A Revisit to Fear Street: “The Secret Bedroom”

176577Book: “The Secret Bedroom” (Fear Street #13) by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, September 1991

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

Book Description: Lea Carson can’t believe it when her family moves into the creepy, old house on Fear Street. Most creepy of all is the secret room up in the attic.

The room has been locked and boarded up for at least a hundred years. A murder was committed in that room, the story goes, and it has been closed up ever since.

Lea knows she should stay away. But she thinks she hears footsteps inside the secret room. And voices.

Someone—or something—is waiting for Lea in there.

Should she open the door?

Can she resist?

Had I Read It Before: Yes

The Plot: Once again, we are introduced to a new student at Shadyside High. This time it’s a girl named Lea, and I have to wonder about enrollment policy at this school. Are kids just joining willy nilly at any time, or are all these things supposed to be happening on the same timeline? Regardless, Lea makes a splash at her new school in week two where she spills chili on the white sweater of class megabitch Marci Hendryx. After getting a severe tongue lashing from Marci, who goes to clean up, Lea gets in help cleaning up her tray from a cute boy. He says his name is Don, and she says that she’s Lea and she just moved to Fear Street. When Don is, of course, shocked, she explains her parents are the predecessors to “Flip This House” and are going to focus on Fear Street. After some more chit chat, Don asks her out, and Lea is excited and says yes! But when she returns to her seat, her new friend Deena (from “The Wrong Number”!) tells her that Don is Marci’s boyfriend and Lea will catch hell if she goes out with him. Don, you’re a creep.

Lea walks home and thinks about the first time she and her parents entered the house. Their realtor, Mrs. Thomas (Suki’s Mom! I love Suki, so this bitch is tops in my book), told them about a boarded up room in the attic after Lea stumbled upon the locked door. Apparently it was a bedroom, but someone was murdered in their and it’s been shuttered ever since. Um, that should probably have been disclosed before they closed on the house, Mrs. Thomas, but perhaps when selling homes of Fear Street you’re encouraged to leave stuff out. Lea’s parents say they’ll just leave it alone. I bet not.

So now it’s Saturday night and Lea is on the phone with Deena, waiting for Don to pick her up. While giving Lea advice, Deena then has to hang up because her friend Jade has arrived (no word on whether or not she’s still dating her rotten half brother). So Lea waits, and waits, and waits… And Don doesn’t show. She calls his house, and Don’s mom says that he’s out with Marci. Ouch, girl. But instead of accepting that she’s been stood up, Lea decides that the thing to do is… CALL MARCI?????

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(source)

Predictably, it doesn’t go well. Marci tells Lea she dared Don to ask her out, and that Don would NEVER go out with her, and that Lea deserves it for hitting on her boyfriend. Yikes. Lea goes to sleep that night convincing herself that Don really DID ask her out, but then chickened out because Marci found out and that he does really like her. As she falls asleep she thinks she hears footsteps in the secret bedroom in the attic.

Monday at school Don approaches her and says he’s really sorry about the date thing and that Marci is jealous. While trying to explain himself, Marci shows up, and he runs off to her like the spineless jellyfish that he is. After lunch, Marci approaches Lea at her locker and tells her that she’s sorry. It was a joke that went too far, and to make it up to her she wants Lea to join the school sorority! How nice! She tells Lea that the next meeting is the next day in room 409. But Lea isn’t a dummy, and tells her that the school only has three floors so there ISN’T a room 409!! Boy, she sure was spared some kind of douchey prank a golf pro might pull off.

That next Saturday after a night of watching movies by herself (as even her parents have a social life), Lea decides to go to bed. But again, she hears footsteps above her in the attic. She goes up to investigate, but finds nothing up there. Yet as soon as she turns out the light, the footsteps start again… in the secret bedroom! She presses her ear against the door and calls inside, but then hears a new sound… the sound of blood flowing from the doorway!!! She freaks out and calls Deena (instead of her parents? I know this is before cell phones but did they not leave an emergency number?) and asks her to come over. Then she calls the police. When Deena arrives they go up to investigate, but they find nothing. So have fun explaining THAT to the cops who show up a few moments later. Lea apologizes, saying she thought she heard something, and after both cop and Deena leave, she tries to go back to sleep… But the sounds start again, louder this time.

At breakfast the next day her parents brush off her concerns. That night Lea is thinking about Don, for some reason that I can’t fathom… Yes I can, I was a teenage girl once. But the noises start up again. This continues for the next few nights, and then it even evolves into a voice! Lea dreams that she goes into the attic, and into the bedroom… and finds Marci in there, right before waking up. Marci is truly a jerk so the stress dreams are understandable.

The next weekend Lea, having been blown off by Deena, is all by her lonesome at home again, and when she hears the sounds this time she’s going to investigate. She hears a voice on the other side of the door, but this time she decides she wants to open the damn thing up. Of course, when she tries, a bunch of iron spikes slam through the wood and almost gore her. I just….. WHAT. They pull back into the secret bedroom, and Lea is left dazed. When the phone rings she almost misses it, but she answers, and it’s DON!! Who wants her to meet him at the mall right away!!! Lea, foolishly, thinks that her time has come, and she rushes in the rain to her car and drives over to meet him. I have no idea where her parents are. When she gets to the mall and to good ol’ Pete’s Pizza, she sees Don… and that he’s sitting across from Marci. Lea, the definition of insanity is to repeat an action expecting a different result. This is you to a t. Don says she should sit with them, but Marci shuts that shit down. Lea, after accidentally knocking into a waitress and making  a scene, returns home.

Given that the house is still empty but the sounds are still happening, Lea storms up the steps to settle this once and for all. This time when she calls through the door, she hear’s a girl’s voice asking her to open it up. Lea complies, prying the boards off with a hammer, and finds a key in the lock. When she walks in, she finds an ornate bedroom with an old fashioned looking girl sitting on the bed. The girl says that she ‘lives’ there, so that means she’s haunting the place because she’s clearly a ghost. A ghost who wants to touch Lea’s hair. Which is a bit too much, and Lea runs out of the room, slamming and locking the door behind her.

