Rah Rah for RA!: Spooky Reads for Kids!

Occasionally we here at Library Ladies get an email asking for some Reader’s Advisory. Sometimes it’s a general ‘what should I read next?’, and sometimes it’s a specific genre or theme that the reader is asking for. We do our best to match the reader to some books that they may like based on the question they give us. 

Dear Library Ladies,

As a person who is occasionally asked for reading recommendations for kids/teens, I could use some advice. I’m not well versed in the scary/horror story genre, so I would like some suggestions for books for kids, middle grade, and teens. Since I can’t always interpret the scary-tolerance level of the people that ask, a range, or even a general guideline for people new to this genre, would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Sincerely,

“Person who definitely did not fast forward through the Oogie Boogie Man song as a kid”

Hi, Person!

Good on you trying to expand your literary repertoire! It’s always good to have a nice bag of tricks when it comes to all genres. Given that horror can run a huge gamut, we’ll give you some titles that could be for those who need tamer works, and those who want to be super scared.

Picture Books:

7552359Book: “Zen Ghosts” by John J Muth

While this picture book does talk about ghosts and spooky folklore to an extent, the imagery and the themes are so gentle and muted that it probably won’t be too scary for any reader. Muth’s books in this series star a panda who gives zen teachings to children, and even in this Halloween themed book he addresses the spirit of the season as well as more thoughtful and introspective things.

363973Book: “The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything” by Linda Williams

This is another Halloween themed story, but it can work year round as well. This brave little old lady is normally not afraid of anything, but then something follows her home. It’s a story that shows that even brave people can be scared sometimes, and that sometimes confronting your fears can be hard, but rewarding.

760205Book: “There’s A Nightmare in My Closet” by Mercer Mayer

What child hasn’t been afraid of things hiding under their bed or in their closet? This story is about a boy who ultimately confronts that monster in his closet, and finds out that it may not be as scary as he thought. The empowerment of the main character is a nice touch to a story that teaches the readers that sometimes what we are afraid of can’t really hurt us. And Mercer Mayer is always a joy, with fun and sweet characters.

Middle Grade:

267972Book: “Wait Til Helen Comes” by Mary Downing Hahn

Mary Downing Hahn is one of the high queens of children’s horror, and “Wait Til Helen Comes” is probably her most well known. When Michael and Molly’s mother marries Heather’s father, the blended family goes through immediate growing pains. Not only is Heather a manipulative brat, but she is constantly talking about her new friend Helen… who happens to be a ghost with not so nice intentions. This book is both creepy, and also addresses some real life issues involving family and siblings.

22859559Book: “The Jumbies” by Tracey Baptiste

This book brings Caribbean folklore to the forefront as it sends thrills and chills down readers spines. Corinne and her father are non believers when it comes to
Jumbies, Haitian folk creatures that lure people into the woods to eat them. But when
Corinne’s father falls under the mysterious spell of a strange woman named Severine, she needs to enlist the help of her friends and a witch in hopes of getting her father back! With diverse characters and a mythology that may be new to readers, “The Jumbies” is a fun, spooky read!

125581Series: “Goosebumps” by R.L. Stine

Well, of course. R.L. Stine’s classic book series for kids may have started in the 1990s, but it remains a favorite of children who love to be scared. While the levels of horror and themes vary from book to book, there are so many different monsters and creepy crawlies that most horror fans will find a couple that resonate with them (Kate still thinks about “The Werewolf of Fever Swamp” on occasion). True, the stories can be repetitive at times, but the familiarity can be a plus for those who want to read more and more with an author they are comfortable with.

Young Adult:

18748653Book: “Daughters Unto Devils” by Amy Lukavics

Starting this section off with a book for hardcore horror fans. The cover alone is jarring and upsetting! When Amanda Verner and her pioneer family move from their home in the mountains to an abandoned house on the prairie, weird things start happening. Amanda, with secrets of her own, starts to wonder if the demon she thinks saw that past winter has followed her… With claustrophobic settings and an undercurrent of paranoia, this book will keep the reader up at night jumping at any sounds outside the window.

19364719Book: “Slasher Girls and Monster Boys” by April Genevieve Tulchoke

For people who want multiple scary stories that can be read in one sitting, “Slasher Girls and Monster Boys” may be the book for them! this collection of horror short stories takes various pop culture influences to make all new takes of terror. From multiple authors in the YA horror genre, this collection has something fun and scary for everyone! The scary factor also varies from story to story, some being tame and weird, others being deeply disturbing.

25263927Book: “The Girl from The Well” by Rin Chupeco

Fans of “The Ring” and “The Grudge” will be familiar with the premise. Okiku, a Japanese vengeance ghost, traveled the world hunting down child killers and rapists, giving them a death they truly, truly deserve. But one day she stumbles upon a boy named Tarquin, an American teenager with intricate and strange tattoos. They aren't just ordinary tattoos. There is something creepy and sweet about an onryō actually helping others instead of straight up murdering them…

So there you have it!! A list of horror for kids of all ages and all levels of freak out tolerance. If anyone else has any recommendations, leave them in the comments!

 

 

A Revisit to Fear Street: “The Thrill Club”

176479Book: “The Thrill Club” (Fear Street 24) by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1994

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

Book Description: Thrills and chills…

Talia Blanton could scare you to death.

She writes horror stories—stories that often give her friends starring roles.

Everyone loves Talia’s terrifying tales—until they start to come true. One by one, Talia’s friends become Talia’s victims.

Is Talia making her stories come true? Or is someone trying to turn Talia’s real life into a horror story?

Had I Read This Before: No

The Plot: I first want to say that I did some poking around online while reading this book, and a couple sources (aka maybe reckless internet gossip) claim that “The Thrill Club” was written by a ghost writer and not R.L. Stine himself. And given some of the plot points of this story, I find that hilarious. So let’s begin.

Shandel Carter is walking home alone on Fear Street in the dead of night. She and her friend Nessa got into an argument, and so Shandel doesn’t have a ride to take her back to her house. The argument was about whether or not Nessa saw a ghost in the Fear Street cemetary: Nessa said yes, and Shandel said no way. But as she’s walking home, she starts hearing someone, or something calling her name. She runs and sees ghosts rising out of the cemetery, and has her throat cut by one of them…. But it turns out this is just a story, as told by Talia Blanton at their Thrill Club meeting. The Thrill Club is a group of friends who rip off “Are You Afraid Of The Dark” by getting together and telling scary stories. Talia’s tend to star her friends in the club: Seth, her boyfriend; Maura, Seth’s ex girlfriend (until Talia stole him away); Nessa, the kind one; Rudy, the cute one and Maura’s new boyfriend; and Shandel. Who isn’t pleased about being the victim in the story. Oh, and apparently Seth has been the one writing Talia’s stories as of late and she’s been passing them off as her own. She also is always thinking about how ugly Maura is. Talia isn’t terribly likeable, is she? Shandel asks that Talia not use her name in these gory stories anymore, and Maura implies that Talia is getting help from Seth with these stories, but Talia insists that’s not true, and demands that he lie for her. Which he kind of does. Shandel once again asks that Talia leave her name out of it, and in response Talia rushes across the room and stabs her in the chest with one of those fake retractable knife toys. Jesus Christ, this girl is a sociopath. Shandel, not pleased, says that she doesn’t get mad, she gets even.

The club breaks up for the night. Talia goes back to the rec room to find Maura and Seth talking closely, and Talia wonders why she isn’t jealous. Maybe it’s because Seth has been acting so strange since his father died three weeks earlier. Gee Talia, you’re sure right, why is acting so strange when his Dad died THREE WEEKS AGO? Rudy and Maura leave, and Talia and Seth are left alone. She wishes that he would smile more, and I officially kind of hate her. He confides in her that he found his father’s body, and that he was sitting in a chair, just staring ahead, a strange audiocassette playing on a loop. The coroner couldn’t figure out a cause of death either. And now he and his Mom and broke and may have to move away.  He takes Talia up to the study to show her something. Talia looks out the window, and sees Maura in the house next door! She demands what Maura is doing there, and Seth reminds her that she lives there. Doesn’t even know where her friend lives, this girl. ANYWAY, Seth reminds her that his dad was an anthropologist, and tells her that he was working with a ‘primitive tribe in New Guinea’ before he died. HO boy. I can already assure you this is not going to be at all culturally sensitive. He plays the tape for her, and a bunch of chanting starts up. Seth then falls into a weird trancelike state, and Talia’s head starts to pound. She begs that he turn it off, and shakes him out of his trance. On the way home Talia is feeling jumpy and finds herself walking by the Fear Street Cemetery. She suddenly hears pounding footsteps, and freaks out… but then it’s just Shandel playing a trick on her. I call that squarsies. They walk home together, and Shandel tells Talia that it was uncool that Talia broke Maura and Seth up. Talia says it wasn’t her fault, Seth asked HER out. She didn’t break them up! Sure. Shandel tells her that they aren’t a good couple, and Talia is super angry about that. Which is strange, because she knows that Shandel is right and always speaks her mind. So why is she so mad??

The next day Talia is still feeling weird. She goes to school, and wonders what she should do about Seth, stay with him or break up with him? He’s either too needy or too distant, and Talia doesn’t have time for that! In math class, her teacher Mr. Hanson pulls her aside and asks her about the previous day’s homework, and if it was actually her work. Which it isn’t, because Seth did it for her while she watched TV. But she tells him that yes, it’s totally her work, she’s NOT a cheater!

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Mr. Hanson takes her word for it. Talia wonders who could have ratted her out, and thinks that it must be Shandel.

