Book: “Secret Admirer” (Fear Street #36) by R.L. Stine
Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1996
Where Did I Get This Book: The library!
Book Description: Selena is on top of the world. Her acting career at Shadyside High is blossoming—everyone admires her. So when she starts receiving bouquets of dead flowers from a person called “The Sun,” she treats them as a joke.
But Selena soon realizes that this is no laughing matter. Her understudy is injured in a suspicious accident. Then a speeding car nearly kills her. Selena knows “The Sun” is responsible.
And that her number-one fan has become her number-one nightmare.
Had I Read This Before: No (I think we’re getting to the point where I aged up from “Fear Street” and dove head first into adult books).
The Plot: Another “Fear Street” book, another ominous prologue. This time it’s a bad and threatening poem directed at our protagonist, Selena, signed by “The Sun”. Then we jump into our story, where we find out that Selena is the star of the Shadyside drama department, and has just finished up the last night of the most recent play. Everyone loves Selena! She and her theater friends gather back stage, and they all congratulate her on a job well done. Alison, the second best, says she’ll NEVER be as good as Selena, and Jake, one of her best friends from her childhood, calls her ‘Moon’ (as Selena means ‘moon’), but says he’s not feeling up to going to the cast party. Mr. Riordan, the drama club director, says that the next show they are going to do is “Romeo and Juliet”, and Selena is thrilled because she would LOVE to do Shakespeare. She is then approached by her ex boyfriend Danny, who wants to congratulate her as well, though she’s not so keen on talking to him. Luckily for her her bestie Katy, a stagehand, comes up and pulls her away. She says that Selena will almost assuredly be Juliet, and Selena plays coy and says that there’s no guarantee she’ll get it. But she’s pretty and think and has been the lead multiple times before this, so…. yeah, she’ll probably get it. Mr. Riordan says that “Romeo and Juliet” will be an especially important production because theater scouts from colleges are going to be in the audience, including Northwestern, the school that Selena would love to go to. When Selena goes for her backpack, she finds a wrapped bouquet, but when she opens it it’s a bunch of dead roses, and a threatening note with a sticker of a Sun on it (hilariously, Stine decrees that these dead flowers ‘smell of decay’, and I wonder if he knows that’s not really how flowers work). Katy thinks that is’s scary but Selena brushes it off as a dumb joke, probably pulled by Jake, who has pulled jokes since they were kids. Katy says that Jake has been acting weird lately, but Selena hasn’t noticed.
They go back to Selena’s house, and Selena is already excited for the spring play. Katy laments the fact that she’s ‘too big’ to be in theater, as she’s about twenty pounds overweight, and Selena suggests that she could play Juliet’s nurse! Oh my God. Katy asks Selena if she ever thought she would be so popular, as Selena also used to be overweight, but then got thin because she loved theater SO MUCH and she knew she couldn’t get lead roles if she was fat. Jesus Christ this isn’t really body positive, is it? Selena also notes that she got the lead in a play sophomore year because the original lead actress had to leave the school (and later we find out this is a shout out to “The Prom Queen” when Simone went crazy and killed all those people). There’s a tapping at the window and then a crash. The girls rush to see what the commotion was, but don’t see anything… until they leave the house to go to the party. A metal ladder is on the ground beneath Selena’s window. Katy thinks that someone is stalking Selena, but Selena thinks her mother was probably working on something outside and didn’t put it away. Except there’s a sun sticker on the bottom rung…
