A Revisit to Fear Street: “The Stepsister”

842704Book: “The Stepsister” (Fear Street #9) by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, October 1990

Where Did I Get This Book: ILL from the library!

Book Description: Emily wants to like her stepsister, but it hasn’t been easy. As soon as Jessie moves in, she takes over Emily’s room, starts wearing Emily’s clothes, makes secret late-night calls on Emily’s phone – and that’s just the beginning!

Before long, Emily is living in total fear of her stepsister. Emily tries complaining to her parents. But Jessie is such a good liar, no one will believe Emily!

Emily’s terror mounts when she picks up Jessie’s diary and learns a horrifying secret from Jessie’s past. Did Jessie really murder someone? Does she plan to murder again? Emily knows she must find out the rest of her stepsister’s dark secret. Her own life depends on it!

Had I Read It Before: No.

The Plot: So this is the story of Emily Casey and her newly cobbled together blended family. While she and her sister Nancy have been the only siblings in the house for awhile, their mother just married a man named Hugh Wallner and he has two kids, Jessie and Rich. Now that Hugh and Mom (because why should she have a name?) are married, they’re finally moving in together. There’s talk of Jessie and Rich’s mom being an absent parent, but it isn’t really harped on too much. Jessie and Emily are going to share a room, and when they both go up there Jessie establishes herself as a total cooze. First she says the room is too small, then she says that it’s a ‘dump’. It then turns into making fun of Emily’s Mom for being ‘enthusiastic’ and Nancy for having red hair, and bitching about lack of closet space. Then she says she’s sorry because she’s so ‘nervous’ and worried about the changes of becoming a blended family. Yeah, okay, because that makes it alright to be such a bitch. To make matters worse, Tiger the terrier runs in, and Jessie freaks out and shoves him away lest he get fur all over her sweater. Then, as the coup de grace, she ‘accidentally’ rips the head off of Emily’s teddy bear. JESUS. Nancy comes in and tries to quell the tension by talking about Rich and his love for Stephen King (You’re a good man, Rich), and slips in the plot exposition that Emily is now dating Nancy’s ex Josh. Yeah, I don’t think that’s so cool, Emily.

Over cake and ice cream we get to see what a dick Mr. Wallner is.  He makes fun of Jessie’s anxieties, makes fun of Rich for reading and for his cracking voice, and acts indignant when his abuse isn’t seen as funny. He also likes to brag about not reading books. Emily is reminded that her Dad loved to read books. But on a camping trip to Fear Island, when he and little girl Emily were out on a boat on Fear Lake, a wind kicked up and her father fell overboard, drowning. Oof.

The next night after Emily and Josh arrange a time for him to come over, she goes down to eat dinner with the family. And then Jessie comes down wearing Emily’s sweater, but insists that it’s hers. An argument ensues, but no one believes Emily. Mr. Wallner says that he’s glad that he has ‘four women’ in the house to clean up. (SO, not only is he applying antiquated gender roles, he’s also picking on his young and shy son by calling him ‘womanly’. This fucking guy.). After dinner Emily goes to work on her big paper for school. She leaves the room to get an apple, and when she comes back Jessie is at the computer. Emily tells her she isn’t done, but when she tries to pull up her paper again, it’s been erased. As someone who has been there to some degree, I legitimately feel for her in this moment. Emily pitches a fit and attacks Jessie. Everyone runs into the room and believes Jessie when she says she didn’t do it. After they leave Jessie snarls at Emily to not embarrass her in front of her father, and then kicks at the poor dog Tiger. Emily grabs her dog and runs to Nancy’s room. Nancy tells her that Jessie is seeing a therapist a couple of times a week and that she has emotional problems.

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(source)

Josh comes over. As he and Emily make out, Jessie spies on them. Emily ignores it. That night Emily wakes up and hears Jessie on the phone saying ‘I really could kill her!’

A few days later, things seem better, as Emily and Jessie are going to make a cake. Their playful natures come out and they spray whipped cream all over each other, and Nancy too. Emily goes to take a shower. But when she gets out, she sees her hair has become patchy and miscolored. Someone put peroxide in her shampoo! And this time, no one believes that Jessie didn’t do it, because Nancy says Jessie spent a lot of time in the bathroom earlier in the day. Jessie runs off crying, and Emily’s hair is somehow saved by a home haircut that Nancy performs.

Not to be outdone by his sisters, Rich is escorted home by the police for shoplifting.

A few nights later is the homecoming dance. While Emily and Josh have a great time dancing and then making out in the car afterwards, the fun is short lived. Because when Emily gets to her room, she finds that someone has killed Tiger! While Emily accuses Jessie because she always hated Tiger, Nancy accuses RICH because HE LIKES TO READ STEPHEN KING AND IS READING “PET SEMATARY”!! Rich denies it because OF COURSE HE DIDN’T DO IT BECAUSE OF STEPHEN KING, and Jessie offers to run a bath for Emily she she can relax. Emily is interested at first, but as Jessie is in the bathroom Emily decides to read her diary! In it Jessie talks about how in her old town people think that she was involved a murder! She hides the diary before Jessie can see that she was reading it, and balks at the bath because the water looks like Jessie put some kind of crazy chemicals in it! But then Jessie takes the bath instead, because water conservation, and proves that Emily is succumbing to paranoia.

Emily is awakened from a nightmare by Rich, who really wants to tell her that he didn’t kill her dog. She believes him. Later she wakes up again, and sees that Jessie’s bed is empty! She discerns that Jessie must have snuck out because the window is open, and decides to read more in her stepsister’s diary. Seems that Jessie’s friend Jolie died in some kind of awful accident and everyone assumed that Jessie had something to do with it because she was the one who found the body. I think that’s pretty flimsy, but her reputation was ruined. The next day Emily wants to get away from the house and says that she’s going to a computer lab at school. And when she opens her backpack, Tiger’s corpse is inside.

At dinner that next week, talk goes from talking about Rich getting into fights at school to Jessie talking on the phone at late hours (which she denies of course). After dinner she’s upstairs expecting Josh, and hears voices downstairs. Josh is down there, having a VERY in depth conversation with Jessie! Emily pulls Josh outside and chews him out for talking with Jessie. Josh thinks she’s acting silly.

At school, Emily is trying to enjoy a lunch of suspect macaroni when Jessie’s friend Krysta confronts her about being so mean to Jessie. Emily spills food on her shirt and goes to the girls’ room, only to find Jessie. They rehash the usual fight, accusing each other of being awful, and Jessie leaves. Emily dawdles, and while she’s in there she hears footsteps come and go. And then she smells smoke. Someone has set the bathroom on fire! And when she tries to escape, the door won’t budge and the windows have been painted shut! Luckily the teacher Mrs. Hoffler opens the door and Emily is freed. The school is evacuated and Emily can slowly breathe again after nearly choking to death on all the smoke. Nancy takes Emily home, and it seems like she finally believes her now about Jessie.

Though a bit later they’re all going to a concert together. Emily and Nancy hadn’t wanted to take her, but their parents insisted. Jessie has been very nice to Emily since the fire, but Emily isn’t buying it. At the concert they are up in the nosebleed section, with very steep cement stairs. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that someone shoves Emily when the lights drop of the concert to start. She falls down the steps a few seconds, but someone stops her before too much damage is done. Must have been Jessie! A few weeks later it’s cold out and Emily is walking home, when she sees Josh’s car in the driveway. Did he come to surprise her? NOPE! He’s making out with someone else! JESSIE! Emily starts to run off, but then decides to go home and confront Jessie once and for all (but apparently not Josh for kissing someone else. Typical)!! She doesn’t find them anywhere, but does find a knife in Jessie’s drawer! The one that must have killed Tiger! It’s all coming together.

And now the family is going on a camping trip together. Because Mr. Wallner wants them to act like a family for once. I would argue that he’s one of the main tension factors in the house, but it’s nothing a little wilderness can’t fix. Nancy and Emily are frustrated because they were trying to organize their evidence (and Nancy has SO MUCH HOMEWORK) but now they have to go camping in South Carolina, boo hoo hoo. Once on the trip Mr. Wallner refers to his family as a harem and I think he should seriously be reported to the police, guys. Emily, Nancy, and Jessie are recruited to go get wood. Emily gets separated from Nancy, and in a paranoid moment runs away, convinced Jessie is going to kill her. She runs into an old cemetery, and falls into an open grave!!!! She screams at Jessie to let her out, and she can’t climb out herself, and thinks that she’s going to die in there as Jessie leaves her to rot. But when she looks up, she sees it isn’t Jessie… It’s NANCY!!!! IT WAS NANCY THE WHOLE TIME! Everything that Emily thought was Jessie was Nancy, the dog, the peroxide, the fire, the JOSH! Nancy blames her for their father dying, and for stealing Josh, as they were the two most important men in her life!!!!

But luckily Jessie is there, as she hits Nancy with a shovel to knock her out, and helps Emily out of the grave. I still can’t get over that there’s just a random open grave in an old timey woods cemetery. They go get the rest of the family, because there’s no way this camping trip is continuing.