That night at Thrill Club Nessa is pissed because everyone but Rudy is late! Which is odd because Shandel had spoken to her a half hour before telling her how excited she was for the meeting and that she had a secret to tell her. Maura shows up next, and says that maybe Talia is late because the story Seth wrote for her got lost in a disk crash, and Rudy chides her. Maura asks whose side he’s on anyway, and Nessa, being the smartest dummy in this whole group, continues to do her nails and pretend she isn’t there. I am imaging her as Portia from “Search Party” now. Then Seth shows up, and asks where Talia and Shandel are. Nessa decides to call Shandel because she’s sick of waiting, and Talia runs down the basement steps, out of breath and looking harried. Nessa asks where she was, and Talia doesn’t know…. It’s odd, because she left her house twenty minutes ago and it’s only a ten minute walk from her house, so why can’t she remember where the time went? She gives her sweatshirt to Nessa, who’s going to put it with the other coats, and doesn’t remember taking it off. Then Nessa has bad news: she called Shandel’s house, and her mom said that Shandel left a half hour ago, but it’s only a short walk to Nessa’s house! They decide to go looking for her, and Talia gets her sweatshirt back…. and Maura points out a bloodstain on it. Talia has no clue how it got there. They go looking for Shandel, and drive all the way to her house without seeing her. They wonder if she tried to cut through the cemetery. As they are driving, Maura sees something, and they stop the car. They find Shandel’s body strewn in the grass, and her throat has been cut. Just like in the horror story.

Seth drives Talia home from the police station after they are done with the questioning. She is feeling bad about the story he wrote, but he tells her not to blame herself. They make out a bit, and then he stops abruptly and says he has to go. She goes into her house, and goes to change into her nightgown… and finds a bloody knife in her dresser drawer! She keeps this info to herself until the day of Shandel’s funeral, where she tells Seth. She has no clue how the knife got in her drawer, and thinks she is being set up. The Thrill Club meets after the service to mourn and talk. Maura asks Talia about the bloody shirt, pretty clearly accusing her of murdering Shandel. Talia says that it wasn’t even blood, it was ketchup.

A few nights later Talia is waiting for Seth to call, as they are supposed to be going to the movies. He doesn’t make contact, however, so she calls him instead. He tells her that his mother is sick and he can’t see her that night after all, so Talia decides to try and write instead. But before she can start, there’s a knocking at the door. She answers, and it’s the police, asking her why she called Shandel Carter’s mother and confessed to murdering Shandel?

After denying this, at school the next week everyone is looking at her like she’s a murderer. Nessa tries to be supportive, but Maura is flat out convinced that Talia is a killer. She’s feeling out of sorts and exhausted, and walks towards the gym. She runs into Rudy inside, who says that he’s been thinking about her and promises he doesn’t think she killed Shandel. Talia, angry at Seth and feeling the slightest crumb of validation, kisses Rudy! Who kisses her back!! But then they hear the door clatter, and they turn to see someone running away. Who saw them???? They try to catch the person, but don’t. But it was just one kiss, so who cares, right?

Later that week, Talia is still not really eating. She gets to school and sees Nessa flirting with someone. THat someone turns out to be Seth! When she confronts them angrily (seems a bit hypocritical), Nessa says that Talia called her last night and told her that she was breaking up with Seth!! Talia says that she never called Nessa, but Nessa swears she isn’t lying either. Seth says he doesn’t know what to believe. That night she is home alone, and answers the door to find a HORRIBLY DISFIGURED FACE IN THE DOORWAY… But it’s just Seth in a mask, one that his father brought back from Papua New Guinea. He describes his father as a collector, but we all know he probably actually stole these artifacts in the name of science and imperialism. She says that she thought he was going to break up with her, but he assures her that no, he isn’t. They decide to have a nice talk to catch up, and she tells him that she got accepted to Berkeley in the fall!! Seth is visibly bummed by this (maybe he wrote her essay too), but then shows her that he has a new horror story that he wrote for her. This one involves Rudy getting strung up in a noose in his basement. Talia is torn, because on one had she loves the story, but on the other that seems ghoulish creepy to write another story about a friend after Shandel died like the last one. Especially since they think she killed Shandel. Seth convinces her that it’s okay, and that if he did change the name she’d look more suspicious.

At school Talia confirms with Rudy that she is indeed going to the Thrill Club meeting at his house. He is happy to hear it, and tells her to arrive at six. When she’s walking home, Talia is stopped by Maura, who tells her that she’s worried about Seth. Maura can see into his window at night and he spends most nights pacing around and looking through his father’s things. Instead of thinking about what this could mean for Seth’s well being, Talia goes in on Maura, accusing her of being jealous.

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Maura, probably. But definitely my thoughts as well. (source)

Maura suggests that maybe Thrill Club should take a break, but Talia says no, and she’s going to Rudy’s early to help him set up, fully hoping to make her jealous. God she’s such a jerk.

Nessa arrives to Thrill Club at Rudy’s and finds Maura and Seth on the porch. Rudy hasn’t let them in yet, and no one has seen Talia. They let themselves into the open house and go down to the basement. It’s there that they find Rudy hanging from a noose, dead. Nessa, possibly having a mental break, starts to laugh hysterically thinking it’s a joke, but it becomes quite clear it isn’t. Then Talia stumbles out of the shadows with rope burns all over her hands. SO, she’s sent to a mental ward. Seth comes to visit her, and she tells him that her court date is in three weeks but she’s been released into her parents custody and is going home. Though she can’t remember killing them, she concedes that she must have, given the knife in her drawer and the rope burns on her hands. Seth leaves, seeming to have finally turned his back on her, and as she watches him out the window she sees him walk back to his car, where Maura is waiting!!! Did Maura frame her for the murders all to get Seth back?!

Before leaving she hallucinates that Shandel and Rudy have come to kill her but it’s just two other patients and it’s all so superfluous. Maybe the ghost writer had a minimum word count to hit.

Anyway, Seth reads her a new story for Thrill Club that night in which she has taken Shandel and Rudy’s heads as trophies and wants to take his head too. Talia draws the line, saying this is SO distasteful, and Seth leaves her in his father’s study to answer the door. When Nessa and Maura come in, Seth shoots down the idea of the Thrill Club disbanding. He also tells Talia that she absolutely must read the new story she wrote, because it’s so good. Talia, feeling trapped, decides to read it, but try to change the ending on the fly so that instead of Rudy and Shantel’s heads it’s two shrunken heads. But as she’s reading it, she notices two things. The first is that Seth isn’t even listening, but has his Walkman on. The second is that there’s a horrible buzzing in her head, and she can’t make herself change the story, no matter how she tries. So she reads it in its original form, and Nessa and Maura are pissed. But soon a voice is drowning out the buzzing, and it tells Talia to TAKE ANOTHER TROPHY!!! And so she pulls out a HACKSAW and starts to attack Maura!!! She scuffles with both Maura and Nessa, against her will, and the voice keeps telling her to try and kill them. When Maura and Nessa overpower her, the voice says that it will take care of this, and Talia suddenly wakes up from her trance, not remembering what just happened. Maura says that they should call the police, but Seth takes the phone from Nessa and tells them that NO ONE ESCAPES!!!! It was Seth the whole time! You see, the tape that his father had wasn’t just any racist imperial bastardization of a non Western culture: it’s a ‘transfer’ tape. In that if you chant these words, the person will ‘transfer’ their consciousness into another body. Convinced that his father did this to get away from him and his mother, Seth started putting his consciousness into Talia’s body. He knew that she wanted to dump him for Rudy and leave her like his father did, and that she used him and abused him and was going to drop him anyway. He didn’t mean to kill Shandel, as he thought the knife was fake, but Rudy was totally on purpose because he’s the one who saw them kissing. And now he has a new chanting that’s going to kill all of them, somehow….. but then in mid chant, he just says ‘too late, too late’, and he buckles. The girls catch up, and they realize that he’s dead. How? I guess it doesn’t matter.

We end with Talia and Maura hanging out. Talia tells her the charges against her have been dropped, and they say they both miss Seth from before he went totally crazy. They agree to call Nessa and get together soon, and Talia says that she may write another horror story. When Maura asks if that’s a good idea, Talia says “Don’t worry, I’ll make sure this one has a HAPPY ending!” The End.

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Body Count: 3. Gotta say death by racist interpretation of another culture’s ceremony is a new one.

Romance Rating: 2. Maura and Rudy seemed to be happyish, but with Seth trying to kill Talia and everyone else it just takes the romance out of it. Also, so much cheating.

Bonkers Rating: 7. Again, racist interpretation of Papua New Guinea culture being a huge part of this was admittedly out there, but damn was I not comfortable with it. That said, the super meta-ness of a ghostwritten book being about a ghostwriter who tries to kill the writer he’s writing for is GENIUS.

Fear Street Relevance: 6. A lot of the action takes place on Fear Street, but given that the origin of the conflict wasn’t we lose some points.

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:

“‘Talia….’ it croaked. ‘Talia…’

‘No!’ she screamed. ‘No-don’t! Please!'”

… And it was Seth in a mask. And once again it was a racist jab at Papua New Guinea.

That’s So Dated! Moments: To be honest, not much really stood out to me beyond the talk of floppy disks. But just look at the cover! Specifically at who I assume is Shandel based on character descriptions. She is completely serving us Hilary Banks from “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air”.

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Aka my favorite character on the show. (source)

Best Quote:

As they start to name alphabetical faults of Talia:

“‘Let’s see’ [Shandel] said, playfully scratching her chin. ‘Why don’t we start with A. I think annoying begins with an A.’

‘Hey, she can spell,’ Talia replied sarcastically.

‘I can think of one that starts with B,’ Maura added with a snicker.”

Damn, Maura!! You aren’t wrong!

Conclusion: “The Thrill Club” had the distinct disadvantage of having to follow up “Double Date” and it really faltered because of that. It’s not very interesting and problematic as fuck, but it is bathing in potentially inadvertent meta goodness, so it’s kind of a toss up on whether it’s worth it or not. You decide.