As they are driving to the party Katy is practically begging Selena to take this seriously. Selena says she isn’t famous so why would someone stalk HER, but Katy rightfully points out that she doesn’t have to be Rebecca Schaeffer to have a predator target you. Selena thinks that it’s probably just Danny wanting to get back together. Just then a car starts following them and drives up super close to them. Katy starts to panic, but Selena keeps her cool and tells her to just drive to Mr. Riordan’s house, whoever this person is wouldn’t dare follow them into a crowded home. Yes and no, maybe a police station is better. When they park at Mr. Riordan’s, the person following them does too, and it turns out it’s Danny, who was ‘just playing a joke’. Well ha fucking ha, Danny. Mr. Riordan calls everyone around, and introduces them to Eddy, a handsome (as noticed by Selena) second year drama student from Waynesbridge Junior College, who is going to assist with the spring play. Selena feels like she’s seen him before, and goes to introduce herself. Eddy says that he’s seen her in a number of plays and that he thinks she’s a natural. He also says that he thinks it’s great that she can balance her grades and her acting, and when Selena asks HOW EXACTLY he knows this he claims it’s part of the job of being an intern, knowing everything about your actors. He then gets called away, and Selena is more flattered than freaked. She then goes to talk to Jake, who seems bummed as hell. When she asks him why he freaks out at her, and she asks him if he left her the dead flowers. He denies it, and says that it sounds like more than just a joke and that she should tell Mr. Riordan, or maybe the police. Selena does go over to talk to Mr. Riordan, but before she can Danny stumbles out of no where, covered in blood, and collapses in front of Selena! But, turns out, he’s pulling another prank, as it’s fake blood. No one is amused. When Selena goes out to get some air, Eddy is there. He says that he can’t believe she used to date Danny, and when she asks how he knew about THAT, he says he must have just overheard it, and then excuses himself.
Alison comes out to inform Selena that she, too, is trying out for Juliet, but Selena says that’s fine. Katy says that she can take Selena home if she’s ready to go, and Selena is, but before they can go Danny says that HE will take Selena home. Selena says she’s not interested, and then JAKE comes out and starts to knock Danny away, saying that if ANYONE is going to take Selena home HE will. He and Danny fight, and Mr. Riordan, you have OFFICIALLY lost control of this cast party. Selena breaks it up, and when Jake tries to apologize she won’t hear it. He then says he wants to see Danny dead. Then, to make matters worse, as Selena is trying to fall asleep that night her phone rings. When she answers it’s a weird voice saying that they are watching her before hanging up.
At school the next week, Danny tries to apologize to Selena, and she confronts him about the dead flowers, the note, and the phone call. He denies it all. Then we must jump ahead by a few WEEKS because we’re already at Spring play auditions! I did theater in high school, there was usually a month or two AT LEAST between productions. Regardless, Selena, Katy, and Jake are sitting around waiting for their turns to audition. Jake asks Selena if she still thinks it’s Danny, and she says maybe, and he says that she should tell Mr. Riordan. Selena says she doesn’t want to, because if she does he may not cast her in the play out of fear for her safety. My guy reaction was to say ‘OH COME ON’, but then I realized that she’s probably right, and instead of going after the stalker, it would be seen as easier to limit the victim. Fucking patriarchy. Regardless, Jake admits that he understands wanting something that he can’t have. Selena and Alison go to practice for their auditions, and Alison claims the usual area that Selena takes, which is by the wardrobes, so Selena goes somewhere else…. And then a horrible crash is heard! Everyone rushes to the wardrobe area, and Alison has been crunched by a heavy wardrobe cabinet that fell on her! Luckily she’s alive, and paramedics are called. Jake points out that usually that spot is where Selena practices, and when Selena inspects the cabinet there is a sun sticker on it.