The next day Lea convinces herself that it was all a dream, and goes to play tennis with Deena. Deena agrees that it must have been a dream and then tells her that Marci is spreading rumors about her being a floozy. Fun. That night, while her parents are engrossed in a nature show, Lea tries to go to bed early. But the noises start again, and Lea goes upstairs to investigate. She finds the room and the girl again, and realizes that it wasn’t a dream. The ghost says that her name is Catherine, and that while she knows she’s dead it took her awhile to believe and understand it. She says that she was locked in this room because her parents didn’t want the world to know about her, as she was born out of wedlock. When she tried to escape one day, they killed her, and kept her body up there to rot. Lea isn’t convinced, and Catherine gets angry with her AND wants to touch her hair again. Lea runs out and slams her bedroom door, but doesn’t remember if she closed the door to the secret bedroom. She goes back to look, and all seems locked up and okay… But then in her own room Lea’s stuffed tiger’s eyes start to glow red.

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This bodes well. (source)

At school the next week, Lea overhears Marci spreading more lies about her, and wonders just why Marci keeps doing this even though she clearly has her beaten into submission. Well, Lea, it’s because girls like Marci are like a dog with a bone and can’t get enough of torturing you because you have been seen as weak, and weakness is easy to exploit and fun too, if you’re a total sociopath. No, I don’t have personal experience. Lea, however, gets the bright idea to use her new ghost friend (?) to teach Marci a lesson (and I am convinced that Ryan Murphy lifted this for “AHS: Murder House”). When she gets home she goes up the secret bedroom and formally introduces herself. Catherine tells her how much she loves her hair, and that she wishes her blonde tresses were dark like hers. Lea, undaunted, asks Catherine if she will help her scare Marci. Catherine agrees, but starts to press her ghostly essence into Lea, explaining that she’d use all her energy if she traveled on her own, and that she should really just hitch a ride in Lea’s body. Lea is a little weirded out, but convinces herself that it’s a legit request.

Lea goes to Marci’s house to confront her, and Marci tries to slam the door in her face but Catherine (who did leave Lea’s body) prevents that from happening. Lea gets into the house and starts to read Marci the riot act, but then Catherine lifts Marci up in the air and drops her. Marci, now freaked out, runs up the stairs in a panic… and runs right through the railing and plunges to the floor. Oops. Lea calls 911 as Marci’s Mom is screaming and sobbing (this was actually way upsetting, thanks Stine), and when the cops arrive Marci is pronounced dead. An officer drives Lea home, and she feels Catherine re-enter her body. When they get home Catherine returns to her attic room and Lea tries to eat dinner, but just has to confront Catherine about how things went down at Marci’s house. She asks Catherine if she pushed Marci, and Catherine just smiles at her, saying that she did Lea a favor and now Lea has to do one for her. Catherine wants to be inside Lea’s body PERMANENTLY. She tries to possess Lea, but Lea fights her off and runs out of the room screaming for her parents. When she tells them everything, they think that she’s suffering from PTSD because she saw Marci fall. Lea tries to show them the attic door she broke into, but it looks all boarded up, as if never touched. Huh?

A doctor recommends bedrest to Lea. As she’s trying to rest up, suddenly Catherine appears and REALLY flips things on its’ head: she says that she’s been messing with Lea the whole time! Lea never actually went into the secret bedroom, that Catherine was ALWAYS in THIS room and that she just planted those memories. When asked why, Catherine says that that secret bedroom is evil and Catherine boarded it up herself one hundred years prior, and the blood and the spikes were to keep Lea out before she just started planting memories. And now they’re going to share this room AND LEA’S BODY!!! Catherine succeeds in possessing her this time. Holy shit, this is getting real.

A few days later Catherine tells Lea that they have some stuff to take care of. I have a feeling it isn’t running to get paper towels from the store. CLea (as I will be referring to them) pulls a long rope out of the closet, and Catherine tells Lea that they’re going to go make Don Jacobs pay. They end up at Don’s house, and right before CLea can strangle him in cold blood, his friends arrive. Lea is able to fend off the control for a bit, and they make a hasty exit. But Catherine tells her that soon Don will be dead and so will his stupid friends. WHAT DID CORY AND GARY DO? The next day Lea realizes that Catherine has left her body for a bit, and thinks that perhaps the key to her salvation is opening up the secret bedroom. She grabs a hammer and gets to work on the boards, but then Catherine shows up to try and stop her. Lea tells her that she won’t be stopped, and she manages to get into the bedroom…. AND FINDS THE LONG DRIED OUT CORPSES OF CATHERINE’S PARENTS ON THE BED!!!! Catherine manages to possess Lea just then, and then the BODIES GET UP AND START SHUFFLING TOWARDS CLEA! ZombieDad wraps his hands around CLea’s neck, and Catherine leaves her body saying they killed her once and now they want to do it again…. But ZombieMom says that it was CATHERINE who was the murderer, who killed THEM and locked them in the bedroom. Suffice to say, the corpse parents start to circle Catherine faster and faster, and when Catherine reaches to Lea for help (ha, yeah right), one of the corpses LITERALLY rips her hand off and tosses it away. I AM LIVING!!! They ghostly family spins and disappears into nothingness, and Lea, presumably, passes out.

She wakes in the hospital some time later and is told she’s been battling a fever that’s left her in and out of consciousness. But Don has been calling to check on her and Deena has been bringing her school work for her to work on when she gets better. So maybe it was all a dream? When she gets home, she does find the attic door all boarded up, and is thinking that yes, it was all a dream. But the she sees one of Catherine’s hair ribbons on her dresser, and she thinks of Marci and the ghost in the secret bedroom. The end.

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(source)

 

Body Count: 2. Well, technically one with Marci falling to her doom. But I think that I may count Catherine too, since she was kind of taken out again.

Romance Rating: 3. Don is a total wimp when it comes to his girlfriend, but he and Lea could have some potential now that she’s out of the way (sorry, Marci).