A Revisit to Fear Street: “Double Date”

89809Book: “Double Date” (Fear Street #23) by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1994

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

Book Description: No girl in her right mind would say no to a date with Bobby Newkirk. Not with those great looks, that easy charm, and the awesome way he plays the guitar. Of course, some people think he’s just a bit conceited. But when it comes to breaking hearts, that hasn’t slowed Bobby down one bit.

At least, not until the beautiful Wade twins move to Shadyside. And Bobby brags to his friends that they’ll both fall for him.

And they do. Too bad for Bobby the twins never learned to share. One of them is jealous, murderously jealous. Is it quiet, shy Bree? Or bold, sexy Samantha? Bobby had better figure it out…or his double fun will turn to double terror.

Had I Read It Before: No.

The Plot: BUCKLE UP FOLKS. THIS IS THE LONGEST ONE YET!! So for this book we meet Bobby Newkirk, a festering shithead of a protagonist. Bobby likes to date girls as long as they entertain him, then he will toss them aside like a wadded up tissue and never look back. When we meet him he’s pressing a skinny redhead named Ronnie up against her locker, kissing her and teasing her. She treats him like a rapscallion up for some fun, but I think he’s sketch as hell right out the gate. He muses in his head about how she’s not the prettiest girl he’s been with, but she’s the last cheerleader on the cheer squad that he has yet to hook up with. As the go their separate ways, her to cheer practice and him to his garage band practice, he says that maybe he’ll call her, but it’s pretty clear he probably won’t. He runs into his acquaintances Markie and Jerry, and confirms that he dumped Cari Taylor, and ribs Jerry for having to work at McDonalds. Bobby wouldn’t know about that, because he’s rich. Oh great, more North Hills jerks. Then, ANOTHER cheerleader Kimmy Bass turns the corner and yells at him for standing her up the night before. He tells her he only did it because he got a better offer. Piece of work, this Bobby. Kimmy rightfully storms away. We then meet Bobby’s bandmates as he saunters into practice, late. There’s Arnie, the drummer, Paul, the keyboardist, and Bobby, the lead guitar. Apparently their band is called Bad to the Bone. After some gross chit chat about the girls that Bobby uses and tosses aside, Paul (the only one who is actually committed to the band and the only one concerned about their gig that Friday) makes an off the cuff remark about how surprised he his that Bobby didn’t try to date them both at the same time.

AND THAT is where the Wade Twins enter, Bree and Samantha. They just moved to Shadyside the previous year, and they are the most beautiful girls in school. They are looking for a teacher, but the guys tell them that he’s not there, so they go on their way. Bobby and Arnie make some objectifying remarks, and then Bobby decides that he is going to ask both of them out! Paul thinks that it can’t be done, but Bobby is totally willing to try. After practice wraps up, Melanie comes looking for Arnie. Melanie is Arnie’s girlfriend, but she used to date Bobby, but Bobby dumped her, natch. And he thinks that if she lost some weight he’d probably ask her out again. THIS. FUCKING. GUY. They then hear the Wade Twins in the hallway, and Bobby heads off to chat them up. Melanie tells him not to do it (at some point Arnie told her and we didn’t notice), but he blows her warning off. He goes in the hall and meets with Bree, who is quiet and demure. After chatting a bit, he asks her to come to the band’s show at the Mill that Friday night. She accepts, and Bobby thinks that’s one down.

Arnie stops by Bobby’s place after dinner and congratulates him on his skeezery, calling him “The Man” at Bobby’s behest. Bobby decides to take that moment to call Samantha and ask her out for Saturday. Samantha answers, and Bobby starts chatting HER up. Samantha says that she and Bree were just talking about him, and is suspicious when he says he wants to talk to her. He asks her out for Saturday night, and she reminds him that he had just asked Bree out for Friday, and then asks if it’s a dare or something. He says no, he’s just been thinking about her a lot, and thought that she’d like to go out with him too. She asks why he thinks she’d do that to Bree, and he says it’s because she’s just dying to go out with him. She calls him conceited, but accepts the date. He says that it has to be their secret, and she agrees. They hang up, and Bobby whoops and hollers with Arnie about how scummy this all is. Bobby is sure Samantha won’t tell because she’s so outgoing and cool. Arnie wonders why Melanie was so against this that she warned him about the Wade Twins, but Bobby doesn’t care.

Bree goes to Bobby’s show at The Mill, and Bobby hot dogs on stage and struts like he’s Mick Fucking Jagger or something. After the set he meets up with Bree on the dance floor and they dance around, but then Bree says she would like to go somewhere quieter. As they’re leaving they run into Paul, who chastises Bobby for taking the attention away from the rest of the band, but Bobby don’t care. He looks back at the dance floor and thinks that Melanie sure looks fat as she dances with Arnie. Christ. He and Bree go driving around Shadyside, and he talks mostly about himself since Bree is so quiet. He even talks about a science experiment he’s doing with two honest to goodness monkeys that his uncle, who imports animals to zoos. Oh, okay. Because it’s totally ethical to give your dumbshit nephew two monkeys he can do a diet experiment on. Anyway, he drives her home and they kiss for awhile. Bree asks him if he wants to hang out again the next night, but NO CAN DO, as he has a hot date with Samantha. He makes an excuse and they say their goodbyes with more kissing.

The next day Bobby meets Samantha at the Mall. When they walk up to each other she pretends that she sees Bree, giving him a jolt, but HA, just kidding! Samantha flip flops between thinking it’s cool that they’re sneaking around, to feeling weird about it, but she also doesn’t beat around the bush and tells him she’s heard of his whorish ways. They go into the Gold Barn, and Samantha starts trying on earrings willy nilly. The clerk asks that she not do that anymore, and she politely agrees. She then asks Bobby if he likes excitement….. and bolts for the door with the earrings in her ears! Bobby is shocked that she’s shoplifting, and then before they know it they’re being chased through the mall by the clerk! They manage to lose their pursuers, and have a moment where a security guard approaches them, but only because they were running. So they get away with it, scott free. ‘Okay, kind of weird, but also sexy,’ were no doubt the thoughts going through Bobby’s mind. As they get to his car Samantha says that she wants to drive, and she drives his car like a speed demon up to River Ridge, Shadyside’s make out point. They start kissing, and Samantha asks if he likes her better than Bree. He says sure he does. She tells him that there’s a way to tell them apart, but she’ll show him later, but then goes on to say to be careful with Bree because she’s ‘fragile’.

Some time later Bobby is heading to band practice. But before that, he detours to harass Kimmy some more, pulling her hair and asking what she’s doing on Saturday, only to tell her to take a bath. He runs into Arnie and Melanie in the bandroom (Paul is there too but pissed, apparently is thinking of quitting the band because Bobby is such a fuck), and Melanie asks if he’s still trying to juggle the Wade Twins. He brags about how Samantha was over for a study date and Bree showed up, but Samantha snuck out back, and how he has them both crazy for him. Melanie asks him what if Bree finds out and it causes a rift between sisters, but Bobby says that that’s just how it is. That night in his room, he gets a strange phone call, someone saying that two’s company, three’s a crowd, and that he’ll pay. It freaks him out for a bit, because who could do this? Turns out, though, it is just Arnie messing with him and telling him that Melanie is mad. Bobby implies that she’s still hung up on him, but hangs up when the doorbell rings. It’s Bree! She walks into the house, and he thinks that maybe he’s busted. Bree says that Samantha is seeing someone, but she won’t tell her who and it’s upsetting her. Bobby assures her that he’ll ask around, and kisses her goodbye, then struts around the house totally pleased that he’s manipulating her so perfectly. Then SAMANTHA calls him and tells him Bree is on the way, and that she suspects something. He assures her that he pulled it off, and she says that he needs to dump her right away because she’s sick of sharing him, and because if Bree finds out there’s not telling what she’ll do. Bobby isn’t ready to break it off yet.

On their usual date to the mall, Samantha insists on driving Bobby’s car. She drives like a lunatic, swerving into traffic and out of it and Bobby is convinced that they are going to die a fiery death. They get to the mall though, and she confides she doesn’t even have her license.

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Said no one ever. (source)

Over a slice at Pete’s Pizza, she asks him if he broke up with Bree while at Suki Thomas’s party the night before (YEAH SUKI MY GIRL!!!). He doesn’t really answer the question, but she seems satisfied when he assures her that she’s more fun than Bree. Eventually they make their way to the jewelry store again, and this time she dares Bobby to steal a charm bracelet. When she calls him a wimp, he says that he absolutely is not a wimp and lifts the case…. only for ALL the alarms to go off. But they make a clean getaway again, and Samantha accepts the bracelet for herself. Their merriment is short lived, however, as they are soon face to face with Bree!!! And Samantha looks absolutely terrified of her. Bobby says that they were just talking about her, and Samantha makes up some excuse about shopping and running into Bobby. Bree seems mollified, and both girls run off together, leaving Bobby in the lurch. Which irks him. But he’s still intrigued by them, and is convinced that he deserves a trophy for having them ‘both at once’. When he gets to his car in the parking lot, he finds that someone slashed some of his tires. EAT IT, CREEP. By coincidence (but Bobby doesn’t think so!), Melanie drives by, and offers to give him a lift. He’s certain that she has to be the one who did this because she’s jealous.

On the way to band practice that week, Bobby has decided that there’s no way that Melanie did it. For one, she does seem happy with Arnie, but for more importantly, there’s no way that a girl could slash his tires! On the way to band practice, he tries to catch up with Bree, but lost her as she went to chorus practice. Instead he finds Samantha, who pulls him into the science room. They kiss a bit, and she shows him the way to tell her and Bree apart: a blue butterfly tattoo on her shoulder. She then demands that he drop Bree because he doesn’t know her like she does. And boy is she adamant. She then shows him her science project: cannibal ants from New Zealand!!!

