evidence in Chrissy’s room. She grabs some of the newspaper clippings, but Chrissy catches her and threatens her. Amanda runs back into the hallway, but lucky for her on the of the clippings blew into the hall. Amanda goes back to her room and reads it. It’s from a place called Harrison County (not where Seahaven is), and talks about a couple named Minor who died in their beds after their car’s exhaust ran into the house. Their daughter Lilith was left in a coma. No mention of a sister/daughter named Chrissy. Before Amanda can think too hard, the clipping bursts into flames!!
The next day Amanda recruits her friend Suzi to go to the Shadyside Library and find any information she can on the Minor family. Suzi’s no nerd and doesn’t sound thrilled, but agrees to do it. Unfortunately, the phone starts to melt in Amanda’s hand, and Chrissy’s voice comes over the line spewing more threats. Amanda runs out of the room hoping to show her parents the melted phone, and notices Chrissy’s reference sheet again. Before she can even bring up the phone, though, she sees that it’s back in tact and in ti’s cradle. Amanda, you are fighting a foe who is far more formidable than yourself. So she goes to school, where she confesses to Dave everything that’s been going on. Dave, for whatever reason, totally believes her, and when she shows him the reference sheet and resume he tells her that the house Chrissy listed as her aunt’s has been long abandoned. They decide to go driving together, and he takes her on a boat ride to an island near shore where he shows her his ‘secret hideout’. Inside, he tells her he and his brother used to come here and have stocked it full of lots of practical things. Then he tells her he knows how she can get rid of Chrissy, and presents a knife to her. When she questions him and his murderous plot, he tells her that he thinks she should just plant it in her room. Not too shabby, Dave. Then they start kissing because aw, love.
Dave brings Amanda home and she introduces him to Chrissy. They ask her about the house she says she lives in, and she tells them she and her aunt haven’t moved in yet, she just bought it. CONVENIENT. Dave opts to distract Chrissy by offering to show her his car, and she probably takes it as some euphemism because she agrees. Amanda goes to plant the knife, but suddenly it’s spraying blood everywhere! Amanda runs out of the room, and then discovers that the family birds have had their throats slit. Her parents run into the room to find her screaming, but they also find her covered in a LOT of blood. Then Chrissy runs in and says she found a knife in her room and all of her things are covered in blood, and all signs are pointing to Amanda. Her parents think she killed the birds and then destroyed Chrissy’s things, but how much blood do they think is in two parakeets, because DAMN it sounds like a deluge. Amanda says Chrissy did this, but her parents decide to try and find her a doctor.
The shrink diagnoses Amanda with a lot of stress because of failing algebra and says that’s what causing this acting out. Amanda pretends to sleep in the car and eavesdrops on her parents, who tell each other they they can’t fire Chrissy because it will just feed Amanda’s delusions. So Amanda decides to stop playing checkers and start playing chess in this goddamn chess tournament. They get home and she ‘apologizes’ to Chrissy, ready to lure her into a false sense of security. Then, randomly, a kitten brushes up against her leg before hissing at Chrissy. Amanda says she’ll take it back to the forest, but instead sneaks it into her room. Then the phone rings, and she’s told that it’s for her. Expecting Suzi, she answers. But its’ actually Carter “The Cheater” Phillips! And she has some bad news. While at the library, Suzi suddenly started bleeding out of her nose and mouth and slumped over, and is now in a coma!!! No one knows what happened!….. Amanda does though.
Amanda decides to call Chrissy’s references herself while the other girl is busy reading to the kids. The first one doesn’t answer, but the second one does and says a whole bunch of gobbledeygook about being a neighbor and a judge and bad things happening, and then when Amanda tells her Chrissy is in the house the woman tells her to get out and hangs up. Reassuring it isn’t. Amanda finds Chrissy making Kyle some milk, but sees her put something in it. Worried she’s poisoning Kyle, Amanda panics, and intercepts the glass. While trying to figure out what to do wtih it, the doorbell rings, and it’s Dave. Amanda tells him her fears, and he knocks it out of her hands, claiming it was a klutz move on his part when Chrissy walks in. Dave eventually asks Chrissy to go to a movie with him as a distraction technique, giving Amanda some much needed snooping time. She finds another newspaper clipping, but this time it’s one with Mr. Conklin’s picture in it! It details a case that he had where he defended a homeless man against arson charges that involved the law offices of Minor and Henry. But what does it all mean?! She is about to go through more, but then Dave and Chrissy come home. Amanda hides under the bed, but when she makes a break for it she’s totalyl seen by Chrissy! She and Dave bolt (Leaving the little ones with a now potentially desperate crazy person with telekinetic powers, good show Amanda), and drive away. Amanda shifts through more clippings and finds out that not only was the homeless man acquitted, but her Dad recommended that charges be brought against Anton Minor…. who must be Chrissy’s father! That’s the good news. The bad news is that when they pull into a parking lot to use a pay phone, Dave suddenly starts bleeding from his nose and mouth and passes out! And the doors won’t open!