So we end with assurance that Nancy is getting the help she needs, and Jessie and Emily are finally sorting out their differences. Jessie didn’t kill Jolie, of course, and would disappear at night or be up late on the phone because of her mystery boyfriend that she is seeing. Emily apologizes for blaming her for everything. Rich comes into the room with a new book. But when they ask if it’s another Stephen King story he reveals that it’s, in fact, The Hardy Boys! And the book ends with the three of them laughing and saying “Wow! Things really ARE changing around here!”

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This is how we react to your sister having a psychotic break, eh? (source)

Body Count: One, in the form of poor poor Tiger. We had a good run of not killing any animals in these books, but that ended.

Romance Rating: 1. First of all, I still contend that Emily never should have hooked up with her sister’s ex, and then Josh just happily makes out with Nancy again? Terrible boyfriend. Also, Mr. Wallner is a total prick and his wife can do much better.

Bonkers Rating: 5. Sure, the fact that it was Nancy the whole time was kind of crazy, but it was clear that there was going to be some twist from the start because no way Jessie was doing these horrible things.

Fear Street Relevance: 7. Once again, our characters live on Fear Street, so that’s a given. And the initial ill fated camping trip was on  Fear Island, so I’ll rate it higher than average.

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger: 

“Struggling to free herself from Jessie’s emotional grip, Emily realized she had never been so afraid in her life.”

…. And then the next scene is them going to a concert together. Doesn’t seem very resonant.

That’s So Dated! Moments: At a school dance, Emily is dancing a song that has the lyrics ‘pump it up pump it up’ and a description of synthesizers in it, and while it wasn’t expressly said I’m thinking it was supposed to be “Pump Up The Jam” by Technotronic? The timing may be off, but it sure seems to line up. Also talk of floppy discs.

Best Quote: 

“She’s totally crazy about him, Emily thought with some dismay. What on EARTH does she see in him? He really IS a sexist pig!”

I like that Emily seems to be hip to feminism.

“The Stepsister” was predictable and kind of flat, and I don’t really know how it warranted a second one, “The Stepsister 2”. But that’s a long ways off in this re-read. Next up is “Ski Weekend” .

A Revisit to Fear Street: “Halloween Party”

176271Book: “Halloween Party (Fear Street # 8)” by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1990

Where Did I Get This Book: Interlibrary Loan from the library!

Book Description: The invitation arrived in a black-bordered envelope. Inside, the card showed a coffin with the inscription “Reserved For You.” It was perfectly fitting for an all-night Halloween party on Fear Street. But Terry and his girlfriend Niki wondered why they had been invited. They barely knew Justine Cameron, the beautiful and mysterious transfer student who was throwing the party.

The party was well under way when the lights went out. That’s to be expected at a spooky Halloween party. But when the lights come back on, there was that boy on the floor with the knife in his back. Just a Halloween prank? Maybe. Maybe not.

For Terry and Niki the trick-or-treating has turned to terror. To their horror, they realize that someone at the costume party is dressed to kill!

Had I Read This Before: Yes.

The Plot: We start in the Fear Street Cemetery, where Terry and Niki are going for a leisurely walk before going to a Halloween party. It is Halloween night after all. Niki, who is almost totally deaf but can read lips, remarks that she forgot her mask behind at a tombstone they were looking at, and goes to retrieve it. Terry follows because he worries about her or something, but as he catches up he hears a horrible scream. Deciding they need to book it, but now, Terry and Niki run for the gate… and are confronted by a zombie!! Except it’s not a zombie, it’s a dumb jock named Murphy who is also attending the party. He implies that it’s going to be a wild night, and I have a feeling they don’t know the half of it.

We go back in time two weeks when this mismatched group of teens at Shadyside High get their invites to popular new girl Justine’s upcoming Halloween party. Terry’s invited, as is Niki, as is his friend Trish. Terry thinks that maybe Niki won’t have a fun time since it sounds like none of her friends are invited, but Niki, being super kind, says she wants to get to know Justine better. And oh boy, Justine lives on Fear Street in the old Cameron Mansion, whose owners had been killed in an accident years before which sounds super intriguing and the perfect place for a Halloween party! Lisa, school newspaper girl, tells them that apparently Justine and her uncle have been traveling the world and have now settled down there. In biology class Terry is talking with Ricky Schorr (of “The Overnight” fame!) who says he’s been invited too, and when the rest of the guests has been revealed (only nine? Seems quaint) Terry is dismayed to find out his ex-best friend Alex is on the list. Alex dated Niki before she dumped him and hooked up with Terry. Seems like bad form, but what do I know? When the guests find out about each other, they, for whatever reason, decide to divide into a Geeks vs Jocks kind of scenario, though Justine claims she just wants to get to know all of them better. Resident bullies Bobby and Marty ask why they aren’t invited, and Justine blow them off. They jump on their motorcycles (preferred mode of transport for bullies in Shadyside) and drive away. Justine reiterates that only those on the list can come, no dates, no one else. Jocks vs Geeks/Wimps is reiterated, and Alex and Terry find themselves on opposing teams (poor Terry is a wimp I guess). Niki is upset that they’re fighting over her.

A prank war between Jocks vs Wimps starts at school, as a warm up I guess. Terry is mad that Niki still talks to Alex, saying it’s because they’re on ‘different teams’ but we all know better and Niki is no fool and won’t be told who she can and can’t talk to. Terry finds Bobby and Marty harassing Justine about not being invited to her party, and scares them off. Justine is pretty flirty with Terry, saying she’s glad that he and Niki are coming. WHen he gets back to Niki’s locker, there’s a note inside that says ‘You’ll Wish You Were Blind Too’. Terry is convinced it’s Alex, but Niki doesn’t want him to start anything. Instead they go out for pizza. They see Justine there, on a pay phone. Niki, able to read her lips, says that she’s saying that she’s going to ‘make them all pay’.

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(source)

Not to be swayed by possible threats upon their lives, it’s now Halloween and they are still going to the party. They get to the front of the house with Murphy (who scares Terry again, this time with a fake spider), and then are let into the Cameron Mansion. And it is DECKED OUT, as Justine, dressed like what can only be Elvira based on the description, is playing an impeccable hostess. There’s food from all over the world, all places she and her uncle Phillip have lived (he is there as the chaperone and dressed like a clown. Choices, Phillip). As the guests all arrive and the dancing begins, Justine encourages them to dance really fast. They do, but then the music stops and the lights go out. Phillip goes to investigate, as Justine says that she didn’t plan this. When the power comes back on, one of the partygoers, Les, is on the floor with a knife in his back!!

But it’s just another joke, of course. Score one for Team Wimp! Terry and Alex exchange some words and Niki, wanting to be friends with everyone, agrees to dance with Alex, much to Terry’s chagrin. So Terry dances with Justine. But the dancing only lasts so long, because Bobby and Marty, ON THEIR MOTORCYCLES, crash into the party. They rough up Alex and Terry a bit, throw their weight around, but then the party guests come together to force them to leave. It all seems so pointless. Justine isn’t down with calling the police, and insists that they just keep partying, because the treasure hunt is going to start soon! Each guest is given a list of items hidden in the mansion. Niki takes this opportunity to do some snooping, because she just doesn’t quite trust Justine. She goes into Justine’s room, and finds some things that strike her as odd. First of all, there’s no desk. HOW IS SHE SUPPOSED TO STUDY WITHOUT A DESK? There’s also a picture of a couple from the 1950s. What’s more intriguing is that inside the closet there is a release that reveals an even LARGER closet, with lots of clothing that Justine has never worn to school before, such as evening gowns, stoles, and fur coats. Niki goes into the bathroom and finds prescriptions for a woman named Enid Cameron. She decides to find Terry. Presumably because she’s a teen and just found a serious score of pills they can experiment with?

Terry, on the other hand is really cleaning up on the treasure hunt. But when he opens a closet, he finds ALEX HANGING FROM THE CEILING, BLOOD DRIPPING ONTO THE FLOOR! He gathers up his team and Justine and brings them back to the closet, but the body is gone!! Turns out, and I’m sure you guessed it, the body is now on the bed and it’s just Alex’s Halloween costume stuffed to look like a real person, with fake blood and everything. Alex scores one for the Jocks. This all seems so sociopathic. Terry realizes that he still cares about Alex, because why else would he have been so upset? I mean, you thought a body was hanging in the closet, dude, anyone would be upset. Niki tells Terry what she found and her suspicions that Justine isn’t what she seems, but Terry blows her off. Justine announces that the Jocks Team wins the treasure hunt, and as she’s giving Alex a box of Parisian Chocolates, the banister she was leaning against GIVES WAY AND SHE FALLS TO THE STORY BELOW!! Luckily she lands on a couch and is unharmed outside of a sore wrist. Phillip says that someone sawed through the railing!!! Still wanting to just be the best hostess ever, Justine wants to forget about it and continue the party. Terry is jealous when Alex and she share a moment.