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Yes, because NEW ZEALAND, the country of kiwis and sheep, would TOTALLY have those. (source)

At their rock show some times later, Bobby is being his usual boorish self, hot dogging and blocking Paul as he performs. But then, when he strums his guitar, he is suddenly bowled over by and electric shock! When he comes to, he is told that his amp wire was cut. He sees both Melanie and Kimmy looking down at him, concerned. He starts to wonder if someone is trying to kill him. WHen he gets home he calls Samantha, asking her if Bree could have done this. Samantha says she doesn’t think so, but then, she could be capable of ANYTHING. Sadly for Bobby, he turns around and sees Bree in his doorway. He hangs up and she says that she was SO SCARED. He hugs her, but wonders if she’s being sincere…

Bobby meets Arnie for lunch at a diner, and tells him that he wants to quit the band. He’s convinced that someone is trying to kill him, but Arnie says there wasn’t enough power in the amp to do that. Soon Melanie meets them, and Arnie goes to check in with his parents. Melanie asks Bobby if he’s okay, and says that maybe this is a sign that he needs to stop dating the Wade Twins. He asks her what SHE knows about it, and accuses her of being jealous and wanting him back. He then nuzzles up against her because YUCK! She assures him that no, she’s quite happy with Arnie, and shoves him off. Bobby storms off. He eventually meets Samantha a few blocks from her house, and they go driving together. She tells him that Bree is out with their mother. He asks her if Bree has said anything to him about his guitar, and she gets defensive, saying no, and that they don’t talk much anymore. The arm of her shirt falls to the side, and Bobby notices that there isn’t a butterfly tattoo there… THIS ISN’T SAMANTHA!!! He asks where her tattoo is, but she doesn’t hear him over the music. He pulls over and he asks if she’s Bree. She gets defensive, and says that he KNOWS Bree doesn’t know so how could she be? He asks abotu the tattoo on her shoulder, and she says that she doesn’t HAVE a tattoo. She then demands that he take her home because she’s upset him. He complies.

The next day at school he approaches both twins, but they blow him off. He goes to his locker, but sees a note on it that says ‘THIS IS YOU INSIDE’. He opens his locker, and sees the severed head of one of this monkeys!! He pukes his guts out, and Arnie comes to see what’s going on. He looks in the locker, and shows Bobby the monkey head is fake. But someone is definitely messing with him. Bobby is getting really scared now.

Before his date with Bree that weekend, Samantha demanded that he take her out somewhere so they could talk. She says that she asked him to dump Bree weeks ago, and now it may be too late. She is tired of waiting, and demands that they kill Bree together. Bobby is shocked, but she insists that they do this because she wants him all to herself. He says he will to placate her… but then he notices that there is a butterfly tattoo on her shoulder!!!! He asks her where it went in the car, and she has no idea what he’s talking about. She then tells him she wants to take him to a ‘special place’. While she drives he starts to wonder if maybe SAMANTHA is behind all of this! She drives them to an isolated cabin, She says that they can do the deed here, it’s her family cabin, and no one will ever know. Bobby decides that he has to warn Bree.

He calls Bree when he gets home, and says they have to get together right away. She says he has to wait until their official date because she’s busy, and hangs up. He waits until their date, and drives her away from her house, intending to tell her what Samantha plans to do. When he does, Bree has her own confession: she and Samantha aren’t twins. There is a triplet named Jennilynn who was sent away because of her violent tendencies towards the other two. She was so jealous of Bree and Samantha that she locked them in their room and set the house on fire. Luckily their father got home in time to save them, and they got Jennilynn therapy and sent her to live with relatives. She thinks it must be Jennilynn who wanted her dead, because she’s jealous that Bree has a boyfriend. She tells him that the way to tell it’s Jennilynn is the BLUE BUTTERFLY TATTOO ON HER SHOULDER!!!!!

Well after Bobby drops her off, he goes to tell Arnie about this (even though he promised not to tell anyone). Melanie happens to be there too, and Bobby tells them both, and demands if Melanie knew since she’s known the Wade Twins so long. She says that she ‘can’t say’ because she promised, and she and Arnie got to the movies. Bobby decides to dump both twins because he never bargained for a crazy triplet. The next day he meets with Samantha, who asks him why her sister was so upset when he dropped her off. He says that she told him about Jennilynn… And then Samantha says that THERE IS NO JENNILYNN, this is a sign that Bree is REALLY OFF HER ROCKER. She says that she has to go home and tell her parents…. He soon asks where her tattoo is. She tells him that she has no tattoo, and he says that she showed it to him in the science lab. She says that never happened and he needs to get a grip.

That night Bobby is at home when his phone rings. The caller identifies herself as Jennilynn, and demands to know why he was meeting with Bree at the Mall! He says it was Samantha, not Bree, and she says that she knows her own sister, and when are they going to KILL HER?

SO THE NEXT DAY he still hasn’t called Samantha or Bree or WHOEVER to ask about this, and Samantha drives up to his house in her convertible. He knows it’s her because she’s dressed very boldly. He gets in the car with her, and says that Jennilynn called him. She says that it HAS to be Bree because Jennilynn isn’t real. She says they’ll talk more when they get to the cabin. He then realizes that her shoulder HAS A TATTOO. He points this out, she says duh, he says that she didn’t have it at the mall yesterday, and she says she wasn’t at the mall yesterday, what is his problem? He asks if she’s always had it, and she says she showed him in the science lab!

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(source)

They get to the cabin and she says that she has Bree’s murder all planned out. They get out of the car, and she hits HIM over the head with a bottle.

When Bobby wakes up, he realizes he’s tied to a chair, stripped to his tee shirt and boxers. He sees Samantha by a roaring fire in the fireplace, and she says that she’s Jennilynn. He says there IS no Jennilyn, and she freaks. OF COURSE THEY SAID SHE WASN’T REAL!! But she’s the one with the tattoo, and she was the one in the science lab! He begs that she let him go, and she says that her sisters can’t be happy, so they both have to lose him. She then dumps a jar of honey on his head, and THAT is when he sees the New Zealand Cannibal Ants. I AM SCREAMING, this is amazing. She takes their container’s lid off, and the ants storm forth, crawling all over him and starting to bite. She tells him to scream, because no one will hear him. She leaves him behind to his apparent doom. He freaks and falls over as the ants crawl all over him, but the tie comes loose due to the honey, and he’s able to get free. He runs out of the house, only to see headlights. He thinks that it might be Jennilynn, but no… It’s Melanie! He tells her what happened and she tells him to get in, they’ll go get help. She says that she wasn’t looking for him, though, she was trying to help Samantha and Bree, as someone stole their convertible and they thought it was Jessilynn. She admits that she knew the whole time, and he says they have to warn them. So they drive to their house….

WELL, when they arrive, he bursts into the house to warn them…. And sees that Bree, Samantha, Kimmy, Ronnie, and a few other girls are there. Mr Wade asks who he is and what he’s doing there. Bobby says that Jennilynn kidnapped him…. To which Mr. Wade says ‘who?’ He then says that his triplet daughter kidnapped him. Mr. Wade says there is no third sister. BUT THE CANNIBAL ANTS. “There is no such thing as cannibal ants.” Also, they don’t own a cabin. Bobby turns to Melanie for confirmation, and she says she has no idea what he’s talking about. BUT THE ONE WITH THE TATTOO-, to which Mr. Wade says they BETTER NOT HAVE TATTOOS. And they don’t. Mr Wade tells Bobby to go home and leaves to get the phone. Bobby says that the Twins did this to him, and they both say they have NO IDEA what he’s talking about they’ve just been with their friends all night. And then Melanie says that they were all in on this together because he’s a misogynistic pig who thinks he can just treat girls like crap. Humiliated, Bobby runs out.

At school that week Bobby is alone, his band has broken up, and he’s confronted by Bree and Samantha who give him a note that says “Twin sisters don’t have secrets. We both knew everything from the very start.” They wave and leave, and inside the envelope Bobby finds a temporary tattoo of a blue butterfly. THE END.

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(source)

Body Count: Zilch, and I’m not angry about it because this story was baller.

Romance Rating: 1, because Bobby is a serious douche canoe. But again, that’s just fine given how this all shook out. Maybe I’ll up the ante to a 2 because Melanie and Arnie are happy enough.

Bonkers Rating: 8. I say this because these girls went to crazy lengths to teach this misogynistic creep a lesson, like shop lifting, breaking and entering, and probably what one could call assault.

Fear Street Relevance: 4. The Wade Twins live on Fear Street, and there’s some action in the Fear Woods, but altogether it could have been anywhere. Not as bad as books that take place outside of Shadyside, though.

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:

“Cut off just below the chin, the monkey head rested in a dark puddle of blood. Its tiny black eyes stared up lifelessly at Bobby. Its mouth frozen open in a silent cry of terror and pain.”

… And it’s just a plastic monkey head meant to freak Bobby out. I’m relieved, but how stupid.

That’s So Dated! Moments: Bobby named his test monkeys Wayne and Garth a la “Wayne’s World”, which is the second “Wayne’s World” reference in these books, so maybe Stine really likes this movie? Also their cover band plays a lot of songs from the 1950s, and I can’t imagine teens of today reaching THAT far back for retro points in the 2010s….

Best Quote:

“‘I warned you,’ she said in a low voice. ‘This is what you get for the way you treated Bree and Samantha, and for the way you treated all of us. You’re not Bobby the Man. You’re Bobby the Total Pig!'”

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(source)

Conclusion: It was unexpected and kind of refreshing in a lot of ways, so I really have to give “Double Date” the props that it deserves. It shows that Stine was a bit more willing to think outside the box when it came to these books and not necessarily stick to a formula, and I LOVED how it all shook out. 

