Book: “The Third Evil (Fear Street Cheerleaders #3)” by R.L. Stine
Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1992
Where Did I Get This Book: An eBook from the library!
Book Description: It’s back!
Did the evil spirit really leave Kimmy’s body? The cheerleaders of Shadyside High can still feel its dark presence, and Corky knows that it is out there, somewhere close. And getting closer.
Corky is tormented night after night by dreams of her dead sister, Bobbi. What terrifying message is Bobbi trying to tell her? When the evil begins again—more horrible, more gruesome than ever—Corky knows it is up to her to learn the century-old secrets and destroy the evil spirit’s power for good. But so many have died already—will Corky be next?
Had I Read This Before: No.
The Plot: We are now at the end of the totally faboo “Cheerleaders Trilogy”, and I have to say, I missed out on some seriously good shit as a kid. I’m gonna miss Corky, Kimmy, Debra, and all the other menacing members of the cheer squad at Shadyside High. I hear tell that they get their own Super Chillers, though, so maybe that will be a special thing to visit at some point. But on with the show. We start our story off with, naturally, CHEER PRACTICE!! Corky is back on the team, and she and her friends are being totally schooled by the new girl, Hannah. Corky is plainly jealous of all the attention that Hannah is getting, but I do have to point out that she and her now dead sister Bobbi (thanks to the Evil Spirit that killed her, as well as former captain Jennifer and Kimmy’s/Bobbi’s/Corky’s boyfriend Chip) were in this exact position in book one, so turnabout is fair play, bitch. Corky is jealous that Kimmy and Debra are co captains instead of her and Kimmy, but again, you were off the team for a good chunk of time, Corky, stop feeling so entitled. Hannah continues to hot dog it and while Miss Green may be impressed, the other girls are not. Corky, Kimmy, Debra, and Ronnie retreat to a coffeeshop after practice (BUT WHERE IS PETE’S PIZZA?!) to bitch about Hannah. Debra stands up for the newbie, and as they all order their burgers (at a coffeeshop?), the topic moves from Hannah’s love life (with Gary Brandt, “Fear Street” stalworth) to the fact they’re all going to cheerleader camp for spring break! As Debra and Ronnie go to use the restroom, Kimmy and Corky talk about the Evil Spirit. Kimmy says that she still feels strange sometimes and is scared it’s still around, and Corky, in spite of the note she got at the end of the previous book, is remaining optimistic that it’s gone for good. They go back to the topic of cheer camp (and of the new hottie John Mirren making eyes at Kimmy), and their food arrives. Corky looks down at her pea soup, and it starts to bubble up and over the bowl. THE EVIL SPIRIT IS BACK. And Corky thinks it must have inhabited one of her friends.
Corky and Kimmy make a stop at the cemetery to visit Bobbi’s grave, and Kimmy is more convinced than ever that perhaps she’s possessed again. Corky tries to reassure her that she isn’t, but Kimmy is convinced that the Evil Spirit is going to kill them all. THen her face does a weird glowy thing and honestly, I think that it’s a BLATANT red herring on Stine’s part so I choose to ignore it. Corky arrives home to an empty house, picks up her clean laundry, and heads upstairs to her room…. AND FINDS A BLOATED CORPSE IN HER BED!!! But no no no, it’s just Sean, the scamp, playing a joke on her by leaving a Papier-mâché head in her bed. That night, however, a real scare happens, because as Corky is trying to fall asleep, Bobbi’s Ghost floats through her bedroom window! Bobbi’s lips move, but no sound comes out, and a blue light surrounds her and envelops the room. Then, in a moment of pure drama queendom, Bobbi pulls her head off, floats over, and shows Corky that it’s filled with cockroaches. Then Corky wakes up, and is convinced that perhaps it was just a dream…. Until she realizes that the floor is covered in cockroaches. She runs out of her room to get her parents (what could they do but call an exterminator?), but when they get back to the room, of course, there are no cockroaches to be seen. And Sean gets the blame for playing a trick on Corky.
