Fear Street Superchiller – The Dead Lifeguard

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The Cover

dead lifeguard

The cover (taken from its GoodReads page) is alright. To be honest my primary issue is with the title, which isn’t as punchy as Stine wants it to be. The bright colors detract some from it, though I suppose they’re going for a summer thing. It’s hard to tell if we’re supposed to worry about the lifeguard who’s carrying the girl, who’s dead eyed and seems to carry her like Frankenstein’s monster does that little girl, or the girl herself, who looks like she may actually be dead. It should be provocative, but it’s not very.

Tagline

No one can save her now.

I think this is supposed to referencing the zombie lifeguard carrying her corpse. It’s pretty good considering how mediocre everything else is.

Summary

Each part is measured in how many ghosts there are in it. Each chapter is told from the perspective of a different character which should be interesting in a Heavy-Rain-who’s-telling-the-truth-can-we-trust-any-of-our-characters sort of way, but switching perspectives from a first person narrative is a device I find extremely annoying so we’ll see. Chapter one is the character of Mouse, who speaks on a phone to Terry. They tell bad jokes and know Terry is dead, but they talk to  him anyway, letting him know that all the lifeguards are going to pay for what happened to him.

Our main character is actually Lindsay, who’s excited to start work at the North Beach Country Club. She’s meeting up with the other lifeguards, who are all going to stay at the club, which I don’t think is actually a thing? I assume there’s a local population of teens that can go home at night and not take up resources on food and board, but who cares keep it moving. Lindsay’s annoyed because she left home in a hurry to get here, and a storm opens up over her head, her keycard doesn’t work, and then she sees a dead body in the pool. All in all not a great day for Lindsay.

It has been a great day for Danny, who seems to be head lifeguard. He seems like the typical man’s man. He describes all the girls as how hot they are and all the guys by their weight class, which classifies him as bro. He introduces us to the rest of our cast. Cassie, who’s kind of ditzy and is blond; Arnie, who is kind of a shrimp and makes the exact same bad jokes as our mysterious murderers; Deidre, who’s kind of nothing; May-Ann, who’s quiet and kind of intense; Pug, the jock who gets with all the ladies. Your typical crew of teens to be murdered off.

They all hear Lindsay screaming outside and bring her in. She frantically tells them that there’s a body in the pool, and Danny runs outside, but there’s nothing there. Lindsay feels like a freak, screaming her head off about apparently nothing, soaked to the bone, and her keycard turns out to be two years old. Danny looks for her name on the lifeguard list, and she doesn’t show up. Lindsay is of course confused by this. She got hired. They sent her the credentials. She was promised a job. May-Ann takes pity on the girl and lets her use her room to change, where we meet her mouse Munchy, who is probably only mentioned as a red herring. Lindsay doesn’t know what she saw or what’s going on, and May-Ann states simply that she saw one of the dead kids.

Absolutely no one knows what she’s talking about. May-Ann tells them the club is cursed, and every year someone dies. Two summers in a row people have drowned despite having lifeguards on duty or being lifeguards themselves. She’s convinced their ghosts haunt this place, though no one else really is. Her scary story is interrupted by Spencer, the final member of our crew. Lindsay’s excited to see him because she recognizes him. He doesn’t seem to recognize her at first, and then he plays nice. The club’s athletic director Pete arrives too in order to check everyone off the list. Danny and him talk out the list. Pete asks her some cursory questions, including if she passed the lifeguard exams, but he doesn’t actually seem to, like, ask her for proof or anything. She just says yes, and he’s like whatever we had a cancellation anyway. Lindsay gets to stay! But Lindsay starts to realize she doesn’t remember interviewing, and she doesn’t remember Pete, and she’s not sure when she got her ID and everything, and suddenly she worries she’s in the wrong place after all.

Mouse talks some more about murdering lifeguards. The club isn’t open yet, so they’re mostly goofing off, doing arm wrestling contests and hanging out around an open fire. Spencer tells stories from the past years and Lindsay asks him if anyone saw any ghosts. May-Ann uses this opportunity to obsess again, much like Jan in Party Summer, and then Cassie fakes seeing a ghost to get them all scared. Cassie also fakes the sound of a broken bone while the dudes are arm wrestling to scare everyone, so you can tell she’s a real practical jokester.

The club opens, and the lifeguards are working. Pug and Cassie are flirting, and Diedre is jealous of this, though no one else seems to care. Lindsay is getting used to living with May-Ann, who’s kind of a weirdo who’s obsessed with ghosts. They both hear a ghostly wail outside their door saying “Help me” and run outside. It’s Cassie, playing a prank. May-Ann gets super pissed and slams the door. There’s a little more goofing off and then back to work. Lindsay tries to remember Spencer some more and can’t quite. She has my favorite egotistical thought:

Had there been something between Spencer and me last summer?

Did he and I have a short romance or something?

I had the feeling we did, but I couldn’t dredge the memory up. I couldn’t dredge up any memory about him.

Lindsay cannot remember a gosh darn thing about this boy but is pretty sure they had a romance or something. Natch. Lindsay can’t quite sleep at night, and when she walks outside she sees the drowned girl again. This time she jumps into the pool and swims up to her and then pulls up her face and sees herself! The corpse decays right in front of her until she’s only holding a skull, and then she wakes up from her nightmare. But it’s not over yet! A voice whispers to her, and she decides to follow it, noting that May-Ann is gone when she gets out of bed. She follows the voice into the dining room, where the fire is still burning, and Cassie had her face pushed into it. Lindsay pulls the body from the fire and sees she’s all burned away.