Kate’s Review: “Outcast (Vol.4): Under Devil’s Wing”

31808199Book: “Outcast (Vol.4): Under Devil’s Wing” by Robert Kirkman & Paul Azaceta (Ill.)

Publishing Info: Image Comics, Februaru 2017

Where Did I Get This Book: The library!

Book Description: Answers are given and secrets are revealed as Kyle Barnes and Sidney have a conversation that will change EVERYTHING. Kyle has never been in more danger. 
THE WALKING DEAD creator ROBERT KIRKMAN’S latest horror hit is now a Cinemax TV show. Collects OUTCAST BY KIRKMAN & AZACETA #19-24.

Review: It’s been awhile since I picked up the “Outcast” series. Almost exactly a year, as a matter of fact, and though it was awhile from the past volume I had high hopes that I would easily fall back into it. Especially since I had overall really quite enjoyed the previous collections, and like the variety and creativity that Kirkman has brought to what could have been a typical possession story. So after reminding myself where we left off in the last volume, I came back to Kyle, Anderson, and Sidney ready for more. But unfortunately, the bloom has kind of come off the rose for me when it comes to “Outcast”.

I am fully willing to admit that perhaps I let too much time pass between readings. A year is a very long time to leave a storyline hanging, especially one that moves at a slow and meticulous pace such as this one. But as I was reading through with the promise of ‘answers given’ and ‘secrets revealed’, I felt like I was once again just kind of waiting for an explanation that didn’t really come to fruition. One of the biggest complaints that people seem to have with this comic is the steadily parsed out pace that it takes, and up until now that hadn’t really bothered me. But I think that when it does move slow like this, you really do need to start giving people more to keep coming back for, be it answers, or explanations. We’re getting a lot more questions thrown at us instead. And implications of a conspiracy that seems to be far more in depth than we as readers could have ever imagined, but I was more frustrated by this revelation than compelled by it.

I will say that I did enjoy getting background on Sidney, our resident ‘demon’ and main antagonist. By getting this background, we did get a little insight into who these possessions can affect their hosts, sometimes in more positive ways than we may think. Sidney is by no means a good person, but we find out that before he started housing his ‘companion’ he was leading a very violent and destructive life. Once he was ‘possessed’ (if one can even call it that. We’re definitely moving away from Biblical thoughts of demonic possession), some of those more violent urges were, according to him, quelled. It definitely twists the thought that demonic possessions can only make a person worse; and it definitely makes the readers start to wonder just what is going on, and what kind of role ‘outcasts’ play in this world. There is a particular scene between him and Anderson that might be a hint as to what exactly Kyle is dealing with here, but it’s still wrapped in vagueness and secrecy.

The other significant storyline in this was that now Amber, Kyle’s daughter, may be in some sort of danger from the group that Sidney has formed. Now that we are past the ‘Kyle tried to kill her’ storyline, as Allison knows the truth of all that, I’m hoping that we’ll get a bit more from Kyle’s daughter, and that perhaps there are some shared abilities between him and her. I still contend that this series needs to give the women a bit more to do, so if we could give Amber and Allison more than just be held on a pedestal for Kyle to worry about, that would be great.

Also, not enough Megan and Mark. I wanted more than just a few pages of them, as I sitll find them to be some of the more compelling characters in this series.

My plan for “Outcast” going forward is to pick up the next volume ASAP and see if it can jumpstart my interest. As of now, I could see myself letting it fall to the wayside again because of how slow it continues to move, but my hope is that given where some things ended up in this volume, the next one will have some major moments in it.

Rating 5: I feel like my interest in this series is waning. We are still being tantalized with the promise of explanations, and yet have little to show for it. While it was cool seeing a Sidney centered arc, I’m losing patience in how slow this slow burn is.

Reader’s Advisory:

“Outcast (Vol.4): Under Devil’s Wing” is not on many relevant Goodreads lists, but I think that it would fit in on “Angels and Demons”, and “Cancel Your Plans… Hellz a Poppin’!”

Find “Outcast (Vol.4): Under Devil’s Wing” at your library using WorldCat!

Previously Reviewed:

 

A Revisit to Fear Street: “Bad Dreams”

89801Book: “Bad Dreams (Fear Street #22)” by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1994

Where Did I Get This Book: The library!

Book Description: Every night Maggie Travers has the same horrible dream. Every night she is forced to watch the same murder. And every night the girl in her dream cries out for help. Maggie is afraid to go to sleep again. But when the terrifying dream starts to come true and the gruesome accidents begin, staying awake is the real nightmare!

Had I Read It Before: No.

The Plot: We open with a girl having a bad dream in her house on Fear Street. She awakens and realizes that it was only a nightmare…. Until she notices someone in the corner of her room who attacks her with a knife! The girl protests ‘but you’re my SISTER!’, and then it’s lights out for her.

So then we meet the Travers family, moving to Fear Street from their posh home in North Hills. Maggie is the oldest, and she’s beautiful, clever, and a great athlete. Andrea is the youngest, and she’s.. less so. They’ve gotten lost on the way to their new home. Andrea says that it’s Maggie’s fault since she’s the navigator, but Maggie says if they hadn’t stopped for Andrea’s bladder they could have followed the moving truck. Mrs. Travers just wants peace and quiet. Turns out they fight so much, they were even fighting the day that their father stroked out and died, POSSIBLY because he was yelling at them to stop fighting. Unlikely, but it’s implied. They get to their new house, and Andrea lets their dog Gus out of the car, who goes rushing down the street. Mom tells her to go get him, but Andrea says that since he’s Maggie’s dog, SHE should do it. Oh this girl is going to be fun. Gus is nearly hit by a car, but isn’t and Maggie is pissed AF at her little sister. Rightfully so, I say. They go into the house, and the girls go to the rooms they called dibs on the previous visit. Maggie walks into her room and sees that the previous owners have left behind a BEAUTIFUL wooden canopy bed, with carvings and pink dressings. Andrea sees it next, and then has the AUDACITY to ask Maggie if she can have it. Maggie reminds her that she got the bigger room, so Maggie is keeping the bed. Andrea starts to temper tantrum, and Mrs Travers says that Maggie gets to keep it. When Andrea whines more, Mrs. Travers gets sad because her family is clearly a wreck.

They go out to dinner that night and Maggie vows to try to keep the family together in spite of her rotten sister. When they get home, Maggie’s new boyfriend Justin calls, and he arranges to come over the next day to see the house. Then Dawn a member of the swim team at school that Maggie and Andrea are on calls. Dawn USED to go out with Justin, but not anymore. Dawn says she missed them at practice, but then asks if Maggie is ready to lose the swimming race the next day. But given that Stine never did care THAT much for the Bechdel test between two girls who could be fighting over a boy, they start talking about Justin. Andrea is jealous of her sister’s seemless popularity. Later that night Andrea is hogging the bathroom and Maggie is getting mad, but doesn’t start a fight. Instead, she gets ready and goes straight to bed. Then she has a bad dream, involving a sleeping mystery girl and a swirling cold mist. She wakes up screaming, and Mrs. Travers and Andrea run in. Maggie tells them about the dream, and Andrea guesses it’s about Dawn, since they were on the phone and both the girl and Dawn have blonde hair. Maggie isn’t totally convinced, but accepts it for the evening.

The next morning Maggie wakes up far later than she wanted (as swim tryouts for State are the next day and she needs to practice!), so she straightens up her room and decides to wait for Justin to come by. She checks in on Andrea, who is jealous that Justin is coming by. She also admits to having ‘strange thoughts’. But soon Justin is there and Maggie is distracted enough to forget about Andrea’s woes. He brings sponges for the housecleaning, and while that may seem dopey, Mrs Travers is won over, and I would be too. Owning a house means lots of cleaning, and I hate shopping for cleaning supplies! Justin and Maggie retreat to her room (how progressive of Mrs Travers), and they talk about the swim tryouts. The coach has narrowed it down to four girls for two spots: Maggie, Dawn, a girl named Tiffany, and Andrea. The odds are in her favor, along with Dawn’s. Then she tells him about her bad dream, and he writes it off as well. They start fooling around, but then are interrupted by Andrea watching them. Maggie tells her to scram, and she says that she worries that the dream was some kind of foreboding. Justin, being a dumb teenage boy, pretends that he’s having some kind of episode…. But then they laugh and laugh.

At the swim tryouts the next day, Dawn, Maggie, and Tiffany are hanging out while Andrea keeps to herself. She only says something when she accuses Maggie of stealing her swim cap, only for Tiffany to point out that it’s in Andrea’s own backpack. HOW EMBARRASSING. They line up to race the 200 IM, and once they are in the water it becomes a real nail biter! But, luckily, Maggie is a beast of a swimmer and she comes in first with Dawn second, followed by Tiffany and Andrea. Maggie and Dawn are going to the tournament! Dawn tries to accuse Maggie of cheating since her wave crest knocked the lane line into her, but Coach says no dice. They have practice as usual, and Maggie is feeling the burn. As she leaves the locker room into the pool area, SHE SEES A BODY IN THE POOL!! And it’s DAWN!!! Maggie jumps in to save her, but Dawn is just fine, only practicing her breath control. They laugh and laugh.

The next night, Maggie has sleep problems again. The dream really pulls her down into a weird state on consciousness. This time she sees the girl in her first dream lying in bed, writhing around, and someone with a knife suddenly attacks her! Maggie wakes up, and comes to the horrible realization that this is the bed she saw! She then realizes that someone is in the room with her! But it’s just Andrea, who heard her making noises. They talk about the dream for a bit, with Maggie describing it all in detail: the knife, the bed, everything. They are having a lovely sisterly moment…. Which is then ruined when Andrea suggests that Maggie is so stressed out that maybe she should cut back on swimming. Maggie finds this UNACCEPTABLE, and tries to pull off a joke that Andrea wants to swim in the tournament herself. Which then ANDREA finds UNACCEPTABLE because Maggie is ALWAYS insulting her and then pretending not. Andrea says Maggie is dreaming about stabbings, so who does SHE want to stab? But Maggie feels more like the victim in the dream….

