A Revisit to Fear Street: “The Betrayal”

182597Book: “The Betrayal” (The Fear Street Saga #1) by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1993

Where Did I Get This Book: The library!

Book Description: The Secret is Out!

Why do so many horrifying things happen on Fear Street? Nora knows.

She knows how the terror began. She knows about the young girl who burned at the stake–and the bloody feud between two families that caused the unspeakable horror that has lasted 300 years!

She knows, and she wants to tell.

Are you sure you want to hear it?

Had I Read This Before: No

The Plot: I thought that the best and most appropriate way to end my “Fear Street” re-read would be to read the trilogy that gives an origin story to Fear Street itself. So we’re going back in time!

We start in the Village of Shadyside in 1900. A girl named Nora Goode is watching Fear Mansion as it burns to the ground, hoping that her beau Daniel Fear will come out. But it looks like everyone is trapped inside. As the other neighbors speculate that the fire will burn forever and that the family is cursed, Nora holds the necklace that Daniel gave her in her hands. In a fit of desperation she runs to the window to look inside, and inside she sees a lot of distorted faces in agony, including that of a young girl tied to a stake. The window explodes outwards thanks to the heat, but Nora still stares inside.

Now we’re going even further back to the Wickham Colony of Massachusetts in 1692! We’re now following a teenage Puritan named Susannah Goode, who lives with her mother Martha, her father William, and baby brother George. Martha dotes on the baby and already sees Susannah as a nuisance it seems, and I’m getting shades of the dysfunctional family in “The Witch” here because CLEARLY teenage girls are sinful or some shit. That said, Susannah has been thinking a lot about a certain special boy in town.

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I mean for her sake it better be this. HE MAY BE YOUR ONLY HOPE IN THIS SOCIETY, SUSANNAH!! (source)

Susannah says she needs to got get firewood and her mother says that walking outside alone is dangerous these days because the local Magistrate, Benjamin Fier, has been targeting young women as witches for doing ANYTHING suspicious, like living their lives. The most recent ‘witch’ is Abigail Hopping, whom Benjamin claims was singing songs of The Evil One (honestly same). Susannah can’t believe that her friend is a witch, but promises to be careful. She goes to gather firewood and passes Benjamin Fier as he’s going to no doubt interrogate Abigail because she was probably not wearing her cap right or something. But Susannah knows that Benjamin is not only a ‘fair and righteous man’ (GAG), but he is also the richest man in town along with his brother Matthew. And obviously they are so successful and prosperous because they are SO RIGHTEOUS. Benjamin Fier also has a history of conducting other witch trials and executions across Massachusetts, and insists that the witches have to burn as opposed to hanging, probably because it sounds more brutal. Also, Susannah has a thing for Benjamin’s son Edward, who is almost assuredly NOTHING like this tyrannical father or anything like that, right?

Susannah decides to take a quick detour into the woods, even though she’s been told that the witches in town like to go there to worship The Evil One. I mean, it’s not like random girls are being persecuted as witches for any old thing, right? No problem! Suddenly someone grabs her, but instead of The Evil One it’s Edward! He scolds her for even thinking that he could be The Evil One because the village is full of witches no according to his father. Susannah says she’s so upset about her friend Faith, who had just recently been burned as a witch, and Edward assures her that his father no doubt has AMPLE proof of her evil ways! She says that they have to stop meeting in secret, because it could get her in trouble, and he brushes that off in the way that only a certain kind of privilege can bring. She jokes that what if The Evil One is watching them and he straight up scolds her for joking about that, and he sure seems like a fun date to bring to parties. They hear the townsfolk getting ready to burn Abigail, and when she expresses sadness about it he says that if she’s a witch she deserves to burn. She asks when he’ll tell his father about them, and he says when the time is right he will, and hey buddy, that’s all well and good for you because YOU won’t be accused of being a witch just for looking at a person of the opposite sex in a way that isn’t deemed ‘righteous’! She is excited that she’s going to be married to Edward Fier, and I think it sounds like a raw deal for her.

Over dinner that night the Goodes wonder aloud how it is that even though they grow in the same soil the Fiers always have bigger and more plentiful vegetables than they do. Martha also casually wonders just where it is that this new family came from, because they know it wasn’t England. William then confronts Susannah about the fact he’s seen her meeting with Edward in secret. He tells her that’s super dangerous, but Susannah insists that they’re in love and doing nothing wrong, and that he’s going to marry her. But William has to break the news to her that Benjamin Fier told him just that morning that Edward was engaged to be married to a girl from Portsmouth! Heartbroken, Susannah goes to bed and cries her eyes out. Cut your losses, Susannah. YOU CAN STILL GO TO THE WOODS AND JOIN THE WITCHES! LIVE YOU BEST LIFE!

Meanwhile, across town, Edward is talking with his asshole of a father Benjamin, saying that he refuses to marry Anne Ward. Benjamin tells him that Anne Ward is a good match for the families (I assume it has to do with wealth and land ownership), but Edward tells him that he’s not in love with Anne. No fucking duh, you moron, this kind of thing isn’t about love, and Benjamin tells him as much when he reminds his weenie son that when he and Matthew first came to America they had to eat rats to survive, and doesn’t want that for his kid. By marrying Anne he will get access to a tea importing fortune and become even MORE wealthy, in spite of the fact that Benjamin is already town Magistrate and Matthew is the most successful farmer. Edward confesses that he loves Susannah, and Benjamin says that she’s poor as fuck so THAT’S not going to do. Edward says he intends to marry for love, not money, and Benjamin tells him he’s not marrying Susannah and that’s that.

Some time later Martha and Susannah are preparing dinner, Susannah still sulking about Edward’s engagement, when Benjamin and a couple of Puritan thugs bust into their home. He tells the thugs to watch the women as he looks for proof, and he reaches into a pot and pulls out a vial with a chicken’s foot, a charm, and perhaps blood. He says that this proves that they are witches! Susannah says that they’ve never seen that before, and Benjamin says they’re lying and they’re going to be taken to the jail. Martha and Susannah are horrified, but manage to pass baby George off to a neighbor named Mary Halsey as they’re hauled away. And honestly, this seems pretty accurate given that it’s said that sometimes accusations of witchcraft were done for political gains during this time period. Hell, during ANY time period!

Mom and daughter are standing together in a prisoner’s box in the town hall, and will be tried and convicted and burned before the week is done. Susannah says that the people in town KNOW they aren’t bad, but Martha is far more pragmatic and knows that they’ll see what they’re told to see. When a bat flies into the room, Matthew Fier accuses the women of conjuring it. William stands up and demands that his family be released as Matthew KNOWS that they aren’t witches, and Benjamin says that they don’t put innocent women on trial. They try to goad the ladies to confess, but they both refuse, and Susannah STILL thinks that Edward will come and save her. John Halsey, who has been watching baby George with Mary, says that they need to let William speak but he’s ignored and William is removed from the courtroom, but not before getting roughed up a bit. Benjamin shows off a bag of items he has deemed associated with witch craft, and Susannah and Martha still say it isn’t theirs. When they refuse to confess, he finds them guilty and sentences them to death by burning the next night.

As Susannah and Martha lie in their cell, Edward suddenly appears at the cell window. Susannah asks if he’s come to save them, but LOL NO WAY, he’s come to yell at her about being a witch!

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We aren’t surprised, but we’re still filled with hate for this guy. (source)

He asks how she could betray him, and OH BOY IS THAT A JOKE. He says that she tried to lead him astray with The Evil One, and when she says she’s innocent he says that there’s no WAY because he told his father his feelings about her and would his FATHER HURT HIM SO BY FALSELY ACCUSING HER? NO WAY! He tells her off and ditches her, leaving her heartbroken.

Across town William is probably trying not to have a nervous breakdown, and Matthew Fier knocks on his door. Matthew says that he can help change his brother’s mind, but it’s going to cost William money to do so. 100 pounds, to be exact. William says that he only has 80 pounds to his name, and Matthew says that that won’t be enough, but is more than willing to accept a fancy belt buckle and whatever else William has instead. William gives Matthew the money and the finery and Matthew says he’ll take care of everything. William notices a fancy amulet around Matthew’s neck, and it has the phrase ‘Dominatio per malum’ engraved on it. William asks him what it means, and Matthew doesn’t give an answer. When William asks him about the bird claw design and says it’s sometimes called a demon’s claw, Matthew freezes, and then says that HE knows nothing about that and neither should William. He then rides off.

The next night William is elated that his wife and daughter are going to be freed, but, in a big fucking surprise, he gets to the town commons and Martha and Susannah are STILL being led off to be burned! William confronts the officers and tells them that he paid the Fiers to let them go, where are they so they can confirm it? And haven’t you heard? THE FIER FAMILY DISAPPEARED INTO THE NIGHT! No one knows where they are, and they didn’t give any word about stopping the execution. So Susannah and Martha are burnt at the stake anyway. William, absolutely devastated, returns to his home. He thinks about how not only did they die for things they didn’t do, but how he was totally bamboozled by their accusers. Mary brings George back and tells William that the baby needs his father, and William says that she has to hold onto him a little longer because he has something to do first. And THIS is where things get interesting. William enters a secret room in the house, one that Susannah and Martha never knew about, and PULLS OUT HIS OWN MAGICAL ITEMS!! William Goode IS a practicing Warlock (though I’m still pretty sure that those Fier assholes planted the witchcraft evidence because it sounds like William hid all his shit in this room, so fuck them)!!! And now he’s seeking his revenge!!!

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FUCK ‘EM UP, WILLIAM!!! (source)

Quick stop back to 1900, as we find out that Nora Goode is writing out her family history, trying to trace her lineage and the curse that is upon the Fear Family that as of now they have so richly deserved. She doesn’t remember how she got from the lawn of the burning mansion to safety, but knows that there was a reason for it.

Jumping back to 1710, we meet up with the Fier family once more. They’ve moved to Western Pennsylvania, and have made quite the lives for themselves. Edward didn’t end up marrying Anne Ward, but he did marry some woman named Rebecca and now they have a bratty son named Ezra. Matthew and his wife Constance now have a teenage daughter named Mary. They all seem very pleased with themselves, in spite of the fact Benjamin has been muttering that he feels like the family is cursed, mostly because the new shingles on the roof came off in a storm. Edward says he’ll take a look after supper, and assures Mary that the only curse the family has is his ‘crotchety old father’. I would argue psychopathic zealous father, but hey, potato, potahto. Meanwhile, someone is standing outside, hiding behind a tree. It’s William Goode, and after twenty years of searching he’s finally found the assholes who ruined his life. He watches Edward as he climbs up onto the roof, with Mary holding the ladder for him. She asks him to be careful and he brushes her off, so it’s no big shock when he manages to plummet off the roof. Mary screams, and everyone rushes out of the house (and Constance accidentally cut her wrist when she heard Mary scream, so she’s bleeding like a stuck pig). Edward is alive but his arm is broken. Benjamin keeps muttering about a curse.

After breakfast the next day Mary is returning from the henhouse (and thinking about the chaos from the night before), when she’s approached by a handsome young man on the road. He says that he’s looking for the owner of the estate, and she says that it’s her father Matthew Fier. She says she’ll take him to see him and he carries the egg basket like a true gentleman. She tells him that the farm has been growing steadily since before she was born, and Matthew lumbers out like some oafish bear on quaaludes. The man says his name is Jeremy Thorne and he’s looking for work, and while Matthew first tells him they don’t need help Edward comes out and is like ‘hello, my arm is broken?’. Once Jeremy tells them all that his father is ill and he’s the only one who can bring in income, Matthew decides to hire him. Mary is excited because he’s a hottie.

That afternoon Mary finds Jeremy by the well and they do some light flirting, and just as he’s about to kiss her Rebecca comes running out asking Mary if she’s seen Matthew or Edward, as something terrible has happened! Mary follows her back to the house and Benjamin in collapsed on the floor, staring up at the ceiling as if in a trance. He snaps out of it as Edward arrives, and while he’s not dead his left leg is suddenly paralyzed for no discernible reason. I’d say it’s karma, but we know it’s far more intentional.

Three days later, Mary has snuck off to meet Jeremy in a field where he’s clearing brush, and it seems that they’re already head over heels for each other as they’re already talking about how they can’t live without each other. Mary says that her uncle would never approve of this, but given that his entire left side is paralyzed at this point he has bigger worries to think about, I’d say. They kiss, and Mary is head over heels. Later that night she and Edward are walking through the woods on the property, and he is saying that not only is his father ill, but now Rebecca is acting sullen and distant, and maybe it’s because you leave her to care for your shitty child as if you didn’t have some hand in his creation. As they’re walking, however, they see that some of the trees are on fire! But when they get closer, it’s not trees that are on fire, it looks like a girl! A girl is ablaze and Edward starts to scream that it’s Susannah Goode! As the vision fades, Edward continues to scream.

Two days later Mary is telling Jeremy about what she saw, and he says it was probably a trick of the light, but she insists that it was something far more sinister. She says she’s going to bring sweet rolls to Rebecca to lift her spirits, and Jeremy asks her if she’s told her father about them yet. She says no, because when she told him about the girl in the fire he reacted very poorly, in that he grabbed the silver amulet around his mouth and got very quiet. She says she needs to get to Rebecca and Edward’s before the incoming storm starts, and then asks Jeremy if HE’S told HIS father about HER? He says no. So they’re both dragging their feet. When Mary gets to her cousin’s house, it starts to rain. She hopes that the sweet rolls will raise the spirits of her cousin, as his father’s paralysis got worse in the night and now Benjamin can only move his head and his right arm. As she searches through the house for her family, she stumbles upon something really upsetting: Rebecca has hung herself from the rafters! Mary screams, pukes, and then runs outside into the rain like a lunatic. She calls frantically for Edward, but then runs into what she thinks is a scarecrow. Except, it’s not. IT’S BENJAMIN, PROPPED UP LIKE A SCARECROW AND DEAD AS A DOORNAIL!