The police are called. Lindsay confesses to them she heard a voice and followed it, but she isn’t able to give it a source. May-Ann seems excited, as this proves her point that someone dies every summer. Mouse sure is pleased with themself, but there’s more to go! The club is closed for a day, but it reopens and no one seems to be too down about it. Pug is instantly hitting on other girls in the true Shadyside manner. Lindsay can’t stop thinking about poor Cassie and decides to call her folks and let them know everything that’s happened, but when she dials the number, she’s told it’s disconnected. Lindsay redials, calls the operator, gets information, but it’s all gone. Her family doesn’t live on Fear Street, at least, not anymore. She flips out and borrows someone’s car and drives all the way home. She surprises a random woman in her house, who tells her the Becks don’t live there anymore, haven’t, not since their daughter died two years ago.

Lindsay doesn’t know what to make of this information. She’s pretty sure she’s not dead, but she doesn’t know why all evidence is pointed otherwise. She breaks into Pete’s office to find her records but instead finds a newspaper clipping telling her the exact same thing everyone else has. Lindsay Beck died in the pool two years ago. She is the dead lifeguard, a title drop that kind of assumes the character knows the title of the book she’s in.

Lindsay does not bring any of this to the attention of her friends, and she seems to chill out about it for a while. She’s still laughing and goofing with the others and is still pretty sure she isn’t dead. May-Ann keeps talking about ghosts, which is pretty insensitive considering one of their friends died here like a week ago at best, but everyone else just doesn’t want to talk about it. Arnie asks Lindsay on a walk and then corners her, and since he’s the bad joke telling, phone call making, kind of nerd, you sort of expect this to be the moment he tries to murder Lindsay, but I thought he was too obvious a suspect the whole time. Instead he just tries to force himself on her (kind of? it’s pretty tame, these books are still for children) and thank god Spencer arrives to stop it. Lindsay is creeped out by Arnie and thinks he watches her while she works at the pool, to which Spencer responds, “I watch you too sometimes.” The absolute worst thing to say to a girl you just saved from unwanted advances, but he rolls with it. Lindsay asks him if Spencer knew her last summer, and he says not really. She left suddenly, after all. Lindsay doesn’t remember that and asks him why she left, and he thought dialogues that if she doesn’t remember, he’s not going to be the one to tell her, but then Stine does that thing where he skips ahead to not deal with the consequences of his chapter. So I have to imagine the ridiculous excuses Spencer makes to get around answering that question.

The next day Arnie tries to apologize to Lindsay, and she kind of forgives him, but it’s clear she won’t be having anymore. A woman kind of recognizes Lindsay, we assume as the dead girl who drowned. At night Lindsay wanders around and sees Ma-Ann and Pug shouting. It’s unclear what they’re arguing about, but then Deirdre shows up and suggests they’re actually getting it on, you know, to honor Cassie’s still cooling corpse. Lindsay goes back to her room and tries to call other family members but doesn’t get an answer. She goes back to sleep and then wakes up to the voice calling to her again. May-Ann is missing from her bed still, and she follows the voice until she gets to the guest house. She sees Pug with a barbell stretched over his neck, choking him to death. Pete arrives at the same time she discovers the body, no doubt pinning her as the prime suspect.

The police arrive again. Pete gives an account of what he saw, which is clearly generous in how he found Lindsay. She tells the officers she heard the voice again, and it’s clear they’re starting to suspect her. She throws up at the crime scene anyway which I think is a pretty good way to show you’re innocent or at least averse to the idea of dead bodies. May-Ann sort of indicts her by saying Lindsay was following her and Pug around, which is not something we saw.

A few days later Lindsay goes for a drive, trying to clear her head, but Arnie pops out of the backseat. Lindsay does my absolute favorite thing which is force him out of the car and make him walk home (the only appropriate response to that prank). When she gets back, the other lifeguards are hanging out in the pool. It’s close to midnight and they’re just chilling, playing games and diving and splashing. It’s like no horrible murders took place at all. May-Ann pushes Dierdre into the pull, which triggers a memory in Lindsay, and she starts screaming that she’s not Lindsay at all. She’s Marissa Dunton, who killed Lidnsay two years ago!

Danny and Spencer take Lindsay/Marissa inside. Marissa explains that she was a lifeguard two summers ago. She and Lindsay were good friends, but they had a huge argument that got out of control. She says Lindsay fell, but it’s clear Marissa pushed her into the pool, except Lindsay hit her head on the side as she fell in, splitting her skull. She died there, and Marissa was sent to a psychiatric hospital for a long time. She started thinking she was Lindsay as a sort of way to bring her back to life. She’d taken things from their shared room and occasionally assumed her identity. She got sent home before she was really ready to, thought she was Lindsay, and came to the club to work. Spencer asks her directly why she killed Cassie and Pug, and at first she answers, “I don’t know.” But after the chapter break she jumps up screaming, “I didn’t kill them!”

Lindsay becomes suspicious of Spencer, who claimed to recognize her. He tells her he only saw the two girls involved and wasn’t really sure who was Lindsay and who was Marissa and just sort of rolled with it. Danny tells Lindsay to use the phone in Pete’s office to call her parents. Spencer comes in to see if she’s alright, and while they’re talking the phone rings. It’s Mrs. Brown making the strangest phone call. She wants them to know the reason her son Spencer never showed up for his lifeguard job was because he was murdered. Lindsay tries to ask Spencer what’s going on, but he’s disappeared. She finds him by the pool.

Spencer quickly confesses everything. He killed Spencer, just like he killed Pug and Cassie, because he’s not Spencer at all. He’s Jack Mouser, aka Mouse. He and his brother Terry worked in the kitchens, and the lifeguards were cruel and made fun of them. They put them through hell under the guise of lifeguard training and them laughed them off. Terry couldn’t take it, so he killed himself, and now Jack is going to make everyone pay. Jack was so excited to find Marissa was suffering her identity of crisis because she would make an easy suspect. He whispered to her at night and led her to the bodies, and now he’s going to kill her before she can tell the others. He starts to drown her, but May-Ann jumps in and drags Mouse off of her. The others come as well, including Arnie, and they hold him down while Marissa explains everything. May-Ann is relieved to see her roomie alright, and they hug it out, apologizing to each other for suspecting the other of murder. May-Ann confesses she was only gone at night to see her boyfriend, and Marissa runs off to let her parents know that she’s a-okay.