Niki still doesn’t trust Justine, and she and Terry fight. He accuses her of being jealous of Justine because she still has feelings for Alex, so she decides to go sleuthing on her own. The lights go out again, and when they come back on Justine says they’re going to play ‘tell us the worst thing you’ve ever done’, a true corker of a party game. Terry worries about Niki and goes to find her, but instead FINDS LES’S BODY IN A CLOSET WITH A KNIFE IN HIS CHEST!! And this time there’s no prank!!! He gets partygoer David to come with him, and when they return to the scene of the crime the body is gone! Someone threw poor Les on the roof! They pull the body back into the house, and cover him with a blanket. They try to call the police, but the phone lines are cut . They try to find Phillip but he’s nowhere to be seen. Someone in the house is a murderer. They look out the window and see a bloody clown costume. The other party guests start to panic, but they can’t leave because Angela sprained her ankle and Niki is nowhere to be found. David volunteers to go to get help, while Terry and Alex go looking for Niki. David finds that their cars tires have been slashed, and while on the road runs afoul a drunken Bobby and Marty. While scuffling he slips and hits his head, and Bobby and Marty decide they have to hide his body.

Terry and Alex find Niki, who has been knocked out and left in the basement. She wakes up and tells them she went back to the secret closet and did more snooping, and found a newspaper clipping about a couple who died thirty years prior, 26 year old Edmund and 20(?!) year old Cissy. They were killed in a car accident where teenagers were drag racing and hit their car. The teens survived, and they all happen to be the parents of the party guests one way or another! The couple left behind a baby girl named Enid. Niki is convinced that Justine in Enid, and also almost thirty, WHICH IS THE MOST HORRIFYING THING OF ALL. They confront her in front of the other guests, but she plays if off like all part of the joke…. Until she locks them all in a room. She confesses to them through a security gated window that yes, her parents were killed in a car crash, and she and her Uncle Phillip have come back for revenge. She then plays a tape of a car accident and sets the house on fire. Like ya do.

Niki continues to be awesome. Being deaf she isn’t distracted by the sounds of car crashes, and remembers that Justine mentioned a dumbwaiter system. She finds the system, and gets Terry and Alex to operate it and lower her down, hoping to find a way out through the basement. She finds a boarded up window, and starts to kick it out. A hand grabs her, but it’s just Mr. Complicity himself, Uncle Phillip, who has been tied up and left to die as well. She unties him, and he grabs a crowbar and they get the boards off the window. They scurry out, and then go to the security grate. Phillip pries it off and the teens are free! He tells them that he wanted revenge for his brother’s death, but then changed his mind. But poor Justine/Enid was hellbent. David comes out of the woods, not dead, just suffering a konk to the head, and the police are on the way. Justine tries to kill herself by jumping into the fiery blaze, but Terry and Alex stop her, nearly getting themselves killed like IDIOTS. But their combined stupid selfless act helps them bury the hatchet once and for all, just as the cops arrive with an ambulance. Niki asks what will happen to Justine, and Phillip says she’ll get the help she needs. Niki ends the book with “It’s always Halloween on Fear Street”.

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We’re letting it slide because she’s too wonderful (source)

Body Count: 1. Les never saw it coming.

Romance Rating: 4. Niki and Terry are happy enough and he calls her ‘Funny Face’ which is cute. But he sure likes to dismiss her and she’s WAY too good for him.

Bonkers Rating: 6. The twist was fine but after the whole time traveling ghost plot of “Haunted” it’s not really jumping off the page.

Fear Street Relevance: 7. I mean it takes place in a mansion of Fear Street and the cemetery is the way to get into said mansion.

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:

“Then, as everyone watched in shock, two gleaming motorcycles bombed right into the living room!”

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(source)

That’s So Dated! Moments: This was yet another one of those ‘updated’ versions of a “Fear Street” book. But we still get references to tape players (in spite of the fact the song ‘Get UR Freak On’ is playing). It’s weird seeing the blatant ‘gotta relate to the youths’ changes, as at one point Ricky is described as being ‘punk’d’. ALSO, I just want to say that they never bothered to change the time period for Justine/Enid’s parents’ deaths, still saying that the photo of them was a 1950s couple which would have made her QUITE A BIT OLDER THAN THIRTY when this new ‘revamped’ version was published in the mid 2000s.

Best Quote:

“Niki wasn’t the prettiest girl in Shadyside, or the smartest, but she as definitely the most special.”

Wow. Just…… WOW. And yet she ends up being probably the most likable “Fear Street” heroine we’ve gotten yet, so EAT ME, STINE.

“Halloween Party” was pretty middle of the road bordering on mediocre. Niki was the only thing I liked. Next time we’re tackling “The Stepsister”.

A Revisit to Fear Street: “Haunted”

176339Book: “Haunted” (Fear Street #7) by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1990

Where Did I Get This Book: ILL from the library!

Book Description: Melissa woke up screaming. The prowler was at her window…or was he? The recent headlines about a Fear Street prowler had everyone on edge. Her father now kept a loaded pistol in his bedroom. That made it even more frightening—and real.

Then the haunting began: her new car driving as if someone else had taken control; her birthday presents ripped open by unseen hands; an invisible force trying to push her out the bedroom window.

Out of the shadows of her bedroom came a menacing figure. Who was he? Did he really come from beyond the grave? And why had he come to kill her? If Melissa doesn’t solve the mystery fast, these questions will haunt her—to death!

Had I Read This Before: No

The Plot: Melissa Dryden is awakened in the middle of the night by a scratching at her bedroom window. She screams her head off, and her loving (and actually pretty functional) father come running. When she tells him that she’s convinced it’s certain death outside, he discerns that it is, in fact, a tree branch tapping at the glass. Mrs. Dryden comes in next, more irritated than concerned. Melissa says she thought it was the Fear Street Prowler (oh Fear Street!), and Mrs. Dryden says that’s silly because they’ve lived here for so long and nothing bad has ever happened to THEM, so why would badness happen now? Solid reasoning. She also points out that Melissa’s hair is super tangly (to denote that it’s ‘wild and blonde’), and Mr. Dryden asks why she’s wearing one of his pajama tops to bed (to denote that she is ‘quirky’, I guess?). He then assures her that she shouldn’t be scared because he has a new silver pistol, which he reveals to her after making her come with him to her parents bedroom, and proceeds to spin on his finger, in spite of the fact it’s loaded. I take it back, Mr. Dryden isn’t as functional as I said before. Before falling asleep she reminisces about her boyfriend Buddy, who got a little handsy and wasn’t really down with taking ‘no’ for an answer. So there’s that.

The next day we find out that Melissa’s birthday is coming up. This is made further evident by her father giving her a brand new Pontiac Firebird. Whoa damn. This, of course, also let’s us know that her family is SUPER wealthy, but we find out that her father didn’t start that way and pulled himself up by the bootstraps to get there. I could go into a lecture about the GI Bill and various other Homestead Acts making this a nonsense argument, but I won’t. Melissa takes it out for a spin, thinking about how envious her friends are going to be… But then the steering wheel starts to spin out of control of it’s own volition and she almost runs into an oil truck.

At her birthday party we are introduced to Melissa’s friends. One of whom is Della, from “The Overnight”! And since it seems that Melissa is now Della’s BFF, we can surmise that Della finally dumped that histrionic and selfish bitch Maia. Good for her! Buddy eventually shows up and some of the boys at they party start making innuendoes about their sex life, and I felt more uncomfortable than Melissa did. After some dancing and some cake, Melissa goes to open her gifts… but they’ve been ripped open and strewn about! How odd. After her friends leave and her parents come home, Melissa feels secure enough to go to bed, wondering who could have possibly ripped her gifts apart. As she’s falling asleep, a strange looking young man steps out of the shadows!! Thinking it’s the prowler, Melissa starts to scream. When her parents bursts in, the Shadow Guy has disappeared, and they can’t find him anywhere. Melissa is convinced she saw something, and while Dad is willing to coddle her Mom isn’t having any of it. They tell her to go back to sleep, and she says she will. While gazing out the window, strong hands try to push her, and while she pulls herself back in, when she turns around there’s no one there.

The next day Melissa goes to tell Buddy what happened. Predictably, he thinks that she’s just imagining everything. So she decides to go hang out at the mall with Della and some rich bitch named Krissie who has fun poking fun at people who aren’t as stylish as she is. Melissa actually has a pretty compassionate moment where she tells Krissie that they, as wealthy girls, have no right to feel superior because they just lucked into their wealth and didn’t earn it. Damn, girl. As she’s driving home in the non-Firebird car (still in the shop), it gets really cold, and suddenly in the front seat, from the description given, Ralph Macchio’s Johnny from “The Outsiders” is there!

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Sans french fries, though. (source)

Melissa, so surprised, rear ends the car in front of her. When the angry businessman in the vehicle confronts her, she realizes that she’s alone again. The man, thinking that she’s stoned, decides to just let it go because their cars are pretty much fine, and he must be able to tell that she is a little off.