A little time later Selena is practicing her Juliet lines at home (given that Alison is still hospitalized) when Danny calls her, asking if she wants to go grab a bite to eat. Selena goes off on him, telling him she doesn’t want to go out with him and that he needs to stop harassing her and/or trying to crush her with a wardrobe. Danny continues to deny his involvement, and Selena hangs up. The phone rings again, and this time it’s Eddy, who is calling to tell her that Alison will be back the next week and not to worry. They start talking, and he mentions that he is so impressed with how confident she has become, given that she used to be so introverted and used to wear baggy clothing. Selena asks how he knew that, and he claims that he must have seen an old yearbook, and then asks her out to a movie. She says yes, and he tells her that they shouldn’t talk about it since it’s probably totally unethical for this boy who is assisting with drama club to be dating the girl who is part of the club. She promises she won’t tell ANYONE, and I gotta say, this is some kinda power dynamic that’s not ethical AT ALL. After hanging up it starts to rain, so Selena decides to make sure all the windows in the house are closed. When she gets to the window by the front door, she sees a bundle on the porch. When she opens the door, she finds a dead, mutilated rat, and a note from The Sun telling her quit the play or else. She calls Katy and tells her about the dead rat, and Katy says that it must be someone in drama club…. And asks if maybe Selena should quit the play for her safety. Selena refuses, saying she needs the scouts to see her if she wants a scholarship. Katy asks her to at least tell Mr. Riordan, and Selena says that she will. Katy then reminds her about the sleepover they’re having that Friday, but OOPS, that’s the day that Selena made a date with Eddy, so she tells Katy she can’t make it after all and tells her about the date with Eddy, EVEN THOUGH she promised not to tell anyone. Katy is skeptical of this, given the ethical implications, but Selena is insistent that it’s all fine. She hangs up, and then tries to sleep. But she can’t stop thinking about her stalker. Her Mom comes home from her night shift (Dad died a few years ago so her Mom has a busy work schedule), and Selena considers telling her about the stalker, but doesn’t want to worry her, so doesn’t.
The next day the official cast list is posted, and Jake is upset that Danny got the part of Romeo over him. When Selena can’t even muster a fake ‘yeah fuck that guy’ for Jake and opts to say that Danny was good, Jake gets mad and says that Danny won’t get everything he wants THIS time. Katy tells Selena that Jake’s parents are splitting up and that’s why he’s been so moody lately. Selena had NO idea that her best friend’s parents were having problems, I guess. Katy asks Selena if she’s going to tell Mr. Riordan about the stalker, and Selena says that she will, soon. She and Danny talk and he asks if they can just try and get along since they’re starring opposite each other, and she agrees. As Mr. Riordan blocks a scene with Selena and Jake (who is Juliet’s father), suddenly a set of lights fall from the ceiling! Katy knocks Selena out of the way, undoubtedly saving her from grievous injury/death. Katy hurts her arm, and Selena feels awful since the lights were obviously sabotaged by her stalker.
After the movie that Friday, Selena and Eddy decide to get some burgers at a place called Sam’s. Eddy continues to praise Selena about how good she is, and is convinced that she will get the scholarship, but offers to give her private acting feedback if she wants it. Selena is wary, and wonders to herself why she is so SUSPICIOUS of him, and gee, Selena, perhaps it’s the fact that he is oddly interested in YOU and is in his twenties and you are still a teenager? When he asks why she’s so reluctant, she tells him about her stalker, and tells him that Mr. Riordan didn’t take it seriously, so the police probably won’t either. To that I say fuck you, Mr. Riordan. When Eddy goes to pay for the check, Selena sees Danny in the doorway! She goes to chew him out for following her, but then realizes that he’s there on a date with a girl named Susie. Embarrassed by her reaction, Selena meets Eddy outside (who is relieved that Danny didn’t see them there, UGH). Selena is now certain Danny isn’t her stalker since he has a new lady friend. As she and Eddy are walking back to the car in the parking ramp of the building (down a narrow tunnel), Eddy admits that he went to Shadyside High, and that he had a crush on her when he was a senior and she was a sophomore. So THAT is why he knows her. Selena finally feels safe with him (I wouldn’t go THAT far, Selena), but as they are going down the tunnel suddenly a squeal of tires gets their attention. A car comes ZOOMING down the tunnel with no headlights, and Eddy pushes Selena! IN FRONT OF THE CAR? No, past it so that the car doesn’t hit her. The car speeds off, and Eddy says that they were walking down the wrong side of the ramp so that must be why this happened. Selena isn’t so sure…. And wonders WHY they were walking on the wrong side….