Favorite Line

Poor Pug. He had a real weight problem!

Fear Street Trends

The girls are described in full by Danny, though he doesn’t compare them to any celebrities. He just makes sure you know they’re all smoking hot. They most spend time in bathing suits, and only Lindsay’s bright blue one gets any attention thanks to it being a plot point. Marissa-as-Lindsay listens to her Walkman, there’s copious use of information and phone tag, a thing that probably doesn’t exist now. Arnie invites Lindsay to a Bruce Willis movie, but that’s about it for topical references.

Rating

I was expecting a little more out of the Fear Street summer reads, but this one is full of ideas Stine has used elsewhere, including people who think they’re other people, ghosts who aren’t really ghosts, and triggering repressed memories with mundane actions that are visually similar. I give it two quickly melting corpses out of five.

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Fear Street Superchiller – High Tide

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Summer continues in one of the most boring reads I’ve ever forced myself through. Get ready for a dull ride.

The Cover

high tide

The cover (taken from its Amazon page) is okay. It’s a little unclear what exactly is happening here, and they tried to put in a lot of elements from the book that I think muddy it. You could probably do something a lot more dynamic with the drowning girl and make it clearer that you were saving one and not the other. Also the smoldering David Duchovny-esque lifeguard is a little out of place in what should be a tense scene.

Tagline

A lifeguard’s job can be murder…

I think they could’ve tied in a little more to the high tide element of the title, but this is serviceable.

Summary

Adam and his girlfriend Mitzi are on a water scooter out at the beach. Adam’s a lifeguard, and when Mitzi goes overboard, he turns around to save her, but unfortunately the bladed bottom of the water scooter lops her head off instead. Still, he tries to carry her off, but the scooter keeps coming back again and again, slicing at Adam’s legs and body and sending him drowning into the sea. I started laughing uncontrollably at this part because I just kept imagining a ski doo going in circles, slicing up his leg every time it made a pass. Luckily Adam wakes up from this horrifying nightmare thanks to his roommate Ian. It turns out Mitzi did drown on an accident with a water scooter last year, Adam being unable to save her, and he’s been haunted and guilty ever since. He sees Dr. Thall for his psychiatry, who Ian mentions is known for going on talk shows and has unorthodox methods in therapy, so I immediately assumed Dr. Thall was going to be our major villain. Adam hallucinates that his legs are missing and goes to see his doctor.

Dr. Thall doesn’t seem to say anything that wouldn’t have already been discussed after a year of therapy, but he tells Adam his nightmares are most likely coming from some subconscious thought or fear. Dr. Thall gently suggests that maybe he shouldn’t still be a lifeguard when he’s suffering hallucinations related to beach deaths, but Adam insists he needs to get over this. Adam leaves the office and runs into his “girl [he’s] going out with this summer” (and his ambiguity will come into play later). The talk a little, and Adam  hallucinates Mitzi with a skeleton face, an image that is favored by Stine.

We skip over to Sean who is using his lifeguard position to spy on a girl named Alyce. He sneaks up behind her, grabs her by the waist, and kisses her, which pisses her off, and Sean tells her she loves it when she’s clearly upset, so I was happily awaiting his timely death. Alyce tells him she has a date, and he threatens to kill the guy. Adam shows up, and he and Alyce are flirty. Sean gets pissy and tells Adam a story about a girl he was seeing in high school who snuck out on him (constantly spelled as “sneaked” which bothered me to no end but I double checked with Grammarist who validates Americans). Sean found the guy and constantly sent him threats until he thought he’d never act on them, and then he dragged the guy into the woods and beat the shit out of him. Adam asks him why he would tell anyone that story oh my god why and Sean says what’s actually a pretty good line, “Because I saw the way you were looking at Alyce.”

Adam goes back to his apartment with Ian who is getting ready for a date. Ian borrows Adam’s car and clothes and food. Adam’s also about to out on a date not with Leslie, and Ian warns him Leslie’s been known to get really pissed at even a hint of infidelity. I feel like this is kind of an old school idea, that you were dating and you could date several people until you were “going steady” or something whereas my generation you just hang out until you decide you’re dating but I don’t know I’m an old person it’s just a weird thing that pops up constantly. Anyway, Adam thinks he sees Ian’s dead body, but it’s another hallucination. Leslie calls and he lies to her before going out on his date.

Sean meanwhile is showing up at Alyce’s place uninvited because he thinks his molestation and then demanding a date from her won him a place at 8pm, but her roommate tells him she’s already out with a guy. Sean drives to the movie theater to find her, nearly beating up like three guys on his way there because he’s so angry. He sees her with some unnamed guy who we’re supposed to assume is Adam, because Leslie is there and sees it too, and is clearly upset. Sean is so mad he drags a guy into the alley and punches him bloody until Leslie stops him. The next day he sees Adam on the beach and is antagonistic towards him.

Adam doesn’t notice at first, since he’s reconnecting with two friends from Shadyside High, of which they are all alumn. Joy and Raina joke about how they both used to go out with Adam (see: one date). Adam makes plans with them and heads back to the lifeguard stand where Sean is mean to him. Adam hallucinates someone crashing a water scooter, someone he thinks is himself. He goes to his therapist to talk it out. Dr. Thall is convinced there’s something buried in his mind that he’s trying to remember, mentioning some experimental treatments that are worth trying.