At dinner that night, Melissa doesn’t bring up the accident but does tell her parents that she’s being haunted by a ghost. They brush it off, chalking it up to a need for attention, and invite her to go with them to their ‘lawyer convention’ in Las Vegas. Okay, as a daughter of two lawyers, I can tell you that they never went to ‘lawyer conventions’. This is indeed a strange universe. Melissa doesn’t want to go, and they say that she needs to get out more. Luckily she has a date with the sexual predator Buddy, so she can throw that at them. When she’s getting ready, Ralph Macchio shows up again, and this time he actually talks to her through a sneer. When she says he made her dent her parents’ car, he basically says ‘So what, you can just buy a new one, right?!’ Oh. I see. This really is the greasers vs the socs and Melissa is going to be Diane Lane’s Cherry. Ralph Macchio tells Melissa that his actual name is Paul, and he is here for a reason: HE’S HERE TO KILL HER BECAUSE SHE KILLED HIM. Honestly he’s less Johnny and more Dally because of this. Melissa has no idea what he’s talking about, as she thinks she’d remember if she killed someone, and Paul admits that, yeah, his memory is kind of fuzzy. But she’s rich, and rich people are liars, so she must be lying! Melissa strikes a deal, saying that if he doesn’t kill her she’ll help him find out who did, and he grudgingly accepts.

Deciding to confide in Buddy (who seems more interested in driving her newly ‘fixed’ car than talking with her), Melissa asks him if he remembers a boy named Paul who died recently. Buddy has no memory of this, so she tells him the whole story, I guess forgetting how condescending he was earlier. He tells her that she straight up needs some therapy. Thinking she can prove it, she takes Buddy back to her house, thinking that Paul will just appear at her beck and call. They get to her house, and Melissa notices that her parents’ car is gone. So they are KIND of alone, except for the live in house keeper, Marta. Melissa pulls Buddy up to her room, and they do hear strange footsteps… But it’s just Marta, telling Melissa her parents are out and that she’s wrapping up the dishes and then going STRAIGHT to bed. Marta basically falls short of tossing Melissa a condom and winking. Eventually Melissa and Buddy do start kissing, but their make out session is interrupted when Paul appears and tries to punch Buddy in the back of the head. Melissa freaks out, but Buddy sees nothing and feels nothing. Thinking his girlfriend is nuts, he leaves. Melissa and Paul argue, and Paul says that he isn’t going to kill her yet. He wants to have some ‘fun’ first. I think this is suppose to be showing he’s a rogue, but it comes off as gross.

The next day Melissa goes to the library to try and do some research, but doesn’t find anything about a dead boy named Paul, and wonders if he went to South instead of their high school. She runs into Della, who says her cousin Tracy goes to South. It’s a dead end, though, as while a boy DID die at South, his name wasn’t Paul, it was Vince.  Melissa goes home and finds Buddy is there, having been let in by her folks, who have left again. They go on a date to a dance club called Red Heat, which apparently was an old machine shed. They talk a bit, but then she brings up Paul again and Buddy is DONE. They get into a fight and Melissa leaves the club, finding a bunch of greasers on some car hoods… INCLUDING PAUL?!?!?! He says that he doesn’t know who she is, and starts to hit on her really aggressively. See, such a Dally, like I said before. Of course, if Melissa is our Cherry for this metaphor….

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Sorry guys, “The Outsiders” analog is here to stay. (source)

But, like Dally, Paul is a real jerk, and grabs her a little to tightly. Something a ghost can’t do. Melissa ends up running back to Buddy and he takes her home. When she gets home Ghost!Paul is there, but she doesn’t ask him why she saw him very alive earlier, and just tells him to buzz off.

Melissa tracks down one of Paul’s friends, Frankie, and starts interrogating him. He tells her that Paul is his best friend, and he is very NOT dead. Melissa sees this for herself again when she runs into Alive!Paul, who continues to act like a total jerk to her. She asks why he’s acting this way when she just wants to help him, and he’s very confused. She leaves.

Jesus this is a long one guys.

She gets home and confronts Ghost!Paul, who says he was NOT at the club nor did they just see each other. So they come up with the theory that Ghost!Paul isn’t from the past, but from the FUTURE, and that Melissa hasn’t killed him yet!! Now things are getting interesting! Melissa says that it’s easy, she just won’t kill him. Girl hasn’t read any Greek tragedies, has she? They decide to go find Alive!Paul and try to warn him. But, shock and awe, Ghost!Paul can’t be seen by Alive!Paul, so she just ends up sounding like a crazy person. Alive!Paul goes to meet up with his friends, and they talk about this hot rich girl who is following him, AND the fact that it is, indeed, Paul who is the FEAR STREET PROWLER!!! Oh man, this just gets better and better. It’s at this point I figure out where this is all going. Ghost!Paul follows Alive!Paul and is horrified by his life choices, making my metaphors work perfectly, because Ghost!Paul is clearly Johnny and Alive!Paul is Dally and now I’m legit going to go watch “The Outsiders” after this is all said and done. Ghost!Paul goes back to Melissa’s house, and she reiterates that she will NOT kill Alive!Paul because she, apparently, cares too much about Ghost!Paul. My heart.

Melissa is now home alone, as her parents are on their Vegas trip for their “CONVENTION”, Marta has gone to visit family, and Della can’t give her a home to sleep in until the next day. So Melissa decides to go find Alive!Paul and tell him to stay away from her. It goes as well as you think it would, as when she confronts him in front of his friends he gets belligerent and tells her he knows where she lives. You all know where this is going. Melissa goes home, a little nervous to be alone with the Fear Street Prowler still on the loose, but knows that Ghost!Paul will be there with her. She tries to sleep in her parents room that night, but then….. someone is crawling through her parents window!! It’s Alive!Paul, and he says ‘see, I told you I knew where you lived’. Realizing he was the prowler the whole time, Melissa thinks of the gun she really doesn’t want to use. She grabs it, but Alive!Paul knocks it away from her. As they wrestle over the gun, Alive!Paul manages to wrestle it away from her, and points it at her saying he’s going to kill her… BUT THEN SOMEHOW, I GUESS THROUGH THE POWER OF LOVE, GHOST!PAUL KNOCKS THE GUN FROM HIS HAND!! And Melissa, devastated to do so but knowing she must, shoots Alive!Paul, killing him instantly. And then Ghost!Paul starts to fade. When she asks why he did that and let her kill him, he says that he’d rather she live, even if it meant he was going to die. He then disappears. As Buddy comes into the room (ugh, he’s the worst), Melissa runs into his arms. When asked who the guy on the floor is, she says, sadly, ‘That’s just some prowler.’

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Stay gold, Ponyboy. (source)

Body Count: 1. Sorry Paul. Nothing gold can stay.

Romance Rating: 5. Buddy is no gentleman, and while I’m a sucker for ghost romances alive!Paul is a bit of a damaged creepazoid. But ghost!Paul does sacrifice himself for Melissa because of his affection for her, which gets automatic romance points.

Bonkers Rating: 8. I MEAN, we got our first actual totally supernatural plot line AND time travel paradoxes in this one. Solidly bonkers!

Fear Street Relevance: 8. With Melissa living on Fear Street and the Fear Street Prowler at large this one definitely felt like a Fear Street relevant book.

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:

“There was something so frightening about that little silver pistol, lying there is the drawer, just waiting to be used.”

… And that’s it. No follow up in the next chapter, Just Melissa going on about her life. That’s no cliffhanger, that’s just a statement. Just a Chekov’s Gun situation.

That’s So Dated! Moments: Melissa makes references to Walkmans, one of the characters is rocking a Hard Rock Cafe tee shirt again (because there was a time that that was STYLISH, guys), and, of course, Melissa looking at microfiche at the public library. Sure, it does happen still from time to time. But many public libraries don’t even have that option anymore.

Best Quote:

“‘Goodnight, everyone,’ Buddy said, and made a hasty exit.

‘Strange kid,’ Mrs. Dryden muttered.

‘What?’ Melissa asked.

‘Beautiful pendant,’ her mother said, lifting it up and turning it over to read the back.”

Mrs. Dryden is the shadiest Mom I’ve seen yet in a “Fear Street” book and I LOVE her.

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(source)

“Haunted” was a pretty solid story that had me guessing over and over again. I enjoyed it quite a bit and think it’s one of the better “Fear Street” books we’ve tackled so far!! Plus it made me feel. Up next is “The Halloween Party”.

 

A Revisit to Fear Street: “The Sleepwalker”

176690Book: “The Sleepwalker” (Fear Street #6) by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1991

Where Did I Get This Book: An ILL from the library!

Book Description: One week after she starts her summer job on Fear Street with old Mrs Cottler, Mayra Barnes begins to sleepwalk, waking up in the dead of night not knowing where she is. Mayra becomes even more terrified when she discovers Mrs Cottler may be a witch…

Is the old woman casting spells on Mayra? To add to Mayra’s horror, she is being followed by a menacing stranger who seems to recognize her – but she’s never seen him in her life!

Mayra’s sleepwalking is leading her into more and more peril. She soon realizes she must take action. She must find out what is happening to her – or she may never leave Fear Street alive!

Had I Read This Before: No

The Plot: We meet our protagonist Mayra, a girl who is starting summer break with a new job. This job consists of being an assistant and companion to Mrs. Cottler, an old woman who Mayra’s mom used to be a nurse to the previous summer. Though Mrs. Cottler is described as a total bitch by Mayra’s Mom, she pays five dollars an hour and acting as an assisted living practitioner builds character, I guess. But as she works with Mrs. Cottler, Mayra finds out a few things about her. One, she’s actually pretty chill. Two, she has a grumpy cat named Hazel who likes to destroy necklaces (sorry, Mayra). And three, Mrs. Cottler, who lives on Fear Street of course, had a son who drowned in Fear Lake years ago. At this point I’m thinking that Mayra’s mother’s accusations about Mrs. Cottler being a bitch are incredibly insensitive. After reading to Mrs. Cottler from “Nicholas Nickelby” (I’m kind of picturing Jo March reading to her sour old aunt), Mayra goes to fetch her new boss a sweater. Instead of asking where to find it, she goes digging through some drawers, and finds some strange black candles. But before she can think too much about it, Hazel stalks in and freaks out as only a cat can. Mayra, properly chastised by a suspicious feline, leaves.