Bonkers Rating: 10. This one has a secret bedroom, a ghost, possession, mind alterations, murder, AND skeletons just drying out in an attic. Seriously, it’s crazy.

Fear Street Relevance: 9! Lea living on Fear Street and the ghosts living in an attic in a Fear Street house are exactly the kind of setting these books need to be as good as they can be.

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:

“Lea was the first to break the silence. “I don’t believe it,” she said, her hands pressed tightly against her face.”

… and then there’s literally nothing there. Though I have to say, this book had some really SOLID cliffhangers.

That’s So Dated! Moments: Lea is watching “Ghost” on her parents VCR. Also, many descriptions of Lea’s bangs. Also, see below….

Best Quote:

“Patrick Swayze is a real babe, she thought, stretching sleepily. He can come haunt me any time.”

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Ditto, Lea. Ditto. (source)

YEP, this one was a really fun and great read. It’s right up there with “Missing” in terms of “Fear Street” faves. The next one up is “The Knife”, and the cover alone makes me think it’s going to be a journey.

A Revisit to Fear Street: “Lights Out”

176474Book: “Lights Out” (Fear Street #12) by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, June 1991

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

Book Description: Who killed the counselor?

“I could kill you!” screamed Geri Marcus.

Could she? Would she? something is very wrong at Camp Nightwing, and junior counselor Holly Flynn is determined to solve the mystery before it destroys the camp!

The trouble begins with frightening acts of vandalism. After each, a red feather is left behind—signature of the culprit.

Suddenly, one of the counselors is dead. “An accident,” say the police. But Holly knows better—and she knows she’s next. Holly can’t trust anyone now, not even her best friend, as she stalks the camp killer—and hopes that it soon won’t be “lights out” for her!

Had I Read It Before: No.

The Plot: Just so everyone is aware, y’all are getting gifs and images from my favorite camp movies “Wet Hot American Summer” and “Sleepaway Camp” for this one.

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(source)

Holly Flynn has been conscripted to be a counselor at her Uncle Bill’s summer camp, Camp Nightwing, for the summer. She doesn’t want to be there, as is made clear by her terrible interaction with a spider that wanders into her bunk. But her Mom made her, because she can’t just spend the whole summer on Fear Street, now can she, especially since her summer job at the Dairy Freeze was a bust. And besides, poor Uncle Bill has been having a rough go of it while running this camp. The first year, lightning burnt down the rec hall. Year two, both a flood AND a measles outbreak struck the camp (vaccinate your kids, folks). Year three, a camper was LITERALLY KILLED IN A BOATING ACCIDENT. So this year is kind of it for Uncle Bill, though honestly it sounds like he’s not so good at his job and maybe this just isn’t for him. Holly’s friend Thea is a counselor at the camp as well, but has her main goal for the summer to hook up with fellow counselor John Hardesty. While they talk about Holly’s not so outdoorsy nature, they hear someone call for help. Turns out Uncle Bill managed to overturn a cabinet full of sports equipment upon himself. After Holly and Thea help him out from under it all he comments that it seems like it was oddly loose. As Thea and Holly start to clean it all up, Holly finds a red feather in the bolt hole of the cabinet.

But she can’t dwell too long on it, as she soon finds out that Geri Marcus is one of the counselors at this camp!!! Geri Marcus, who had been Holly’s best friend before Holly moved to Shadyside, but they had a falling out. Geri had been dating at eighteen year old at age fifteen, and Holly had tried to keep it a secret but was caught in a lie. Geri’s parents found out, broke them up, and Geri blames Holly. You know this because of the not so kind look and demeanor she has around Holly. She also meets Debra, the senior counselor in her cabin who is also the arts and crafts and sailing instructor. She also takes an instant disliking to Holly for reasons unknown. But the Holly meets Mick, a handsome counselor who she takes an instant liking to, even though she’s sworn off boys this summer. When she gets back to her cabin, nature rears it’s ugly head as a brown bat is in the room. Holly freaks out, and Debra and Geri walk in and make her feel bad for freaking out.

They go to the counselor campfire that evening. Holly and Mick flirt a little bit more. Uncle Bill reads them the rules of the camp that they need to abide by, but is interrupted by a maniac in a hockey mask, who ends up being another counselor named Kit, a nerdy dude who has a crush on Geri. We also meet a softspoken boy named Sandy who wears polo shirts and Porsche sunglasses, and get a glimpse of the famed John Hardesty, who is antisocial to the max. Uncle Bill reads the rest of the rules, the last one being ‘counselors cannot date campers’. Seems like a no brainer, Bill. Holly and Mick flirt a bit more, and then Holly catches Geri glaring at her from across the bonfire.

The first morning of camp Holly goes for a walk. She meets up with Sandy, who warns her about leeches and to be careful in the water. She then runs into Mick, and they go walking by the lake to look at the canoes… Which have sunk. They pull them out and see that someone has punched holes in them, and Holly finds another red feather. No time to investigate further, though, as the campers are arriving. Holly is late and Debra chews her out for her tardiness. After they round the campers up and take them to their cabin, two of the girls get in a fight about the top bunk. When they both jump on the bed, it collapses. Neither girl is hurt, but Debra still reams Holly out for some reason, just as Geri and Uncle Bill walk in. Uncle Bill commends Debra on her ‘quick thinking’, and it leaves Holly alone to try and figure out what happened. She finds the broken slat, and along with that another red feather.

Holly goes to find Uncle Bill to tell him about the feathers and how she thinks that perhaps it’s a sabotage , but he isn’t interested in listening to her about it and snaps at her to leave him alone to deal with other things. Holly confronts Debra about chewing her out like that in front of other people, and Debra blows her off, saying that Holly won’t get any special treatment, even if Bill is her uncle. Things go from bad to worse at dinner, when Kit runs in and throws a rubber snake on the table. Holly is so scared she hesitates at first, but then is AGAIN chewed out by Debra for just sitting there while the campers are upset. I can’t even with this girl. Thea tells Holly to meet her by the lake that night, because she has some information that could explain some things. When they meet Thea tells her that Geri and Debra are tight, and that is probably why Debra is making Holly’s life a living hell. Also, Mick and Geri had something last summer, but now it seems that Mick may be into Holly. UH OH!! I smell a Judy and Meg situation a la “Sleepaway Camp!”