Adam, Raina, and Joy go out and dance. They seem to be at some shmaltzy seaside bar. Leslie shows up, clearly pissed that he’s out with ladies tonight and the lady he was out with the night before. She chews him out in front of everyone and dumps him. Back on the beach the next day, Raina and Joy joke with him about it, especially since she threatened him. A high tide is coming in, so he tells them to be careful and stay in the shallows of the beach while he goes to set up the warning flags. His warnings are for nothing though, as he sees both girls caught by a current and being dragged out to sea. He’s alone, and he grabs a life preserver and dives into the ocean. Raina seems to be unconscious so he focuses on getting her out fist, but Joy doesn’t want to be left behind, nearly drowning all of them in the process. Adam promises to come back for her, brings Raina to shore, and then Joy disappears, apparently drowned.

Adam wakes up, hoping it was all another bad dream, but Ian confirms to him that Joy drowned but Raina survived. This is clearly traumatizing for poor Adam as it’s the second girl he feels he killed. He stays home and mopes around until the phone rings and someone threatens him. He thinks it might be Leslie, still mad. He goes for a walk, and in the fog he thinks he sees Joy, who tells him he let her drown. When he runs up to her, she’s gone, but there are footprints in the sand. He has another dream about Mitzi on the water scooter, and he realizes it’s not him riding on the scooter with her. Ian wakes him up and tells him to go see his therapist, which he definitely should do.

Adam goes out instead and runs into Leslie. They talk for a bit. She’s still mad that he lied to her, and he tries to explain about it, but she makes it clear she’s not interested. He then tells her he thought she’d be a little more sympathetic since the drowning, but she has no idea what he’s talking about. She shows him the newspaper, which has no mention of someone drowning.

Adam’s confused, but he knows Ian confirmed for him that it really happened, it wasn’t a hallucination. He sees Joy’s ghost again and tries to call out to her. He goes home and finds his jacket wrapped around a mutilated seagull with the note YOU’RE NEXT. Adam seeks out Raina, but she can’t talk to him and tells him to meet her that night at the dock.. He tries to ask Sean if he left the seagull for him, but Sean is distant as well. Adam has no idea what’s going on and wanders around for a long time before going home, where he sees a man broke into his home and is wielding a knife. Adam chases him, tackles him, and it’s Sean (no surprise). It turns out Ian is the one who went out with Alyce, and since Ian is constantly stealing Adam’s things, he assumed Adam’s room was Ian’s. Adam manages to calm him down. He tells him to go talk to Alyce without acting violently, and Sean goes on his way. He waits for Ian to come home, warning him to stay in tonight in case he runs into Sean, and then he runs off to the dock. He shows up, where he sees Raina and Joy, both alive and well.

Raina and Joy explain Dr. Thall approached them to try a radical treatment. He wanted them to fake a drowning so Adam would have another traumatic experience, hopefully shaking his repressed memory loose. He’s understandably mad, they try to apologize, and he runs off, grabbing a water scooter and riding out into the ocean. But he finds a memory does shake loose when he relives the event, and it’s not him driving the water scooter, it’s Ian!

This raises so many questions. First of all, deeply unethical. Fire that therapist. Bad, bad therapist. How did Dr. Thall know about Raina and Joy? How did he convince them to fake drown? How were the police not involved? And it’s implied that the Joy apparition was actually Joy who didn’t actually drown so why was she blaming him for letting her drown when she didn’t drown. Your dumb therapy is terrible and everyone involved should go to jail.

Ian shows up on a water scooter of his own, because he’d assumed Adam’s memory had come back. Ian let Adam think he was the one who killed Mitzi because it got him off the hook, and now that Adam remembers, Ian has to kill Ian for reasons? Even though at worst it’s manslaughter?  They have a water scooter fight, but Adam manages to pull Ian off his, and when his leg is sliced, Adam swims him back to shore where the police arrest him. He also sees Sean and Alyce who have decided to give it a shot even though Sean is a terrible, terrible person oh god Alyce please don’t date this man, and Leslie makes up with Adam, so it’s happily ever after except for Alyce who is stuck with violent abuser Sean.

Favorite Line

That was the worst, thinking a fish had eaten the eyeballs out of my head.

Fear Street Trends

There’s not a ton going on in this book. None of the names popped out to me, and like with the other summer books the kids are mostly described in their swimsuits and by their hair color. The idea of a psychologist on TV does feel very topical, but I think it’s more a way of introducing extreme therapy rather than poke fun at anything.

Rating

It took me a while to get through this one just because nothing happened the whole time and when stuff did finally happen it was nonsensical. In the end I’m supposed to forgive Sean even though he’s literally the worst person in this book in a book where someone tries to commit a murder. I’m giving it one decapitated beach babes out of five.

Fear Street Superchiller – Party Summer

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It’s summer in Fear Street! Summer in Fear Street is all beach parties, boat rides on the lake, working summer jobs, and getting chased by madmen and ghosts!

The Cover

party summer

This cover (pulled from a Pinterest page) is pretty alright. I feel like there’s so many red herrings in this book and there’s one on the cover with what looks like a monster man (there’s no monster man in this book and that makes me very sad). The girls on the cover feel very 70s horror and I can appreciate that.

Tagline

There’s no vacation from the terrors of Fear Street!

It’s not bad, especially since this is the first super chiller.It’s one of those that preface you know what Fear Street is, which bothers me some but not a ton.