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Now THIS is vengeance!!! (source)

A couple days later the funerals have happened. Edward is practically catatonic and Ezra is now in the care of Constance because, once again, why would a father parent his own child when a woman can do it? Mary saw her father late at night chanting ‘Dominatio per malum’, but doesn’t know what it means, because not only do girls not get educated, they certainly aren’t educated in Latin. Mary sees Jeremy at the edge of the group, and follows him to the toolshed. He tells her that he knows who killed her uncle and Edward’s wife: it’s his father! His father isn’t a sick old man, his name is William Goode, and he is evil, but only because evil has been done to him! He’s been obsessed with the Fier family ever since Martha and Susannah were murdered, so much so that Jeremy’s older brother George returned to Massachusetts to escape his anger. Jeremy tells her about Benjamin murdering Susannah and Martha, Edward doing nothing to stop it, and Matthew stealing the money. He says that his father will keep seeking revenge unless they stop him, and he says that can do this if they get married. That way the families will unite in goodness. Mary accepts, and they embrace, but unfortunately Edward had followed her like a creep and now that he’s seen everything he fully intends on narcing on them because even STILL he believes his father was right in burning Susannah and her mother. PRICK! Though, he thinks about the vision he saw in the woods, and starts to have doubts. So he goes to confront Matthew (making sure to shove his son away when the little boy wants to see him, like the model father he is), who of course denies it all. But when Mary arrives Matthew relents, and then confesses everything to both of them, though he says it was all in Edward’s best interests. Why that had to involve stealing all of William’s money remains to be seen. Mary says she wants to marry Jeremy Goode, and Matthew says NO WAY, he’ll never marry her off to the son of a murderer. Edward and Mary remind him that he is ALSO a murderer, but they were poor WOMEN so who gives a shit, right? They fight and Mary says that she loves Jeremy and intends to marry him, and then Matthew suddenly relents, and says that after the mourning period has passed they will invite Jeremy AND William to dinner, and the feud will end. Mary is ecstatic.

So after a week passes Jeremy arrives and Mary is convinced that Matthew is going to give him her hand in marriage. But when Matthew enters the room, instead of shaking his hand, he yanks off his amulet and chucks it at Jeremy’s head… which in turn EXPLODES with graphic detail of brains and blood and everything. And up comes the head of someone else. WILLIAM GOODE! There never was a Jeremy, it had been William the whole time trying to steal Matthew’s only child away from him! But Matthew, who is ALSO a warlock, was too clever, and a wizard fight ensues, as Mary keeps calling out for Jeremy, Constance looks on in horror, and Edward just kinda stands there. Eventually Matthew yells out ‘Dominatio per malum, power through evil!’, and the spell turns William into dust. Matthew starts laughing, and once he starts he literally cannot stop. As Constance begs him to stop, Edward grabs Mary and Ezra and runs out of the house.

Another time jump, this time to 1725 in the Pennsylvania wilderness. Now Ezra is an adult, and reflecting upon what has happened since they ran away. Edward tried to raise him and Mary up on his own, but he eventually died of exhaustion and Mary, who was driven crazy by what happened that night, killed herself. Ezra blames the Goode family for everything that happened, and unfortunately he wasn’t privy to how his grandfather and father and great uncle were complete assholes. Hoping to get any info he can, he goes back to Matthew and Constance’s farm, not sure of what he’ll find. The place is basically abandoned. He does eventually find the skeletons of Matthew and Constance, and a diary left by Matthew talking about how he walled them in for safety and bashed Constance over the head when she tried to escape. The last pages are about how the Goodes and their treachery did this. Very convenient that he made NO mention of two innocent women who were burnt at the stake, hm? Ezra swears that he’ll get his revenge.

We end this book back in the Village of Shadyside in 1900 as Nora continues to write out her family history. She thinks about how the story is long and awful, but she is compelled to tell it. To Be Continued…

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Not bad! (source)

Body Count: 5 (nine if you include the off page deaths of Matthew, Constance, Edward, and Mary)! Some weren’t the most historically accurate of deaths, but whatever. If Stine wants to burn his witches, who’s to stop him?

Romance Rating: 2. I feel like Norah and Daniel are going to be something significant, but we haven’t seen them interact yet. But Edward was a piece of shit to Susannah and Jeremy was a big ol’ lie.

Bonkers Rating: 7! I was legitimately caught off guard by the William Goode reveal, Jeremy’s head exploding is pretty hard to deny as being bonkers.

Fear Street Relevance: It’s gonna get 10s across the board! This is the history of the Fear family, guys!

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger: 

“‘Edward Fier is engaged to be married,’ her father said. “Edward is to marry a young woman of Portsmouth. His father told me this morning.'”

… Cliffhanger maybe, but Edward sounds like a true dink so Susannah should have cut her losses and went to join a REAL coven to free herself from the idiot men in her life.

That’s So Dated! Moments: Given that these are historical fiction novels that doesn’t really apply here.

Best Quote:

“Innocence died today, But my hatred will live for generations. The Fiers shall not escape me. Wherever they flee, I will be there. My family’s screams shall become the Fiers’ tortured screams. The fire that burned today shall not be quenched – until revenge is mine, and the Fiers burn forever in the fire of my curse!”

Gotta say, this fired me up and made me solidly #TeamGoode.

Conclusion: “The Betrayal” was a dark and solid start to the three part origins of the Fear Family and Fear Street! It will be interesting to see how this Hatfields and McCoys-esque feud will escalate, as I have to imagine it’s just going to get worse. Up next is “The Secret”!

A Revisit the Fear Street: “The Dead Lifeguard”

176563Book: “The Dead Lifeguard” (A Fear Street Super Chiller) by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Pocket Books, 1993

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

Book Description: In too deep…

The lifeguards at North Beach Country Club know they’re lucky. While other kids are flipping burgers, they’re sunning themselves by day and partying by night. So what if some people say the place is cursed, haunted. This is the life!

And then, one by one, the lifeguards start to die horrible deaths. Someone—or something—evil is stalking them. They all know how to save other people’s lives…but who will save theirs?

Had I Read This Before: Yes.

The Plot: We start with one of R.L. Stine’s patented Killer Talking To Potentially Imaginary/Dead Friend Intro®, with someone named “Mouse” talking to someone named Terry (with the ‘don’t talk just listen’ bit to make us think that maybe Terry CAN talk, but we all know better, right?). Mouse informs Terry that not only have they passed the lifeguard test, but they can’t stop thinking about that last summer, and how Terry is dead because of the lifeguards. So now it’s revenge time as Mouse is heading to North Beach Swim club to kill the lifeguards, as it’s their fault Terry is dead. Auspicious start!

We now move onto Lindsay Beck arriving at North Beach Country Club. She’s excited for the summer, so excited that she forgot to pack her sunblock! She’s a lifeguard again this summer, as she was the previous summer, and she wonders if anyone else has come back. As a rain storm starts up she rushes to the gate of the pool area, and she can see at least one of her fellow lifeguards inside the guest house. She tries to open the gate but it’s locked, and she remembers that she has an ID card that she can swipe to give access. But it too doesn’t work. She decides to start calling towards the guest house in hopes someone will hear her, but then she looks in the pool and sees a girl drowning in the pool. She screams.

Note: This book is split into multiple POVs per chapter, and while I tried to tackle them independently it just became too convoluted. So just know that sometimes narrators change and their reliability does too.

Danny is the head lifeguard and he’s having a meeting with his team. There’s Cassie, who has white blonde hair and a ‘sexy whispery’ voice and I’m just picturing Joey Lauren Adams (have I just dated myself?). Cassie is afraid of the thunder from the storm that’s just started. Then there’s Runty Arnie, who makes bad jokes; Deirdre, whose main feature is being ‘hot’ (I get that this is Danny’s POV but sheesh, that’s all the girl gets huh?); May-Ann, who is quiet and shy; and Pug, who sounds like a stereotype of a lifeguard with curly blonde hair and a meat head attitude. They suddenly hear screaming from outside. Danny and Arnie go running outside to see what Lindsay wants, and she tells them about the girl who is floating in the pool. But when they look they don’t see anything. Danny and Arnie lead her inside and she meets the other lifeguards. She tells them that she SWEARS she saw someone, there really was no one there. They ask her what she’s doing there and she says she’s a lifeguard like them. When Danny looks on his roster, he doesn’t see her name. She insists that she does TOO belong there, and shows him her ID card. Danny asks if this is the one that was just sent to her, and she says yes, but he points out that it’s two years old. While everyone else is looking at Lindsay like she’s a nut, May-Ann offers to let her get changed into dry clothes in her room. Lindsay asks everyone if everyone is new, and they confirm that they are, so no one will remember her from the year before. Pug says he was a guest the year before but doesn’t remember her, and they figure that Pete the athletic director will be able to clear it all up when he arrives. May-Ann lets Lindsay get changed and visits with her pet mouse Munchy (why you brought your pet to your summer job is kind of beyond me, but I get missing one’s pets), and then Lindsay asks May-Ann how all these things could be going so wrong, the ID card, the list, the girl she thought she saw. May-Ann says they will get it all sorted out. They go back into the main room, and after Arnie kills the conversation with another bad joke, May-Ann tells Lindsay that she knows who she saw in the pool: it was one of the resident ghosts. When pressed, she tells them that every summer a person dies. The summer before a fourteen year old boy drowned, and two summers ago one of the lifeguards drowned. May-Ann says that these ghosts haunt the club now, and while most of the people don’t believe her they all get a little freaked when the door to the room opens and no one is there. But then someone is there, another lifeguard who says he’s Spencer Brown and his ride was late. Lindsay is convinced that she recognizes him, and when she says hi he kind of balks, but then says he recognizes her too. Then Pete arrives and FINALLY, and adult presence. He asks Danny if he’s assigned rooms to everyone yet, and Danny says he has. But he also says that Lindsay is here and she isn’t on the list. Pete doesn’t remember her either, and asks her when they talked. She doesn’t remember. Pete thinks it’s weird that he doesn’t remember her either, but he says that since she’s passed her tests she can be alternate lifeguard, and Danny says she can bunk with May-Ann. While Deirdre and Cassie fight about assignments (but they’re really fighting about Pug because Deirdre likes him for some reason but be likes Cassie), Lindsay is relieved she can stay, but realizes she doesn’t remember ANYTHING about Spencer.

Cut to Mouse talking to Terry (aka talking into an off the hook phone as a busy signal no doubts shrills). Mouse asks Terry if they should kill their roommate first. After all, everything Mouse is doing is for Terry.

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(source)

Over dinner Danny is jealous that Pug is getting all the attention from the ladies, Cassie is insisting upon building a fire even though it’s the dead of summer, and Lindsay is obsessing. She asks Spencer if he was the lifeguard when the kid drowned that past summer, but he says he wasn’t even on the property at that time and it sounds like he’s really worried about liability or something. She asks him if he has seen the ghosts, and he seems confused, but May-Ann insists they’re real. May-Ann is pretty much me as a tween and I really love her for that. Cassie screams and says she sees a ghost, but she’s just joking, which pisses May-Ann off and she storms out of the dining room. Danny asks his team to lay off May-Ann but no one seems to want to listen except Lindsay, who says it was her fault for asking Spencer about it. Soon Pug and Spencer are taking out the tried and true dick measuring contest by arm wrestling, and as Pug is pressing against Spencer’s arm there’s a huge CRACK sound. Spencer looks like he’s about to lose it, but SURPRISE, it was just Cassie breaking a piece of kindling! What a character! Everyone laughs as Spencer tries to stop his heart from beating through his ribcage, and he says that he would have won had Cassie not scared him. Pug then stuffs Arnie in a wastebasket and that’s the end of the night. When Lindsay goes back to her and May-Ann’s room to see if she’s okay, May-Ann isn’t there. Then a lame cliffhanger moment happens (more on that later) that establishes that May-Ann REALLY likes mice…. I smell seafood. Red herring, specifically.

Mouse POV again. Mouse is now telling Terry that everyone laughed at them tonight and that just won’t do. Revenge, Terry, killing, blah blah blah.

On Lindsay’s life guard shift the next day she’s lamenting her sunburn and noticing that Cassie and Pug have officially hooked up. Lindsay notices May-Ann getting all primped and asks her if she’s going out, but May-Ann doesn’t answer. Later that night, Lindsay is awakened from sleep by a voice outside the door of someone calling for help. May-Ann heres it too and they go to investigate, worried that someone is hurt or in danger. But NAH, it’s just Cassie and Pug again, playing a pretty dumb and reckless trick on them. Cassie gives May-Ann crap for thinking that she was a ghost, and hey Cassie, maybe she thought that you were someone in actual need of help? May-Ann tells her that she’ll be sorry, and rushes to her room crying.

At breakfast the next day Cassie has told everyone about her dumb prank and they tease Lindsay as she eats. She leaves for her shift before she can see what they do to May-Ann, and so much for roommate solidarity! While on her shift she notices all the ladies in the pool fawning over Pug and Cassie looking mad about it. After Artie relieves Lindsay she runs into Spencer, who is doing a great impression of a privileged rich woman who gave him a tip of twenty five cents and told him to put it towards his college fund, and if THAT doesn’t still sting I don’t know WHAT does. She tries to figure out how she knows him, as she still can’t remember, but he runs off before she can prod him. Later, she wakes up in the middle of the night, and sees May-Ann is missing. It’s so hot in the room she decides to go for a midnight swim in the pool. But when she goes outside, she sees the floating girl again! She doesn’t hesitate and jumps in, hoping to save her. But when she pulls her up, the girl’s face is HER FACE! It whispers ‘I’m Lindsay’, and then starts to decompose until it’s just a skull. Then Lindsay wakes up. Yep, it was just a dream. But May-Ann is still not in bed AND now there is another voice calling Lindsay’s name. Lindsay wonders if it’s May-Ann, and decides to follow it. She eventually winds up in the dining hall, and someone has built a HUGE fire in the fireplace. And…. in the fireplace… IS CASSIE! FACE FIRST! Lindsay pulls her out but yeah, it’s far too late, the girl’s face has been burned off. So now we know that Cassie was sultry, mean spirited, and decidedly NOT the Dragon.