On her way home Mayra provides some plot exposition by thinking about how much she misses her deadbeat Dad, and also how much she misses her new boyfriend Walker, who has been off on some summer adventure for a couple of weeks. As she ruminates about how much she wishes he were home, someone grabs her arm. I would say that it’s not a homicidal maniac, but I can’t because it’s her ex boyfriend Link and he is a total lunatic. He begs her to talk to him, and when she tells him no he really doesn’t want to take said no for any kind of answer. She runs off and he calls after her that ‘she’ll be sorry’. Yeah, nothing suspicious about that.

The next day Mayra is at Mrs. Cottler’s again, and there is an angry knocking on the door. Cottler’s neighbor Mr. Kleeg (we will hear more about him later in this post, because this is my favorite moment in the book) is mad that Mrs. Cottler’s peach tree is continuously dropping peaches in his yard. Look, I don’t like peaches either, but I have a hard time feeling any kind of sympathy for him because you could probably make some rad cobbler out of that that you could share with friends. After hurling angry words at Mrs. Cottler, he leaves. But he dropped a handkerchief, one which Mrs. Cottler picks up and pockets. Mayra is constantly daydreaming about Walker pretty much the whole time, but she’s with it enough to take Mrs. Cottler up for a nap. Though, when she checks in on her one last time Mrs. Cottler is sitting up completely straight and holding the purloined handkerchief in her hand. Mayra leaves, feeling a bit uneasy. So the next afternoon she calls her friend Donna and tells her that she thinks that Mrs. Cottler is a witch. Kind of a jump, but okay. Donna says that Mayra should just ask Mrs. Cottler if she is, but Mayra is too scared. The only other person she’s known in her life who has loved the occult is Stephanie, Link’s sister, well, and Walker, who is into that stuff too. Donna thinks that Mayra’s spending too much time with her new boyfriend. Mayra doesn’t care, and when they hang up she decides to go see Mrs. Cottler….. And sees an ambulance carrying Mr. Kleeg away, as he has just broken his hip. Mrs. Cottler says that ‘she told him something would happen’.

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Actual footage of young Mrs. Cottler. (source)

Walker comes home from his trip, and he and Mayra decide to go out for pizza and card tricks. Because remember, Walker is way into magic and stuff. They banter wittily about her sundress and her shoulders, and then Mayra goes home. Her Mom tells her that Link has been leaving insistent (read: harassing phone calls) asking to speak to her. Which doesn’t so much creepy Mayra out as it makes her kind of flattered (ladies: no). That night Mayra dreams about standing in front of Fear Lake, and finds out that she can walk on water. As she walks onto the lake, she sees someone on the shore watching her. Then she wakes up… and finds herself on the front lawn. BOOM.

The next day after work Mayra is spotted and followed by a man who seriously sounds like Mr. Larson from “Happy Gilmore”. Note that this is basically how I imagined this mystery man whenever he showed up. She loses him and decides to go for a pizza at the mall….. BUT SEES WALKER THERE WITH SUKI THOMAS, “Fear Street”‘s answer to town slut, and therefore my favorite side character of the series. Mayra jumps into their conversation, accusatorially, but Walker insists he’s just teaching Suki some coin magic tricks. Mayra believes him because he’s WALKER. That night Mayra confides in her mother about her sleepwalking, and her Mom says that maybe she should see a shrink. Before any solid plans are made, the doorbell rings and Link’s sister Stephanie demands to talk to Mayra. Stephanie says that Mayra is being SO MEAN to Link and that they need to get back together. I can’t even. Mayra says no and Stephanie says ‘You’ll be sorry!!’ before stealing a scarf. That night Mayra sleepwalks again and ends up on Fear Street. Yeah, it’s probably best to see a doctor.

The next day before work, Mayra is visited by Walker, who says that maybe his amateur hypnotism skills can find some answers. Mayra says no thanks, and goes to work. Since Mrs. Cottler is showering when she arrives, it’s prime snooping time. Mayra finds her broken necklace (which Cottler said she’d fix) next to a melted black candle, and she freaks out but goes to make some lunch so she can act natural for Mrs. Cottler. On the way home Link drives by and offers her a ride. She accepts, and it’s not as molesty as I thought it would be. When she gets home Donna is there and says that a tall guy named Cal was asking for her. And he sounds like a Mr. Larson looking motherfucker. Uh oh.

Mayra goes to see Mrs. Cottler, who says she’s going out of town to see her ill sister, and asks Mayra to house sit and cat sit.  When she gets home that night her mother tells her Donna has been in an awful car accident. She’s alive, but hurt. When she visits Donna, Mayra finds out that a red pickup ran her off the road. Mayra thinks that sounds like Link! She goes to talk to Walker, because has a theory: her Mom worked for Mrs. Cottler. Mrs. Cottler thinks her Mom tried to kill her. Now Mrs. Cottler is trying to kill Mayra! Seems like a leap. Walker thinks that they should investigate while Cottler is out of town. The next day they go looking, and Walker sees Hazel and is immediately convinced. They also find books on sleepwalking. Okay, kind of odd. They then see some pictures on the desk.. of Link and Stephanie! And a note that says that they are her NIECE AND NEPHEW!

Mayra visits Donna to run her witch family theory by her. Donna isn’t convinced, but Mayra decides to go confront Stephanie. She finds Stephanie wearing her purloined scarf on her head, and chanting with black candles lit around her. Mayra accuses her of being a witch. and Stephanie says no she isn’t. Then tells Mayra that Walker has been seeing Suki behind her back and really Mayra should just get back together with Link already. Then they make up to progress the plot or something and Mayra goes home (but inspects Links truck. No dents. He’s in the clear for attempted murder on Donna). That night she dreams again. But this time she can see the person on the bank. It’s Walker! And then she starts to drown in her dream… and wakes up to find herself DROWNING IN FEAR LAKE! Luckily a fisherman taking a pleasure cruise in eel infested waters is there, and saves her.

The next day Mayra goes to the psychiatric unit of the hospital to see a shrink (and has a run in with Cal! She escapes, but still, what’s up with this guy?). He says that her sleepwalking may be due to repressed trauma and writes her a scrip for some pills. The next day she goes to the lake to try and remember some things, and Link shows up, begs her to take him back, and LITERALLY ATTACKS HER. She punches him in the head, and jumps in the water to swim away…..? But in the water she remembers something. And asks Link, who just attacked her, to take her home so she can think.

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(source)

Flashback time. God this plot is so long. Mayra remembers a night awhile back where she and Walker were at the mall. To prove he’s cool, he decides to steal a car. They go on a joyride, but he hits another car, which falls into the lake they’re driving past. One man splashes up, but Mayra is pulled away by Walker before they can see if the other person is okay.

After she remembers all this, Mayra asks to meet Walker. They go to the lake, and Walker tries to hypnotize her about forgetting that night in the car. Mayra, not one to play hte long game, angrily confronts him about all this. He says that he’s just been using her hoping she won’t tell on them or remember what happened, and that he’s actually seeing Suki. He then tries to drown her now that she remembers everything, because his magic career comes first. But Hazel the cat shows up and saves the day! She claws the shit out of WAlker, and Mayra runs away back to Mrs. Cottler’s house. For some reason Mr. Larson is there, and when he sees Walker chasing after Mayra he says “YOU ARE THE ONE WHO KILLED MY BROTHER!” That’s right, Mr. Larson and his brother were in the car they ran off the road. He was also the one who ran Donna off the road, but gets a pass because it was an oopsie and he thought she was Mayra. As if that’s okay.

Regardless, in the end Mayra is back together with Link (I CANNOT) and he tells her that his aunt Mrs. Cottler isn’t a witch, she’s a former professor of occult studies with a Ph.D and a number of books she’s written on the subject. And a badass cat. The end.

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(source)

Body Count: 1. Poor Jerry.

Romance Rating: 0!!!!!! Absolutely not! You have Walker, who is using her/hypnotizing her, and Link who has a serious problem with taking ‘no’ for an answer!!! Fuck these guys!

Bonkers Rating: 6. If only because this isn’t how hypnotism works and Cal is only mildly relevant, but Hazel the cat is a goddamn hero.

Fear Street Relevance: 9. Mrs. Cottler lives on Fear Street and lots of stuff happens in the woods and by the lake!

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:

“Oh no!” she cried, pointing to the photos. “Walker – Look! I don’t believe it!”

…. and then it’s just photographs of Link and Stephanie because they’re related to Mrs. Cottler.

That’s So Dated! Moments: There were LOTS of people sporting cut off jean shorts, and in once scene one of the girls was rocking a Hard Rock Cafe tee shirt. Remember when those were huge???? I do!