Summary

We’re introduced to Jan, who’s up in her attic doing witchy business. She’s trying to summon a ghost to talk to, using pentagrams and candles and whatever it is we thought witches used in the 90s (what do we think witches use now? lots of sage probably). She thinks she’s close, when her friends interrupt her. Cari, Craig, and Eric are surprised to see Jan in this position and even more amused to find out she was looking for a ghost. Jan is notably ticked off at the implication that ghosts aren’t real, but everyone’s distracted by the fact that they’re off to Piney Island! The four wrangled summer jobs working at a hotel on the beach there thanks to Jan’s aunt Rose, and they’re excited for the opportunity to work all day and play all night. Jan is extra excited because the inn is super old, and there’s definitely going to be ghosts.

The day comes, and they all get in the car with Aunt Rose, who’s taking them to the hotel. They’re going to the Howling Wolf Inn, an ominous name for sure, but the kids are too distracted yelling “Party summer!” every five minutes to think much on it. Their excitement is stopped when Aunt Rose gets a sudden pain in her side so bad she can’t drive anymore. She tells them she doesn’t want to see a doctor because she doesn’t believe in hospitals (a sure sign this is not a responsible adult), so they take her to her sister Aileen who lives nearby. Aileen agrees to take care of Rose while she’s sick, but Rose doesn’t want the kids to miss any of their party summer. She tells them to go on ahead to make the launch to the island, and she’ll catch up when she feels better.

The kids are expecting great things when they reach Piney Island, but they immediately take a great dive when the owner, Simon, doesn’t show up to greet them, and the gate to the hotel is locked. When they finally make it in, they find the place run down, without electricity, and kept by a creepy old servant who yells at them to go away. They’re confused and consider turning back, but luckily Simon Fear shows up! No, not that Simon Fear! He’s Simon Fear the Third, named for his great-uncle the original Simon Fear, who built Shadyside. It turns out the hotel had some construction troubles, and their entire construction crew left, which meant they were unable to reopen in time for the summer. Thanks to the phones being down, he’d sent a letter to Rose explaining all this. Currently the only people there are Simon, his brother Edward, and the housekeeper Martin, who was the one who greeted them so rudely. Martin is instantly trying to get the kids out, telling them they should leave and that the hotel is dangerous. The kids don’t seem to care at all. They offer to help with the construction, since they’re here anyway, and it’s not like there are any summer jobs left in Shadyside. They want to call Rose, but Simon warns them the switchboard is down, meaning they won’t be able to call out of the hotel for a day.

So it’s four teenagers, alone in an abandoned hotel, with no way of contacting the outside world, with only a magnanimous old man named Simon Fear and a creepy butler for company. None of these kids seem bothered by this. Which, there’s not much they can do that night, but not a single one is like, Oh, I’ve seen this horror movie. Let’s not. All four agree to stay and do work for the chance to use the beach and relax. Like most horror movies, Shadyside exists in a universe where no other horror movie has ever been made, and no teenager had to live through the great 70s and 80s massacres of their peers.

The next day they hang out on the beach a while. Jan can’t get a hold of Aunt Rose, but no one seems very worried about this. Jan gets mad at the boys because they keep making fun of her for believing in ghosts. Cari tries to play nice with her friend, but she’s also busy flirting with Eric. They see Simon walking towards them on the beach, and he tells them Rose wasn’t on the ship to the island. He mentions his brother Edward, who’s holed up in a room somewhere, definitely not suspiciously. Simon tells them the ugly story behind his namesake and what happened to the Fear Mansion, and I have to  put the description in because it’s so gruesome to think about:

One day, Simon’s two little girls went out to play in the woods. They didn’t return. That night and into the next morning, a frantic search ensued. The story goes that their bodies were found in the woods more than a week later. Their bodies–but not their bones. Their skeletons had been completely removed.

Which is honestly bonkers. Like did the search party find two piles of squishy flesh, organs, and viscera bearing the two young girls’ faces? It sounds more like aliens zapped their bones away than what actually happened. (It’s worth noting that the Fear Street Saga was written two years after this book came out and dang dang dang am I disappointed this little factoid wasn’t kept in the canon.)

Their campfire stories are interrupted by screaming from the hotel. They all race to see what happened and they find Jan screaming her head off about a ghost she saw. A woman in all white with coal black eyes came out of the walls to haunt Jan. Cari’s freaked out by this, and at night she can’t sleep thinking about it. She thinks she hears chains in the walls, and then she hears someone whisper her name. She tries to find the source and ends up in front of Simon’s room, where she hears him arguing with a woman. The woman screams that she doesn’t want the party to happen, and Cari hurries away. She goes to Jan’s room and tells her she heard the ghost. She and Jan decide to go ghosthunting and find ectoplasm on the doorknob, which is honestly the fakest thing a ghost hunter could find. Cari even asks, “Like Ghostbusters?” because it is the fakest thing they could find.

The next day they try to figure out the voice that Cari heard, but as far as they know Cari and Jan are the only women on the island. They ask Martin, but he tells them there hasn’t been a woman around since Greta, Simon’s wife, died. He is suspiciously curt about it and tells the kids to get to work on the walls of the hotel. At lunch, the kids take a break, but Cari decides to keep going, which is how she runs into Edward. He’s wearing a safari outfit and carrying a rifle, and he is immediately intimidating. Cari wishes her friends were back and for a second thinks Edward might try to hurt her. But he tells her to do a good job and stalks away.

Cari’s kind of freaked out because of the exchange, and Eric takes her for a walk around the beach, where they kiss. She think she sees someone watching them, and they go back inside, where she locks her door. The next day they’re working again, and when the scaffolding falls down almost hurting the boys, they find a secret door that leads them to some secret tunnels. The tunnel is super gross and filled with spiderwebs and rats and giant bugs, but they go exploring anyway. This is also why it’s super shady that Simon was like oh yeah four teenagers can totally do the work of a construction crew no problem. Teenagers get distracted by absolutely everything and don’t want to do actual work. Terrible plan.