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Nothing says summer camp mean girls like Judy and Meg. (source)

Thea also says that she’s meeting John there, and Holly rightfully leaves before Thea gets into another pathetic John loop. Holly runs into Mick on her walk back, and when he asks her if they can spend more time together she says no. Why she doesn’t tell him that Geri is the goddamn worst, I couldn’t say. Mick gets mad and GRABS HER ARM? I was rooting for you, Mick, but not anymore. He lets her go quickly and stalks off, ego bruised no doubt. As she gets back to her cabin, she thinks she sees someone sneaking out of it. Before she can investigate further, Sandy shows up. They talk for a bit and he seems like a far nicer guy than Mick at this point, as he tells her he’s sorry she’s having a hard time. When she goes back into her cabin, she finds an actual snake on her bed. She screams and wakes everyone up, including Debra, who chews her out AGAIN, calling her ‘worse than useless’. Calm down, Debra.

The next day Holly goes to try and talk to Uncle Bill about the feathers and the snake. But, so concerned with a mixed up order that has left a supply delivery AWOL, Bill, once again, has other things on his mind and downplays her concerns. He asks Holly to just be supportive of him, saying that those feathers are all over the camp. Holly decides that if he won’t listen to her, she’ll have to save the camp herself. She starts to observe the fellow counselors at a camp baseball game, and Mick puts the moves on her since she’s been ‘staring at him all day’. She agrees to meet him that night (WHY?), but when she does he puts the moves on a bit too strong and she demures. Which makes him storm off because HEAVEN FORBID SHE NOT WANT TO KISS HIM YET. And, of course, Geri saw the whole thing, and confronts Holly about trying to steal Mick away.

The next day Holly meets up with Sandy, and when he’s super nice to her she tells him her theory about the feathers, the camp, and the sabotage. He isn’t really convinced, and tells her that maybe she’ll be more comfortable when they co-lead that wilderness hike the next week. Holly isn’t thrilled to be co-leading a hike, but at least Sandy is nice. She runs into Thea, who is having more John Hardesty woes, as he just doesn’t seem interested. THEN she goes to the arts and crafts building to help Debra teach pottery… and one of the campers breaks a pot, which is clearly Holly’s fault. As she’s walking back to her cabin after this terrible day, she is confronted by Kit, who says that since she’s so awful to Geri, he’s going to be awful to her. He then GRABS HER AND PINS HER ARMS BEHIND HER BACK, as Geri and MICK of all people show up with a BUCKET OF LEECHES. They knock her in the creek and toss the leeches on her. After they leave she peels the leeches off and then runs afoul someone yelling ‘no please!’, and finds JOHN by himself. When she questions him, he says she better mind her own business or she’ll be sorry. JESUS CHRIST this camp is filled with sociopaths! She sees Sandy again and he gives her the finalized counselor list for their wilderness trip. Joy of joys, it’s them, Geri, Mick, and Kit.

At dinner that night Holly and Thea are hanging out and Holly realizes that John and Debra aren’t anywhere to be seen. Holly decides to go find Debra so they can eat with their campers together. She isn’t in their bunk, so Holly goes to the arts and crafts building…. AND FINDS DEBRA SLUMPED OVER DEAD ON THE POTTERY WHEEL, HER FACE A BLOODY PULP FROM THE CONSTANT WHIRLING OF SAID WHEEL. Now THIS is good shit, Stine!!! Her necklace is caught in the wheel, so obviously it must have been a horrible accident.

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(source)

But then of course Holly finds another red feather.

Okay, this is so long and we have so much more ground to cover, and frankly this book isn’t good enough to dwell. So let’s just bullet point it down.

  • Geri thinks that Holly did it.
  • Uncle Bill assigns Geri to be the new senior counselor over Holly.
  • Holly thinks John did it but then maybe it was Mick because she finds feathers in his room.
  • Uncle Bill says the camp is going to close if one more thing goes wrong. Rebuffs Holly’s theories for the umpteenth time.
  • The wilderness trip begins.
  • Turns out John is just being weird because he’s messing around with a fifteen year old camper.
  • Sandy asks Holly to go canoeing with him.
  • And it turns out that the whole time it was SANDY because it was his little brother who drowned at the camp on Debra’s watch the previous year!!!!
  • There’s a showdown in a canoe on the rapids. Holly hits Sandy with a paddle but he perseveres.
  • There’s a second showdown in a cave involving snakes and Sandy falling down a hill.
  • Mick helps get her out of the woods and the police come and take Sandy away.
  • Holly isn’t scared of snakes anymore. THE END.

Body Count: 1, though I have to reiterate that this is by far one of the most gruesome and coolest deaths in this series yet!

Romance Rating: 2. Mick is a friggin’ weirdo and Sandy is murderous. Not to mention John Hardesty is an eighteen year old messing around with a fifteen year old. Look, I have lots of complicated opinions about statutory laws when it comes to applying to mid to late teenagers, but that’s the kind of gap that is a bit too much.

Bonkers Rating: 3. The pottery wheel death was nuts, but everything else was pretty uninspired, filled with “Friday the 13th” and “Sleepaway Camp” rip offs.

Fear Street Relevance: 2. Once again, our main character lives on Fear Street, but none of the action takes place there! This isn’t even on Fear Island or by Fear Lake.

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:

“The footsteps stopped, then all at once the started again, faster, running. Who could be in the woods at this time of night? Whoever it was was just behind her and getting closer.”

… And it turns out it’s just two campers late for getting back to their bunks.

That’s So Dated! Moments: Amazingly enough, the fact this book takes place at a summer camp means that the usual pop culture and technological references were few and far between. I didn’t find much that was dated at all! Outside of saying that there are only eight “Friday the 13th” movies. “Jason X”, anyone? Oh, and Mick being described as looking like ‘actor Kevin Bacon’. That’s a blatant “Friday the 13th” reference too.