But now it’s Spring Break and that means it’s CHEER CAMP TIME!!! Simmons the bus driver (he still has a job?) has driven them to Madison College for the occasion, and Ronnie is so disappointed that classes are out of session and she as a freshman can’t seduce college men (um….?). Corky, Kimmy, and Debra are sharing a room, and we see the quirky idiosyncrasies of Kimmy as she unpacks a whole lot of socks and her teddy bear, which Corky and Debra tease her for. Look, as a thirtyish year old woman who still has her childhood teddy bear at the foot of her bed, I say Debra and Corky can suck it. We find out that on the bus Corky had confided in Debra about her potential dream with Bobbi and the cockroaches, and resident occultist and office goth Debra said that Bobbi must have been trying to tell her something. But back in the present, Hannah comes into their room and says that she has to sleep in this room because Ronnie and Heather have taken the two beds that she would have wanted, and insists that a trade must be made RIGHT NOW, and this is giving me some old school “ANTM” vibes when there aren’t enough beds for all the girls and one of them inevitably freaks out. Debra agrees to switch, so Corky and Kimmy are stuck with the newbie whose first orders of business are to complain about the rules, and ask that Corky run a bath for her.
Corky goes into the bathroom (WOW, a dorm that has not only connected private bathrooms but a bathtub?!) and runs the water, testing it to make sure it’s to Hannah’s liking, and then after Kimmy primps in the bathroom those two head to practice. They have to turn back because Kimmy forgot the pom poms, and as they enter the room they hear Hannah screaming. She bursts out of the bathroom and lambasts Corky for filling the tub with SCALDING WATER because she TRUSTED her!!! Corky says she tested the water, and Kimmy says that it probably just got hotter as it went along, and FUCK YOU HANNAH, RUN YOUR OWN DAMN BATH. Hannah is mollified by that explanation, and as Kimmy and Corky head to the first competition Corky remembers that Kimmy went into the bathroom briefly before they left…
At the first competition the Shadyside Tiger Squad gets a look at the other teams. They are especially impressed by the Redwood Bulldogs, led by a smoking hot redhead named Blair O’Connell whose description is VERY Cheryl Blossom, my favorite Riverdale bitch. As the Tigers practice and do their routines, Hannah decides to give Corky some advice and tells her how to improve in spite of the fact that Corky was a fucking All State Champion at her old school. Debra tells her to smile because they’ll get points off if she doesn’t, and Kimmy says that she could just ‘murder’ Hannah, and if that’s foreshadowing I’m okay with it because Hannah is insufferable. As Corky heads back to the dorms after the preliminary competition she is in the elevator, and the carpet snags her like it’s tar and pulls her down. When the door opens Debra is there and helps her up, not seeing the tarpit that used to be an elevator. Luckily, it’s Debra, who totally believes her and knows that it’s the Evil Spirit.
At the next competition, the Bulldogs are riding their win with beautiful perfect Blair leading the way with an ‘endless rap routine’, because this was 1992 and cultural appropriation wasn’t as frowned upon. We also find out that the overall winning team with receive batons they can take back to school, while each night the most enthusiastic member of the team will get a red baton. Hannah has a lock on it tonight, and does a literal cartwheel to accept it. God I really hate her. But Debra seems to be really chummy with her, much to Corky and Kimmy’s chagrin. Corky overhears Blair talking shit but does not retaliate with a hit, and goes back to her dorm to sleep. She has another Bobbi dream, and this time when she pulls her head off it’s snakes inside. Corky wakes up to screaming, and it’s Hannah. Someone has cut off her hair. Okay, yeah, that’s assault. She accuses Corky and Kimmy and says that they’re jealous of her because she’s the best, and Kimmy finally knocks her down a peg, though the timing isn’t great, and Hannah says she’s going to tell Miss Green what they did. Corky is convinced that Kimmy HAS to be possessed. Kimmy seems to be wondering herself, as she asks Corky if she’d remember if she cut off Hannah’s braid. After Kimmy goes down the breakfast to face the wrath of Miss Green, Corky discovers a pair of scissors on top of her own clothing.
At breakfast Corky asks Debra if they can talk, but Debra says that she’s talking to Hannah at the moment so it will have to wait. Miss Green then calls Corky and Kimmy over and says that cutting off Hannah’s hair ‘can be described only as an attack’, and to that I say GOOD FOR YOU, STINE! I was afraid that he was going to make it seem like mischief but he made it a very serious moment. Miss Green asks Kimmy if she did it, and Kimmy says that she did, but it’s clear that she thinks she’s covering for Corky. So Corky then says that no, SHE did it. With no confession Miss Green says they should just try and get through the week and then when they get back to school they will be further investigated, because Miss Green KNOWS that those goddamn Bulldogs need to be taken DOWN, probably. As they go outside for the morning workout, Kimmy remarks how much she hates Blair, who to me has done nothing outside of be good at what she does, so that seems extreme. At that night’s competition, the Tigers are watching the Bulldogs start their routine. Corky is still mad at Debra for blowing her off in favor of Hannah. As Blair starts the routine, she goes into a second handspring, but then trips over something and faceplants, breaking her front teeth in half and splitting open her lip!!! And she says that someone tripped her! Corky and Kimmy look at each other, and Kimmy has a strange look on her face.