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And for anyone interested, yes, I STILL Stan the hell out of Dany and almost all Targaryens and I’m NOT SORRY! (source)

The police arrive and start questioning everyone. Officer Malone asks Lindsay why she was in the dining room in the middle of the night, and Lindsay says she heard a voice, and Malone seems to be suspicious. Eventually the cops tell everyone they can go back to bed. May-Ann reiterates that someone dies every summer, and Danny thinks that she is smiling a little too much.

Mouse again. Mouse tells Terry that they killed one of the lifeguards and that they’ll let Terry know when they kill again. Yawn.

A couple days later Lindsay is trying not to think about the horribly mutilated body she found or the fact that the cops seemed suspicious of her. She then realizes that she hasn’t talked to her parents at all since she arrived, which is odd because USUALLY they’re all about communication. So she goes to her room and calls her number…. But the number is out of service. She tries again and again, but still no connection. She even tries calling information, but there is no one in Shadyside listed under her parents names. Thinking something is terribly wrong, she decides to drive down to Shadyside that day and see if they’re okay. Danny gives her permission to go, and she’s off. By the time she makes it to her home on Fear Street she’s in a panic. But she sees a woman through the screen door and bounds up the steps, relieved to see her Mom… but it isn’t her Mom, it’s a random woman. Lindsay says her family lives her, and the woman says there has to be a mistake. When Lindsay drops her name, the woman suddenly looks like she could pass out. She then informs Lindsay that Lindsay Beck is DEAD.

Understandably distraught, Lindsay returns to the country club and feels the need to find clues as to what the FUCK is going on. She sneaks into Pete’s office and finds her file. But when she opens it, she does see her status as ‘deceased’. There is also a newspaper clipping that details Lindsay Beck as drowning at the Country Club pool two years ago. LINDSAY IS THE DEAD LIFEGUARD.

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It’s a little early for this kind of reveal, and also I don’t think ghosts can get sunburns. (source)

Mouse again. Mouse hasn’t been talking to Terry for awhile because they’ve been so busy with their lifeguard duties. But don’t worry, they are still working on killing them all, they just have their tan to think about as well.

Two days after Lindsay’s trip to Shadyside she’s stewing and refusing to believe she’s dead. While Pug and Artie continue to display preenings of toxic masculinity by rough housing and sniping at each other, May-Ann tries to bring up the ghost talk again. Then Pug turns his unchanneled and unhealthy anger her way, and starts yelling at her (and if you think he’s still traumatized about Cassie, I can assure you he’s not; he’s already flirting with other girls). As everyone starts yelling at each other Arnie suggests that he and Lindsay go get some air. Lindsay agrees, but before long Arnie is shoving her up against a tree and trying to kiss her, and HOLY SEXUAL ASSAULT. Spencer then comes up the path and pulls Arnie off of her, and Arnie rushes off. Lindsay thanks him and they get to talking. She tries again to ask him if he can tell her anything about their friendship, and he evades the questions. He tells her that she left so suddenly that they didn’t have time to get to know each other, and then won’t tell her what that means.

The next day Lindsay is on duty, and we have a particularly cringey moment where Arnie comes up and tells her that he’s sorry about the night before, but that he’s not a bad guy, he just made a mistake. To make it even worse, Lindsay concedes that she may have ‘overreacted’, and I could have thrown my smartphone in disgust when I read this. Arnie then asks her if she wants to go on a date, and she turns him down. And he keeps pushing because GUYS, HE IS A PREDATOR. She doesn’t have to answer as he’s called away, and then Lindsay notices a woman staring at her. The woman says she recognizes her and asks her how she’s doing, but looks shocked to see her. Lindsay wants to yell at her that she is, in fact, alive, but the woman rushes off.

Dinner that night is tense, and while trying to take a walk to settle her mind Lindsay sees Pug and May-Ann arguing by the weight room, with May-Ann telling him to keep his big mouth shut. Is he about to reveal that he knows she’s a killer, or is it perhaps that he’s just a creepazoid asshole who has been picking on her ever since they arrived? Regardless of what it’s about, Lindsay can’t catch all the details, and Deirdre comes up behind her and bitches about how Pug is now hitting on May-Ann. Lindsay doesn’t think they’re romantically involved, as May-Ann has better taste than that I’m sure (projecting? Maybe). But then she sees them walk off together with his arm around her shoulders. Lindsay goes back to her room and tries her parents once more, but still nothing. She doesn’t think she’s dead, but also doesn’t know WHAT is going on. She falls asleep, but wakes up in the middle of the night again, and AGAIN May-Ann isn’t in the room. But that voices outside the door is back, and it tells Lindsay to follow. So, like a dummy, she does, and it eventually takes her to the weight room. And LO AND BEHOLD, there is Pug, and his windpipe has been crushed by a barbell! And then Lindsay turns around and sees Pete in the doorway!

The police come again, and Pete says that he found Lindsay standing over Pug’s body. Lindsay notices a spider crawling into Pug’s nose (YUCK). They all go to the common room for questioning, and Officer Malone really starts to press Lindsay about the voice she heard, and Lindsay shouts at her that she must think that Lindsay killed Pug! Always a good strategy, going apeshit on the police. Officer Malone says Lindsay needs to calm down, and when another officer asks her why she looks so familiar Lindsay wants to yell that she’s a ghost of a girl who died a couple years ago. Which also wouldn’t be sound, strategy wise. Lindsay then overhears May-Ann saying that she believes Lindsay, but also saw Lindsay looking at her and Pug right before Pug died with a strange look on her face.

MOUSE AGAIN. Bragging about Pug, saying they have the next target in mind, etc etc etc.

A few nights later Lindsay can’t take it anymore. While the police think that someone broke onto the property and killed Cassie and Pug, Lindsay feels like everyone thinks that she did it. She asks Danny to borrow his car keys and just decides to drive. Unfortunately, Arnie hid in the back seat, and when she confronts him about this unacceptably creepy behavior he said that he wanted to cheer her up. He tells her that he doesn’t think that she’s a killer, but then starts to put his hands on her again. She pulls over, gets out, goes around the car, opens his door, and DEMANDS that he get the FUCK out or else she’s going to flag down a car and call the police on his entitled, disgusting ass.

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HELL YEAH, LINDSAY! (source)

Lindsay gets back to the club and everyone is poolside. Danny is happy that she’s back okay, and she tells him that she left Arnie on the side of the road. They tell Lindsay to get in her swim suit and join them, and she agrees. They’re all having fun, until May-Ann pushes Deirdre into the pool. Deirdre is fine, but Lindsay starts to scream. When they all rush to her side, she says that she’s NOT Lindsay!! Her name is Marissa and she KILLED Lindsay! Well, kind of. She and Lindsay were lifeguards at the pool two years prior, and were thick as thieves. But one day they got in a petty argument by the pool and it turned physical. Marissa shoved Lindsay a little too hard, and Lindsay fell in the pool in just the right way that she hit her head on the concrete, cracking her skull open. Marissa was so traumatized she assumed Lindsay’s personality, unable to believe she was dead. She went to a mental hospital for a few months, but was discharged and everything was okay. But then she ran away and began thinking she was Lindsay again, which is how she came back here. Spencer asks her why she killed Cassie and Pug, and Marissa says that she didn’t, or at least doesn’t remember doing it. Spencer suggests that she blocked it out. But then Marissa remembers something. When they met up each other this summer, he did in fact say that SHE was Lindsay. He says that he didn’t realize that her name wasn’t Lindsay as he didn’t really know her and got confused since that summer was such a blur. Without questioning any of this Marissa decides she needs to call her parents. So she goes to Pete’s office. But when she gets there the phone is ringing. She answers, and the woman on the line says that she needs to explain why her son Spencer hasn’t shown up for his lifeguard job. Marissa is shocked but listens. Spencer was MURDERED!!!

Marissa goes to confront ‘Spencer’, and he says that the real Spencer HAD to die, because he HAD to be a lifeguard to avenge Terry. Folks, Spencer is Mouse. And now Marissa remembers. Mouse and Terry were kitchen staff, and Marissa and the other lifeguards would look down on them because they weren’t lifeguards. They made Mouse and Terry do dives and laps and hold their breath, but then told them that they couldn’t actually certify them. and Terry was SO distraught about this that instead of actually looking into how to get certified, he KILLED himself. Now Mouse is going to kill Marissa because 1) she was mean to them, and 2) she knows too much about Spencer and his involvement in Cassie and Pug’s deaths. Spencer also admits that he was the one who lured Marissa out both nights that Cassie and Pug were killed, as he realized she didn’t remember who she was and that he could make her the perfect patsy. He then drags her to the pool and starts to hold her head under the water. She pretends that she’s lost all her breath, but then pulls him in as well. They struggle, but then it’s my girl May-Ann to the rescue! She jumps in and helps subdue Mouse! Then the others all show up and help hold Mouse down while they call authorities. Marissa explains everything, and May-Ann explains that the reason she wasn’t in the room those nights was that she and Pete were sneaking around (HE’S TWENTY, SHE’S A MINOR, INAPPROPRIATE!). That was what she and Pug were arguing about. Lindsay says that she needs to go call her parents to tell them that she’s okay. The End.

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Hopefully the rest of their summer looks more like this. (source)

Body Count: 2! From a face in a fireplace to a graphic description of a spider crawling into a dead guy’s nasal cavity, these were pretty nutty deaths to be had!

Romance Rating: 1. There wasn’t really any romance in this one outside of Pug hopping from girl to girl.

Bonkers Rating: 7. The forgotten identity was a fun twist that was executed pretty well!

Fear Street Relevance: 2. Lindsay/Marissa mentions living on Fear Street, but all the action is in a beach town forty miles away.

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:

“I started toward the phone, but stopped when I saw Mary-Ann’s dresser top. ‘Ohh!’ I let out a low cry as my eyes tried to focus in the dim light.

The dresser was crawling with mice!”

…. But it’s just mouse figurines that Mary-Ann has collected over the years in the most heavy handed misdirection ever.

That’s So Dated! Moments: Sadly this book didn’t have many moments that stand out as dated. Sure, one could say that an Internet search could have been beneficial, but that could be said for most of the “Fear Street” books.

Best Quote:

“Cassie and Deirdre both came on to Pug all through dinner. I admit it, I was turning as green as the steamed spinach that no one touched. I’m the big cheese, after all, the main guy. Those girls were supposed to come after MY bod!”

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Me trying to discern if I love or hate this quote with all my heart. (source)

Conclusion: “The Dead Lifeguard” actually held up from my youth and felt like a fun way to start the summer! I remember liking it as a kid and I was entertained as an adult. Up next we start our final “Fear Street” Trilogy, with “The Betrayal”. 

 

Kate’s Review: “The Spirit in the Crypt”

The Spirit in the Crypt - Ebook CoverBook: “The Spirit in the Crypt” by Alexander Lound

Publishing Info: Self Published, June 2019

Where Did I Get This Book: The author sent me an eARC.

Book Description: When fifteen-year-old Jonathan Roberts goes out with his friends on a summer night, he doesn’t expect to be forced to enter a crypt by Francis Everton. To be forced to look at skeletons decaying in their graves.

To hear the voice, screaming at him. Screaming into his mind. Commanding him to leave.

What the voice in the crypt belongs to, he can only wonder. A demon? A ghost? It gives him nightmares for weeks afterwards. Of skeletons strangling him. And then, bizarrely, of a girl from his school, making the long walk across the graveyard and entering the crypt. Never to come out before his waking.

When he returns to school in September, he never expects to learn that something awful has happened to the girl, turning his fear to panic.

Panic which will force him to unravel the mystery of the crypt, and in doing so, many mysteries about himself.

Review: Thank you to Alexander Lound for approaching our blog and sending me an eARC of this book!

It’s been a little bit since I read a good old fashioned angry ghost story, and luckily I didn’t have to look far. I was approached by YA author Alexander Lound to see if I’d be interested in reading his new book “The Spirit in the Crypt”, and by the time I was diving in I realized that I had been in a serious mood for a story such as this. It checks off the boxes of subgenres in horror that I greatly enjoy: it has an angry ghost, it has a cute romance, and it has a psychic/medium theme to it. Add in some gloomy weather in my neck of the woods and it’s a perfect atmosphere to indulge in a spooky story!

What I liked most about “The Spirit in the Crypt” is that Lound makes his main character Jonny a pretty realistic teenage boy. While he definitely stands out from other kids his age in some ways, in a lot of other ways he ultimately wants to live a normal life and has the kinds of flaws you see in a lot of kids like him. From making questionable friend decisions to making impulsive choices, there were plenty of times where I wanted to smack him upside the head, but also could see a lot of realism within him. After he’s found himself pulled into a supernatural mystery, starting with an encounter in a crypt and escalating as he starts to see visions of children who have ended up in unexplained comas, Jonny has to look into himself and find out how he’s connected, and how far empathy will take him. Another aspect I liked about his character development was that not only was it about him figuring out his own supernatural abilities, but also learning about the power of empathy for those who have been victimized. Though there are a number of interesting ways this manifests, for me the most rewarding was when he befriends a girl named Cassy, who was the target of some pretty terrible sexual harassment at the hands of her ex boyfriend, who also happened to be a friend of Jonny’s for a time. Seeing Jonny have to reconcile the fact he’d shrugged off the abuse (never supported it or encouraged it, but didn’t discourage it either) was an arc that we’ve seen before (and frankly can be seen as frustrating when it’s framed as ‘he sees her as a person now that he’s gotten to know her and learned why he was wrong!’). But I felt that the way it developed and progressed in this story was more palatable if only because their friendship is definitely based on more than Jonny learning a lesson.