Best Quote:

“What was it about him that was so attractive? Was it that he seemed somehow…. dangerous?”

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The OG Bad Boy of summer camp (source)

This one was pretty mediocre and forgettable. Up next is “The Secret Bedroom”, another one from my childhood and one I have fond memories of. Will those memories hold up?

A Revisit to Fear Street: “The Fire Game”

176636Book: “The Fire Game” (Fear Street #11) by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1991

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

Book Description: It was just a game…

The first fire started almost by accident. A wastebasket fire in the school library. Jill Franks and her friends found it exciting. And it got them out of school for a few hours.

Who could have guessed that the fire game would quickly spread? That one fire would lead to another? What Jill, and Andrea, and Diane, and the three boys they hung around with would find themselves caught up in the most dangerous—and deadly—game of all?

When one of their fires ends in murder, the game ends—and the real terror begins. All of them realize that someone is playing the game for keeps. Now Jill has no choice. She knows she must find the murderer—before her life goes up in flames!

Had I Read It Before: No.

The Plot: We find ourselves back in Shadyside, after a field trip up to the mountains of Vermont. We join Jill, Andrea, and Diane, three teenagers going to Shadyside High. Diane is new, but Jill thinks that she fits in with her and Andrea because 1) they’re all gymnasts, and 2) Diane is sweet and serious, whereas Jill is flakey and Andrea is a mythic bitch. They’re all lamenting the upcoming geography quiz as they sit in the library, though Andrea is trying to think of a good song for her gymnastics routine instead of studying. Diane mentions that her old friend Gabe is not only a songwriter, he also is moving to Shadyside! And apparently he’s super handsome too. Before they can get more info out of Diane, Max and Nick stroll in. These boys both have crushes on Jill, which pisses Andrea off. Jill, however, isn’t interested. Max and Nick talk about horror movies they watched, and start horsing around. Nick pulls out a lighter and starts playing with it, which makes Diane freak out for reasons unknown to everyone else. A folder accidentally catches fire, and Diane runs away. Andrea snuffs the fire out and drops the folder in a waste basket. They meet up with Diane on the way to math and she apologizes for freaking out…. But then, in math class, smoke wafts into the hallway. Of course the fire wasn’t out, and they set the library on fire! Though no one gets hurt, the geography quiz is cancelled.

They friends all go out after the fire, and they run into Gabe! Boy is he handsome, if not super aloof and elitist about having to move to this small town. But his ears perk up when they mention the fire at school, especially when Andrea takes the blame/credit for it. When Max and Nick ask if he’s ever set a fire before, Gabe doesn’t really answer them, but smiles creepily. It becomes even creepier when at school the next day, he suggests that they set another fire so that they can take the rest of the day off, deliberately this time. Though the friends think that he’s joking at first, he makes it clear that he’s DEAD serious. Diane gets visibly upset and makes an excuse to leave, and when Jill calls after her Gabe dismisses her, saying she’s ‘always been jumpy’. Yeah, Gabe, JUMPY. Andrea, on the other hand, is practically flooding her basement at the concept of setting a fire, and Max grabs the lighter and rushes off. As the others leave the cafeteria, there’s an explosion from the boy’s bathroom.

At this moment it’s solidified that I’m really just reading a book about a bunch of teenage pyromaniacs.

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(source)

After the attempt of deliberate arson, the friends all meet on the soccer field. Max made it out just in time, and explains that there was a bottle of cleaning solution in the bathroom next to the wastebasket. Diane isn’t pleased, but Andrea is elated. School is cancelled for the rest of the day (that’s it?) and they all go for a picnic and swimming at the cabin that Diane’s parents bought on Fear Island. The boys all have a swim race, and Gabe wins. Andrea makes her interest known, and Diane says she doesn’t care if they date, though doesn’t seem convinced anything will come of it. The friends eat hotdogs and then Diane surprises Gabe with one of his old guitars he gave Diane. As he plays (and is perfect, of course), Jill thinks about how much has changed since he got to Shadyside (a day ago?) and that things have really changed for the better. IIIIIII’M SORRY, he’s a psychopath, Jill! He then holds the lighter under his hand, mesmerized by the flames.

Soon after Jill, Diane, and Andrea are shopping. Andrea keeps grilling Diane for information on Gabe, and Diane talks about how she’s known him since Kindergarten. They pass a pet shop and Jill notices that the cats in the window look like her cat, Mittsy. Oh boy, does this mean Mittsy will be relevant later? Don’t you kill another cat, Stine! The girls go to try on new clothes, but when Andrea tries to go into Diane’s dressing room, Diane freaks out and starts screaming at her. Andrea is shocked. She knew that Diane was modest, but this is nuts! Andrea goes home and after having a pointless conversation with her Mom, she gets a call from Gabe, who asks her out. Even though she thinks that he’s kind of a wackadoo, she also thinks he’s cute, so she says yes. Because bad boys, right?

Sometime after, the group of friends are driving around Shadyside showing Gabe the sights. He’s not too impressed, but when they get to Fear Street his ears perk up enough to only make SOME disparaging comments about it. I assume it’s because he’s evil and feels at home there. They tell him about the time a crazy guy tried to kill people with a chainsaw (“The Wrong Number”), when an old house burnt down after a Halloween party gone awry (“Halloween Party”), and how two kids parents just vanished without a trace (“Missing”, though to be honest they were found pretty quickly…). Gabe thinks that they should go look at the cemetery. He then suggests that it’s time to start another fire, and it’s Nick’s turn. Gabe suggests an abandoned shack in the cemetery, and Nick refuses. Gabe tries to call his bluff, but then decides ‘ah, fuck it’, and sets it ablaze himself. They run off and watch the fire department come at a distance. When they get back to the car, Andrea, pushed to her sexual limits, starts making out with Gabe in the backseat of the car.

