Not technically a summer book but there’s only so many of those and it starts on vacation so I’m willing to count it. Besides, if you live in a place like I do where you can have up to 40 days of triple digit heat, it’s nice to read something to cool down.
I found two covers for this book (both on the GoodReads page). I normally wouldn’t use an image so blurry like the second one, but goodness I adore this cover. The skull in the snowman is beautiful, scary, takes a common happy image and turns it gruesome. It’s amazing, and I’m sad I only found this because of a Google Image search.
The original cover, meanwhile, isn’t bad, but next to the other one certainly suffers. I like the image of the kids holed up while a stranger is walking around, though I have no idea what’s up with that boy’s fur coat. It might supposed to be wool, but it looks like a fur coat and it’s so strange. I wish the man in the mask was a little more menacing, but the poses on the kids are pretty good.
It was the perfect setting–for murder!
The ellipses-and-murder taglines are pretty overdone and don’t do much for me suspense-wise. I think they’re going for what that second cover does, something cheery turned sinister.
Doug, Ariel, and Shannon just finished up a ski weekend in the mountains. Ariel’s boyfriend Randy came with them but stormed out early after getting in a big argument with Ariel, but their car is filled with a fourth in a person only referred to as Red. He needed a ride back to some other town, and they were happy to give it to him. But now a snowstorm is moving in, making it impossible to see, and they nearly slide off the road a few times on a mountainside which sounds terrifying. Red tells them to get off the state roads, because he’s sure they’re already plowing the country roads out in the middle of nowhere, even though the snow is still coming down heavy, and Doug goes along with it until his car dies. The crew is stuck and argue about calling a tow truck, but Red is pretty sure there’s a house up ahead. He says people out in the country are far more hospitable than city people and would happily shelter the kids for the night. Red is a little too certain there’s a house up ahead, and I spend the whole book being suspicious of him (spoilers: I was right to).
They come across a huge house and meet Lou and his wife Eva. Lou is immediately the biggest creep in the world by hitting on Shannon, saying he likes redheads and eying her the whole time, and this man is clearly older and a drunk and Shannon has to be seventeen at the oldest. The kids are clearly uncomfortable with it but they don’t really stop him, and at one point they leave Shannon alone in the house and I was like no you cannot I would never leave a friend of mine alone with a man like that. Eva is quiet and nervous and it’s pretty clear from the getgo it’s a bad relationship. Lou brags about hunting and he has all these guns he keeps loaded at all times which is the worst way to keep guns especially if you are a drunk but whatever dude it’s your house. He keeps telling the kids really gruesome stories about horrible ways people he knew died and he treats it like a big joke. The phone isn’t quite working in the house, and though the other kids are able to call their parents, Ariel only gets the machine and is really worried.
Ariel is a naturally paranoid person and gets kind of weirded out when she’s helping Eva in the kitchen and it looks like Eva doesn’t know where anything is. Lou also puts on a jacket that’s too short on his arms and she clearly sees ski lift tickets in the pockets, and then he mentions they haven’t gone skiing in years. She thinks that means he stole the jacket, but I would just assume it’s an old jacket, because I never clean out my pockets and I just found a lipstick I thought I lost in a purse I hadn’t used in months. But all the kids go to bed. Ariel wakes up in the middle of the night when she hears footsteps but it’s Red walking around. He tells her he heard Lou and Eva arguing and that he’s pretty sure he hit her. They aren’t really sure how to handle that situation, and since they aren’t a hundred percent they decide against calling the police. Red and Ariel share a brief, intimate kiss before Ariel remembers she has a boyfriend. I assumed Red was her age but after a while I started thinking he might be a little older which also makes him a creep.
The next day they eat some breakfast. Eva doesn’t come downstairs and Red and Ariel aren’t sure what that means. Doug, Ariel, and Red go to collect Doug’s car, except it got pushed into a ravine overnight. Doug’s absolutely certain he parked it on the opposite side of the street, and all I can think is human memory is faulty and people lie to themselves and others to make it seem like they’re right but obviously this is a book so it’s a clue that something’s up. Lou offers to drive them into town before another storm hits, but when they all climb into his jeep it doesn’t start. Lou throws a big fit over that, making everyone all the more nervous. Red offers to try to fix it, and the others go back inside, where they see a man in a ski mask running around and get freaked out. Doug and Lou brag about their sportsman prowess and end up in a wrestling match. Lou gets way out of hand and nearly breaks Doug’s leg. Red comes back and proclaims the jeep unfixable, until he gathers all the kids upstairs and lets them know the argument he heard last night was about Lou and Eva robbing the kids and running. He’s worked out that it’s not their house or their things, overheard the plan, and faked that the jeep wasn’t fixed so he could have an escape route. The others are convinced as well and agree to wait until Lou is sleeping to sneak out and escape.
At night they all get ready to leave. They take a long ass time too. First they check to see if the phones work, then they decide to go out the front door instead, and then Red goes and gets two loaded pistols, handing one to Doug, and they sneak around the outside of the house. They make a lot of noise opening the garage because the door is frozen, and when they finally do they see someone standing there. They think it’s Lou and Doug’s gun goes off accidentally, shooting the man, who turns out to be the man in the ski mask. When Lou comes out and sees the body, he calls him by name and says Jake was Eva’s brother. He gets real upset about them murdering his brother-in-law, and I actually liked Doug’s shellshocked reaction to finding out he’s murdered a man. They all agree to go inside and call the police and confess to everything, including the accidental murder.
Only Ariel is still pretty suspicious. There was no blood when Jake was shot, and she decides to sneak downstairs and examine the body. She sees clotting on the bullet wound but no spray or any exterior bleeding, and she realizes the body had already gone stiff way sooner than it should have. She suspects Lou had already murdered Jake and was setting them up to take the fall. They decide to go for the jeep again and drive to the police station before Lou has a chance to blame them, but as they go outside Red grabs a gun again and holds them at gunpoint. It turns out Red was in on it all along, leading the kids here, pulling them through the steps so they’d be in a position to shoot Jake, and convincing them to confess to everything. Red is Eva’s brother, and it seems Jake was stealing their inheritance, so they stole it right back. Only Eva’s not too hot on the plan and she calls the police, planning to confess everything. The kids make a run for it, and when they can’t get to the jeep, Ariel steals a snow bike and leads the murderers away. They nab her anyway and threaten to hold her hostage, but they end up on a frozen lake. She sees Red pulled under the water and the police show up and swarm Lou. She runs off the lake and Doug pulls her free.
The kids are let go and are free to go back home even though I bet this is a very confusing investigation for those police officers and there are definitely going to be some questions. They head home anyway and are happy to never ski again.
“I don’t believe it,” I told Shannon. “I got the tape!”
Fear Street Trends
Not too many trends in this one. They mostly wear ski gear and big jackets so nothing too fashionable shows up, and since the story is sort of insular there aren’t too many callbacks. The previously mentioned “I got the tape!” line probably dates it the most since Ariel says it referencing the answering machine, and it sounds like such a catchy, dated slang phrase that I truly love it.
This one was surprisingly good. I’ve read a lot of meh ones lately and there are scenes in this book that are legitimately tense, and I liked the minimalist horror aspect of it (being trapped in a house, snowed in, with a man who may or may not be dangerous, very 10 Cloverfield Lane). I’ll give it four frozen snowballs out of five.