At practice the next day, Kimmy suggests that they do a complicated trick. A ploy to impress the judges, or a trap? Corky isn’t sure. Hannah asks to be on top, and Kimmy is perhaps a little too eager to let it happen. Corky says that maybe she ought to be on top, but everyone chalks it up to her being jealous and tell her that Hannah should get a chance.
But all goes well and maybe Corky is just losing her mind more so. That afternoon they are getting ready for dinner in their room, and Kimmy heads off first. As Hannah is getting dressed and predicting their win since Blair had to go home (ya think?), all of a sudden Corky GRABS THE SCISSORS and has an inner monologue about FINISHING WHAT SHE STARTED?!?! She starts to bring the blade down into Hannah’s back, but before she can Kimmy returns, having forgot the pom poms AGAIN. Corky runs into the bathroom, and realizes that she is possessed.
Back in Shadyside, Corky is still coming to terms with the fact that she has the Evil Spirit in her. She’s the one who made the pea soup bubble, she’s the one who tripped Blair, she’s the one who cut Hannah’s hair. Bobbi’s visits were a warning. Now she’s trying to keep control of herself, and it’s not going great. She has an attack in her bedroom, and when Sean comes in to see what’s going on she almost breaks his arm. And that night, she dreams about the day that Sarah Fear’s boat capsized in Fear Lake!!! YES!!! THIS IS WHAT I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR!!! Except it’s still pretty vague. Sarah Fear and the two kids on the boat with her are having a fine time (were there two children in the original story? I thought it was her, her lover, and her nephew and her brother?), but then a strange storm comes in and Sarah becomes terrified as the children scream. Sarah grabs for the deck rail, but it turns into a snake! Then Corky wakes up, just in time to start vomiting a putrid green gas. The Evil Spirit says it’s time to kill those who have betrayed her, and first up is Debra. Though she refuses to participate, the Evil Spirit drops some green goop all over her and then has fully taken over. It calls Debra, asking her to meet.
Spirit!Corky thinks about how awful Debra and Hannah were at camp as it drives towards the mall, where it’s meeting Debra. When it gets to the parking lot, it sees Debra standing out in the open, and hits the gas to mow her down! But Debra is a crafty sort, and jumps out of the way just in time to send Spirit!Corky into a concrete divider. Debra, unaware of the danger she’s in, opens the door and asks “Corky” if she’s okay and what happened. Spirit!Corky says the accelerator stuck but she’s just fine, and that she needs to talk to Debra about Kimmy and insists that they try to drive her now crunched car. Debra, sweet summer child that she is, gets in when the notion of a tow truck just doesn’t cut it for Spirit!Corky. They start driving, and Debra asks where they’re going. Spirit!Corky says the old abandoned mill. They get there and Spirit!Corky says that hse thinks that Kimmy is possessed, and does Debra have her occult books still. Also, let’s climb up to the top because why not? Debra isn’t keen on it, but follows her anyway. But just as Spirit!Corky is about to push her off, a crotchety old man tells them to get down or he’s calling the police. FOILED AGAIN, EVIL SPIRIT! So since apparently she had no plan B or impulse to improvise, she just drops Debra off at home. She tells her that she’ll ‘kill her tomorrow’, but then stammers ‘I said CALL you tomorrow’. Nailed it.
Corky wakes up in bed, and thinks that the Evil Spirit is gone, but realizes that it’s just sleeping and she’s working on limited time. She thinks that the key to it all is in the Sarah Fear memory she had the other night, and that the Evil Spirit must also have the memories of ALL of the people it possessed. So she goes deep into the memories that are now in her head too, and sifts through a shit ton of agony to get back into Sarah Fear’s memories.