I’m also just a huge sucker for stories about mediums and ghosts. Jonny is taken under the wing of a psychic named Aaron, and they have to work together to figure out why this mysterious (and super pissed) ghost is victimizing kids. It also has a huge focus on Jonny himself learning about his own powers in this way, and boy oh boy do these kinds of stories really hit all my genre buttons! From seances to visions to exploring the true motivations behind the angry ghost, I was pretty hooked as I read this book. I also like it when an author or storyteller tries to give more depth to an antagonist, especially a ghostly one, and in this story there is a lot of background and reasoning that comes to light that makes the plot feel like it has more weight, both in a complexity sense and an emotional sense. I won’t spoil anything here, but I was pleasantly surprised with how much we got to learn about the titular spirit.

Was this book particularly scary? Perhaps not so much to me, but I’m old hat at this genre and it kinda takes a lot/very specific things to get me creeped out. But I think that for teens this is probably going to be a good match for levels of fear, as it does have its moments of creep factor in it. Because honestly, while I wasn’t particularly scared, I did find myself rather unsettled about being locked in a crypt, ghostly presence or not.

All in all, I thought that “The Spirit in the Crypt” was a fun read! I’m pleased that it showed up in my inbox, and given that it sounds like the start to a series, I can absolutely see myself reading the next one!

Rating 8: A fun and satisfying YA ghost story with a likable protagonist and the kind of story that I just love: mediums and angry ghosts.

Reader’s Advisory:

“The Spirit in the Crypt” isn’t on any Goodreads lists, but I think that it would fit in on “YA Novels and Psychic Abilities”, and “Young Adult Ghost Stories”.

“The Spirit in the Crypt” isn’t available on WorldCat as of now, but it will be available for purchase in June. For more information, go to Alexander Lound’s WEBSITE.

A Revisit to Fear Street: “Bad Moonlight”

176343Book: “Bad Moonlight” (A Fear Street Super Chiller) by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Archway Paperbacks, 1994

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

Book Description: She wasn’t just crying wolf…

Danielle Verona can’t believe the band picked her to be their new lead singer. She’s on the road, performing at all the hot clubs. The adoring fans, the bright lights— it’s a dream come true!

But when nighttime falls, Danielle can feel the terror in the darkness. There’s eerie howling outside her window. And then a band member is killed—ripped to shreds by a wild animal. Danielle knows something is out there, lurking in the moonlight. Something savage…and hungry.

Had I Read This Before: Yes

The Plot: First I want to give a shout out to my friend Melissa, whose vivid memories of this book inspired me to re-read it myself! On the night of the half moon (mentioned as I’m sure this will be relevant to the timing later in the story), Danielle Verona is making a quick stop at the grocery store. Her physical description is given right away: brown hair with blonde highlights, and a body that looks like she’s twelve instead of eighteen. Why THAT is relevant, I’m not sure I want to know. Her obnoxious younger brother Cliff and her Aunt Margaret are also at the store. Margaret (who is described with bleached red hair? What does that mean? All we get beyond that is that she looks ‘hard’ and ‘tough’). Danielle and Cliff live with Margaret because their parents died, and she’s been very loving to them. Danielle has just returned from a two week trip with her band, and seems to be feeling strange. As she goes to look for Cliff, she wanders the aisles, feeling super cold and out of it. Before she knows it, she’s torn into a package or raw beef and started eating it! When Cliff asks her what she’s doing, she replies that she doesn’t know.

Let’s go back in time now! Specifically a couple weeks prior when Danielle and her as of now unnamed band members are traveling between gigs! Let’s meet her fellow bandmates. There’s Billy, the manager of the band and the twenty two year old hanging out with a bunch of teens. There’s Kit, the hot roadie that all the ladies have a crush on. There’s Dee, the former lead singer and now back up singer (and the one diverse character that Stine threw in here, so NATURALLY she is jealous of Danielle, who replaced her on vocals). There’s Caroline, the bubbly keyboardist that Danielle really likes, and Mary Beth the drummer, who doesn’t have much of a personality beyond being good at the drums. And last and totally least is Joey, the ‘sound guy’ who is presently driving the van at dangerous speeds as he fancies himself a Blues Brother and/or Corey Hart as he drives with his sunglasses on at night. Joey is a real creep who keeps asking Danielle for a kiss and he’s supposed to come off as crude and fun loving as opposed to a sexual harasser. As they drive Danielle thinks about the day she auditioned for the band, and how everyone loved her but Dee. When they took her on Dee cornered her in the driveway and told her that she doesn’t belong in the band. So now Danielle is intimidated by her. As Joey drives like an idiot and makes sexist jokes, Danielle suddenly freaks out as he DRIVES THE VAN OFF A CLIFF, and by that I mean he doesn’t actually do that, but Danielle has a hallucination that he did. She has hallucinations, you see. Joey says that since it’s a full moon and the moon makes him a little ‘wild’, that’s why he’s driving like a guy with a death wish. Danielle thinks about how her parents died in a car accident on a night like this one, in a similar way that her hallucination happened. She also seems to remember their bodies cut up by rocks, though she wasn’t there and her aunt Margaret never told her any details… She thinks about how her therapist Dr. Moore has been trying to help her with these hallucinations and hopes he can help her soon. The moonlight makes her shiver and then her hair stands straight up on end I guess?

They arrive at the hotel and after Caroline and Danielle drop their bags on in their room they go to the elevator to meet up with their bandmates to check out the club. Dee tells her that she has to talk to her and grabs her arm tightly, but Danielle, convinced Dee just wants to yell at her, blows her off. They all arrive at the club to check it out, and soon Joey is once again harassing Danielle and inviting her to his room and trying to force her to dance (SHE SAID NO YOU CREEP). She declines, and Bill shoos him off to help Kit with equipment stuff for the gig the next night. He then says that Joey ‘comes on kind of strong’.

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My feelings towards many a dude right now between this and current events. (source)

Billy asks Danielle if she’s nervous about the show, and tells her that she’s going to be great. Danielle is more worried about Dee, who is staring at them from across the room. Danielle thinks that perhaps Dee has a thing going with Billy and is jealous, even though Billy isn’t doing anything untoward or unprofessional in this moment. Kit comes up and asks Danielle if she’d like to go for a walk, and now Danielle thinks that perhaps it’s KIT that Dee wants and that’s why she is mad! Because now KIT clearly, CLEARLY, wants to do her. She happily accepts, as Kit is cute, and she likes being ‘seen as a groupie’ or something? There was a weird quote like that, I don’t know. They get to a local park, the moonlight making her uneasy again, and he tells her that he’s wanted to be alone with her for awhile. They start to make out, but the mood is ruined when Danielle bites his lip so hard she makes him bleed! Horrified, she runs all the way back to the hotel. She bursts back into her room and Caroline asks what’s going on, and Danielle says that she has to see Dr. Moore! Unable to do anything in that moment, Caroline tells her to take a shower and relax. Once she does, and once Caroline gets in the shower for her turn, Danielle decides to try and write a new song, as she’s a lyrical wunderkid. She whips up a song about Bad Moonlight and Caroline is so impressed she gathers up the rest of the band to listen. The band then says that their name should be Bad Moonlight! They then decide to go their separate ways for the night. Caroline says she’s going to walk Billy out, and Danielle is so tired she falls right asleep. She startles awake around midnight to the sound of an animal making horrible noises outside, in fact, you could say that it’s howling. Danielle whispers for Caroline, but no answer. There is, however, a knocking on the door. It’s Dee, who whispers that she has to talk to Danielle, and Danielle ignores her until Dee leaves.

The next day Danielle goes back to Shadyside to see Dr. Moore before the gig that night. She tells him about her hallucination, the strange song she wrote, and biting Kit’s lip until he bled. Dr. Moore tells her that this is something that sometimes happens when two people who are attracted to each other kiss (uhhhh NOT ESPECIALLY), and in regards to her hallucination he starts doing some hypnotherapy for her, as is his usual method. She tells him that she sees herself running across a field as the moonlight pours down on her. She says she feels angry, and she turns around to fight someone or something that has been chasing her. He snaps her out of it, and tells her that letting her fantasies run their course will help her with her anger that she has over her parents’ deaths. She thinks that maybe this is all normal, but then looks at the arms of the chair she’s sitting in. She’s ripped them to shreds.

That night the gig goes well and the crown is chanting ‘BAD MOONLIGHT!’ over and over again, so Danielle encores with the same song that she presumably just played as if this is an episode of The Teletubbies. Danielle sees Kit watching her from the audience, and it makes her more confident. After the club has closed down the band is too excited to go home just yet, and Billy suggests that they go to the coffee shop at the hotel since it’s the only thing open at one in the morning. Joey also picks up Danielle and kisses her without her consent, and UGHHHHHH, can we please just get rid of him!? Danielle is concerned because Kit saw the whole thing and looked miffed. Still too wired to come down completely, she asks Caroline to order her a rare cheeseburger when she gets to the coffeehouse because she’s going to take a walk. While on her walk,  she jumps over a high wall with ease and lands on all fours. When she stands up in the moonlight, she notices that her nails have grown long and look gnarled and crusty!! Then, someone runs up beside her. It’s Joey!…..

And then it’s the next morning and a number of the band members have gotten together for breakfast. Everyone but Joey. They ask Danielle where she was the night before as she never showed, but she says she just went back and straight to bed. The reality is she doesn’t remember. No one knows where Joey is, and Dee says that he said something to her about Danielle before he left. Danielle notices that Dee seems nervous. The band eventually meets up in the lobby, ready to head home to Shadyside, but still no Joey. Danielle notices Caroline and Kit talking in low tones, and she hopes that there isn’t anything going on btween them. As they all start to load up the van, emergency vehicles rush down the street towards the park, and Kit says they should go rubberneck see what’s going on. When they get to the park, they see an ambulance. Dee and Kit rush ahead, and soon Dee screams. When Danielle gets to the scene, she sees a dead body, it’s clothes and skin all torn up. And, wouldn’t you know it, it’s Joey.

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No great loss there. (source)

Three weeks later, Danielle is in Dr. Moore’s office, lamenting that she couldn’t POSSIBLY have killed Joey! But she also admits that she doesn’t remember what happened that night, so maybe she DID kill him. Dr. Moore says that she was probably over tired and that’s why she doesn’t remember what happened, and that in all likihood she went back to her room without incident. He says that she’s still trying to work through the death of her parents and that she probably wont’ actually act on her fantasies, and performs more hypnotherapy on her just to ease her mind.

On the way to the next gig, Danielle is feeling a lot better. Dee is upset that they’re just continuing on as if Joey was never important, and newsflash, Dee, that’s exactly right. He was awful. Danielle tells the band that she wrote a new song specifically for Dee to sing, and it’s just kind of “Bad Moonlight” again, but with more aggressive lyrics, like ‘don’t let me kill again’. Everyone LOVES it, however. Except Dee, who accuses Danielle of killing Joey and proceeds to jump on her and strangle her! Mind you, we’re still in a moving vehicle here! The van pulls over and Kit pulls Dee off, and Danielle says that she didn’t write that song to accuse Dee of anything. Kit reminds them that they have a show to do so they all need to just chill out. Danielle notices that Mary Beth the drummer looks nervous, but Danielle doesn’t know if she’s scared of Dee or scared of her. They eventually make it to their next destination in spite of band strife and a thunderstorm. Danielle gets out of the van, and then for some unknown reasons she sprints down the sidewalk. Once she can’t run anymore, she falls on all fours and starts to drink water in the puddles on the ground next to her. Like you do when you’re a wolf.

At the club the next morning the band is rehearsing and the club owner is already counting all the money he’s bound to get from their appearance. Because he heard that Danielle is ‘dy-no-mite’. Danielle is still on edge because of how Dee’s been acting, and how she drank rain water from a dirty gutter. May wanna get tested for giardia, Danielle. That evening as Danielle and Caroline are trying on outfits for the gig, Billy comes into their room asking if they’ve seen Kit. The last Mary Beth saw him was leaving the club with Dee, and it looked like they were fighting. Danielle is worried when she hears this, and as they all go to look for Kit she runs ahead, in a way that I would describe as aimlessly. She arrives at an empty lot, and sees Dee standing over Kit. She yells out, and Dee smiles at her, and then attacks Kit! Danielle starts to scream, and Caroline runs up behind her asking her what’s wrong. Danielle yells about Kit and Dee, but Caroline tells her that Kit and Dee aren’t there, it’s two kids just wrestling. Another hallucination strikes again! Caroline says they should go back to the hotel, and asks Danielle what Dr. Moore has said about all this. When Danielle tells her that he says her hallucinations happen because of her memories of her parents deaths, and Caroline says that ‘makes sense’. NOT REALLY, CAROLINE. Danielle is still wondering why she just knows her parents were torn up when no one told her they were. She asks Caroline not to tell Billy about this, and Caroline agrees. When they get back to the hotel, Kit and Dee are there. Kit says he was catching up with friends, and Dee says she went on a walk.