The next day Selena gets a flower delivery! She thinks that it must be from Eddy, as it’s a pretty bouquet and not a bunch of dead ones. As she’s practically rubbing her face with the flowers and the greens, her mother comes in and points out WAIT THOSE LEAVES AS POISON IVY!!!! And Selena is VERY allergic. She’s still dealing with the rash a week later, and wonders how the stalker knew that she was so allergic. As she is sitting in the library with Katy and Jake, her friends say that they think she should quit the play, but Selena refuses. So Jake says he’ll do some snooping and try to figure out who is doing this to her. Later at rehearsal Selena sees Jake snooping around Danny, and Selena thinks that he’s too biased to investigate properly, so she goes to the theater lockers. She goes to Danny’s locker and opens it up… AND FINDS A SHEET OF STICKERS!! She double checks the locker numbers, but realizes to her horror that she didn’t open Danny’s locker… she opened JAKE’S LOCKER!!!!
That afternoon Selena and Katy are talking on the phone, and Selena tells Katy that she found the stickers in Jake’s locker! Katy doesn’t want to believe it, but says that Selena needs to talk to Mr. Riordan. Selena doesn’t want to get Jake in trouble because she feels so bad since he’s having such a hard time, but Katy says that if he needs mental help SElena needs to tell people anyway! Then there’s a call waiting click, and Selena answers, and it’s Jake! He says that he needs to talk to her, and asks that she meet him at the school ASAP. She tells him that she found the stickers in his locker, and he says he can explain it but it has to be in person, so PLEASE meet him at the school. She agrees, then goes back to Katy and tells her what’s up, and asks Katy if she can drive her. Katy says sure and they hang up, but then Katy calls right back and her Mom took the car so she can’t take her after all. So Selena goes by herself by taking the bus. When she gets to the school she goes to the auditorium, but doesn’t see Jake anywhere… until she finds him crumpled in a heap at the bottom of the ladder to the catwalk, DEAD!!!
Selena gets home after talking to the police and she tells Katy what happened, the theory being that he must have been hiding in the catwalk and then fell to his death after slipping. Both are very upset, but Selena is convinced that her stalker is dead, and wonders why Jake was doing it. After staying home for a few days and rehearsals being postponed, they start up again and everyone is bummed. Selena has decided to drop out of they play because she’s so upset, but Mr. Riordan is in SUCH a hurry he says that she can tell him whatever it is she needs to tell him the next day, and rushes off.
Katy tells Selena that she thinks that she’s doing the right thing, and Danny asks what they are talking about. Selena tells him that she’s quitting the play because it’s ‘what Jake would have wanted’. And Danny finally, FINALLY, tells Selena what a self centered little jerk she is. And it may be harsh, but I am with Danny on this one. As far as Selena knows, her stalker is dead, so it’s not a matter of her safety that’s in question here, it’s her feeling sad about Jake and not wanting to do the play because of that. WE’VE ALL HAD DISAPPOINTMENT, SELENA. After Danny’s smackdown, Selena realizes that he’s right, and that the show must go on. So despite Katy’s skepticism, Selena says that she’s still in. That night, Selena isn’t able to sleep, so she goes down to the kitchen for a glass of water….. AND SEES A NOTE ON THE FRIDGE WITH A SUN STICKER! It basically says that Jake wasn’t the stalker and had to die because he knew too much, and that the stalker will be in the audience at the dress rehearsal.
Okay, now you could totally quit, Selena. But does she? NOPE! Unfortunately Mr. Riordan invited the entire football team and then some tot he dress rehearsal, so Selena won’t be able to notice any lone stalker in the audience. Eddy has to go to class that afternoon but wishes her luck, and Selena knows that the show must go on. The dress rehearsal goes well, and Selena is riding such a high she almost forgets her backpack in her locker, but retrieves it at the last moment, shoving all the locker contents inside in a rush. That night after dinner she opens her backpack, and finds another letter from the stalker! This one says that THEY KILLED SOMEONE THAT NIGHT!!! Selena panics a moment, but then remembers that, oh wait, NO ONE DIED AT REHEARSAL. She deduces that the stalker must not have meant for her to find it until the next day…. which meant that the stalker was going to kill someone TONIGHT!!! And Selena is convinced that Katy is going to be the next victim! She tries to call Katy, but there’s no answer at her house. She knows she has to go to the school. Before she can, though, the phone rings, and it’s Eddy, asking her out for later that night, but she says that there’s something that she has to take care of first. When he asks if she needs help, she says that only SHE can do it, and hangs up.