Later, Jill, Diane, and Andrea are hanging out watching videos at Andrea’s house. She shows off her new computer, lamenting that the ink in the printer is blue instead of black, but still writes a poem about how horny fires make her. The police are starting to think that there’s a pattern here, and while Jill and Diane are nervous, Andrea is still aroused. Diane says they should stop playing this game, but Andrea refuses to stop saying that it’s way too fun to commit arson. The phone rings, so Jill answers (even though it’s Andrea’s house?) and though the person on the other end says they’re from the fire department, it turns out it’s really just Max playing a trick. Jill hangs up, and demands that they stop the fire game. Andrea finally concedes that they can ‘slow down’ at least. While Diane is in the bathroom (totally happy that the game is going to maybe end), Jill tells Andrea that she has a date with Gabe the next night. Andrea sees it as a challenge.

On the date, Gabe is actually acting like a pretty nice and romantic guy towards Jill. He plays the guitar, opens up about some of his past, and they have a heartfelt conversation. Though when Jill brings up the fact that the girls want to stop the game, he’s dismissive of her and her feelings…. Until they get to Pete’s Pizza and they find that someone has set his father’s car on fire!!!

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NOT SO FUNNY NOW, HUH? (source)

He and Jill think that Nick must have done it out of jealousy. She calls Nick later that night to ask him why he did it, but he denies it and hangs up on her. Then she calls Andrea to tell her what happened. Andrea is more concerned that the date ended without getting anywhere, but concedes that maybe the game will be done now. That night Jill wakes up to smell smoke, and then finds her cat Mittsy burnt to a crisp!!.. But then it’s just a nightmare, thank GOD, I’m glad no cats had to die for a plot twist this time.

The next day Jill and Nick talk a bit, and he asks her over that night to study together. When she goes to his house, she sees him and Max getting into a car and driving away. Suspicious (And miffed he’s breaking their study date), Jill follows them. They drive to Fear Street, and of course as soon as she turns down the street, her car lurches to a stop and dies. She starts to panic, but is helped by a kind policeman who saw her stranded. He gets her car going again, and she continues to drive. She parks near the cemetery, and gets out to walk on foot… And then sees their car by an old abandoned house… WHICH SOON BURSTS INTO FLAMES!! Jill sees Max and NIck running away from it! She drives to a fire box to alert the authorities, but then drives home. After trying to calm down with yoga and “Three’s Company” re runs, she turns on the news… and finds out that there was a homeless man in the house that burnt down!! Nick and Max are murderers!!

Jill calls Nick to confront him. He balks at first, but then admits that he DID ditch her that night to go to Fear Street with Max, but that they didn’t set the fire! Someone left a note on his doorstep (and Max’s too) telling them to go to Fear Street, and when they got there the fire started. Jill thinks that then it must be Gabe who did it! She calls Diane to go with her to get the note from Nick. But when they get the note, they see that it’s printed in BLUE INK!!!!! LIKE ANDREA’S PRINTER!

SO, Cagney and Lacey go to confront Andrea. Andrea says she didn’t do it and that Jill is only accusing her because her date with Gabe went sour. When they don’t believe her she yells at them to get out and never come back! But then in the middle of the night she calls Jill to ask her to meet her at the gym before school the next morning, because she thinks she may be close to figuring out what’s happening… and that it may involve Gabe! Jill agrees, and the next day she goes to the gym to find Diane there, who says Andrea called her too… BUT THEN THEY FIND ANDREA, AND SHE’S DEAD! Wait, not dead, knocked out. So an ambulance comes to get her. The gym teacher thinks she fell of the balance beam to have hit her head, but they can’t know until she comes to. Jill wonders if Gabe found out that Andrea was on to him, however….

Jill insists that the rest of the group come together, and suggests that perhaps it’s a stranger setting the fires to get to them (though Gabe is still a contender in her mind). It doesn’t go well, as they all start accusing each other of setting the fire and trying to kill Andrea. As Jill is walking home Gabe catches up to her and gives her a ride home. She’s convinced that he’s the one who did it, but doesn’t want him to catch on. He says he has a feeling the fires are done, and that he never should have come to Shadyside or none of this would have happened. I have to agree. Jill, unable to resist his charms in spite of the fact he’s a creep, agrees to go out with him again, especially after he assures her that he’s not interested in Andrea. Jill’s questionable happiness is short lived, as the police show up that night, asking her if she saw anything the night of the fire, since she was in the vicinity. She lies and says no.

Diane invites Jill to her family cabin on Fear Island to unwind. Jill breaks her date with Gabe, and is having a great girls weekend with Diane… Until Andrea calls. Andrea starts to threaten Jill, saying that she knows that it was HER who tried to kill her and that SHE was the one who wrote the note by using her computer!!! But then she says ‘Diane’. SHE THOUGHT JILL WAS DIANE!!! DIANE IS THE ARSONIST/MURDERER! Andrea tells Jill to leave, but after she hangs up Jill can’t find her keys!! So she runs into the woods, but of course gets lost, and of COURSE Diane finds her. When she acts perfectly normal, for whatever reason Jill goes back with her… But yeah, Diane is indeed nutty, and is the one behind all of this. Her motive, of course, is because of Gabe. She tried to take out Andrea for going on a date with him, and set Gabe’s car on fire because she saw him and Jill at a distance. Oh, and also, she is obsessed with fire because, shock and awe, her body is covered in burn scars after she was in a fire when a kerosene lamp exploded when she was a girl. Gabe was so sweet to her when she was recovering, she fell in love with him and has been obsessed with him since. But because of her scars, THEY CAN NEVER BE. Good God. Diane then starts setting the cabin on fire. She is about to set Jill ablaze, but Gabe bursts in, as Andrea told him where he could find them. They all get out of the cabin, and Gabe apologizes for setting off Diane’s psychotic break with his ‘fire game’. The end.

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(source)

Body Count: 1. I always find it a bit cheap when a homeless person is used as a convenient dead body. Let’s just dehumanize them a bit more, why don’t we?