The gig that night goes great. The band decides to go for a walk by the river afterwards, but when Danielle looks up at the moon she decides she isn’t feeling well enough to be in the ‘bad moonlight’ (Stine is REALLY trying to make this happen). Kit says he wishes she’d come, but she declines. When she gets back to her hotel room, Dee suddenly jumps out of the closet, and tells Danielle to not even ‘try to get away this time’. She says that she knows what really happened to Joey. But before this can be elaborated on, Kit comes into the room and asks them what’s going on. Dee says she was just saying goodnight to Danielle, and rushes away. Danielle says that she’s convinced Dee was going to attack her again and that she said she knew the truth about Joey. When Kit asks what that means, Danielle admits she doesn’t know. And she says it’s weird because Dee didn’t act like she even liked Joey, and Kit says that some people don’t show how they actually feel. But he’s not one of those people. That’s Santana/Rob Thomas levels of Smooth, my man! They start to kiss, but then a howl outside makes Danielle jump and freak out. Kit asks what’s wrong, and she says it’s the howling, but he tells her he can’t hear anything. Put off and feeling a little sheepish, Danielle tells him that she’s tired and needs to work on a song, and says he should go on the walk with their bandmates. Kit is sad that he couldn’t round the bases, but kisses her and tells her goodnight. Danielle tries to ignore the howls, and falls into a not so pleasant sleep. She wakes up a little while later, and Caroline isn’t in her bed. She goes into the hallway, and sees Billy on the floor, and she’s convinced he’s dead…. but no, he’s just drunk. Now THIS is how rock and rollers behave! Late night river walks and cheese burgers my ASS! She wakes him up and asks him why he got so drunk, and he says that he has a lot on his mind. She helps him back to his room, and then he wraps his arms around her and hugs her. She likes the feel of his arms around her (DUDE, SHE’S EIGHTEEN!), and when she presses him to tell her what’s wrong he snaps at her to forget it, and they part ways.

The next day Danielle is back home and she’s telling Aunt Margaret that maybe she should quit the band. Margaret tells her that she should just rest up and see how she feels after the next show, but Danielle insists that her hallucinations have only been getting worse. Margaret reminds her that Dr. Moore said this was normal, but Danielle says that maybe if she knew about the accident that killed her parents in full detail she could process things better. Margaret says no way and then makes up an excuse to walk away. Danielle mulls over her options of things she could do and decides to call Caroline, but when she picks up the phone she hears Margaret on the line talking to someone. It’s Dr. Moore! He tells her to come over so they can discuss their worries about Danielle. Danielle plays dumb when Margaret comes back into the kitchen, but then goes to snoop once Margaret leaves. She goes to Margaret’s room and starts rifling through her things. She finds a newspaper clipping about her parents’ deaths that says they ‘died mysteriously’, but Margaret always told Danielle it was a car accident! To make matters worse, the article says that their bodies looked like they’d been shredded up in an animal attack.

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Were there any shredded tracksuits near by? (source)

At her appointment with Dr. Moore the next day Danielle expresses her confusion and anger towards Margaret, but Dr. Moore tries to assure her that Margaret is just worried about her. He also tells her that their concern isn’t about the hallucinations themselves, but how Danielle reacts to them, and suggests that they do some more hypnosis. In this hallucination/flashback/whateverthefuck, Danielle sees herself running with Dee, and getting into a scuffle with her. Just as Danielle is about to strangle Dee, Dr. Moore snaps his fingers. She tells him that wasn’t really helpful, and says she wants to quit the band. He encourages her to stay in it as it seems to be the only thing she has going for her right now (I guess she’s a high school graduate?). She says she’ll take that advice for now, and the session ends. She’s supposed to meet Caroline in the parking lot so they can go shopping, but whoops, it’s Dee instead. Dee says she wants her out of the band, and that she’s running out of time to leave. They argue and eventually they end up wrestling around on the ground, with Danielle getting very violent with Dee. Caroline breaks it up, and Dee storms off. Danielle tells Caroline that she felt out of control, and Caroline says that everything was probably not as out of control as she thought it was and offers to take her home. But Danielle sees that Caroline looks a little worried.

The next day Danielle and Cliff and playing together, and after Cliff gets hurt Danielle starts to lick the blood off his arm. That night as she tries to relax she starts to write a new song that is also about moonlight (BIG OL SHOCK), but then sees someone in her backyard! It’s just Billy, and she lets him inside so they can talk. He tells her that the gig the next night is sold out, but the bad news is that Dee quit the band. Danielle thinks that it’s her fault, but he tries to assure her it isn’t, but won’t give her an answer when she asks how he could think that. After he leaves she calls Kit to voice her concerns/suspicions about Billy, and he tells her that Billy is probably just stressed. He invites her over and she agrees to stop by. When she gets there he suggests they go for a walk, and they start to walk down Fear Street (CONTINUITY ERROR! It was stated that Kit lived in a carriage house on a North Hills estate! North Hills isn’t in the same area as Fear Street, it’s the rich part of town!). She suddenly has an urge to run randomly. As she runs way ahead of Kit, she smells a rabbit, and decides to chase after it, thinking about how she can taste the blood already.

SMASH CUT TO rehearsal the next day. Billy thinks they sound like shit, and the new backup singer/bass player Shawna is probably questioning why she agreed to join this band. Danielle assures her that he isn’t usually like this, he’s probably just nervous about playing at Red Heat (yes, THE Red Heat! Been so long since we had reference to it!). Kit asks Danielle if he upset her since she ran away the night before, but she says no. They all decided to play her new song in her ‘Moonlight’ catalog. Well that’s what I’m calling it because so many songs about Moonlight that aren’t part of a multi song story arc is just ridiculous. After they’re done Danielle asks Billy what his problem is but he doesn’t answer. That night before the show the band is getting ready and Shawna says she needs to go get her bass, which is in a big trunk in the dressing room. Danielle offers to go get it, and when she opens the big trunk, guess what happens! Dee’s body spills out onto the floor! And she’s been shredded up! Danielle wonders if she did this, along with Joey, and makes a break for it. She runs into Billy who grabs her, and tells her that she can’t leave! She breaks away frmo him and keeps running, past Caroline and Mary Beth (remember her? She’s the drummer), and into the night. She worries that Billy may try to come find her at her house, but before she can think too much she hears Caroline calling after her. She stops, and Caroline catches up. Danielle begs for Caroline’s help, saying that Billy is going to kill her, and that they have to get to her house to warn Margaret and Cliff. Caroline says she should calm down, but then the moon comes out, and guess what! CAROLINE TURNS INTO A SWEARWOLF WEREWOLF!!! For a moment Danielle tries to reason with her, but there’s no reasoning with a werewolf, Danielle, and wolf!Caroline grabs her. A car suddenly drives past and Danielle yells for help as she breaks away from wolf!Caroline. The car stops, and Danielle realizes it’s a van! It’s Billy and Mary Beth who have come to save the day! And by that I mean they too suddenly turn into werewolves. They back her into a corner, but once the clouds cover the moon they all say that she doesn’t have to worry. Then another car pulls up and it’s Kit, saying to run with him, that they’re in a werewolf band. Billy says that Kit is one of them but Kit says that Danielle can trust him, and Danielle doesn’t know what to believe. But she decides to believe Kit, and they start to run away as the moon comes back. But wolf!Billy catches up with Kit and tackles him, and Kit tells her to run and save herself. Danielle throws mud in the eyes of wolf!Mary Beth and wolf!Caroline, distracting them in time for her to run to the van and get inside. It takes a bit but it starts, and Danielle drives away to safety planning to come back for Kit.

Danielle rushes home and finds Aunt Margaret. She says that they have to call the police because werewolves are chasing her and Kit is in danger, but Aunt Margaret balks, and says that they can’t call the police because it would ruin the plans that they all have for her. Danielle thinks that she’s having one of her hallucinations, but nope. Margaret confesses that she isn’t, in fact, Danielle’s aunt. Danielle’s actual aunt died the same way her parents did, disemboweled by werewolves! Margaret has been part of a conspiracy to make Danielle a werewolf bride to her master! It must be Billy! Cliff comes in and acts as a momentary distraction, just in time for Billy to show up and for Danielle to break away, making a run for it once again. She gets back to the van, Billy on her heels, but is able to get in. He tells her that she can’t win, but she’s willing to test that theory, and decides to go to Dr. Moore’s house. As she drives she realizes that the moonlight never bothered her until she joined the band. Clouds cover the moon again and Danielle thinks that may buy her time.

She gets to Dr. Moore’s house and pounds on his door. He lets her in and she tells him everything. He tells her to sit and gets her a glass of orange juice to calm her nerves, though I feel like a nice shot of whiskey may do her better. He tells her that he believes her and that perhaps they can work together to find a way to trap the werewolves. Then someone else enters the house and calls out ‘Dad? Where is she?’, and Danielle recognizes that voice. It’s Kit! And Dr. Moore says ‘yes, your bride is waiting for you!’

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I’ve heard of a Werewolf Bar Mitzvah, but a wedding?! (source)

Kit tells her that not only is he a werewolf, he’s the pack leader! All the others are controlled by him, and Dr. Moore has been hypnotizing Danielle to act more like a wolf so that the transition will be easier for her I guess? Kit once saw Danielle a few years prior and decided that she was destined to be his bride and she was absoLUTELY not of age when THAT happened, so they decided to wait. He isolated her (killed her parents and her real aunt) and sent Margaret to keep tabs on her. He killed Joey because Joey knew that she was betrothed to him but flirted/harassed her anyway, and killed Dee because she was trying to warn Danielle. And now he has to take care of Billy since Billy tried to save her tonight. Kit also tells her that once they’re married she will be one hundred percent devoted to him and won’t want to escape. She tries to escape, but Kit grabs her and tells his Dad they’re perform the ceremony now in the backyard in the moonlight. Question: why didn’t Kit turn into a werewolf before? This isn’t explained.

In the yard are the wedding guests, including all the members of the band (who look guilty and chastened), and Margaret. Kit says that before his father marries them, he wants her to sing “Bad Moonlight” to him. Danielle, thinking this could buy her some time, subjects us to the awful lyrics again. She tries to stall, but Dr. Moore tells her to hurry up and do it so they can do the ceremony. She goes from guest to guest, hoping to get some help, and even though Billy can’t help her as he’s under Kit’s thrall, he does tell her that she can save herself by using the ‘bad moonlight’ and I AM SO SICK OF THAT PHRASE. She rejoins Kit and the ceremony starts. But once the moon comes out, Danielle turns into a werewolf (why is this happening now?), and ATTACKS KIT. She lunges and bites him in the throat and won’t let go. As the moon fades away again, she turns back into a human, and Kit is dead. Then Dr. Moore starts shaking and his limbs start flying off (?!), and the same thing happens to Margaret and Kit!! I DON’T UNDERSTAND THIS MYTHOLOGY BUT WHATEVER. Somehow Billy, Mary Beth, and Caroline are spared from this fate and now they’re no longer werewolves because Danielle killed the head werewolf (because I guess it’s the same rules as vampires) in spite of the fact she was never actually a werewolf but somehow turned into a werewolf right when she needed to.

I like to imagine that while all this is going down Shawna is doing a solo set at Red Heat and is just KILLING IT.

Danielle realizes that she has to raise Cliff on her own now but ‘can face anything’ since she killed a werewolf all by herself (honey, you haven’t tangled with the U.S. Legal System, have you?). Billy puts his arms around her shoulders) (? Are they a thing now? Four years is a big age gap when you’re eighteen and twenty two), and says they don’t have to fear the moonlight anymore. Danielle says that she’s looking forward to some ‘bright sunlight’. The End.

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Sure, whatever, it’s a better ending than “Game of Thrones” could come up with. (source)

Body Count: 5! And what crazy deaths we got out of it as well!

Romance Rating: 2. Given that Kit was ready to make a barely legal and uncooperative bride out of Danielle, I gotta say that the yuck levels were off the charts. She may have better luck with Billy, but…. still.

Bonkers Rating: 8! The werewolf violence, the weird hypnotherapy stuff and EXPLODING BAD GUYS was totally nuts.

Fear Street Relevance: 4. Dr. Moore lived on Fear Street, and the final confrontation was on/around there.

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:

“Danielle heard the crush of metal as the van crashed through the low metal guardrail. She screamed again as the van sailed off the edge of the cliff.”

…. But it was just a hallucination. They were never in any danger.

That’s So Dated! Moments: Almost right out the gate Danielle asks Margaret if she’d make her a chicken dish that she describes as ‘oriental’. Holy shit for the casual racism tossed in here, but we’ve seen it before in these books, sadly.

Best Quote:

“‘Bad moonlight, falling over me, bad moonlight shining down on me, bad moonlight makes me feel so strange and new….'”

Once again, Stine shows us his musicality based talents that we have not seen since the halcyon days of Stevie Nicks….

Conclusion: “Bad Moonlight” was a kind of fun and totally bananas romp that leaned all the way in with supernatural elements. It’s always nice seeing werewolf tales, as they seem to have fallen out of style. Up next is “The Dead Lifeguard”!

A Revisit to Fear Street: “Trapped”

176552Book: “Trapped” (Fear Street #51) by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1997

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

Book Description: Some kids in the sixties used to party in the tunnels under Shadyside High, until something left a bunch of people dead. But that’s just a story, right? Besides, exploring the tunnels is more fun than being stuck in Saturday detention. Too bad there’s no turning back–because in the tunnels there’s no one around to hear your screams.

Had I Read This Before: No.

The Plot: First I REALLY need to talk about that cover. What IS that cover? It looks like it’s trying to be the sleeve for the 1980s remake of “The Blob”, which served as serious nightmare fuel whenever we’d go to the local convenience store to rent a movie and it was RIGHT. THERE. Also, much like last time, the font has totally changed and it’s a weird time to change font when we’re at the end of the original series. But anyway. Our protagonist is Elaine. She’s usually a GREAT student, but after having forgotten to turn in a third assignment in a row for trigonometry she’s found herself at Saturday detention. And it occurs to me that I don’t think we’ve had any substantial “Fear Street” storylines that involve detention? At least not the I can remember. Anyway, it made me nostalgic for my detention days. Elaine arrives and speaks with the new principal, Mr. Savage, who says that he hopes such a good student like her won’t be making a habit of this. He also mysteriously says that he’s learned hard lessons in his life, and tells her where to go. She arrives to the classroom and finds a motley crew of detention kids. You have goody goody Elaine, graffiti aficionado Max, nerd Jerry, tough girl Darlene, and bad boy Bo, who may or may not have stolen a car. I think we’ve found our Bender, ladies and gentlemen, which means I will no doubt have a serious affection for him by the time this book is done.