Amanda finds a screwdriver to try and break the windows, but then sees CHRISSY!!! Who uses her telekinetic powers to yank her out of the car and start monologuing. Turns out Chrissy’s father indeed burnt his law firm down and tried to pin it on a homeless guy, but when he failed he tried to go Family Annihilator on everyone and pumped car exhaust into his home, killing himself and his wife and Chrissy’s sister. Chrissy is taking revenge, and has already taken out the families of the Assistant DA and the Judge (who were her references), and is now going for the Conklins. She throws Amanda back in the car and then uses her powers to knock it off a cliff.
Amanda survives the fall. Dave does not, may he rest in peace. Amanda finds herself on the bluffs above the ocean that were near the island that Dave pointed out, so she slowly climbs down, and passes out from exhaustion at the bottom.
She eventually wakes up the next day, and decides it’s time to make the long walk home to try and save her family. She gets there, but overhears Chrissy on the phone with her parents, who have evidently gone back to Shadyside to look for Amanda. Amanda sneaks up to her room to get the kitten she’s been hiding the set it free, but then her stomach overrides all rational thought and she has to get some food- Okay, this is just so long and tedious. We’re pulling a “Lights Out” and bullet pointing the rest of this sucker, it’s not worth the depth.
- Chrissy uses mental powers to tell Amanda she knows she’s alive, and some weird code she’s built for herself makes it so she must kill Amanda before the others.
- Amanda steals a dude’s wake-runner and takes it out to Dave’s Island to stock up on supplies and weapons.
- Chrissy has sort of tracked her telekinetically and bounds and gags Kyle and Merry, tossing them in the cabin’s skiff and we are getting ourselves a WATER SHOWDOWN, PEOPLE!!
- Amanda fights Chrissy powered headaches to ride the wave-runner to the skiff, but is thrown off by Chrissy.
- She pulls herself up and there’s a fight that ultimately ends with the skiff crashing and Chrissy being thrown into some rocks and knocked out.
- Amanda, Kyle, and Merry are left on the sinking skiff, but the water is shallow so they can just wade out. And she even brings knocked out Chrissy because she isn’t petty. Or maybe she’s just an IDIOT.
- They get back to the house and Chrissy comes to and sets the house on fire. She’s about to kill Amanda with her own bare hands but the kitten trips her and she falls into the fire LIKE A DUMMY.
- Amanda gathers up kitten and siblings and Chrissy has evolved into a fireball, but doesn’t get too far and collapses in a smoky burny heap on the deck and that’s it.
- We go back to the hospital where we met Amanda, and apparently everyone thinks that she killed Chrissy and that’s why she’s there. But Kyle is talking again after the fire and he’s cleared everything up and she’s FREE TO GO!
- Also there was no Chrissy, it was always Lilith, and WHO CARES, THAT’S WHY.
- But as the whole family drives away from the smoldering pit of the summerhome, there’s a girl with blonde hair waving at them, who vanishes. The End.
Body Count: At least 5, three of which are dear pets and I’m still hurt whenever Stine kills animals for shocks in his books. I THINK that Suzi was going to pull through, so it may just be Dave on the human side outside of Chrissy, beyond the bullshit ‘the end???’ twist at the end.
Romance Rating: 7. Amanda and Dave were pretty smoking until Chrissy gave him an aneurysm.
Bonkers Rating: 6. Perhaps you think that it should be higher, but it’s getting points docked for pretty much lifting plot points from “Summer of Fear”.
Fear Street Relevance: 1. Much like “Ski Weekend” and “Sunburn”, it doesn’t even take place on Fear Street. Amanda’s family lives there, but their biggest crisis is at the beach.
Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:
“She let out a shrill scream as she saw the enormous eye staring at her. And then Amanda started to slip off the boulder. She almost lost her grip as the gigantic face moved toward her, its gaping mouth open wide as if to swallow her whole.”
… And then it’s not Chrissy doing her best “Attack on Titan” impression, it’s a mural drawn on the cliffside.
That’s So Dated! Moments: Well, nothing really fun, just mentions of Suzi looking at microfilm at the library and the rumor of a pay phone Amanda and Dave want to use.
“‘Seriously, Amanda, what do you find most stressful about your life?’ Mrs. Conklin asked again. I hate these questions! Amanda replied silently. But she knew her mother wouldn’t give up until she got a real answer. ‘Algebra,’ Amanda replied.”
I HEAR YA ON THAT ONE, SIS!
Conclusion: “One Evil Summer” is muddled and confused in a lot of ways, and in other ways it totally rips off Lois Duncan’s “Summer of Fear”. But antagonist wise, Chrissy is fun to hate!