At school the next day Maggie thinks she sees Andrea’s red hair in the busy hallway, and tries to catch up with her. Then she sees Dawn, and starts calling her name. The crowd is a mad rush between classes, and as she meets up with Dawn on the steps, suddenly Dawn is THRUST FORWARD, and tumbles down the staircase!!! The paramedics are called, and Dawn accuses Maggie of pushing her! Maggie is shocked and asks Andrea for backup, but Andrea says she didn’t see. Maggie realizes the girl in the dream had blonde hair, and so does Dawn. Did she somehow do this? When she sees Tiffany, Tiffany says she doesn’t think Maggie did anything wrong. When Maggie gets home, she falls asleep on the couch, and has a very nice rest. Better than any rest she’s had on the bed!

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(source)

That Saturday Maggie is still having trouble sleeping in her bed, and falls asleep under a birch tree. Her neighbor, Mr Avery, wakes her up, afraid she is going to get sunburnt, and  proceeds to tell her that her new house was unoccupied for awhile, and tells her that it was a terrible thing that happened there. When she asks him what it was, instead of elaborating, he invites her inside to meet his wife. Because OF COURSE, you story cock blocking old man! Maggie says sure, though, and meets Mrs. Avery. Finally, the neighbors come out with it. A family called the Helfers lived there, and they had a teenage daughter named Miranda who was stabbed to death in her own bed! She goes to the movies with Justin that night, feeling more paranoid than ever. They see Dawn and Tiffany in the parking lot of the movie theater, and Dawn says no hard feelings, and reminds us readers that Tiffany and Maggie now have another race to compete in soon to secure a spot in another race in the state tournament. Maggie and Justin go parking and fool around a bit, but Maggie is still too distracted by her dream to let him get past first base. She tells him all about Miranda and her theory that the bed is trying to tell her something. And Justin has the patience of a saint.

So now we have the next tryout for the next race! With just three girls now, that gives Andrea more of a chance for a spot. But if you put your money on her, sorry to say that it is, indeed, Tiffany and Maggie who come in first and second. Dawn, who was watching, only congratulates Tiffany because apparently no hard feelings is for losers. Andrea is crestfallen that she’s only the alternate. But that night, Maggie has the dream again, and this time she wakes up and is convinced someone is with her in the room. She sees Andrea, who says she came to borrow her curling iron (in the middle of the night?). Andrea leaves, and Maggie decides to leave the bed for awhile, walking around the house and going to the kitchen. She hears a floorboard creak, but chalks it up to losing her mind. When she returns to her room, there’s a huge knife shoved into her pillow. She screams and runs to get her Mom, but of COURSE when they return to the room, the knife is gone. Maggie runs to Andrea’s room, and accuses her of it all. Mrs. Travers and Andrea tell her she’s losing it.

The next day at swim practice, Maggie is starting to falter a bit, losing to Tiffany in a for funsies run. Coach asks her if she’s getting enough rest. Maggie lies and says that she’s fine and will be great for the meet. In the locker room Tiffany and Maggie share a light ribbing of each other (though Maggie is worried that Tiffany is right and she IS slipping), and Andrea is sulking still. Maggie goes to talk to coach one last night, and when she leaves she goes back into the pool area… AND SEES TIFFANY LYING IN A PUDDLE OF HER OWN BLOOD!!! Maggie rushes to her side, and finds a knife! Later that night, we find out that Tiffany will be okay, but can’t swim in the tournament, leaving Maggie and Andrea as the only options. And Andrea seems PRETTY HAPPY about the whole thing. Maggie wonders aloud if her dream was trying to warn her, but Andrea shuts all that down. That night, Maggie has the dream again, but this time when she wakes up, THE BLONDE GIRL IS STANDING ABOVE HER, GLARING DOWN AT HER WITH A KNIFE!! Maggie asks if she’s Ghost Miranda, and the girl nods. Maggie darts away, and Miranda goes after her again, until she hears Mrs. Travers calling for her. Miranda jumps out the window, and Maggie is left alone when Mrs. Travers comes in. Still babbling about a ghost, Mrs. Travers says that it’s therapy time!

But first, it’s field trip time at school! To the caverns! Which is all an exercise in paranoia, as Maggie gets separated from her group and is convinced Miranda is chasing her. But it’s just Justin. When she starts with the dream stuff again, he too has had it. The next day he’s back to being his perfectly understanding self, and she says that she’s seeing a therapist now. She didn’t dream about the bed or Miranda the night before. She is worried that the stigma will chase Justin away, but he says that he wants to see her again, and how about tomorrow night after the swim tournament? She hugs him, thinking all is well, but then sees Miranda staring at her from across the parking lot!! She freaks out, but then demurs when Justin asks what’s wrong, and says she’ll see him tomorrow. She goes home, and is roped into a cookout with the Averys and her family. She wonders if the answer is in the bed, but when she goes back to her room, it’s disappeared!!! Andrea comes up behind her and tells her that her therapist said that the bed has to go, and I’m inclined to agree. Mr Avery helped Mrs. Travers take it down, and it’s now in the attic. The attic, hmmmmmm? Andrea says Maggie better not go up there because Mom will be mad, and Maggie says she won’t and returns to the cookout, while totally planning to go into the attic.

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Mrs Travers in a few pages probably. (source)

SO, that night after everyone else is asleep, Maggie does, indeed, go into the attic. She wants to sleep in the bed one last time, hoping to get the answers. But then she realizes that someone else is in the bed already!!! And it’s Miranda, the ghost! Maggie reaches out and touches her, and Miranda wakes up! She’s not a ghost at all! In fact, she’s not even Miranda!! She’s GENA, Miranda’s sister… and KILLER!!! Miranda had everything, and Gena was jealous, and so Gena murdered her. But Miranda was also a bit psychic, apparently (wat?), and must have been trying to warn Maggie about Gena, who has been living in the attic this whole time because THIS IS HER HOME, DAMMIT, the hospital she escaped from never was!! And now she wants to kill Maggie because Maggie is a BAD OLDER SISTER TO ANDREA, JUST LIKE MIRANDA WAS!! Andrea then pops into the attic, and Gena says that this is all for her!!! At first Maggie thinks that Andrea planned the whole thing, but of course not! As she keeps attacking Maggie, Gena tells Andrea she also attacked Dawn and Tiffany because she knew that Andrea wanted to go to state!! She also pushed the knife in Maggie’s pillow and has caused the general havoc as of late. The sisters struggle with Gena, and tie her up in the canopy before calling the police. As the police take Gena away, the Travers family sits around the table drinking coffee, the sisters now fighting about who HAS to keep the bed, and lamenting how little sleep they got with the swim tournament that afternoon. As Maggie goes upstairs to try and get SOME sleep, she says ‘goodnight…. and sweet dreams!’ The End.

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(source)

Body Count: 1.

Romance Rating: 5. Maggie and Justin seem like a perfectly functional couple, but there isn’t much to be said for chemistry.

Bonkers Rating: 7. True, there was the combination of psychic dead girl AND a crazy person hiding out in the attic, but it was so poorly constructed I’m docking points.

Fear Street Relevance: 8. The Travers family has just moved to Fear Street AND the house has a haunted bed.

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:

“She opened her eyes with a startled gasp. And saw a frightening looking man reaching for her throat. ‘This won’t take long,’ he said.

… And then it was actually just the nice next door neighbor saying ‘you been baking long?’, as he was worried about her getting sunburnt.

That’s So Dated! Moments: Maggie is rocking a pretty sweet Trapper Keeper, but could it possibly have been as cool as my once mentioned Catwoman Trapper Keeper???

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The answer, of course, is hell no. (source)

Best Quote: 

“‘Welcome to burglar city,’ Andrea joked, pretending to do a tour guide voice. ‘Our neighborhood is proud to announce we have one of the highest crime rates in the country.'”

I mean, she isn’t wrong.

Conclusion: “Bad Dreams” was a big ol’ jumbled mess that didn’t know what it wanted to be. I say skip it completely and spend your time on other “Fear Street” books. Up next for us is “Double Date”!

A Revisit to Fear Street: “The Dare”

176603Book: “The Dare (Fear Street # 21)” by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1994

Where Did I Get This Book: The library!

Book Description: Nice girls don’t kill…

Johanna Wise has always longed to be part of Dennis Arthur’s rich, popular crowd, and she can’t believe it when he finally asks her out. Now she’ll do anything to continue to hang out with his cool friends and keep Dennis as her boyfriend.

So when Dennis dares her to kill their teacher, Mr. Northwood, she doesn’t say no. She can’t. Besides, it was only a joke, right? But now the joke has gone too far, and the whole school is taking bets on Johanna. The dare is serious…dead serious. Will she do it? Will she really kill for love?

Had I Read It Before: Yes.

The Plot: We meet Johanna Wise as she and her BFF Margaret are going to the local 7/11 to get some hotdogs for dinner. Both Johanna and Margaret are unpopular girls at Shadyside High School because they’re both average looking and poor (though Johanna brags about how skinny she is and how ugly Margaret is. So this is the kind of first person POV we get, huh?). As they’re waiting for their hotdogs to cook, a group of five rich kids from North Hills come into the store as well. The leader, Dennis, is Johanna’s crush, because he’s handsome and rich and really really funny. If funny means he and his friends making a huge mess in the 7/11 with the slurpies while daring each other to do it, angering the poor cashier who probably wasn’t even supposed to be there today. When confronted, Dennis pulls a gun and shoots the clerk!… but of course it’s just a water gun. The kids laugh and laugh, and Zack throws cash on the counter as they leave, as if it’s not super condescending and humiliating. Johanna thinks all of this is hilarious.