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Oh GAAHHHD he’s such a PRICK but I JUST LOVE HIM SO MUCH. (source)

Elaine asks if this is detention and Bo tells her that it’s dissection class (so… biology), and when Darlene throws a piece of paper at him in a flirtation ritual he takes out a lighter and sets it ablaze. Jerry is afraid he’ll set off the sprinkler system, and listen, narc, Bo doesn’t give a shit about your RULES. Jerry is there because he refused to dissect a frog in biology class and gee, that seems a bit harsh, being punished for having a conviction about animal mutilation… Bo keeps lighting things on fire and Mr. Savage comes in and tells him to put it out, which Bo does. Elaine is shocked and disgusted but probably also intrigued. Mr. Savage lets us know Darlene is here for cutting class and Max is here for graffiti-ing a school bus. He tells them that if they stay in their seats and focus on their punishment and police themselves they can leave at 3 and that will be that. As he’s leaving, Bo throws a switch blade. But it of course isn’t aimed at him, but at a cork board, and Mr. Savage doesn’t notice. Bo asks Elaine what she’s in for and she tells him it’s for not turning in homework, and Bo is amused. Darlene, unable to stand that he’s paying attention to Elaine (because girls are ALWAYS fighting over boys, right?), plants herself in front of him and says she’s bored. Bo suggests that they all go look for snacks in the cafeteria, and Jerry says he’s not getting in trouble by leaving. Bo specifically asks Elaine if she’s coming, and wanting to prove she’s not a goody goody she says she is. So they head out and down the hallway, and of COURSE Jerry runs to catch up with them. Elaine notices how not nervous Bo is, and given that she’s so responsible she envies his irresponsibility and finds it sexy.

They go to the kitchen and raid the fridge, but after pigging out a bit Elaine notices that Bo has gone missing, and so has one of the big knives. They go looking for Bo, and find him splayed out with a cut throat. It is, of course, a dumb practical joke, and this kid, I swear… They don’t stay mad at him long, however, because they hear Mr. Savage walking down the hallway. They lose track of his movement, but know he could cut them off back to the classroom, and Elaine suggests that they cut through the auditorium. So they get to the auditorium, and dick around on stage a bit. Max destroys some sets, Bo plays with a prop fiddle (as the drama club is doing “Fiddler”!), and Elaine goes exploring backstage. There she finds a strange black curtain hanging in a far off corner. When she pulls it, it reveals a corridor. Which she, of course, has to explore! So she starts down the hallway in the dark but chickens out. Unfortunately, as she’s heading back the floor gives way and she falls through it, plummeting down! She lands hard, and has no idea how far down she is. It’s dark and she feels broken glass and paint cans, and when she tries to stand her ankle hurts like the dickens. Also, a rat drops on her. She screams and it runs away, and she fumbles in the dark, able to find a ladder but unable to put enough weight on her ankle to actually climb it. Luckily her scream is heard by the others. Bo lights his lighter and looks down, telling her she fell through a trap door. She says she can’t climb because of her ankle, and Bo says he’ll come down to get her. Perplexingly they all climb down with him, though Bo is now suddenly quite protective of Elaine. He lights up his lighter again, and they see they’re in a space with LET’S PARTY written on the wall, and multiple hallways to pick from. Bo and Max tell them that it must be the Labyrinth, a tunnel system built to be a bomb shelter like tunnel system during the Cold War. It spreads across all of Shadyside. For years it was used as a party spot for teens, but the tunnels were all closed up after a number of teens died. So NATURALLY Bo and Max want to explore. Darlene and Jerry aren’t convinced and want to go, and Bo tells Elaine she’s the tie breaker. And now that she wants to impress Bo, she says they should explore.

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What indeed. (source)

Bo scrounges up some sticks and some rags from the trash and makes some torches they can use, and they venture into the tunnel on the right. They find a school newspaper from 1972 reviewing ‘the new Doors album’ (bitch, Morrison was long dead by that time, that album wasn’t going to be too great), and head deeper into the tunnels even though now Elaine is losing her nerve. The reach a dead end when they find a big pool of dirty water and trash, and decide to turn back. But it becomes quite clear that they are lost. Bo suggests that they go back across the water, as the tunnels are all over town and there HAS to be an exit somewhere. They manage to find a narrow ledge around the water, but while trying to cross it Elaine slips and falls into the dirty pool. Oh GOD, think of the germs. Bo pulls her out because he’s her protector now, obviously, and lets her wear his army jacket so she doesn’t get a chill. IS SHE GOING TO GIVE HIM HER DIAMOND EARRING BY THE END OF ALL THIS?

They keep going forward, and find a weird bricked up section that looks different from the other walls they’ve seen. The bricks are red instead of cinderblocks. Bo begins poking the mortar with a stick and it falls away, and the one of the bricks pops out about an inch, without any of them touching it. Bo hesitantly tries to push it back in, and then suddenly the wall EXPLODES! Elaine is thrown back into a wall, and as she sits up she notices that only one torch is still lit at this point. Everyone gathers their wits, and Bo relights his torch. Red dust hangs in the air, and they decide to keep going, but before they can, the separate red dust clouds suddenly gather together and surround Max. He says that something is wrong, and then the red mist envelops him and lifts him up! Bo tries to pull him back down, but the mist throws him away and starts BREAKING MAX’S BONES! It pulls Max up more and pretty much just snaps all of his bones IN GREAT DETAIL ON THE PAGE, killing him and flying down one of the tunnels with his corpse.

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That visual is actually horrific!!! (source)

Bo screams and chases the mist down the hallway, and Elaine and the others look on in horror. Jerry says they have to get out of there, and Elaine says that they can’t leave without Bo. Jerry tries to take the torch from her but she says no, and Darlene says that she and Jerry are leaving and they are taking the torch with them whether Elaine likes it or not. After some sniping, Elaine eventually sees reason and agrees to go with them. But, of course, those two book it and Elaine has a bad ankle! She follows the flicker of the torch, and eventually catches up with them, but only because they’ve stopped. Jerry says he thought the water was this way, but it’s nowhere to be seen. Darlene starts to panic, and Elaine grabs the torch back and says that they have to keep moving to get away from the mist. She’s still thinking about Bo, but agrees that they should keep going on their own.

Unfortunately, they almost immediately stumble over a corpse and drop the torch, leaving them in the dark. Darlene thinks it was Bo, which means the mist may be in the dark with them. Elaine says that Bo had the lighter, so if they can find it on his body they can relight the torch. Darlene and Jerry are both too big of wusses to touch the body, so Elaine says she will. But she doesn’t find the lighter, and realizes that these clothes are ragged and old. That wasn’t Bo’s body. Soon they see another light coming, and wonder if the mist can glow. But nope, it’s Bo! He’s alive! Darlene hugs him and he tells them that he tried to get Max’s body back, but wasn’t successful. And whatever that mist was, it’s probably coming for them next. Elaine notes that he doesn’t seem like the cocky prick he was earlier, but a scared boy who saw his best friend killed. Very Bender in his ‘FUCK YOU’ monologue if I do say so myself. Bo makes new torches but says his lighter is out so this is it. As they walk Elaine wonders what this mist could possibly be (GOOD QUESTION). Jerry thinks that if they can figure out where they are under the city they could figure out where the school is, but Bo rightfully points out that that might be hard. They stumble into a room full of garbage and LET’S PARTY written all over the walls, and find ANOTHER tunnel, but oh dear! THE RED MIST IS BACK! Thus a crazy chase begins wtih them running through God knows how many tunnels, and Elaine falls because HER ANKLE and Bo isn’t leaving her behind (even when Darlene insists that he do he does NOT!), and somehow they stumble into the first LET’S PARTY room which is below the stage at the school!! Darlene launches herself up the ladder first, and I can’t blame her, and Bo wants Elaine to go next but she tells him to go because of her ankle, so he does. And as Elaine starts to climb up too the ladder starts to give way!!! But Elaine is convinced they’re all going to make it, but guess what, Jerry does NOT make it. Because the Red Mist surrounds him and starts to squeeze him. Elaine grabs his hand, determined to hold on, and he keeps crying out ‘help me!’ (oh God, this is actually brutal), but the Mist keeps pulling on him and starts to envelop Elaine’s hand. Bo screams at her to let go… And Elaine knows she has to. So she does. The mist grabs Jerry, crumples him up into a BALL, and then flies down into the darkness. I’m honestly upset by all of this. Elaine feels horrible that she let go. But no time to feel bad, because the ladder breaks, sending her and Bo falling into the darkness. They land on the ground below, and Elaine asks Bo to hold her. Which he does. That diamond earring is going to be yours, Judd Nelson! Darlene is dangling from the top rung, unable to hold on much longer. Bo and Elaine tell her to just let go, that Bo will catch her, and she does. She suggests that they could keep calling for help, that Mr. Savage could be around, but Bo is convinced that he’s long gone now. And school won’t open again until Monday, and they probably don’t have time to wait. They have to find another exit. Elaine points out that the only tunnel they haven’t for sure tried is the tunnel the Red Mist came from.

They find the water pool again and continue past it, and find the chamber behind the red bricks. What they find isn’t another tunnel, but a giant pile of dirt and rubble that looks like a cave in. But at the top of the pile there is a hole that could be an exit. Bo starts to climb, but it isn’t easy going because the dirt pile is loose. But he gets up and crawls up through the hole. Elaine and Darlene call up to him, and he assures them he’s okay but that the tunnel is ‘wild’. WHATEVER THAT MEANS, BO. Darlene tells Elaine to go first, and Elaine does. She makes her way up, and into the hole, and it’s a small tunnel that she barely fits in, and oh GOD I’m going to have a panic attack. Elaine feels the same and has a panic attack, convinced she’s going to get stuck, but manages to get through. She finds that the dirt tunnel ends in another chamber, where Bo is waiting for her at the bottom of another dirt pile, and it smells aged and isolated. She slides down to join him, and Darlene comes down behind, and informs them that the tunnel partially collapsed behind her. Bo says that this isn’t where they want to be, and points out six skeletons! Bo says that the cave in must have trapped them, and points out that there are no rats. Darlene says that the Red Mist must have killed them and someone must have put the bricks up to keep the Red Mist in. But Elaine points out that the small garbage in this room was neatly stacked and it was less haphazard. These people weren’t killed by the Red Mist, they must have been trapped inside and starved to death or died of thirst. They look on the wall and see six names written in red paint, which must be the skeletons. But there is also one name carved into the wall with rock: “Scott Savage Knows”. Mr. Savage must have something to do with all of this! Before the can ruminate too long, however, the Red Mist comes out through the dirt tunnel!! Bo makes it focus on him so Elaine and Darlene can make their way back through the dirt tunnel! So noble! But soon the Red Mist has instead poured over the skeletons… BRINGING THEM TO LIFE. That’s fucking badass. Darlene starts to panic and Elaine yells at her to run through them and back up to the tunnel. Elaine beats the skeletons off of her as she runs, and manages to get up to the top of the dirt pile. But she looks down and sees that Darlene has frozen in her tracks. Bo tries to distract the skeletons, and Elaine books it, crawling through the dirt tunnel and coming out the other side. She hears Darlene’s horrible screams, and then silence.

Elaine calls for Bo, and hears footsteps and sees a light coming through the entrance to the chamber that had been bricked up. It’s Mr. Savage! He says that she has to get out of here and asks where the others are, and Elaine tells him that they’re dead. Mr. Savage is upset by this news, and Bo bursts through the dirt tunnel as it collapses behind him. They all tumble into the dirt, but Elaine thinks that the Red Mist is trapped now. Bo says that Mr. Savage is at fault, and they tell him everything they found. Mr. Savage confesses what it is he knows. He went to Shadyside High back in the day and he and his friends went into the tunnels. There was a cave in, and Bo says that’s pretty OBVIOUS and that he wants to get out of here now. Mr. Savage says he’s been carrying this secret for years and NOW he’s going to tell it. I think that’s misguided at best, but whatever. Mr. Savage was on the other side of the collapse, and he called for them but they never answered. Assuming they were dead and wanting to cover his tracks, he bricked up the tunnel. Unfortunately, his friends WEREN’T dead, and they were able to dig their way out… until they ran into his brick wall. Elaine and Bo blame Mr. Savage for everything that happened… but one COULD argue that if they hadn’t ditched out on their detention none of this would have happend either… BUT WHATEVER, potato, po-tah-to. They ask him about the Red Mist and he says he has no clue what they’re talking about and thinks they’re lying about what happened to their classmates. But before they can debate, the Red Mist BURSTS out of the ceiling. And NOW Mr. Savage believes them, and he knows what it is. It’s the VENGEFUL SPIRITS OF HIS DEAD FRIENDS!! The Red Mist didn’t kill those students, it IS those students! Knowing his time has come, Mr. Savage tells Elaine to take six consecutive left turns and that’s the way out. Then the Red Mist envelops him, crunches his bones, and squishes him into a tiny ball. Then the Red Mist and the Savage Ball disappear. Bo and Elaine make six consecutive lefts and make their way out of the tunnels. He asks what they’re going to tell people, and she says she doesn’t know. And they climb up the ladder. The End.

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Wow. What a way to end the series. (source)

Body Count: 4! A little higher than we’ve seen lately, but at this point I think Stine was like “It’s the last one in the series! LET’S DANCE!”

Romance Rating: 2. Elaine and Bo clearly have a thing for each other, but they don’t really act upon it at all.

Bonkers Rating: 9! From endless underground tunnels to a ravenous red mist to moving skeletons, this one was up there for craziness! Again, Stine didn’t give a fuck.