So, Sarah and her nephew Michael are talking on the boat. Sarah’s brother is down below due to a headache. Her niece Margaret says she wants to go faster. Sarah’s servant/potential lover Jason is steering the boat, and as the kids go to hang out with him Sarah crushes a butterfly in her hands, but doesn’t remember doing it when Margaret asks what her friggin’ problem is. Then Saran and the Evil Spirit have a Gollum/Smeagol like argument about murdering more people. Sarah reminisces about all the people that she and the Spirit killed, and it’s a serious bloodbath. There was the guy who ended up ground up in the mill, the woman who was strangled by a clothesline, the cop who had his head boiled in a pot of water. Sarah knows that if she dies with the spirit inside, the spirit will die too, so she tries to throw herself overboard, but the Evil Spirit calls her bluff, kicks up a storm, and Sarah jumps in, drowning herself and trapping the Evil Spirit in her body. Corky wakes up and realizes that in order to defeat the Evil Spirit, she has to kill herself.
Okay, but what would stop it from hopping to someone else like it did at the end of book two?
The next day Corky wakes up and just thinks that she will either a) fight the Evil Spirit if it tries to take her over, or b) ignore it. Because sure. The Evil Spirit messes with her a bit more, making razor blades pop up out of nowhere on the floor and steps and Corky acrobats her way down to breakfast. But the eggs on her plate look like eyeballs, so Corky calls it a wash and goes back to bed. The Evil Spirit starts to take her over again just as Kimmy calls, and when Kimmy says that she is worried about her Corky has an inner Farrah Moan moment and plots to kill Kimmy and Hannah. But Kimmy first. She asks Kimmy to meet her up at River Ridge, a huge cliff overlooking the river, and plots to kill her in boiling water.
Kimmy meets Spirit!Corky on the bluff, and Kimmy asks her if she’s feeling better and if she has any clue what happened with Hannah. Spirit!Corky says that she’s pretty sure that Hannah was faking it all, and that she cut her own braid to really sell it. Kimmy maybe buys it, but admits that she doesn’t really know WHAT to think. Spirit!Corky decides to say that maybe it’s in Hannah, and then tells Kimmy to look over the cliff. When Kimmy does, Spirit!Corky pushes her over, and Kimmy falls to her presumed death! Spirit!Corky is pleased, but actual!Corky is freaking out in the subconscious background. A fight breaks out (which I imagine looks VERY strange to any animals who may be watching a teenage girl flail about), and while Corky know she has to die to save her friends and family she decides that she doesn’t want to? As the Evil Spirit tells her then they have some work to do, Corky takes a flying leap off the cliff!!! She hits the water, which starts to roil and bubble, and Corky just lets herself succumb to her fate. As Corky dies, so too does the Evil Spirit, causing a boiling dramatic river surge.
Apparently Kimmy, though, survived the fall, and saw the whole thing (but somehow didn’t boil over like the Fear Family had…?). She swims over to Corky’s lifeless body, drags her ashore, and performs mouth to mouth….. Reviving her. They hug, and as they are leaving the water Corky sees Bobbi’s face, smiling.
After a successful cheer practice, Corky, Kimmy, Debra, and Ronnie go to that same coffee shop that apparently serves full meals too. Corky then orders the pea soup. All of her friends freak out, but then Corky laughs and instead orders the burger and fries. They all laugh and laugh. The End.
Body Count: No one in the present timeline, but about seven in the past timeline.
Romance Rating: It’s not really applicable this time around! There is no romance whatsoever outside of that random guy eying Kimmy.
Bonkers Rating: 6. This one wasn’t as crazy as it could have been, in all honesty. I liked the expanded mythology of how the possession worked, but there weren’t any HOLY SHIT WHAT moments.
Fear Street Relevance: 8. It was some regurgitated Fear mythology, but we actually got to kind of see them in action, which was neat!
Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:
“The clothing fell from her arms as she began screaming. Lying in her bed, tucked under the covers, was the hideous, bloated head of a corpse.”
…. And it’s that stupid joke that Sean played. So unnecessarily dumb.
That’s So Dated! Moments: The dorm room Corky, Kimmy, and Debra have has a U2 poster on the wall. This is the “Achtung, Baby” time period so I’m down.
“I’m going to give Kimmy a flying lesson, she thought, her lips forming into a cruel smile. A flying lesson. And then a drowning lesson.”
I’d like to see the structure of a drowning lesson class.
Conclusion: A kind of lame duck end to a really stellar series, “The Third Evil” disappointed me a bit. But I think that as a whole this series was TOTALLY worth it! I’m tempted to try out the Super Chiller follow ups. But up next in this re-read is “Truth or Dare”!