Best Quote:

“Is that you again, Mr. Clean?” [said Mrs. Cottler]

“It’s Kleeg – NOT Clean!” he shouted angrily. His face got even redder.

“What do you want this time, Mr. Clean?” Mrs. Cottler asked, appearing beside Mayra in the doorway.

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Mrs. Cottler, though. (source)

Well if you ignore the fact that all the boys in this book were predatory as hell and that Mayra’s big traumatic reveal was super lame, this one had Mrs. Cottler and her cat Hazel, and my girl Suki made an appearance! So meh. “Haunted” is up next! Severe lack of hero cats puts it at a disadvantage.

A Revisit to Fear Street: “The Wrong Number”

176340Book: “The Wrong Number” (Fear Street #5) by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, March 1990

Where Did I Get This Book: ILL from the library!

Book Description: It begins as an innocent prank, when Deena Martinson and her best friend Jade Smith make sexy phone calls to the boys from school. But Deena’s half-brother Chuck catches them in the act and threatens to tell their parents, unless the girls let him in on the fun. Chuck begins making random calls, threatening anyone who answers. It’s dangerous and exciting. They’re even enjoying the publicity, and the uproar they’ve caused. Until Chuck calls a number on Fear Street.

To his horror, Chuck realizes he has called THE WRONG NUMBER. The jokes are over when murder is on the line. The murderer knows who they are and where they live — and they have nowhere to call for help.

Had I Read This Before: No

The Plot: I pity any “Fear Street” book that had to follow “Missing”. But I hoped that “The Wrong Number” would maintain some of the zany thrills that the one before it had. It starts with Deena and Jade, best friends who are quickly getting bored at Deena’s house. Deena mentions that her half brother Chuck is coming to live with her and her parents, as he’s a serious troublemaker and got kicked out of his school, so his mother has had it. Jade hopes he’s cute, when she should probably be hoping he’s stable. Still bored, Jade suggests that they start prank phone calling people! They start with her sister Cathy, who sees right through the ruse. Then they call Deena’s crush Rob. Deena flirts and then hangs up.

The next day Deena goes with her folks to pick up Chuck.She fixates a bit too much on how handsome he is, though he is ‘snowling’ (that’s scowling and sneering at once). But on the way home they see an accident, and Chuck runs to the scene and saves a dog from a burning car. See, he’s not so bad after all!!! Except he is, because the next morning Deena pours him some cereal for breakfast and he dumps it down the sink. So complicated. A true riddle. At lunch Deena tells Jade that Chuck’s a jerk, and as if to confirm this statement Chuck gets into a fight with local bad boy Bobby and pulls a knife on him!! Jesus.

We find out that post knife incident, Chuck almost got in trouble but their Dad was able to sweet talk the school. But Chuck’s on thin ice! Being that it’s Saturday, their parents go out, and Jade comes after her date cancels on her, which means more prank phone calls! Jade convinces Deena to call Rob again, and it continues to go well. Deena is too shy to reveal herself, and hangs up after hearing some weird clicks. Chuck comes into the room and introduces himself to Jade (who is immediately turned on). Then he says that he was listening in and wants to do his own prank calls in exchange for not telling. ASSHOLE. Deena and Jade agree. He immediately calls the bowling alley and declares a BOMB THREAT (this kid is insane!), then decides he wants to call someone on Fear Street. Because SPOOOOOOKY! He decides on Bobby, calls him, says that it’s the ‘Phantom of Fear Street’ calling. Dumbass. After scaring the girls, Jade decides to call it a night. He then offers to help Deena with her homework. Cuz remember. Enigma.

The bomb threat makes the news and Deena wants to stop with the calls. But Jade, wanting to get closer to Chuck, says that if Deena doesn’t keep it up she’ll tell Rob who’s been calling him. Friends like these. That weekend they are hanging out and grilling, and Deena tries to convince them to stop calling. They agree… until Chuck decides that he wants to prove that Fear Street is just a silly place that isn’t scary. So how does he want to prove this? By prank calling a random Fear Street number.

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(source)

So he puts the phone on speaker and calls… Only to have a woman screaming about how she’s being murdered. They are shocked, and a man takes the phone from the woman, and tells them they have the wrong number. Instead of calling the cops (because HOW would Chuck explain that he called this number?…. SAY YOU CALLED THE WRONG NUMBER), Chuck says they need to go to this house and investigate. GREAT. They arrive at the house and find a DEAD WOMAN! She’s been stabbed! Before they can call the cops a man in a ski mask confronts them. Chuck grabs the knife as a defense, but then they run out of the house and for their car. A chase ensues, but they lose the guy. They get back home and call the police. Chuck tries to be anonymous (once again cites the Phantom character he created). But of course the cops show up later that night. Turns out that Stanley Farberson, the man who is married to the dead woman, ID’d their plates and accuses Chuck of killing his wife!!!

So Chuck is arrested because his prints are on the knife and Mr. Farberson identified him in a lineup. Deena and Jade are distraught! But sexy Rob is there to distract Deena a little bit. Until that night, when Jade calls her and tells her to turn on the news. Mr. Farberson is speaking, and HE HAS THE SAME VOICE AS SKI MASK MAN!!! HE KILLED HIS WIFE!

After Deena’s theory is rebuffed by the cops, Jade says that they can totally solve this and the first step is to go to his restaurant and snoop around. They disguise themselves and Jade pretends that she’s looking for a job. While Farberson has them fill out applications he steps away, and the girls snoop. They find a plane ticket to Argentina, one way! Farberson returns and says he knows that the agency didn’t send them. Jade worms them out of it, and they leave. They decide that maybe the next person to see is his former assistant, Linda. As apparently there are actually two tickets to Argentina…

Deena and Jade go to Linda’s house and pretend they’re doing a door to door survey. While they are inside they overhear Linda talking to someone on the phone… It’s Farberson! And it sounds like they’re pretty cozy. She talks about him needing to come get something because she can’t have it in her house anymore. Deena and Jade make a hasty exit, and lie in wait. They see Farberson pick up this strange package, and follow him in hopes he’ll dispose of it. They think it’s gotta be the ski mask and some bloody clothing. But after he trashes it, they come back later that night open it up…. and find a dead cat. UGH, NO MORE DEAD ANIMALS!!

Lucky for them when they climb back in the car, masked man his hiding in the back seat. He tells them to drop it or else. When Deena visits Chuck at the detention facility she tells him that she and Jade are on the case. He’s pissed because he’s afraid she’s going to get killed, but this doesn’t sway Deena. She and Jade decide to go back to the scene of the crime.

They sneak into the Farberson house, in a very Grace Kelly-esque move, and snoop. They find evidence that Mrs. Farberson was the rich one, and was sick of her bum husband spending all her money. She planned to leave him. The girls decide they can go now, but Mr. Farberson is in the house! They wait for him to fall asleep on the couch and plan to sneak out, but they balk and hide in the office when he gets restless. Then they make too much noise and he finds them. He confesses to everything, and locks them in the office saying he’ll be right back, no doubt to kill them. Deena and Jade decide they can climb out the window and jump to the tree that’s right outside it. Just as they get outside, Farberson busts into the room. Deena and Jade are a bit high up with no where to go, so Mr. Farberson leaves the room….

AND REAPPEARS OUTSIDE WITH A CHAINSAW!!!! HE INTENDS TO CHAINSAW THEM DOWN AND THEN MAYBE CHAINSAW THEM TO DEATH???

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THIS IS FINALLY INTERESTING! (source)

But luckily,  the police arrive JUST IN TIME because Chuck told the authorities everything. And I guess they had a hunch themselves but just didn’t have enough evidence, and this was the perfect way to get evidence: to let two teenagers put themselves in danger while a third rots in a jail cell unnecessarily. Though Deena’s Dad thinks that it’s fine because the experience scared Chuck straight or something. Yeesh.

So now they’re all famous at school. Jade and Chuck are officially a couple. And Rob and Deena finally set a date. ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL, I GUESS.

Body Count: 2. Mrs. Farberson and one dead cat. Stine needs to stop killing animals.

Romance Rating: 3. Deena gets to go out with Rob at the end, but their meet cute wasn’t very cute. And Chuck and Jade? Dude’s unstable.

Bonkers Rating: 4. Only because of the chainsaw. The rest was pretty dull.

Fear Street Relevance: 5. The Farbersons lived on Fear Street, after all. I guess.

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:

“Rain slanted in, and another flash of lightning illuminated Chuck, his limp body curled up on the floor.”

… And he’s faking it. Jerk.

That’s So Dated! Moments: Well I would have to say that the obvious one is that THEY ARE MAKING PRANK PHONE CALLS. That’s just so hard to do these days with caller ID. But the other is that Chuck pulls a knife at school and isn’t immediately suspended/expelled.

Best Quote:

“Be sure to tell him hello for me,” said Jade.

“He doesn’t even know you.”

Jade turned her full smile on. “Not now he doesn’t. But I have a feeling….. he will soon.”

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EYEAAHHHHHHH!!!!!! (source)

This was a sad follow up to the absolute batshit absurdity that was “Missing”. If I wanted a story like this I’d just watch “Rear Window”. Hell, even “Disturbia” would be better. Next up is “The Sleepwalker”, and I hope that one’s a step up.