Fear Street Relevance: 2. It took place in Shadyside, but I really don’t think that Fear Street came up.

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger: 

“Elaine stared at his shirt. His neck. His face.

Soaked with blood.

‘Nooo!’ She let out a moan. Bo’s throat. His throat had been cut.”

… Except no, he just played a trick on them.

That’s So Dated! Moments: Darlene refers to Elaine as ‘Miss Yuppie’ at one point, and who even says ‘yuppie’ anymore?

Best Quote:

” ‘What’s the lighter fluid for?’ Jerry demanded. ‘Are you some kind of pyromaniac?’

‘What I do with my spare time is none of your business,’ Bo replied.”

HA, I knew I liked this kid.

Conclusion: “Trapped” was a super bizarre and oddly violent final book for the “Fear Street” original series!! I enjoyed it for the most part because it was so bananas! I can’t believe that we got through it all! And we aren’t done yet. I am going to slowly bring it on home with a few more books: one ‘Super Chiller’ that a friend of mine remembers vividly, one ‘Super Chiller’ that I remember vividly, and then one last trilogy. So up next is “Bad Moonlight”.

Kate’s Review: “Carrie”

126459Book: “Carrie” by Stephen King

Publishing Info: Doubleday, April 1974

Where Did I Get This Book: I own it.

Book Description: Carrie knew she should not use the terrifying power she possessed… But one night at her senior prom, Carrie was scorned and humiliated just one time too many, and in a fit of uncontrollable fury she turned her clandestine game into a weapon of horror and destruction…

Review: It was the Fall of 1997. I was in eighth grade, and I had just finished “The Stand” by Stephen King. My Dad had handed me his copy after we’d watched the re-broadcast of the miniseries, assuring me I would like it. He was right, and I still consider it one of the best moments I’ve ever had with my father, because he opened me up to the world of Stephen King. And while he didn’t have anymore King to share (he’s not a horror guy at all; “The Stand” is his kind of dystopian dark fantasy thriller), I knew that I needed to get my hands on more. And my next choice was “Carrie”. For a vaguely isolated and bullied eighth grade girl, “Carrie” was exactly the kind of book I needed in that moment. While “The Stand” was the book that introduced me to King, “Carrie” changed my life. And on a whim, I decided to revisit it, twenty one years after having first read it. I had my fears that it wouldn’t be as profound to adult Kate as it was to thirteen year old Kate who needed a catharsis from her awful classmates. But I was wrong.

“Carrie” is still a relatable and unnerving horror story from the master of horror himself, and even 45(!) years after it was published it still tackles issues of bullying, zealotry, social isolation, and teenage angst in believable ways. Carrie White is an unconventional protagonist in that she is a constant victim, and is perpetually beaten down and weakened by her peers, her community, and her own mother. Carrie isn’t particularly two dimensional as a character; true, she finds her telekinetic powers and does find some bouts of self confidence that manifest every so often, but she never achieves what she wants to achieve, which is acceptance. Or at the very least, being left the hell alone. And yet even though she is for the most part mousy and passive except for a few moments, and then Prom night, you still feel for her and ache for her. King does a really good job of creating a lonely teenage girl who we pity and care for, and yet ultimately fear (note: We do have to give some credit to King’s wife Tabitha, an author in her own right and complete bad ass. She helped him with the infamous period scene, and helped him with the viciousness of teenage girls). But it isn’t just Carrie White who King so amply brings off the page. Many of his supporting characters are developed and well thought out, and sometimes it’s the real life horrors in this book that will upset you the most. While the bullying is awful, I’m more put off by Carrie’s zealous Mother, so devout and obsessed with her religion that she perverts it into the physical and emotional abuse of her only child. King makes it very clear that Carrie isn’t the real monster in this novel, or rather, if she is she’s a monster who didn’t stand a chance to become anything else.

But I also need to give kudos for how well King captures teenage life for not just Carrie but for the other teen characters. I knew girls like Chris, the cruel and insecure spoiled princess who is used to getting her way, even when she’s at her most rotten. I knew boys like Tommy Ross, a popular but ultimately sweet guy who was just doing his best (side note: I am still in full belief that if Prom Night hadn’t ended the way it did, Tommy and Carrie would have ended up together. HE WAS FALLING IN LOVE WITH HER, GUYS!). And Sue Snell, the girl whose guilt led to her good deed of getting Carrie a date to the prom, is almost more interesting than even Carrie herself. Sue’s comfort in her conformity is tested at the beginning, and her slow realization that there is life after high school, and that she wants more than people would expect from a pretty, popular girl in a small town. On this re-read from an adult’s eye, I found Sue’s arc to be incredibly compelling and bittersweet.

The narrative of “Carrie” is also a slow burn of suspense, told in a combination of third person and epistolary sequences. The perspective may be from that of Carrie or the various people in her life, or it may be through police interview transcripts, book excerpts, or scientific papers. The jumps sometimes feel a little jarring at first, but once you get in the rhythm of them they flow together in a cohesive way. I feel like we haven’t seen as much epistolary experimentation from King as of late, and this throwback to that style from him was fun to see, especially since it’s used so much in thrillers these days. It also casts a wide net on perspectives, and it gives a very well rounded picture of not only Carrie’s life, but the lives of those around her and how the Prom Night and aftermath affect those who come out of it alive. One of the most fun things that I completely forgot about it in this style was the ‘scientific paper’ excerpts, where a scientist is talking about telekinesis and how it applied in this case. But, in another masterful touch by King, even in these epistolary excerpts many of the adults just don’t get what life is like for the teens involved, and the contrast between the speculations and the realities make the story all the more sad.

I may be looking at this through a biased lens, as “Carrie” was a book that got me through a lot during my darker years of adolescence. But I find it to be so effective and well done that I’ve been known to recommend “Carrie” to teenage girls who are looking for a bit of a challenge beyond the YA shelf, and who don’t mind a good scare or two. King’s first is still one of his very best.

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(source)

Rating 10: This remains one of my favorite books of all time. “Carrie” is not only a suspenseful and truly scary book, it also captures the horrors of being a teenage outcast that still feel timeless and relevant.

Reader’s Advisory:

“Carrie” is included on the Goodreads lists “Best Horror Novels”, and “Bullying”.

Find “Carrie” at your library using WorldCat!

A Revisit to Fear Street: “Into the Dark”

176586Book: “Into the Dark” (Fear Street #49) by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1997

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

Book Description: Paulette Fox refuses to let her blindness stop her from living a full life. But one thing she’s never done is fall in love – until now. Paulette knows Brad Jones is the only guy for her. Even when her friends see Brad commit a horrible crime, Paulette is sure that he’s innocent. Her friends tell her he’s out of control, that she will be his next victim. But Paulette is sure he would never hurt her.

Is Paulette right about Brad? Or has her love put her in terrible danger?

Had I Read This Before: No.

The Plot: Before I go into this, I just want to say that if you want to experience some actually suspenseful thrillers with blind women in peril, just go watch “Wait Until Dark” or “Jennifer 8”. I do think that necessary conversations should be had about casting actors without disabilities as characters who have disabilities, just as there should also be conversations about who should be writing stories about disabled characters. But since these conversations weren’t getting attention in 1997, let’s continue with the break down of this late series “Fear Street” book.

First there is a prologue section in which the third person narrator alerts us that there is a mysterious guy who likes ‘spying on the blind girl’. Then we meet said blind girl, Paulette Fox, who is being dropped off at her music lesson by her friend Jonathan. Paulette likes that Jonathan doesn’t treat her like she’s fragile because she’s blind, and wishes that everyone could be like him. He asks her what gym class she’s going to sign up for, and she says self defense, and Mr. Doesn’t Treat Her Like She’s Fragile is worried when she says self defense because it’s ‘dangerous’. Paulette has been blind since she was a baby, dude, I’m pretty sure that she has adapted and adjusted to the world enough that she can take self defense classes, but I get the feeling this is going to be a theme of the book. Jonathan drops her off so he can go find a parking spot, and Paulette starts to walk up the slope towards the doors, when someone suddenly knocks her to the ground. Caught off guard she asks what happened, and the person tells her that a car was just about to hit her so he pushed her aside (we get our first inconsistency here; Stine just spent time describing how Paulette could hear the sounds of distant music from inside the school because her other senses are so adept, but she couldn’t hear a car on pavement that was about to hit her?). Another guy says that the emergency brake must have broken because there was no driver and the car just haphazardly crashed. Guy number 1 offers to take her to the ER (she’s FINE, dude!), but she declines, and he tells her that he’s happy he got to her in time, and addresses her by name. She says she doesn’t recognize his voice, and he says he knows her because EVERYONE knows Paulette at Shadyside High, and he’s a senior named Brad Jones, who’s a new student. She asks if he also takes lessons at the music academy, but he says that while he plays, he can’t afford it and is a part time janitor there instead. Jonathan joins them, and he knows Brad from English class. Paulette explains what happened, and Jonathan offers to take her home, but she says she’d prefer to go to her lesson. Once that’s over, Brad catches up with her and asks for her phone number. Paulette is over the moon and gives it to him, but Jonathan is skeptical. Once Brad heads off, Jonathan tells Paulette that there are rumors swirling at school about Brad and his old town of Springfield. People are saying he was involved with a robbery and that’s why he had to move! Paulette doesn’t believe it one bit because he was nice to her! So how could he possibly be a bad guy?

That night as Paulette gets ready for bed we get a pretty thorough and from what I can tell realistic portrayal of how Paulette’s life is around her house. There are mentions of Braille coded hangers, consistent placements of furniture and objects, and what can happen if things are left out of place. The phone rings and it’s Cindy, Paulette’s other best friend. Cindy asks Paulette about Brad (as Jonathan has a big fat mouth), and Paulette says that she’s hot to trot. Cindy isn’t sure that it’s sure a good idea given the rumors, but Paulette just says that Jonathan is way too overprotective of her (SO WHICH IS IT? Is he overprotective, or one of the few people who doesn’t treat her like she could break?). They say their goodbyes and hang up. After Paulette daydreams about Bran awhile, the phone rings again, and when she answers the caller says it’s Brad giving her a call! She’s surprised and asks why he’s talking so lowly, and he says he’s at a friend’s house, and then says he can’t stop thinking about her and says that she’s the one he’s been looking for, and wants to know if she feels the same way about him? Paulette is a little put off, and says they JUST met, but he says he has to know if she feels the same way about him. When she doesn’t answer, he hangs up.

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Perfectly acceptable behavior, no red flags or anything. (source)

Now we’re at school, and Paulette is doing awesome at her first self defense class. The teacher isn’t going easy on her and is telling her it’s about anticipating and concentrating, and once they’re done she tells Paulette that she still needs the signed permission slip from her parents. Paulette isn’t sure her parents will sign off, but says she will bring it in ASAP. After she gets all cleaned up it’s lunch time, and Paulette heads to the cafeteria. She’s always had a great sense of smell, so she knows what lunch is going to be just by the scent. She finds an empty table by listening to the noise levels, and waits for her friends to arrive. Cindy is first, who has the hot gossip like usual, and Paulette admits that her mind is elsewhere because she’s been thinking about Brad. She confides in Cindy about the strange phone call and how he sounded different in both voice and what he said. But before they can explore this more, Brad shows up, and Cindy, being a true wingman, makes her exit. Paulette decides not to bring up the weird phone call, and they have a nice chat. He then puts her hands on his face so that she can get a feel for how he looks, and she notices that he has a scar on his eyebrow but is otherwise pretty handsome. He says that no one can see the scar, so her senses are very well tuned. They talk about piano and he says that he doesn’t own one but is trying to practice. She invites him over to practice on hers, but he gets quiet and declines, saying that he found a piano he can use at any time. It’s in an abandoned house on Fear Street! WELCOME BACK, FEAR STREET! I feel like it’s been far too long since we’ve had any kind of mention of you!

Walking home that day Paulette thinks about the abandoned piano and the weird phone call. She gets home and remembers that her parents are going to be out late that night, and settles in to handle the house herself. She gets to her room, and runs into her waste basket. Figuring she bumped it without knowing, she goes back downstairs to practice piano. Cindy arrives soon after to work on a school project, and Paulette says they can go work in her room. But when they enter it, Cindy suddenly freaks out. She tells Paulette that someone has written all over the walls with red paint, and the phrase is ‘You Will Be Dead, Blind Girl’!!!! Paulette asks Cindy if anything else looks out of place, but Cindy says no. Paulette goes to where Cindy says it is written, and feels the paint with her hands. Cindy says that the person who did this might still be here, and Paulette says that they should investigate! They arm themselves and start looking. I would get sanctimonious about how they should call the cops, but back in college I was living in a house with some roommates and one day a roommate and I were convinced we saw someone in our kitchen (we had all the doors and windows open due to an oven cleaning mishap). Instead of calling the police on the potential intruder we grabbed knives and went to flush them out. We didn’t find anyone (a strange outcome, as there was definitely someone in the kitchen and there was no where to escape without us seeing), but it was foolish of us to do that. Anyway, Paulette and Cindy also come up empty, and Cindy thinks they need to tell someone. But Paulette says that her parents are SOOOO overprotective they will surely blow this whole thing out of proportion. But Paulette, this isn’t them maybe being worried about you taking self defense, this is a LITERAL THREAT AGAINST YOUR PERSON AND A BREAKING AND ENTERING SITUATION. But Cindy agrees, and they start to cover up the entire thing.