In history class the next day we meet Mr. Northwood, the stern instructor that everyone is kind of meh about. He’s described as a ‘beardless Clint Eastwood on a bad day’, and honestly, that doesn’t sound too bad if we’re talking younger Clint Eastwood. One could do worse. Johanna is lingering behind to get some clarification on a paper, but sees Dennis arguing with Mr. Northwood about a make up test. Apparently, Dennis’s family is going on their annual trip to the Bahamas in a short while, and Mr. Northwood isn’t letting him make up the midterm at a later date. It’s either be there or fail. Absolutely affronted that he’s not getting his way, Dennis throws a textbook on Mr. Northwood’s desk and Johanna beelines for the hallway. She and Margaret eavesdrop, and Dennis storms out just as Margaret makes her exit. Johanna feels bad for Dennis (though she notes to the reader that SHE isn’t getting any trips to the Bahamas any time soon), and they start a weird game of fantasizing about killing Mr. Northwood after Dennis says that he could just kill him. She tells Dennis that she’s actually Mr. Northwood’s neighbor and they both live on Fear Street. He seems intrigued by this, and they walk to the student parking lot, talking the whole way. But then Caitlyn, Dennis’s girlfriend, pulls up in a red Miata, and tells Dennis to get in. He tells Johanna he’s offer her a life but it only seats two, to which Johanna says she’ll make room, opens the door, and pulls Caitlyn out and dumps her on the pavement as Dennis looks on in awe…. Except NAHHHH, that didn’t happen. It’s just one of Johanna’s violent fantasies about hurting and humiliating people. Totally normal, right? She actually says bye and watches them drive off.

A week later Dennis is off to the sunny Caribbean and Johanna is in history class. Melody, another rich kid who is dressed head to toe in Ralph Lauren, talks back to Mr. Northwood and blows off his request that she stay after class for a talk. Mr. Northwood kind of unprofessionally makes a snide comment about not caring how many banks her father owns, and that she isn’t special, and MAN, I AM FEELING THIS FRUSTRATION. I was SURROUNDED by these types at my high school. That night Johanna and Margaret are talking on the phone about Dennis and Mr. Northwood and how he is always on the rich kids cases, but Johanna hears a weird noise outside, a car door and a crash, and is convinced someone is breaking in! She looks out the window and sees Zack, Melody, Caitlin, and some dickswizzle named Lanny, crouching behind their car on the street outside Mr. Northwood’s house. Johanna goes to investigate, and they’re surprised she lives on Fear Street next to their teacher. They tell her not to tattle about what they’re about to do, and she promises she won’t, though Melody isn’t convinced. The guys dare each other to cause a fuss, and they put sand in Mr. Northwood’s gas tank and slash his tires. They’re about to carve Dennis’s name in the fender, when the porch light comes on and the rich kids bolt, leaving Johanna with Mr. Northwood. He asks her why she’s hanging out with these jerks, and she claims she just heard a noise and came to investigate. He says he’s going to call the cops, but after Johanna goes home nothing really comes of it that night before she goes to bed.

The next day that group is out of class. The police came late and deigned to do anything since it was a bunch of kids of the most powerful people in town, so Mr. Northwood asked that the school suspend them. Mr. Northwood says he believes her that she wasn’t hanging out with them, but is going to keep an eye on her. That night Johanna is studying when the phone rings. It’s Dennis! He’s asks if she’s ready to kill Mr. Northwood! But he’s just kidding, he’s actually back from the Bahamas and was apparently thinking about her (when he wasn’t having a wonderful time, which he gladly brags about). He wants to know if she wants to go to a party that Friday that Melody is hosting. Johanna asks about Caitlyn, and he says that they ‘see other people’ sometimes, and let me tell you, that’s the oldest trick in the book. He also informs her that his friends are no longer suspended because their parents went to Mr. Hernandez, the principal, and threw their weight and power around, and demanded apologies, which they got. SIDE FUCKING BAR: Once in middle school a friend and I were at lunch and a guy we were sitting next to LITERALLY dumped his food tray all over my friend on purpose because he didn’t like her. We reported him to the principal, and he got in some trouble, until his MOTHER marched into the school and threw HER weight around, and the school administration ended up apologizing to this DOUCHE CANOE for dumping his food on MY FRIEND. There is no justice. I take this shit personally and hate these North Hills kids. Johanna now wants to be a part of this group because of the power.

At school the next day Dennis meets Johanna at her locker and gives her a beautiful conch shell that he brought back just for her. Caitlin storms up and says that it is HER CONCH SHELL and demands Johanna hand it over. Johanna instead opts to smash her in the face with it…. Just kidding! Caitlin didn’t even notice, and instead just pulled Dennis off with her. Another psychotic fantasy. At lunch she and Margaret are sitting together and they see Dennis and Caitlyn making out, which makes Margaret skeptical about this date that Johanna says she and Dennis have. And then in history class, Dennis argues with Mr. Northwood again about retaking the midterm. When Mr. Northwood says that it’s about fairness, Dennis says that it’s not fair to HIM and that if he fails he won’t be eligible for track and his Olympic dreams will be ruined. Yeah FUCKING right, you dick. He storms past Johanna like she isn’t even there when Mr. Northwood refuses to relent.

That night Dennis picks her up after she frets about maybe it all being a joke or a hallucination. They go to Melody’s house in North Hills, and she lets them know that her parents are at the movies so the house is all theirs. I hope they’re hitting a triple feature, Melody. As the party goes on it’s pretty clear that Dennis is less interested in associating with Johanna and more interested in hanging out with his friends, and then the conversation turns to Mr. Northwood and how Johanna and Dennis are going to kill him. And maybe it’s a joke? Johanna isn’t so sure. They’re regaled with impressions of Mr. Northwood, and a story about how he docked five points off Carter “The Cheater”‘s Phillips test for forgetting to write her name. Dennis is really keen on joking about it, but Johanna is a little uncomfortable… Until he drives her home and they make out in his car. Of course, they’re shocked to see Mr. Northwood watching them from his front yard. Dennis freaks and tells Johanna he’s leaving, and Johanna goes inside and is CONVINCED that Northwood was spying on her (when he was probably just taking out the garbage or something). She paces around her house and pulls a pistol out of a drawer, continuing to fantasize about killing Mr. Northwood. Her Mom catches her and Johanna claims she thought she saw a burglar, but that it’s gone now, and she goes to sleep with that lie on her conscience.

At school the next day Melody tells Johanna to watch out for Caitlyn, who would be super jealous that she went on a date with Dennis. Dennis then asks if Johanna wants to hang out at her place that night, and since Johanna’s Mom works nights she says okay. But problems, because when she gets home she is reminded she had a friend date with Margaret that night when her bestie calls her. Johanna fakes ill. Dennis arrives, but has brought his whole posse of friends. They all settle into their favorite topic: why Mr. Northwood sucks. Today it’s because he caught Zack cheating on a test (Zack claims he was just asking Deena for the time, but yeah, sure you were asshat). They are convinced that Mr. Northwood hates them because they’re rich and he’s not, and Zack says he brought something to teach him a lesson! He got some Skunk ‘juice’ from his brother, who works at a lab with animals. They conspire to throw it on Mr. Northwood’s porch, and nominate Johanna to do it after another dare escalation happens and she volunteers. Because she’s cool too now!

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(source)

Mr. Northwood almost catches her but she drops the stink bomb on his porch. She and her new friends go to the Corner to get some burgers in celebration. When she gets home, though, Margaret catches her, as she was bringing her chicken noodle soup since she thought Johanna was sick. They fight, and Margaret drops some truth bombs about how the rich kids aren’t really Johanna’s friends, and leaves in a huff.

Dennis and his friends keep hanging at Johanna’s house in the next few weeks. One night, Dennis finds the gun that Johanna was playing with earlier, and says that THIS is how they can kill Northwood! He then actually puts a bullet in it and starts dicking around because PRIVILEGE, GUYS. Johanna, Caitlyn, and Melody tell him to knock it off, but he doesn’t and he actually shoots Zack. Like ACTUALLY SHOOTS HIM. I thought it was going to be another dark fantasy, but NOPE! The friends panic, and Dennis tells someone to call 911 before he drags Zack out of the house, telling them all to clean up. When the cops arrive the friends and the police find Zack sprawled in Mr. Northwood’s yard. And Mr. Northwood is holding the gun in confusion, since he stumbled upon a bleeding kid on his property. Dennis has tried to frame him for the shooting.

Which of course DOES NOT WORK, since the gun is registered to Johanna’s absent father and there was blood ALL OVER HER HOUSE. The truth comes out and the rich kids parents make it all go away (because Zack isn’t dead, I guess). They try to get their kids transferred out of Northwood’s class (which would probably be best for everyone involved), but to no avail. And according to Johanna, Mr. Northwood is even meaner to them than he was before.

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WELL GEE, WHY WOULD THAT BE? (source)

Johanna’s mother had forbidden her from seeing Dennis, but Johanna’s sneaking around with him. They’re parking and mauling and rounding the bases when he gets all hung up on Northwood again (GIVE IT UP, MAN), and he says that Lanny dared him to kill Northwood. Johanna isn’t sure how serious this is, and then Dennis dares her to kill him. She coquettishly takes the dare.

