I got another physical version of this book, and since a black cat plays a prominent part in the plot, you get this picture of my own black cat reading along.
I have so many memories of just this cover (pulled from its GoodReads page). I didn’t remember the plot of the book before reading it, but I have distinct memories of holding this book and its eerie cover. I think this is beautiful. The glow of the fog, the water at her feet, the white nightgown. The only thing I might change is she seems like a dangerous figure here, which I’m not against, but I think a little more delicacy in her face and pose might’ve gone further in the ethereal design they were going for.
She isn’t safe–even in her dreams.
It’s a little generic, which I get on these books’ case for doing often, but I like this. It ties into the sleepwalker motif without giving away the plot in any way.
We’re given a prologue where Mayra is sleepwalking and is described as looking like a ghost. We’re then catapulted One Week Earlier where Mayra Barnes is getting ready for her first day of work. She’s taking care of Mrs. Cottler, who her mother cared for in the hospital and does not remember fondly, and she’s mostly cleaning and cooking for her. Mrs. Cottler is actually pretty nice, though, a little strange but very kind. She’s got very smooth skin and a black cat, and my first guess was that she was a witch. Her cat’s kind of a jerk though (aren’t they all), and it breaks a bracelet Mayra’s boyfriend had given her. Mrs. Cottler offers to fix it and takes the beads. Mayra and Mrs. Cottler take walks together around Fear Lake, and Mrs. Cottler remembers her son Vincent being lost there. This doesn’t really amount to anything except that so many people die in this lake. At some point, in getting some things for Mrs. Cottler upstairs, Mayra finds black candles, and the cat Hazel shouts at her for it.
Mayra’s life isn’t smooth sailing. She dumped her ex-boyfriend a month or so ago, and Link is still following her around. He’s desperate to get back together and bugs her at every opportunity. She argues with him before telling him to have a nice life. Mayra still goes to Mrs. Cottler’s home, and they’re interrupted one day by her neighbor complaining her peach tree drops peaches into his yard. She informs him she’s not going to do a goddamned thing about it. He threatens to cut it down, and she warns him if he doesn’t calm down, something bad might happen to him. He storms off, leaving behind his handkerchief. Mayra offers to return it, but Mrs. Cottler is excited to have it. After Mrs. Cottler goes upstairs to take her nap, Mayra notices her cane and brings it up to her, accidentally interrupting her in the middle of a trance. Mrs. Cottler is holding the handkerchief. Mayra decides to get the flip out of there before anything else happens.
Mayra hangs out with her best friend Donna and tells her Mrs. Cottler has to be a witch. Mayra’s boyfriend believes in magic stuff and wants to be a magician, as well as reads about telepathy and things like that. Donna doesn’t really believe it, but she’s a good friend who humors her. Donna might be my favorite character in this book. She’s so wry and even when terrible things happen to her, she gets on. Despite all the ribbing, when Mayra goes into work the next day, she sees the neighbor being carried off on a stretcher. It seems something happened to him after all, and Mrs. Cottler is pleased as punch about it.
Walker, Mayra’s boyfriend, returns from vacation, and she talks to him about her strange neighbor. Walker is described as shy and quiet, and he blushes easily. They go on a date together, and Walker apologizes for their last date, though Mayra has no idea what he’s talking about. Mayra gets home and talks to her mom, who lets her know Link came by asking about her. Mayra goes upstairs and goes to bed, only to wake up in her front lawn after sleepwalking.
Mayra goes to work the next day feeling exhausted. On her way home, she thinks she sees two kids playing in the Fear Street Cemetery, but then they disappear. Then a huge, hulking man chases after her, shouting for her attention. She runs away and runs onto the bus, heading towards the mall to pick something up for her mom. There she sees Walker holding hands with–gasp!–Suki Thomas! They both play it off, saying they just ran into each other and he was showing her a magic trick. Mayra is ready to believe, but should she?
Mayra tells her mom about her sleepwalking, who thinks of it as a joke. Stephanie, Link’s sister, comes over and is at first really friendly with Mayra, though there’s a tension there. They argue a little over Mayra’s scarf that Stephanie is still wearing, and then Stephanie insists that Mayra give her brother a chance again. Mayra tells her to get a life, and Stephanie storms out, taking the scarf with her.
Mayra is sleepwalking again, and this time she makes it all the way out to Fear Street. She walks all the way through the woods, probably on her way to the lake. Luckily a policeman finds her and brings her home, and Mayra’s mom is no longer joking about this. Walker comes over in the morning to see her and walk her to work. He offers to hypnotize her and calm her down. When Mayra gets to Mrs. Cottler’s house, the old woman is upstairs. Mayra sees her bracelet sitting out with a black candle burned down to a stub beside it.
Link sees Mayra when she’s walking home, and they share a moment before she remembers Walker and tells him to take her home. Donna is waiting for her, and she tells her that a man named Cal came asking after her, and he matches the description of the man that harassed her the other day. Donna asks her about her sleepwalking, and Mayra jokes that Mrs. Cottler is a witch that put a spell on her, but as soon as she says it she starts to believe it.