Romance Rating: 3. I gotta admit that Gabe playing the guitar for Jill was pretty romantic, but then again, he’s also happily stringing along Andrea and Diane to an extent. Also, he’s a complete psychopath.

Bonkers Rating: 2. This was just about a bunch of arsonists being the goddamn worst. Nothing bonkers about that outside of the sheer despicableness of it all.

Fear Street Relevance: 8. The biggest fire with the most dire consequences took place on Fear Street, but more importantly we got a nice little run down of previous “Fear Street” plots in this one! That walk down memory lane easily bumps the number up!

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:

“‘I don’t believe it!’ Diane cried. ‘She’s dead!'”

… And then, she isn’t dead. She’s very much alive. Wishful thinking, Diane.

That’s So Dated! Moments: There is a whole scene in which Andrea is showing off her new computer. It’s so amazing it can do calculations, has games, and even a ‘word processor’ on it. It was so quaint and cute. And there is also a scene in which a lime green shirt is the pinnacle of fashion.

Best Quote:

“‘Well I’m not sure about the Undead,’ Jill admitted, ‘but there is something very creepy about Fear Street.'”

It was as if R.L. had to remind us of the premise of this entire series.

“The Fire Game” was really just about a bunch of arsonists with far too much privilege for their own good. I’m hoping that our next book, “Lights Out”, has more responsible (and less sociopathic) protagonists.

A Revisit to Fear Street: “Ski Weekend”

176588Book: “Ski Weekend” (Fear Street #10) by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1991

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

Book Description: Snowbound!

“Red” Porter was a stranger they’d met on their ski weekend. But Ariel Munroe, Doug Mahr and his girlfriend Shannon Harper were grateful he was there when they set out for home on the icy roads. Thank heaven for Red! He spotted the hilltop lodge when they were stranded by the blizzard. He took charge when they stumbled into strange surroundings, scared, tired and looking for refuge. But can he save them when their refuge becomes a trap? Suddenly their hosts are acting very sinisterly. Doug’s car is gone. The phones are dead. And the house is full of guns. If they steal one, maybe they can escape! Until a shot is fired and the real terror begins…

Had I Read This Before: Yes.

The Plot: We start out in a car with a group of friends from Shadyside who are coming home from vacation. We have Ariel, a science minded girl who is also our protagonist. There’s Doug, Ariel’s oldest friend who is kind of a tough guy who makes bad choices. There’s Shannon, Doug’s girlfriend who is pretty bland but very pretty. And then there’s Red. Red is NOT part of this group. You see, the fourth is supposed to be Randy, Ariel’s boyfriend. But they got in a fight over the fact that he wanted to cut the ski weekend short so he could go play basketball. After a blow out argument they had in public (which led to Randy leaving with his car), Red approached Ariel to see if she was okay. After he got along with her and her friends, he asked if they could drop him off in Brockton. I don’t know, but an older guy swooping in on a teenage girl who is vulnerable after a fight isn’t someone I would trust, but here we are. Doug is driving like a maniac in spite of the fact there’s a snow storm falling on them, Red suggests that they turn down a country road, because according to him the plows clear those out before the highways. Horseshit, Red! But these city kids don’t know up from down, so Doug turns down the road, and doesn’t get far before his car dies. Red says he’s overheating the engine, and they should ask one of these farm houses to give them shelter for the night. So they grab their gear and go to ask if they can crash.

The door is opened by a guy straight out of a backwoods horror movie, at least in mannerism and stereotypical personality. He says his name is Lou, and introduces them to his wife, Eva, who sounds like she’s a mouse of a woman to his boonies son of the soil demeanor. He says that they can stay overnight, and tells them to make themselves at home. He also blatantly lusts after Shannon, and let me tell you it’s disgusting. He also tells stories about misfortune that his acquaintances have met in the past, and laughs about it. Amazingly, their phone works, so Doug calls his parents, and when Ariel tries it’s very hard to hear anything. She asks Eva for a cup of tea, and notices that Eva is very quiet and kind of jumpy. Back out in the living room, Lou opens the door and sees that a branch has crashed through the porch roof. The men go outside to move it, and Lou is mad that Doug doesn’t listen very well. I sense the start of a rivalry.

After dinner, Ariel, hoping to escape Lou and his awful stories, asks Eva where she can sleep. After being led to a room, she tries to sleep… But wakes up to the noise of the front door opening and closing. She sees no one has gone outside, but hears footsteps downstairs, though everyone seems to be in bed. She goes to investigate, but chickens out when she hears a lamp crash to the floor. She runs into Red, who tells her he thought he heard Lou and Eva fighting, and Lou hitting Eva. Ariel votes that they should try and bail, but then they start kissing a bit. Which is pretty gross, R.L. It sounds like Red is definitely older than 18. They eventually stop and go back to their separate rooms. No thought as to whether Eva could be hurt. Oh the 90s.

The next morning Ariel wakes up to the smell of bacon. She goes downstairs and finds her friends at the kitchen table, and Lou making them breakfast. When asked where Eva is, he says he’s letting her ‘sleep in’, and I’m suspicious because I don’t remember Eva from my time as a kid reading this book. Doug announces his intentions to check on the car, though Lou berates him for thinking about that because there’s no point until the road crews come. Red and Ariel opt to go with him (WHY SHANNON STAYS BEHIND WITH PREDATORY LOU IS BEYOND ME). They find that the car is gone, and when they do find it it’s been pushed into a ditch. When they return Lou offers to call for a tow, but NOW the phone is dead. Lou freaks out about the phone, and says that while he does have four wheel drive he’s not going to take them anywhere because the snow is too deep. After they beg, he says that he’ll give it a go and tells them to get their things.