At school rumors start swirling that she is going to kill Mr. Northwood, and she gets a lot of ‘good lucks’ from her peers. FUCKING SHADYSIDE. You know how I know this was pre-Columbine? Margaret confronts Johanna about the rumors, and says that Lanny and Zack are taking bets on whether or not Johanna will actually kill him. Johanna tries to brush it off as not serious. But she sees Lanny later and he tells her that the pool is up to 1000 bucks, and if she does it he’ll give her five hundred of it. Johanna thinks that this is a lot of money, and GIRL. GIRL. GIRL. I know that you are not wealthy but I would imagine that an actual murder hit on the dark web goes for SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT???!!! FIVE HUNDRED BUCKS TO BE A CONTRACT KILLER. ARE YOU SERIOUS? That night she mulls her options, thinking that she’d be doing it for Dennis because she loves him so much, and he calls her to tell her that it has to be Saturday.

On Thursday Johanna has one of her twisted fantasies, this time thinking about maybe beating Mr. Northwood to death with logs from his woodpile. She has stayed home from school because she’s not feeling well. I wonder why? She’s planning a hiding place for the gun (so did the police just give it back to her after Zack was shot?), and trying to plan for Saturday. Dennis calls her that afternoon to update her on the pool. 1200 bucks now! 600 still isn’t the running rate for a hit, Johanna. Starting to get twitchy, she decides that she’s going to SHOOT HIM NOW, and grabs the gun and runs to the backyard where he’s still gathering wood for a romantic fire for one, I’d imagine. Before she can pull the trigger, though, Margaret shows up and Johanna hides the gun. Margaret says she brought notes for her since she was sick, and Mr. Northwood says that she’s such a good friend, but since he is always recording his lectures with his dictaphone she could use that instead. Johanna demurely declines, and Margaret pulls her aside and asks if Johanna is ACTUALLY going to kill him. Johanna lies and says no.

Murder Day approaches, and Johanna is a wreck. She’s watching Northwood paint his shed (in winter because he’s like that) and is planning to shoot him, when there’s a doorbell. She answers and it’s Dennis, who has come to see if she’s going to do it. She says she is, and shows him the gun, but says she needs to go upstairs and take something for her stomach. She is still very jumpy, hearing a car backfire makes her even more on edge. She retrieves the gun from the drawer and notices that Dennis is sweating, he’s as nervous as she is and AWWW HE MUST BE WORRIED ABOUT HER. She trudges through the yard and is going to shoot Mr. Northwood….. but he has ALREADY BEEN SHOT!!!!! Dennis comes up behind her and crows about how she did it, but she says no, she didn’t, he was like this when she found him! But he says nah, she did do it. Just look at the gun. There’s gunpowder residue. The gun was fired, and he’s called the cops! HE SHOT MR. NORTHWOOD AND IS PINNING IT ON HER!!! That car backfire was a gunshot! And to add insult to injury, CAITLIN POPS OUT AND WAS IN ON THE WHOLE THING! Apparently she dared Dennis to get Johanna to take care of their Northwood ‘problem’, and he took her up on it. Dennis faked an interest in her and stung her along because she was so attention starved and in desperate need of their acceptance. Betrayed and devastated, Johanna marches up and shoots Dennis right in the chest!!!… Except NOPE! JOKES! Another hallucination. The police arrive and start to arrest her, as Dennis and Caitlin say that they arrived just after she shot Mr. Northwood……

BUT…. Mr. Northwood is still alive! And on top of that, the cops remove a certain DICTAPHONE from his coat pocket…. which has recorded EVERYTHING!!! Which include’s Dennis and Caitlyn’s confessions. BUSTED YOU LITTLE PSYCHOS!!! As they are hauled away and Mr. Northwood is put in an ambulance, one of the cops says that Johanna has shitty friends, and asks her what they were saying about a dare? Johanna says that it was all just a fantasy, and walks into her house. The end.

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TAKE THAT YOU SPOILED RICH FUCKS! (source)

Body Count: Zip! It wasn’t looking good there for Zack or Mr. Northwood, but it all ended up fine, mortality wise.

Romance Rating: Zero. Dennis was just using poor Johanna and there were no other love interests.

Bonkers Rating: 6. If only because there were those SUPER VIOLENT FANTASIES interspersed throughout the book, and Zack was totally shot whilst playing with a gun.

Fear Street Relevance: 8. Johanna lives on Fear Street, as does Mr. Northwood, and all of the tension happens there.

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger: EVERY SINGLE ONE THAT STARTED AS CARNAGE AND ENDED UP AS A FANTASY. So, SO many.

That’s So Dated! Moments: Oh man, where to start! From the mention of CD players to the outfits (specifically an ensemble of a denim vest over a work shirt and faded blue jeans with manufactured holes in the knees) to dictaphones to slurpy runs at the gas station, this one was chock full of 90s goodness.

Best Quote:

“I had to ask Mr. Northwood a question about the paper I was writing about Charles Lindbergh. I didn’t know if he wanted me to just write about Lindbergh’s career, or did I have to write about the kidnapping of his baby too?”

This just resonated with me as someone who’d want to write (and has written) a history paper on a horrific true crime incident.

Conclusion: “The Dare” is really more an exercise in trying my patience, as the main characters are either a bunch of spoiled, awful rich kids, or a pushover with a chip on her shoulder. I feel like it kind of wanted to be “Killing Mr. Griffin”, but didn’t have the balls that Lois Duncan had. Up next is “Bad Dreams”!

Kate’s Review: “Into the Drowning Deep”

34523174Book: “Into the Drowning Deep” by Mira Grant

Publishing Info: Orbit, November 2017

Where Did I Get This Book: I received an ARC from the publisher.

Book Description: Seven years ago, the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a “mockumentary” bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy.

Now, a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost.

Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves.

But the secrets of the deep come with a price.

Review: A special thanks to Orbit for providing me with an ARC of this book!

I’ve come to learn many truths within this literary world, and one of those truths is that if you want some well plotted out techno-horror, Mira Grant is the person to go to. I’ve mentioned her “Newsflesh” Series here before, and I reviewed the most recent book “Feedback”, as well as her short story “Final Girls”. Basically, Mira Grant is one of the most original and fun tech horror writers out there, and she needs more attention. I will admit that I went into “Into the Drowning Deep” with little knowledge about it. So imagine my surprise when early on it became quite clear what kind of story I was getting myself into.

Killer. Mermaids.

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BEHOLD, I BRING TIDINGS OF GREAT JOY! (source)

I mean, honestly, at this point she had me and I was guaranteed to give it a solid review. But let’s talk about why I liked this book so much, beyond mermaids disemboweling people. To start, the plot is exciting and interesting from the get go. While we don’t see much about the ‘doomed voyage’ of the Atargatis (but if you want to, the prequel story “Rolling in the Deep” is about that voyage), we do get to see those who have been affected by it and their motivations for wanting to follow up with it. The range of reasons is wide for our characters. For Tory it is because her older sister was the media face for Imagine, the network that sent the movie crew out to the Mariana Trench in the first place. Tory is an Ahab-esque character, though far more likable. She has a vendetta out for whatever killed her sister Anne (in “Rolling in the Deep”), and her pain and rage makes her a very human and sympathetic person to follow. You also have Dr. Jillian Toth, who is an Academic who has always believed in mermaids. This is both a validation of her work, but also a painful reminder that her enthusiasm and certainty of their existence was one of the motivators that sent the Artagatis out in the first place. Along with that is the fact her estranged husband Theo is on board too, who left his conservation activism life after an accident left him in chronic pain…. and joined Imagine as a suit. And you have Olivia, the new face for Imagine Entertainment, who finds herself in a mutual attraction with Tory, even though she has the job that Anne had. Which, of course, leads to some angst for Tory. You also have big game hunters, cryptozoologists, scientists, and others that round out our cast, all of them feeling very real and human, a skill that Grant has always had a knack for.

Grant is known for bringing a certain amount of fascinating at at times ‘hard’ (at least for me!) science into her horror stories. As someone who isn’t terribly science minded, she manages to make some pretty complex (to me) concepts and break them down for the average person like me, and to effortlessly weave them into her story lines without forcing them to fit. In “Into the Drowning Deep” that science is climate change, and how it could potentially change our oceans, as well as potential technology that could come forth because of it. “Into the Drowning Deep” takes place in 2020, and works under the assumption that in a mere four years things will be getting to the point of dire, ocean ecosystem wise, and this book brings up these ideas while incorporating them into the greater plot. She also peppers a lot of the story with facts about the ocean and sea life, and this fan of Monterey Bay, California was pleased as punch that a lot of the action at the beginning takes place there. Grant’s science has always been a bit of a trademark, and this book continues that grand tradition.

And even though perhaps the idea of ‘killer mermaids’ sounds silly to you, this book is so well done that it completely sells it. Grant does a great job of giving these mermaids an evolutionary basis, and finds them a place in the ocean ecosystem that makes them seem like they could, in fact, exist. The slow build of found footage descriptions to the reveal of the deadly mermaids deep under the sea, all the way to the inevitable slaughter had me flipping through the pages quickly, needing to find out what comes next. While this book could have come off as cheesy, it never does, and the stakes are high as Grant holds no sacred cows, character wise. You have to go into a Grant book assuming that at LEAST one of your favorite characters isn’t going to make it out alive, and even knowing this I still was caught off guard and saddened by a few of those who become mermaid chow.

“Into the Drowning Deep” was a scary and entertaining read that I had a hard time walking away from. Mira Grant is absolutely one of those authors who I am always going to be on the look out for, and I hope that the wait for the next in the series isn’t that long. I think that the literary world could use more killer mermaids, and I can’t wait to see where Grant takes them next.

Rating 8: A fun, frightening romp through the dangers of the ocean, “Into The Drowning Deep” kept me on the edge of my seat and a smile on my face. Bring on more killer merfolk!

Reader’s Advisory:

“Into the Drowning Deep” is a new book and not on any relevant Goodreads lists. But I think that it would fit in on “Oceanic/Marine Science Fiction”, and “Sea Monster Books!”.

Find “Into the Drowning Deep” at your library using WorldCat!