The next morning over breakfast Paulette gives her parents the permission slip for her self defense class. They predictably waffle on whether or not she can handle it, but she convinces them that she can, so they sign. As she’s walking to school she thinks that she better not tell them about Brad yet, given that there are those pesky rumors about him being a criminal. As she’s walking she suddenly hears shoes running up behind her. She calls out a greeting, but gets no answer. Then she’s suddenly shoved into oncoming traffic. She isn’t hit, but a car does spin out trying to avoid her. The woman in the car asks Paulette if she’s okay, and Paulette says yes. The woman offers to drive her home, but before Paulette can undoubtedly decline because her parents are SO overprotective, she’s helped up by Brad, who sounds like he has a cold. Brad says that he can take her to school, and says that he was across the street and saw the whole thing. He says he saw Paulette trip. When Paulette tells him that someone pushed her, he says no, he didn’t see anyone, she pretty clearly tripped. He then pulls her into a creepy hug, and asks if she thinks about him as much as he thinks about her. She shoves him away and asks what’s wrong with him, but he just gives her back her cane and runs off.

At the library that afternoon Paulette is thinking about the strange encounter with Brad. Jonathan and Cindy ask her why she’s so spacey, and she doesn’t tell them about what happened that morning. Brad then comes up to them and asks Paulette if they can talk. She agrees, warily, and he asks her if she would come hear him play the abandoned piano on Fear Street that night. She isn’t certain, but now Brad seems perfectly normal, so she says sure. He says that he was happy he saw her because he was thinking about her, and she said that they saw each other that morning. He soundss confused, and has to go back to class before they can discuss it more.

Cut to Paulette getting off at the Fear Street bus stop. Brad is there to pick her up and walk with her to the abandoned house, and Paulette notes to herself that Fear Street even has a different smell from the other streets in town, and I personally really like that tidbit. They get to the house, and the door is easy to open. Not only that, in a convenient twist of fate, while the electricity is out, the gas was never turned off, so it’s nice and warm! He tells her that there’s rumors that the person who owned the house was a music teacher whose family was murdered, and the piano was left behind. We get new tidbits about other hauntings in the area, and man, I missed this aspect of these books, it’s been too long. They start to play, but then they hear noises upstairs. Brad says he’ll go check it out, and she can hear him moving around upstairs. Then there’s a slam, and shouting, and footsteps running down the steps, and a door slamming. And then that’s it. Paulette calsl out for Brad, but gets no answer. She decides to try and find him in this house that she’s never been to, and uses her cane to explore the space. She eventually finds a staircase, and is about to climb it, but then someone grabs her from behind! It’s Jonathan! He tells her the staircase is rotted out and it could collapse, and she asks what he’s doing there. He admits that he followed her there, and started to get worried when the flashlight they were using stopped moving around. Jonathan says he’ll go check the house, but doesn’t find Brad. Brad’s gone. She says that he wouldn’t have ditched her in an abandoned house, and yet… that’s exactly what he did. When she and Jonathan get to his car she demands to know why he followed her. He says that he thought it was weird she was getting on a bus, and then when he saw she was meeting Brad he wanted to be sure she was safe because of the rumors about him. She says she can hang out with whomever she wants and he says he can worry about his friends, and Paulette wonders if Jonathan is hiding something. And I mean, sure, he has serious boundary issues and a hero complex, but the fact that she’s questioning HIM over the guy who has been a total weirdo the entire time she’s known him, that seems misguided to me. Once she gets home she waits for Brad to call with an explanation as to why he ditched her in an unfamiliar place, but no such phone call is to be had.

At lunch the next day Paulette and Brad finally meet up, and he says that he was ‘really sorry’ about the night before and didn’t mean for it to end up like that. She calls him out on it, but he doesn’t have any better explanation of reasoning. He also tells her that he can’t see her anymore. She asks him to tell her what is going on, but he balks and says that he ‘can’t let this happen again!’, and runs out of the cafeteria.

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Frankly this is how the story should end, but we still have half of the book left. (source)

That evening Paulette is moping and her friends ask her why. She tells them about Brad, and they both agree that it’s probably better this way, and Paulette doesn’t like that one bit. She tells them about how weird he acted after the car incident, and they both say that he is BAD NEWS, but Paulette doesn’t want to believe it. She goes home and her mom tells her that her grandmother fell and broke some bones, and so for the next few nights her parents are going to have to be out late taking care of her. They ask if she wants to stay and her aunt’s house, but Paulette says no. She waits for Brad to call, but he doesn’t. As she’s trying to fall asleep, she hears a scratching at the window. She gets up the shut it, but then someone grabs her! She begins to scream, calling for her parents for help, but of course whoever it is lets her go and by the time her parents arrive she’s alone. But instead of coming clean about everything (and this would be the perfect time to do so), she just says she had a BAD DREAM and that everything is okay. Her Dad goes to check the window anyway, and then finds a ring on the floor. It says ‘B.J.’, and those are Brad’s initials! Paulette lies and says she was holding the ring for a friend of hers and just forgot to give it back, and they believe her. Paulette doesn’t understand! How can Brad be so sweet and thoughtful one moment, and then trying to hurt her the next?!

At Pete’s Pizza the next day Paulette, Cindy, and Jonathan are talking about Student Council, but Paulette is so sulky the others discern that she’s still upset about Brad. Jonathan tells her that Brad dropped out of school (how Paulette didn’t hear this is beyond me). Paulette is upset, but Cindy says that this is probably a good thing because Brad turned out to be such an unstable creep. Then, someone in a mask bursts into Pete’s Pizza and holds up the place!! He also says that everyone has to hand over their cash! Paulette’s backpack slipped to the floor, and as she’s trying to find it the gunman gets antsy about her movements. Jonathan stands up to try to explain that she can’t see where her backpack is, and then the gunman shoots him! He then tells a girl (Ann Johnson, Paulette recognizes her voice) to gather up the valuables as Cindy and Paulette try to stop the blood from pouring out of Jonathan’s body. They hear police sirens, and a scuffle ensues, and Cindy tells Paulette that two guys unmasked the gunman… And it’s Brad!! The police arrive and an ambulance crew hauls Jonathan away, and the police say that they need to ask some questions. A number of people say that Brad was the gunman, but Paulette realizes that it wasn’t Brad’s voice that was yelling at everyone, and she remembers that the gunman’s scent wasn’t like Brad’s scent. Paulette decides to pipe in and says that it wasn’t Brad, but the police officers are…. skeptical to say the least. Paulette tries to explain that voices are like faces to her and that she knew that Ann Johnson was there just by her voice, which Ann confirms. The police still don’t listen, and radio out a request for a warrant for his arrest.

As Paulette and Cindy wait at Cindy’s house for news about Jonathan, they argue about whether or not it was Brad. But they get the call that Jonathan is going to be okay, and they both are too relieved to be too mad at each other about their differing opinions. Cindy asks if Paulette is going to tell her parents about all of this, and Paulette says she’ll tell them about the robbery but nothing about her and Brad. Paulette also says that she has to warn Brad that the police are looking for him, and the argument is back on. Paulette asks Cindy to drive her to the Music Academy since Brad works there, but Cindy refuses at first, but then agrees once Paulette says she will just walk then. They get to the school and ask if Brad is there, but one of the music teachers says that Brad never showed up for work. Paulette suggests that they check the locker room, and Cindy reluctantly agrees. They go to the locker room, and Cindy narrates what she finds in the locker that says ‘Jones’, and let me tell ya, it’s incriminating AF. There are a bunch of newspaper clippings about robberies in Springfield, Brad’s old town, of businesses and homes, and it names Brad as the number one suspect. Paulette laments how she could have been so wrong about him.

As Paulette is trying to fall asleep that night she pretends not to hear her mother ask if she’s okay. Then her phone rings, and it’s Brad. He tells her that he knows that it looks bad, but he’s innocent! And he can’t tell her why or how, but he just wants her to know that he didn’t do it. Oh, and that things are going to get pretty bad in the next few days….

The next evening after her parents have left to go check on grandma, Paulette is sitting in the backyard trying to do homework. She’s having a hard time concentrating, as she can’t stop thinking about Brad, but she she hears an out of place noise. She turns off her recording, and listens. She hears footsteps. She calls out, hoping it’s a neighbor or a stray animal, but we know better, don’t we? She then hears heavy breathing right next to her ear, and when she tries to get up to grab one of the handrails that should be there, they’re gone! Without any sort of marker for where she is in the backyard, she becomes completely disoriented. She knows that someone is watching her as she tries to find her way to something familiar, and this is actually a very effective scene and one of the better done moments of suspense in a long time within this series. She eventually gets hold of a landscaping stone she recognizes, and can get back into the house handily once she’s oriented again. She locks all the doors and windows and calls Cindy. Cindy rushes right over, and when Paulette asks her if the backyard looks different she says no, which means whoever was stalking her put everything back. Cindy suggests that Paulette call the police (YES, CALL THE POLICE), but Paulette doesn’t see the point. Cindy asks if she wants to stay at her house at least, and Paulette says no. Then Cindy gasps, and turns up the TV. Someone just robbed a store that is two blocks from Paulette’s house, and the description matches that of Brad Jones! The address he gave the school isn’t a real address and he’s considered armed and dangerous. Cindy practically begs Paulette to come stay with her, but Paulette still refuses. Cindy says she will at least call the check in later, and leaves.

Paulette is playing the piano to calm her nerves when the phone rings. It’s Brad! He says that he called to apologize, and his voice is so weak that Paulette can barely hear him. He tells her that he needs to tell her the truth: he has a twin brother named Ed! And Ed has been jealous of him his entire life and made things really hard to Brad wherever they lived!

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I feel like this was published the same year that “The Simpsons” Tree House of Horror also did an evil twin episode. Justice for Hugo! (source)

He says that the police are after him for things Ed did, and that’s why he moved to Shadyside. And he arrived the same time that Brad did, and saw Paulette and decided that she was his girlfriend. Ed’s the one who’s been stalking her and committing the crimes. He says that he and Ed fought and Ed hurt him, and he needs a doctor. Paulette says she can call the cops but he says he’ll be arrested. He needs to get to Ed first, then they can call the cops. He asks for her help and says he’s at the house on Fear Street, and then hangs up.

Paulette arrives at Fear Street and gets off the bus. She remembered the step count from the last time she was there, and makes her way to the house. She calls for Brad and hears him upstairs. She remembers what Jonathan said about the staircase, and slowly climbs it. When she finds Brad he tells her she has to help him trap his brother, who will be back soon. He says that when they hear the door open she should call to him, and he will come to her because he’s so obsessed. She agrees. When they hear him call for her, Brad says that he will knock him out as soon as he walks through the door. So Paulette calls for him. And indeed, as soon as he calls for her, she calls back, and she hears him run up the steps and into the room, followed by a thwack and a thud. Brad asks her to help tie him up, and she does. Soon Ed comes to, and he starts to freak out, but not for the reasons you’d expect. It’s because he’s claiming that HE is Brad, and that the guy Paulette just helped is Ed!! The twins argue both claiming to be Brad, but Paulette knows how she’ll figure it out! THE SCAR! She walks up to the standing twin and asks to touch his face. And whoops, wouldn’t you know it. No scar. Ed confirms he was the intruder at the window, he was the one who pushed her into traffic, who moved things in her backyard, who painted the message in her room. All because she was falling for BRAD, like they always do! And now she smells the cinnamon on him like she did at Pete’s Pizza (though I would have thought that she would have smelled it on a number of occasions when there was confusion given that her sense of smell has been so hyped up). Ed ties Paulette up because now she knows too much, and we get some lame thrown together reasoning for why there are no parents (both are dead) in this entire kerfuffle. Ed turns on the gas valve. He says once they’re both unconscious he’ll untie Brad to frame him for this whole thing. He’s going to take the money and skedaddle. Paulette decides to make a gambit of a move, and asks Ed to take her with him because she’s been in love with him the whole time! After some convincing he agrees, and tells her to hold up this flashlight while he pulls the fireplace apart to grab the stash. She does for a bit, but then smashes the flashlight against the hearth, making the room go black. Then we get a “Wait Until Dark” rip off moment as they play cat and mouse in the dark, and all you have to know is Audrey Hepburn and Alan Arkin did it better. Eventually at the top of the steps Ed grabs her, but her self defense skills kick in, and she waits until he’s off guard and slams into him. He pushes her towards the steps, and she pulls him with her. She swings him around and then tosses him down the steps as she flies back and lands on the top floor landing. Ed is not as lucky. She crawls back to where Brad is based on her memory, and helps him up, using his eyes to get them down the steps and past Ed’s broken dead body. They get outside just as the police arrive. The policeman asks if they’re okay, and Brad says that he feels like he’s ‘finally coming out of the dark.’ The End.

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This is dumb on multiple levels. (source)

Body Count: 1. And his twin wasn’t very broken up about it either!

Romance Rating: 5. Brad wasn’t a homicidal maniac, but he sure kept a LOT of secrets from Paulette that could have prevented her from getting hurt…

Bonkers Rating: 7. The sudden evil twin reveal was pretty out there, but I don’t think it was in a good way.

Fear Street Relevance: 7! As if Stine realized that he’d been neglecting Fear Street as of late, we got some good action sequences there AND got some good reminders and new mythologies as to why it’s such a scaaaary place.

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:

“And it was obvious to Paulette that Brad was in terrible, terrible danger.”

…. And then that’s all she has to say about that in that moment. Even if this was true, Paulette should have been thinking that perhaps Brad was part of the terrible, terrible danger in some way, shape, or form.

That’s So Dated! Moments: Paulette, Cindy, and Jonathan are watching a generic slasher movie on VHS and if that didn’t take me back to high school, I don’t know what would. Also the outdated and offensive term ‘handicapped’ is used to describe Paulette.

Best Quote:

“‘Great film!’ Jonathan said.

‘If you like swimming pools full of blood,’ Cindy commented.”

Ooh! Me! I like swimming pools full of blood!

Conclusion: “Into the Dark” was just kinda boring for the most part, and I did call the big twist pretty early on. But it wasn’t as abysmal as some of the late game “Fear Street” books. You could do worse. Up next is “The Best Friend 2”! We’re nearing the end of the original run!