A Revisit to Fear Street: “Missing”

176576Book: “Missing” (Fear Street #4) by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: POCKET BOOKS, 1990

Where Did I Get This Book: ILL from the library!

Book Description: “Please help…Our parents are missing!”
What would you do if your parents didn’t come home, didn’t call, left no note? At first, Mark and Cara Burroughs aren’t terribly alarmed. Their parents have stayed out late before. But then other things start to go wrong. Mark’s girlfriend Gena breaks up with him and suddenly disappears. The police don’t seem at all interested in finding Mark and Cara’s parents. And their mysterious cousin who boards with them seems to be spying on their every move!
When murder strikes, Mark and Cara learn their terror is only beginning. Someone wants them to disappear too! But why? The answer lies deep in the Fear Street Woods. But will they live long enough to find it?

Had I Read This Before: Yes.

The Plot: Okay, I have VIVID memories of reading this one at the clothing store where we would get my grade school uniforms. I totally hid in a sales rack while my mother tried to find some pants that maybe wouldn’t completely wear out in the knees (this is still a curse that I have to bear when it comes to my pants).

Cara and Mark Burroughs have just moved to Shadyside with their parents, and have taken up residence on Fear Street. Their new friends find that weird, and Cara and Mark don’t exactly disagree, but it’s not strange enough that they can’t throw a rocking party because no one will come. Mark is the innocent and popular one, Cara is the cynical one who is 2edgy4you. One of the people at this aforementioned party is Gena, Mark’s new girlfriend who is, by all accounts, super sexy. His parents aren’t thrilled about him dating her for some reason, but Cara thinks she’s fine…. Outside of the fact she takes Mark’s attention away from her (once again, getting a Lannister Vibe from this sibling pair). Cara has noticed that even though it’s pretty late at night, their parents have yet to come home. A policeman knocks on their door, and while at first Cara thinks he’s there to tell them something awful has happened to their folks, he says his name is Captain Farraday and is just there asking around about a burglary. He gives her his card in case they think of anything. After he leaves, the party starts to wind down, as cops are total buzzkills. As Cara and Mark clean up they start to worry more about their parents, and try to call them. But the house phone is dead.

Cara and Mark are surprised by their distant cousin Roger, who apparently lives in the attic. He also is wondering where the folks are, but says he’s retiring for the night. Cara and Mark decide to see if they can find a note in their parents’ room. The rumpled bedding makes Cara think something terrible must have happened, but Mark dispels her of that notion pretty quickly. Roger pops up, saying he’s looking for a note, but acts strange enough to make Cara and Mark suspicious. The sudden appearance of a parked grey van outside doesn’t help matters. And then Cara finds a white stone monkey head in the sheets of the bed. How odd. What’s even odder is after they go to bed, they’re awakened by legit howling outside, and see Roger going to that strange van and climbing inside, but not leaving (why he is howling is never explained, by the way). Mark tries to find something of relevance in Roger’s room, but is caught and slinks off to bed. The monkey head continues to haunt him.

The next day, still no Mom and Dad. Mark and Cara decide to look around Roger’s room, and find a gun! Totally spooked, they decide that maybe they could call their parents at work, but the phone is still dead. They go to a neighbor, who says her phone is working just fine. When they call the phone company, they are told there shouldn’t be a problem. So now they decide to cut school and go to their parents’ office. They think they may need to catch a ride, since their folks have the car…. But when they get to the garage they find the car! Their folks never took it! So they drive to their parents’ present employers (after confronting the people in the van. Who act casual. And by casual I mean not at all casual). They get to this firm (which apparently makes stuff for the military but just lets two strangers in willy nilly), but no one seems to have heard of their parents. However, the CEO, Mr. Burroughs, will happily speak with them! Huh. He tells them that no one by their parents names have ever worked there.

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The plot thickens. (source)

Cara and Mark regroup. They go to school to try and have a normal day. Mark calls Roger, and the phones are working again. Roger says not to worry and he’ll see him at home. But Gena wasn’t at school, which is odd to Mark. He goes hom  and calls her…. and then she promptly dumps him. When Cara gets home they talk about this (Mark more weeps about it), and Cara thinks it’s weird since they were so close and cuddly the night before. Cara tells him to pull himself together because she’s calling Farraday to see if he can help them find their parents. He says that he’ll see if he can hunt them down, but on the line Cara hears a click. Roger must have been listening in on them! She and Mark go up to confront him. But he confronts them about their snooping in his room, and says that of COURSE he has a pistol, it was a gift from his father! Cara and Mark are suspicious, but drop it.

Cara decides to follow Roger when he goes out, and Mark says he’ll hang out at home in case Mom and Dad come back. But then Gena calls! And she sounds like she’s in trouble! So Mark decides to cut through the Fear Street woods to find her!…. and then promptly falls into a man made ditch trap thing. Meanwhile, Cara follows Roger to a diner, and sees him talking to the man in the van!!! Roger, however, catches her and says this is his faculty advisor, but no one really believes that. Cara leaves, and realizes a car is following her. BACK IN THE WOODS, Mark is in a pit, and a crazy dog jumps in and attacks him. Mark snaps it’s neck (holy SHIT), and sees that on it’s collar there’s a white monkey head!! So someone trained this dog to attack people, and it has the same monkey head he found at home. But Gena comes first, and he runs to her house. Instead of knocking on the door he decides to climb a trellis…. And falls. Good one, Mark.

Cara realizes that it was Captain Farraday following her, saying he’s following up, and he drives her home. On the way she tells him everything about Roger, and he says he’ll figure out what’s going on. When she gets home she finds Mark missing and no note. Mark is still trying to see Gena, and he does manage to get into her window, but is then confronted by her Dad, Dr. Rawlings. He tells Mark Gena was so upset she took off to visit a cousin upstate. After a quick study sesh, Cara decides to see if Roger’s gun is still there. It isn’t.

The next day after school they catch up with everything they found out the night before (and find out the phone is dead again). Conveniently, they remember that their parents had a friend named Wally at work, and they decide to go visit him. He says that he hasn’t seen them either, but in the work directory their parents names ARE LISTED! Which means Mr. Marcus lied to them! BUT WHY?!?! They race back to the house, hoping Farraday will have contacted them, but instead they find Roger DEAD!!!! BY BOW AND ARROW (oh yeah, Mark is an archer)!! AND FARRADAY IS THERE AND THINKS MARK DID IT!! And THEN they Guy from the Van comes in waving his gun around, and Farraday shoots HIM!! He says he’s going to go call for backup, and they see him talk to someone on the phone. Mark and Cara go to get some water But then… Cara remembers!! THE PHONE IS DEAD!! THERE IS NO WAY FARRADAY CALLED FOR BACKUP.

They try to play it cool but Mark bungles it, and Farraday pulls Roger’s missing gun on them. Farraday tells them that he isn’t a cop. He USED to be a cop, and is now looking for their folks, and where are they? Cara and Mark don’t know, and Farraday is going to shoot them. But then GENA ARRIVES WITH HER OWN GUN!! She gets Cara and Mark away from Farraday and takes them into the woods, saying that her Dad tried to get her out of the way, and that there’s a ‘meeting’ that they have to stop. She gets them some robes from her house so they can fit in to whatever it is they are about to experience. In her house there are people in robes and white monkey masks. They follow the group and come to a clearing in Fear Street Woods, and see A MILITIA/CULT MEETING IN WHICH THEIR PARENTS ARE ABOUT TO BE MURDERED BY MARCUS, WHO IS THE LEADER.

Yup, now THIS is the batshit “Fear Street” malarkey I wanted to share with you all. Just think of how fun this entire re-read is going to be.

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(source)

Mark throws his own little monkey head and disrupts the murdering. Their Dad gets free and pulls a gun on Marcus, identifying himself as FBI, and they are all under arrest. Yes, this whole time Cara and Mark’s parents have been undercover FBI agents. Marcus and Gena’s Dad were part of this group they’d been tracking. Farraday is just a crooked cop they put away on a previous case. Now their cover is blown and they will have to move again.

Gena comes to see Mark one last time before she moves to live with her mother. They promise they will write each other. She gives him a note with her new address, and a the words ‘can you keep a secret? I love you.’

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Jesus this was a doozie. (source)

Body Count: 3, being poor poor rookie Agent Roger, his van friend, and a guard dog.

Romance Rating: 7. Hear me out. Mark’s and Gena’s relationship was admittedly silly, but unlike other romances in these books it also seemed pretty genuine. That note at the end actually made me smile. And she saved his butt!!!

Bonkers Rating: 9! A crazy cult/militia group in the woods?! AH-mazing.

Fear Street Relevance: 10! Not only do Cara and Mark live on Fear Street, but the showdown is in the woods behind their house. Ya earned this, R.L.

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:

“Then I saw their beds and cried out again. It was obvious that something terrible had happened….”

… And it turns out their parents’ bed was just unmade. Jesus, Cara.

That’s So Dated! Moment: Cara and Mark’s parents are described as ‘computer mainframe specialists’, who travel from place to place installing computer systems for companies. And it can take weeks, or months, or even YEARS. Boy it just REEKS of late 80s techno babble to me.