WHile they wait for him they have a snowball fight, and when Lou pulls up Ariel notices his plates are from Alabama and not Vermont. Red says that there are lots of cars with out of state plates and it doesn’t mean anything. Lou smells of beer (SO GREAT that he’s driving), and tells Shannon to sit next to him. But the the Jeep also sputters and dies. Lou freaks again and storms into the house, and the gang is getting more worried. That afternoon while Red works on the Jeep and Lou gets more drunk, Ariel goes to find Eva. Eva is NOT dead, but she’s pretty beat up and says that Ariel and her friends shouldn’t be there. Seemingly not so concerned, Ariel goes downstairs just in time for Lou to yank the phone out of the wall. So stable, this Lou. Ariel, Doug, and Shannon play cards, and when Ariel looks out the window SHE SEES A STRANGE MAN IN A SKI MASK! She screams, and Doug and Shannon see him too just before he vanishes. They tell Lou, but Lou is too drunk to care. Red comes in and says he doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Then Lou asks Doug if he works out. I have to assume this is the kind of thing those self proclaimed Alpha guys do. Instead of calling Doug a cuck, he challenges him to a wrestling match. Doug is on the school wrestling team so he agrees, and I’m just flabbergasted. They fight, and Lou smashes Doug in the knee and hits his head against the floor a bunch, until Red pulls him off. Doug is convinced his leg is broken, but Ariel, who wants to be a doctor, reminds him that she did a school project on the knee, and after examining it says it’s just sprained. Lou shrugs it all off.

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Seriously, Lou. (source)

The gang gathers in Ariel’s room and tries to plot an escape. Red tells them that he heard Lou and Eva conspire to rob them and make it so they can’t leave, and that he found some photos in a drawer of a couple that isn’t Lou and Eva. Come to think of it, Eva doesn’t know the kitchen and Lou’s clothes don’t fit. So this must not be their house!!! Red says that he lied when he said the Jeep was still dead, he just wanted to wait for the right moment to get in it and leave. So they decide to wait Lou out. So after Lou goes to bed around midnight, they wait another hour to sneak out of the house with their things, Doug grabbing a gun. THey go into the barn, ready to go, but then are surprised by a strange man standing in the doorway in the dark. They assume it’s Lou, and Doug fires the gun, shooting him… BUt it’s not Lou!! It’s some random guy! Ski mask guy?? It’s at the very least the man in the photos Red showed them! Lou runs in and says that they just killed Eva’s brother JAKE?!?! Who must have been coming to save them in the storm?! They find a ski mask in Jake’s coat, so he was the guy looking in the window. Which makes NO sense, but everyone buys it. Lou tells them they have to help him hide the body in the basement.

While Lou is telling Eva that her brother is dead, Ariel feels like something is off. She goes into the basement to check out the body. She examines poor dead Jake, and notices that not only is there not a lot of blood, but the body is completely frozen even though he’s only been dead for a short while. Red interrupts her examination, and she says they need to find Doug and Shannon! They find their friends, and Ariel says that she thinks Jake was already dead when Doug shot him. If he’d been alive he would have bled a lot, which he didn’t. And his body wouldn’t be frozen solid yet! I like how brainy Ariel is! Red isn’t convinced, and thinks they should confront Lou. The others outvote him and opt to leave. They run outside, and Ariel tells Red that he doesn’t need the pistol he’s carrying… But he tells them that HE DOES. AND HE POINTS THE GUN AT THEM.

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Oh wow, the older guy macking on a teenage girl turns out to be a creep, I’m so shocked. (source)

Red takes them back to the porch and he and Lou tell them the whole scheme: Red was the one in the ski mask (the cover of this book is officially wrong then), the phones have worked the whole time, and not only are Eva and Jake siblings, Red is the THIRD sibling! Apparently Jake stole the inheritance from his siblings, and Lou killed him because of it. Eva, however, tells them that she never wanted this, and JUST CALLED THE COPS ON LOU! While Lou is processing this, Ariel hocks a snowball at him. He drops the gun and Doug tosses it (why he didn’t hold onto it is beyond me). The teens run back to the barn, but realize that Red has the keys to the Jeep! Ariel, always thinking, jumps on a snowmobile and just as Red and Lou are running in, she plows through them and towards the lake. She falls off the snowmobile and skids onto the ice. The guys catch up with her and grab her, but with the police sirens blaring they argue about how to proceed. Lou wants to give up, but Red wants to take her as a hostage. While they fight Ariel runs onto the ice, and Red follows her. But then the ice starts to crack, and Red falls through, as his sister screams on the banks (this is actually way sad). Ariel almost falls through, but Doug saves her. Lou gives himself up. Eva’s life is ruined.

A tow truck comes and is able to get Doug’s car out of the ditch, and it runs just fine now. They’re driving home and Ariel jokes that they should go on another ski weekend next weekend. Doug, as if predicting her bullshit joking in lieu of a trauma, pulls a snowball out of the glove compartment and smashes it in her face. The end.

Body Count: 2. Luke didn’t deserve that, but Red sure did!

Romance Rating: Gotta be 1. Domestic abuse, statutory make outs, attempted murder, and basketball being prioritized over a ski weekend. At least Doug seems to care about Shannon.

Bonkers Rating: 3. I’ll give some credit for the Red twist, but otherwise it’s pretty milquetoast.

Fear Street Relevance: 1! It has nothing to do with Fear Street besides Ariel living there, but she lives there off page! It probably should have been a standalone like “The Babysitter” or “The Snowman”.

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:

“I started to say something else – but stopped. Doug and I both cried out in surprise when we heard the snap of a gunshot right behind us!”

…. And it’s a mousetrap. PLEASE.

That’s So Dated! Moments: Well besides Red on the cover looking like David Hasselhoff (seriously, look at him), when Lou and Doug are having their awkward and stupid wrestling contest Lou keeps calling Doug ‘Hulkster’. As in Hulk friggin’ Hogan.

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(source)

Best Quote:

“Be a scientist, Ariel, I told myself. Examine the corpse… scientifically.”

Okay, Ariel’s determination to be STEM-y is kind of adorable.

SO, it doesn’t fit in on the “Fear Street” roster at all, but I remember that child me was totally blown away by the Red revelation. “Ski Weekend” is pretty okay, and at least it was memorable all these years later, unlike others I’ve read. Next up is “The Fire Game”!

 

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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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.

giphy1
(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”.