Mayra’s mom takes her, her little sister, and Donna out to a lake (not the one made of Fear) for a weekend to help her relax. Mayra tries to weasel out of her job, but her mom tells her not to. Her little sister tosses a car into the water, which causes Mayra to flip out, but no one understands why, including Mayra herself. When they get back, Donna borrows Mayra’s car, drops her off at work, and then is run off the road by a red pickup. A red pickup is the exact kind of car Link drives!
Mayra isn’t sure what’s going on, but Mrs. Cottler is out of town for a few days, so she brings Walker to her house to snoop around. They look at her library, which is filled with occult books, as well as books on sleepwalking! Mayra is convinced Mrs. Cottler lied to her, because when she asked about sleepwalking, Mrs. Cottler said “It’s mysterious,” which doesn’t exactly mean she doesn’t know anything, but Mayra still takes it as a betrayal. Mayra also finds letters from Link and Stephanie! Mrs. Cottler is their aunt! Mayra is flipping out, convinced Mrs. Cottler is getting revenge for them, and she goes upstairs to steal her beads back, only to find them gone!
Mayra goes to confront Stephanie. She finds her in her room, sitting in the dark in front of a white circle, chanting and wearing Mayra’s scarf on her head. Mayra flips out on her, claiming she’s putting a spell on her. Stephanie gets real nasty, telling her of course Mrs. Cottler was her aunt, of course she doesn’t want her scarf, and she tells her Walker dropped her for Suki Thomas. This pisses off Mayra, who storms out, passing Link on her way out. She looks at his truck, which hasn’t been dented at all, so is not likely the car that drove Donna off the rode.
Mayra sleepwalks again, this time almost drowning in Fear Lake before being rescued by a fisherman. Her mom is clearly stressed by this development and takes her to see a psychiatrist. At the hospital, the man who’s been harassing her sees her, and she has to run into her psychiatrist’s office to get away. She proceeds to have a pleasant conversation with Dr. Sterne, where she tells him all her tribulations, leaving out the witch stuff, and he gives her some medication before asking her to come back next week.
Mayra decides to investigate the lake and find out what happened that’s causing her to sleepwalk. She almost goes for a swim in the lake when Link shows up. She asks him point blank if he ran Donna off the road, but he doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Then he grabs her in a hug and repeats “I miss you so much” because he’s a fucking creep I guess. He tries to kiss her, and she shoves him off, accidentally falling into the lake in the process, which seems to bring back a memory.
A month ago Mayra was on her first date with Walker, and some kids call him a fucking nerd so he storms off. He convinces Mayra to get in a car before revealing he’s stealing it. They drive recklessly on the road before hitting a yellow car, sending it off the edge and into the river below. Mayra gets out to help the people in the car, but Walker grabs her and pulls her away before driving off.
Realizing why she’s been sleepwalking, she asks Walker to come meet her. They walk out to the lake, and she asks him to hypnotize her so she’ll calm down, like he asked before. He agrees, hypnotizing her with a lighter, and at first he says normal things, that she’ll calm down and forget whatever is bothering her. Then he tells her to keep forgetting that night on River Ridge, at which point Mayra reveals she wasn’t hypnotized at all, and accuses him of covering up a murder. Walker does a huge 180, telling her the only reason he even kept around was to make sure she didn’t tell, and he’d been seeing Suki for ages. He tries to drown her, and she’s rescued by a black cat coming out of nowhere and clawing him in the face. She runs into Mrs. Cottler’s house, where Hazel is already back, seemingly by magic.
She dials the police, but Walker comes in through the glass. He picks up a meat cleaver and swings at her. Then Cal comes in and manages to subdue Walker right as the police come in. He explains that he was one of the men in the car Walker ran off the road, his brother having died, and he tried to talk to Mayra after recognizing her from the night, and tried to stop Mayra’s car on the highway before losing control and ramming it. He overheard her and Walker’s conversation and realized Walker is the one he’s been looking for. The police arrest Walker, and the day is saved.
One week later, which I guess this means all of this took place over the period of two or three weeks, Link and Mayra are back together, which is just terrible but whatever. Mrs. Cottler isn’t a witch, she’s just a professor on the occult (though she’s defiitely an actual witch). Mayra sees Hazel and still isn’t sure how the cat managed to save her life that night. But I guess some things on Fear Street just can’t be explained.
She rushed into his arms and they kissed long and passionately, until his mother walked in to ask if they’d like a snack.
Fear Street Trends
Mayra uses a Walkman to listen to the radio. Walker wears a Pheonix Suns t-shirt and some torn jeans. Stephanie sounds like an absolute WASP when she shows up in a navy top and white tennis shorts. Mayra thinks about Tom Cruise in her happy place. Donna shows up in a neon green midriff baring top and shorts, and I thought it might be her uniform for work (she works at a daycare or day camp or something), but then she’s just wearing it later on their quick vacation, so I’m not sure if it’s just an outfit choice or not. Lots of torn and cutoff jeans, Mayra wears tan shorts, and it’s a lot of white people in the 90s clothes.
Suki Thomas, of course, makes a major appearance. Link has a friend who is mentioned to going to the South High School, which was implied to be in Shadyside as well, but I guess could be in one of the neighboring towns. I couldn’t find it on the map, but I also can’t find a high quality scan of that map.
I had memories of this, but I don’t think it quite lived up. I did enjoy the use of red herrings, though I hate that she ends up with Link at the end after all the creepy stuff he did. I’ll give this two toy cars out of five.