They find a weird room in the tunnels with red walls and a skull on a table. Jan finds more fake ectoplasm, which freaks everyone out. They try to get back out, but the door’s been blocked. They’re trapped. Cari screams for help, but they decide not to wait and instead go back through the tunnels, trying to find a way out. Eventually they see sunlight and end up back on the beach. When they return to their work, they see the scaffolding has moved to block the door, which means someone tried to lock them in there.

They decide to tell Simon at dinner, but Edward attends instead. He’s curt and gruff, and when he leaves the others joke about him. Martin appears and gives them a cryptic warning, telling them to get out now, but Edward appears and scares him off. Simon appears later and tells them he went to the mainland to see Aunt Rose, claiming that she’s fine and went to a spa for a few days to recover. Jan tries once again to summon ghosts in her room, and then disappears the next day.

The others work all afternoon before going to check on Jan and finding her room empty. They search and consider calling the police. They go to Simon first and hear arguing again, between Simon, Edgar, and some mystery woman. They hear Simon scream, and then a gunshot. The kids are frozen, uncertain what to do, and Edgar bursts out claiming Simon had an accident while holding a still smoking rifle. He gets frenzied, pointing his gun at Cari, and Martin comes in, shouting at the kids to leave. Edgar claims he killed Simon and Martin berates him. Edward pulls the gun on him, but Martin talks him down and takes him downstairs.

The second they’re gone, the kids go into the room to investigate. The room smells terrible, like gunpowder, sweat, and death, but they don’t find any blood or a body. They can’t find any sign of a woman either. At this point I’m pretty convinced Simon and the woman are ghosts, possibly even Edward and Martin, but don’t worry. The twist is much crazier than that.

The kids decide what to do. They go through the things and find an old photo album with Simon and Rose standing in front of the hotel. They’re distant cousins, and the boys wonder if Rose knew what was waiting for them at the hotel, if she set them up by faking sick and sending them to such a creepy place. Eric even accuses Jan of being in on it, and there’s so many red herrings flying around it’s hard to guess the truth. Cari decides she doesn’t care about the truth, that she just wants to call the police and let them deal with it. But Eric finds a revolving bookcase and they go into a secret study. He finds a letter that reads:

Dear Rose, I am so sorry to tell you that I fear a terrible tragedy has occurred. Your niece Jan and her three friends have disappeared without a trace, without an explanation. I have been frantic, wracked with sadness, with fear, with remorse. The police from Willow Island have combed every inch of the island without success. Without a single clue. I’ve been trying to call you night and day. You didn’t answer your phone. So I am sending this letter special delivery. So sorry to send such tragic news by mail. I am saddened and mystified.

It’s the worst letter I’ve ever read and why would you write the letter before you killed them????? It doesn’t make any sense! I know they need to find it to be aware of their impending doom, but Edward, buddy, you gotta wait on that. Also, if you did kill them, and you did want to fake all this, showing up in person is a lot better than sending this garbage letter.

But whatever. The kids are flipping out because they’re going to get murdered super hard. Craig knows how to drive a boat, so they decide to leave the island and get help. They grab their suitcases but like why bother? There are madmen chasing you with rifles! They decide to call the police before leaving in case Jan is still on the island, and in searching for one they come across a trophy room. It’s already pretty creepy, and then Cari sees on the far wall, mounted on displays, are four human heads!

The kids fucking book it now. They are out of here, no more discussion, no more questions asked. They’re still making fucking jokes all the dang time, but when they get to the iron fence around the property, they see it’s padlocked. They try to break it, but they’re unsuccessful, and on top of the fence are iron spike so they can’t climb it. They decide to back to the bay and get the canoes, heading to another island that way, but when they get to the beach the canoes are missing.

It starts raining, because the scenery sensed a need for drama. They hide in the pool house and search for a phone again. Edward Fear appears with his hunting rifle and invites them to his party, a hunting party that is, and guess who’s in season! Cari struggles with him momentarily, and the rifle goes off without hurting anyone. They knock him down and run away.They run through the trees with Edward chasing them, firing wildly, and they manage to sneak back into the hotel. They manage to find a phone, and Cari calls the operator to get the Willow Island Police. What follows is an obviously fake conversation but I give Cari the benefit of the doubt because she’s under a lot of stress right now. They’re told the police can be there in twenty minutes, and they try to hide, but they accidentally bump into Simon Fear.

They’re obviously confused and scared, and they tell Simon everything about Edward hunting them and having called the police and Jan missing. They ask him to stop them, and Simon wonders why he’d bother stopping them. Simon takes off his jacket, changes his posture, puts on an eyepatch, and adopts Edward’s voice, because Simon and Edward were the same person all along! He takes his rifle, and they try to talk to him. He lets them know he’s not going to shoot them right away. It’s only sporting to give them an hour’s head start. He shoots a few rounds just for funsies, and the trio runs away.

They decide to hide in the secret passages they found earlier. They think they find another telephone, but it’s dead, and they realize all the phones go through a switchboard, which means their earlier call to the police didn’t go through to anyone but Simon/Edward. They hear noises and see a closed door with light coming through it. Cari thinks it’s the ghost woman, but when they break down the door, they find Jan and Rose! Rose came the very next day after she got ill, but Simon was waiting for her and kidnapped her, locking her in the tunnels. Jan finds out she’s related to the Fears and her friends are like catch up Jan Jesus we got bigger problems to worry about now. Jan lets them know that the ghost stuff was all a trick she was putting on, since she was mad they didn’t believe her. She found the tunnels sooner than everyone else and snuck around, placing ectoplasm and whispering people’s names. They try and explain what’s going on, but Rose is weak, and they take them up to the kitchen to make sure they have the strength to get out.