Best Quote:

“We were both feeling pretty miserable. She found a box of cornflakes in the cabinet, but there was no milk. So we poured a bottle of Coke on it instead.”

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You can’t call a friend for a ride to the store? (source)

So there’s clearly a reason that this book stuck with me from all those years ago. It was nuts, and genuinely creepy at parts. I know that the thought of my parents just up and disappearing is still upsetting to me to this day. Next up is “The Wrong Number!”.

A Revisit to Fear Street: “The Overnight” (Fear Street #3)

656729Book: “The Overnight” (Fear Street #3) by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1989

Where Did I Get This Book: Interlibrary Loan from the library!

Book Description: “Nothing bad will happen,” Della O’Connor assures her friends in the Outdoors Club. So what if their advisor can’t go on the overnight to Fear Island—won’t it be more fun with no adults around?

But it’s no fun at all when Della gets lost in the woods, and the dangerous stranger appears, whispering threats, driving her to a violent act.

Suddenly all of her friends are involved, prisoners in a conspiracy of silence, trying to conceal the terrible truth. But someone saw what Della did. And he’s threatening them all, forcing them back to Fear Island to find the evidence they forgot to bury…

Had I Read This Before: No (I’m starting to wonder if I read more standalones and “Super Chillers” rather than the original “Fear Street” series).

The Plot: As if the teens of Shadyside didn’t have enough problems and woes on their plates, we now have to factor in the possibility of leaving the more populated parts of the town and go straight into a remote location where mischief and mayhem (and in all probability MURDER) can wreak havoc. That’s right guys, “The Overnight” doesn’t just take us into Fear Woods! It takes us to the not until just now mentioned Fear Island, which is in the middle of the lake within Fear Woods! That is where the Shadyside High Outdoor Club is planning on taking their overnight this year. Our protagonist is Della, one of the members of the aforementioned club, along with her innocent and sheltered bestie Maia, her (as of very recently) ex-boyfriend Gary, the preppy and awkward Pete, the obnoxious class clown Ricky, and the town bicycle Suki (who is my favorite character in the “Fear Street” series because her physical description makes it sound like R.L. Stine has watched “Return of the Living Dead” a few too many times). At their meeting (where Della is moping about Gary and Suki being so close now), their faculty advisor, Mr. Abner, tells them that he won’t be able to escort them to Fear Island that weekend, as he has just heard of a family emergency and has to leave RIGHT NOW. The Outdoors club is disappointed, until Suki suggests that they all go anyway, just unsupervised. Maia is SHOCKED that she would even suggest such a thing, but Della thinks it will be fun and convinces her to go, because what could possibly happen?

While Della is packing that Saturday, we get some exposition about Fear Island. It’s either an old research facility that is now inhabited by mutants, or the site of an Indian Burial ground (ugh, goddammit, this friggin’ trope). Obviously a destination for camping fun. Pete picks Della up, his obvious crush flying over her head, and they meet the others at the lake, where Gary and Suki are already chumming up pretty heavily. After a close call involving Maia’s parents and Ricky acting like a moron in the boats, they get to the island and decide to play a round of ZAP tag. Which pretty much sounds like paint ball, but the guns spray liquid paint instead of pellets. Girls vs Boys, of course. After Suki (and her punk rocky boy crazy attitude) pisses Della off, Della goes off on her own. And suddenly, a strange man approaches her. Her first thought, instead of ‘hm, strange man acting funny in the woods, I should be careful’, is ‘ooh, hottie alert!’, and she starts to flirt with him. He tells her that he’s studying the trees in the woods, but can’t keep his story straight, and yet no warning bells are going off for Della yet. After she prods him a bit more he attacks her. He says some gobbledy gook about communication and something about an old man, and Della gets herself free from his grasp long enough that she can shoot him with the ZAP gun. A chase begins, he catches her at the top of a ravine, and she shoves him down it. And then she realizes that it looks like he’s dead. So while trying to cover him up with leaves, the others find her and the mass freak out begins. Mostly by Maia, who isn’t as concerned that a crazy man tried to murder and do God knows what else to her best friend, but that her parents will find out that she was on an unsupervised trip!! Really, bitch? They decide that instead of going to the police (when it’s pretty clearly self defense here!), they should just leave him there to rot because who will find him? They complete their camping trip so as not to raise suspicions, and outside of some weird noises in the night they sleep fine.

The next day they leave the island and go back to their lives. The day after that Maia is freaking out that her parents are going to find out about all this (still not about the dead guy), so Della goes to reassure her and suffer some guilt tripping from her friend. This is just too much. For being best friends Maia is pretty much the goddamn worst. When Della returns home, however, she finds a note in her mailbox, which contains some jewelry that the dead man was wearing, and a note that says ‘I KNOW WHAT YOU DID’.

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Hm, I’ve seen this movie… (source)

The Outdoors club meets to discuss this turn of events (as Gary also got a note). Both Dell and Gary are missing their wallets, so that’s how whoever this is must have found them. Pete arrives fashionably late, and shows them a newspaper clipping about a recent burglary and murder, where an old man was murdered, possibly for money that he may have had, and there are pictures of the suspects (I guess? I don’t know how they would have figured that out, but okay). ONE OF THE SUSPECTS IS THE DEAD GUY! So maybe the person stalking them is his partner! Maia freaks out about her parents again, Della FINALLY tells her to SHUT THE HELL UP, and they are all surprised when Della’s mom comes home with a gentleman caller, which pretty much breaks up the meeting. Though Pete has time to ask Della on a date. Which she accepts.

Pete and Della go dancing at some teenage dance club, but while they’re driving home they are nearly run off the road by a strange car. They maneuver their way out of it, and see the strange car crash into a tree. When they look to see who was driving, the driver has already skedaddled. AT WHAT POINT DO YOU JUST GO TO THE POLICE?! They go back to school on Monday and at Outdoors Club tell the others about this (Maia is still freaking out. She’s clearly the weak link, guys). Mr. Abner returns and has great news!! The family crisis is over and he can finally take them all to Fear Island THIS COMING WEEKEND!! Della and Ricky try to play it cool by feigning interest, but everyone else tries to make excuses. Mr. Abner, acting less like a teacher and more like a child, guilts them about how he’s made special time to do this. Dude, really? They say they will let him know in a couple days. Most of them want to bail… But then Ricky tells them he’s missing a ZAP gun, which must still be on the island with the body. Somehow this could tie him to the crime, I guess, and he says that if it does he’s taking all of them down with him. So they agree that they will go back to Fear Island this weekend to get the evidence.

The Outdoors Club doesn’t even try to pretend that they are having a good time, so poor Mr. Abner must really be feeling like he’s stuck with a bunch of ingrates as he leads them across the lake and to the camp. Once they’re settled Pete and Della try to go get the gun, but Abner, convinced they’re going to go bang, says they can’t leave his sight. He says he’ll go get it (because at camp they won’t get into shenanigans I guess), but is soon knocked out by the CREEPY GUY, who runs off into the night. The Club makes a decision: Ricky, Gary, and Suki go for help,Della goes to get the gun, and Pete and Maia will stay with Abner (because Maia would rather have someone with her instead of letting Pete go with Della, the little wretch). Della goes to get the gun, but finds that the body is missing! And in a scene very reminiscent of “Robocop”, Della finds herself face to face with the man she thought she killed. Turns out she hadn’t. Apparently he has a ‘very faint pulse’ and that’s why she thought he was dead. He is then mad that she left him for dead, and tries to kill her again, as unlike her fake gun, he has a real one!…. But then Pete shows up and shoots him with the ZAP gun, getting paint in his eyes. They run back to camp with the guy chasing them, but the others have arrived with the police, who have also nabbed his partner.

The book ends with Pete picking Della up for a date, and in an attempt at comedy he brings a folded up tent in his car. Good one, Pete. Let’s remind her of all the trauma she’s gone through. But then they opt to eat marshmallows and watch movies all night instead. The end.

Body Count: Zero! Can you believe it?! I feel ripped off, in all honesty.

Romance Rating: 6. Not much, but okay, I admit it, I liked Pete! He and Della worked and made sense. And I was happy that there wasn’t any kind of love triangle either between them and Gary.

Bonkers Rating: 3. The twists were pretty standard, and felt like a run of the mill thriller. I was hoping that it would be MR. ABNER THE WHOLE TIME, but then it wasn’t. Meh.

Fear Street Relevance: 4. I am calling a cheat on this because while it took place on Fear Island, Fear Island wasn’t established as a place within this universe until it was convenient!!

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:

“The canoes!” Della said. They were gone. “Oh no!” Maia cried. “We’re trapped here!”

…. And then it was just that Ricky hid them like a douche.

That’s So Dated! Moment: Sadly there were few and far between super dated moments in this book! Though at one point Della’s shoes were described as white Reebok hightops, and I totally had a pair of those!

Best Quote:

“Knock it off, Suki,” Gary warned. “Stop picking on Ricky.” “Ricky’s picking on ME by existing,” Suki muttered.

I freaking love Suki Thomas.

I expected more from you, “Fear Street”. This just felt like “I Know What You Did Last Summer”. So maybe Kevin Williamson stole that idea from this. Regardless, it wasn’t one of the better stories in the series. Hopefully “Missing”, the next on the list, will be better.