Selena gets to the school, and tries to find Katy in the auditorium. It seems like no one is there, but then she hears the soft voice of someone calling for help… and it’s coming from the catwalk. Selena, who is desperately afraid of heights, steels herself and climbs up to the catwalk, calling for Katy. But she doesn’t find Katy, she finds Danny in the prop room up top…. and he’s been beaten up and tied up. In his daze he tells her that she called him, telling him to come to the school. She starts to look for something to cut his ropes, but hears a noise. Katy suddenly pops up, and Selena says that they have to untie Danny and go. Katy asks why they should untie Danny, as since he’s tied up he can’t cause any more trouble. Selena explains that he isn’t the stalker, that she thought the stalker was going to hurt Katy but it was Danny instead, and they need to help him. But Katy, instead, HITS HIM IN THE HEAD WITH HER FLASHLIGHT. She then tells Selena that she wants to talk about their friendship, and how she misses the time that it was just the two of them. And then she shows Selena the sticker sheet. YUP, YOU GUESSED IT, Katy is the Sun. Katy says that she knew Selena would assume it was a boy in love with her because she’s so vain and selfish now that she’s so thin and popular and obsessed with drama. Katy didn’t even WANT to join drama club, but wouldn’t see Selena anymore if she hadn’t joined!!! Katy was mad that she was losing her friend to drama and college, and that was why she stalked her, to try and scare her to drop out of the play and not get the scholarship. Jake found the stickers in Katy’s locker and was going to tell Selena, so Katy killed him by pushing him off the cat walk. Katy then attacks Selena, who runs out of the prop room and onto the catwalk. They scuffle and Selena ends up dangling from the catwalk, with Katy about to hit her with the flashlight, but then Eddy shows up at the top of the ladder, and so Katy’s attentions turn to him. But HE TOO ends up stumbling and then dangling from the catwalk as well! Katy starts to smash his fingers with her flashlight, and Selena pulls herself up and knocks her away. They wrestle a bit more (gawd they wrestle forever) and Eddy FINALLY gets Katy subdued. He drags her to the prop room and somehow keeps her subdued WHILE untying Danny (two sets of arms?), and ties Katy up. Selena asks how he knew that she was here, and he tells her that he had a hunch she’d come here. They kiss, and he asks if she’s acting. She tells him no, she’s not, she’s happy the show is over (no it isn’t, opening night is the next night). And he says, as he pulls her close, “Hey don’t say that, this may only be Act One!”. The End.
Body Count: 2, one for Jake, one for the rat.
Romance Rating: 3ish? Eddy was really just there to be a red herring, but hey, at least he wasn’t completely toxic (outside of the ethical issues of being the assistant director guy).
Bonkers Rating: 4. A fight on the catwalk is always going to be stellar, but everything else was kinda pedestrian.
Fear Street Relevance: 3. Selena lives on Fear Street and the woods cast a lot of long shadows in her room. But otherwise, all the action elsewhere.
Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:
“Selena didn’t even see the bank of the spotlights fall. But she heard the crash. Felt the stage rock. Heard the shatter of glass. The crunch of metal. Heard the high screams of horror all around. And knew that she was dead.”
…. But she isn’t dead, of course. In the words of Trixie Mattel….
That’s So Dated! Moments: Not as many as I would have thought! Though I got an edition that was clearly updated. Outside of a reference to a tape player in Eddy’s car, it was fairly neutral in terms of dating itself.
“Actually, she thought that if Eddy had suggested going to a place that served baked worms, she’d probably agree to it!”
Conclusion: “Secret Admirer” had the potential to be over the top ridiculous, but it just kind of limped home. Up next is “The Perfect Date”.