Martin comes in and tells them to get out. Rose demands to know what’s going on, and he tells her that Simon’s been very ill since his wife Greta died. I love Rose in these scenes because she’s such the oblivious adult. Martin’s saying all these cryptic things and she’s like What is going on around here Why isn’t the hotel open Why is Simon in the woods at night and the kids are just like WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE. Martin reveals the human heads mounted on the wall were wax since Simon became obsessed with hunting people. It’s not really a normal obsession and I’m not sure exactly how it sprung from his dead wife (who died in a hunting accident). Maybe it’s like a Ravenous thing and he accidentally ate human meat and now he craves it?

Their conversation is ruined when Simon busts in. He’s gone full Edward, but Rose stands up to him and demands to speak to Simon in what is a pretty baller move. But Edward doesn’t listen and shoots Martin instead. Cari jumps up and demands that Edward shoot her first before the others. This confuses him, and she tries to convince him to give her the rifle, but then he shoots her (in a chapter titled Edward Shoots Cari, so no suspense there) but Cari takes it like a champ and keeps demanding the rifle. He fires again, but she manages to stay up, and he screams about her being a ghost. He tries to shoot the others, but before he can, a woman tells him to stop. They all realize the woman’s voice is coming out of his mouth, that Simon doesn’t just have two identities inside him, but three. Simon argues with Edward and Greta until Simon breaks free, apparently oblivious to the chaos he’s caused.

Some time later the group is returning to the mainland, seemingly unharmed. They ask Cari why she didn’t die when she was shot, and she tells them she figured out Edward wasn’t firing real ammunition. Since Martin was in the hunting party but clearly wasn’t enthusiastic about it, she figured he’d replaced his ammo rifle with blanks. The blanks trope is such a thing and it’s still being used (Until Dawn did it, and that’s two Wendigo references in one review bam) but like if you’re shot with a blank at close range it can definitely still cause bleeding and can even kill. I think that’s also a trope but what isn’t these days. Anyway, the teens sail back home and don’t seem to have any emotional trauma to deal with whatsoever.

Favorite Line

“He’s such a nice boy,” Mrs. Taylor said quietly. “But isn’t Eric the one with the ponytail?”

Fear Street Trends

Cari describes herself as “willowy and beautiful as any model on the cover of Sassy or Seventeen” (though she wishes she was bootylicious like Jan, my words not Stine’s). Eric, of course, is a cool kid with a ponytail and one earring and wears silver sunglasses and is described as wearing a Hawaiian shirt. Craig is more casual in khaki shorts and white tennis shirts (your average white people clothes). Jan, despite her gothy nature, wears pink and bikinis, though her interest in witchcraft and ghosts might be genetic. No other characters appear, but Simon Fear’s backstory is given a little here (to be expanded on in the Fear Street Saga), and I’m super interested in the all these Fear descendants running around. I’m not sure if Sarah Beth from the Cheerleaders books is ever heard from again. I’d like to see what more of the Fears are up to now.

Rating

I was pretty hype for some Fear Street beach reads, and this seemed to have a lot of elements in it that I got excited for, but the ultimate twist was kind of meh and some of the sideplots are wrapped up poorly. I’m going to give it two wax human heads out of five.

Top Fear Street Books (According to R.L. Stine)

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Over at RLStine.com, a website I truly cannot tell is official or not just looking at it because it looks like every haunted house website I’ve ever been to, R.L. Stine lists his top eight Fear Street Books. Here’s the list.

The New Girl

[Recap Here] Stine loves this one because it’s the original and played with a concept he enjoyed. I do like the idea of a ghost story that doesn’t actually have a ghost in it, and I can see why he has a lot of love for it.

Silent Night

[Recap Here] Stine loved writing mean, sarcastic Reva Dalby (not a real name). It’s a Fear Street Superchiller, which means he put a little extra love into it. We haven’t covered it on this blog (yet), but I’m holding off on some of the Superchillers, especially what I think is the most popular one.

Switched

[Recap Here] Stine says this book got very little attention, but as far as I can tell, barring the Cheerleaders, this is everyone’s favorite Fear Street novel. He says he’s proudest of the shocks and twists in this one, and it does swerve in about three different directions.

Fear Street Saga: the Betrayal

[Recap Here] Stine just loves the idea of burning a witch at the stake. I bet that was the entire impetus for this story, especially since that form of execution was out of style in the US. People do seem to love the Fear Street Saga books, and it is one of the gorier ones I’ve read.

Haunted

[Recap Here] Stine loves ghosts and dopplegangers and all the like. He’s very proud of it and says there’s a lot of tension in it, which puts it high on my list of rereads.

The Perfect Date

Stine loves this one because his son is posing on the cover. That’s sweet! I wonder what it’s like in the Stine household, especially around Halloween.

Cheerleaders: The First Evil

[Recap Here] Everyone’s favorite! I’m surprised it’s so low on the list, though I imagine Stine knows it doesn’t need the boost in popularity. The Cheerleaders are probably one of the most beloved parts of Fear Street, and Stine sees they got a good response.

The Secret Bedroom

[Recap Here]Stine wrote this book in eight days. This is baffling to me. I wonder how much editing he goes through when he does these.

Fear Street Superchillers – Bad Moonlight

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I was clicking through Fear Street books, figuring out which one to read next, and I could not resist a werewolf story. Full disclosure: I love werewolves, which may affect my reading of this book. Also, spoilers, there are werewolves in this.

The Cover

bad moonlight.jpg

I actually adore this cover (pulled from GoodReads). I don’t think it’s necessarily a good one, but I like the girls in the middle, especially since they’re clearly based on the characters inside, down to her red dress, and the wolf howling behind them mimicking their singing. I’m a fan.

Tagline

Nighttime is the right time for terror!

I like this one! It’s rhythmic, the addition of “for terror!” is good, and it doesn’t give anything away.

Summary

Did somebody say prologue! Danielle is in the grocery store with her Aunt Margaret and her little brother Cliff, talking about the band Danielle plays in. For some reason I thought this was a flash forward, but at no point does it come up later in the book, so I guess it’s a good old fashioned prologue. Aunt Margaret is super proud that her niece has taken a year off school to pursue this whole band thing, which to be honest should’ve been a major tip off that everything’s not alright here. Danielle wanders off on her own and is overcome by a feeling, and is disturbed from a waking dream by her little brother only to find she’d been chewing on fistfuls of raw meat.

Danielle and her band are driving to their gig. Her band includes Joey, who I think just drives them around, Mary Beth and Caroline, who I think are backup singers and play instruments, Billy, the manager, and Kit the roadie, as well as Dee, the megabitch lead singer who hates Danielle’s guts. I say “I think” for most of these because I couldn’t quite figure out or remember their roles. These losers have been playing all over the surrounding cities and don’t even have a flipping name, but they’re working on it. Danielle is new to the band, having been invited thanks to her songwriting skill and is now sharing the spotlight with Dee.

Danielle is haunted by violent visions of her parents’ deaths by car accident. She imagines the van going off the side of the cliff, and constantly sees violent imagery following her around. Everyone refers to these hallucinations as “fantasies”, which may be technically right, but isn’t quite the terminology I would use. I imagine Stine just didn’t bother looking up a different word (this was pre-Internet, after all). These nerds have been staying in nasty motels in between shows, and they arrive the night before their next gig and chill out in the club they’re going to play. Joey hits on everyone, especially Danielle, but Kit rescues her and they have a romantic moment until Danielle tries to bite his face off.

The next day they play, using Danielle’s newly written song “Bad Moonlight”, which they decide should be the name of the band. This guarantees a title drop every ten sentences, and at a certain point the use of the term “bad moonlight” just becomes comical. But they fucking kill it at the show, to the point that people demand an encore, and I cannot imagine a band who has not even decided on a name has too many songs in their repertoire, but it also seems like they rotate out people on occasion, so maybe they have some built up. Danielle is super hype about how well she did and goes running. She then imagines herself growing claws and seeing Joey before she blacks out.

The next day they’re packing up to go home. Kit is apparently super into Danielle now that she fucked up his face, and Joey is missing. His body is found shredded to pieces. No one but Dee seems any bit perturbed by this. They return home for a bit, where Danielle sees her therapist, Dr. Moore, who takes her through her hypnotherapy sessions. He thinks she seems fine, and Danielle writes some more songs about how she’s a werewolf. She writes one for Dee, and Dee flips out on her, trying to strangle her. They’re broken apart, and they arrive in town for their next show.

Danielle has more fantasies where she’s running on all fours and drinking rain water (disgusting), and they go play for what I think is hinted at being a gay club? Kit and Dee go missing, and Danielle thinks she sees Dee murdering him, but it turns out to be another hallucination. They perform to a sold out house and do great again. Dee continues to threaten Danielle, and we find out why later on. Honestly, knowing that Dee is trying to drive her away from the band for a good reason makes her even more cruel, especially when she could’ve just said ‘Hey, Danielle, these dudes are super shady maybe you shouldn’t be here anymore.’ Danielle sees Billy slumped over and thinks he’s dead as well, but he’s just drunk. The band leaves and heads back to Shadyside to relax for a bit before they have to play again.

Danielle keeps seeing Dr. Moore, and she suspects her aunt is keeping secrets from her. She finds an article of her parents’ death that mentions no car crash at all, just a mauling by a wild animal. Dee threatens Danielle one more time before up and leaving the band in a mysterious note left to Billy, who sneaks over to Danielle’s house in the middle of the night and then leaves. Finally they set up for one last show at a teen dance club, which is a thing in books and on TV but is nothing I’ve ever encountered in real life. Are their special clubs just for 18 and younger? I do not believe. Anyway, right before the show, Danielle finds the slashed up body of Dee, and the rest of her bandmates drag her away.

And then shit pops off.

Danielle tries to warn the others that Billy is a murderer, and everyone in the band transforms into a werewolf right in front of her. They all try to drag her back, but Kit shows up and rescues her. She manages to get away, lose Kit, but returns to her house, where her aunt reveals to that she’s not actually her aunt at all! Her parents and her extended family were brutally murdered by werewolves, because their werewolf master chose Danielle to be his bride! She runs to Dr. Moore’s house, but it turns out he’s Kit’s dad, and Kit is the werewolf king or whatever! So Dr. Moore has been implanting the violent fantasies, and Dee and Billy tried to warn Danielle before they were dealt with. Kit drags Danielle outside to get married right fucking there, but Danielle manages to transform into a werewolf, and she fucking murders his parts so good his limbs go flying off. Every single one of the werewolves are so happy to be free of his mind control that they raise her up, and the book ends about two seconds after that. Is Danielle still a werewolf? What will all her werewolf friends do now? Is the band still happening? If Dr. Moore was implanting the songs in her head, what will they do to write new songs now? Are there other werewolves out there? Who cares? R.L. Stine sure doesn’t.

Favorite Line

“Know what I’m looking forward to?”

“What?” Billy asked.

Danielle grinned up at him. “Some bright sunlight!”

Fear Street Trends

Lots of skin tight clothes in red in this one, but it’s more symbolic than fashionable. Red Heat is the name of the teen dance club, which I know has shown up in other books, but I’m not sure if it’s named in the other ones.

Rating

I really enjoy a werewolf story, and it’s nice that something actually supernatural happens in this town (it seems like Stine saves those for the Superchillers), and I was a little surprised when EVERYONE turned out to be a werewolf. I’ll give it four bad moonlights out of five.