Fear Street #25 – One Evil Summer

YOU GUYS. This book was the hardest one to find for some reason! I requested the book through ILL in goddamn April and it got resent to four different libraries and has still come up empty. I ended up spending my own hard earned money on this (a total of $2, since I had some Amazon credit) to buy a real physical copy of this real physical book because I was so desperate to read this and complete our summer. Was it worth it?

The Cover

one evil summer

I adore this cover (pulled from Goodreads). It’s so wickedly delightful. Chrissy is just swinging around that cat in her longshirt pajamas having a grand old time being so gosh darn evil. The only change I might make is getting rid of the lighthouse in the background. It’s a little distracting, does not have a place in the plot, and you get enough sense of being on the ocean from the ocean outside her window.

Tagline

Chrissy is perfect–perfectly evil.

Delightful. It plays off itself, I like that it’s in the white of the shirt, it’s all around great.

Summary

We actually start this book out in the future. Amanda wakes up in a ward for “psychologically disturbed offenders” and it’s actually a pretty funny scene. It reminds me a lot of the opening from Jennifer’s Body. Amanda recalls how she arrived in this horrible, horrible place, and we flashback to the start of the summer, when she and her family arrive in Seahaven. She goes with her lawyer father, journalist mom, and baby siblings Kyle and Merry, along with their cat, Mr. Jinx, and the two canaries they own, Salt and Pepper. I don’t know why these dumbdumbs brought their animals with them on family vacation. I guess they expected to be there for a long time but just give your neighbors the key to your house. One Christmas I had to take my two cats home with me and that was a nightmare, I can’t imagine taking them to a beach in a strange city.

Amanda’s mom is working on article about the pressures of young people today and she tries to get her daughter to open up to her, but Amanda just jokes. Amanda’s actual pressure is she failed algebra, so for half a day all summer, she’s attending Seahaven’s summer school. I am not a parent nor have ever had to orchestrate a child’s education, but can you do that? Can you just go to another school district and take classes there because you’re vacationing for the summer? It seems like a plot device and it is.

Because Amanda’s parents are working and because Amanda will be in summer school (why did you not just stay home), Amanda’s mom puts out an add for a “mother’s helper” which sounds like an old people way of saying nanny, but she’s live in so I don’t know the appropriate term for that. Chrissy shows up with her resume and references and is hired on the spot despite neither of her references picking up because she casually mentions she’s on her way to a second interview. This book should be called “The Importance of Calling References”, and when you find out where those numbers go later on it’s also kind of insane because what if someone had picked up Chrissy what would you have done then. Anyway Amanda’s cat hates Chrissy and hisses at her, and then Chrissy hisses back like a fucking freak. She then says nothing about and pretends it didn’t happen.

Chrissy moves in with them right away to start working, and Amanda sees a newspaper clipping fall from her things. It mentions Lilith Minor is in a coma, and Chrissy says it’s her sister. When pressed, she flips out on Amanda and lets her know Lilith was evil, which is a weird thing to say about anyone. Amanda decides not to do a gosh darn thing about this and the next day heads off to summer school where she meets a cute boy named Dave. She asks Dave about Chrissy and he says he’s never heard of her, even though everyone in Seahaven knows everyone. Amanda finds this suspicious, and as she arrives home she thinks she sees her little sister drowning in the pool. She flips out and jumps in after her, only to find Chrissy has been teaching her to swim. When Amanda’s parents ask her what happened, Amanda insists she has a bad feeling about Chrissy, but her parents tell her not to worry. They then worry immediately because a car comes careening off the road towards the children, which it narrowly misses, and crashes into the family’s car, killing the cat in the process. The driver explains he lost control, Chrissy seems to be pleased Mr. Jinx is dead, and Amanda flips out on her, taking her baby out into the woods to bury him. Her little brother comes too because he is the only other human in this story.

Amanda has a nightmare in the middle of the night because oh my god her cat is dead and her parents just kind of ignore her it’s so terrible. She walks past Chrissy’s room where she sees her floating a few feet above the ground. This gives her such a shock she passes out and comes to, trying to tell her parents what she saw. They’re like you were absolutely dreaming which does make a lot more sense than “I saw a girl floating” but Amanda is insistent. Amanda then flips out and jumps onto Chrissy, who is asleep in bed, and starts wailing on her, calling her a liar. They drag her off and convince her to go back to sleep.

Amanda is now pretty certain Chrissy is a ghost, the devil, or possessed, and she sneaks into her room and finds another newspaper clipping. It certainly smudges some of the facts Chrissy gave earlier, but when Amanda takes it back to her room it bursts into flames. She hears Chrissy’s laughing and is understandably freaked out. The next day she calls her friend Suzi and asks her to look up the names of Chrissy and her family in the newspaper archives at your local library. Suzi is pretty hilarious because she is not at all into doing it at first and tells Amanda it sounds like homework, but the minute Amanda mentions there’s a boy, she’s like, oh this bitch trying to steal your man I’m on it I’m gonna mission impossible this no worries. Suzi also mentions some blond girl came by the house on Fear Street claiming to be Amanda’s cousin. Then the phone melts in Amanda’s hand. She runs downstairs to grab her parents, but when she comes back to it the phone is fine. Amanda leaves the house and calls her friend from a payphone somewhere else, but she’s told that Suzi’s off to the library.

Amanda’s off to summer school again, and Dave gets all smooth with her. She mentions Chrissy again, who wrote on her resume she lives on Three Old Sea Road, which Dave says isn’t true since no one lives there, it’s abandoned, some murders happened there, also I’m friends with the son of the caretaker which sounds super creepy. Dave then asks her if she wants to take a drive with him, and he takes her up to the scenic bluffs. She tells him everything she suspects about Chrissy and he seems surprisingly chill about it. They hang out on the bluffs for a while, and then he asks if she has a bathing suit so he can borrow a water ski from a friend (so smooth). They go out on the ocean for a while and are having a great time. He takes her to a secluded island and they find a hunter’s cabin. The hunters were driven out since it’s illegal to hunt in this area and they left all their stuff, including just a drawer full of knives. Dave calls it “the blood shed” which is where he starts to trip up on this romantic afternoon, because the floor is literally coated in dry blood. He then hands Amanda a knife and tells her to take care of Chrissy, and she’s like what the fuck Dave I’m not going to murder her. He then tells her he only meant for her to plant the knife in Chrissy’s things. Amanda takes it, and he drives her home.

When they get there, Chrissy is immediately flirty with Dave. He distracts her by showing her his car, and Amanda sneaks upstairs to hide the knife. But then the knife starts bleeding everywhere, spraying blood all over Amanda, spraying it all over Chrissy’s things. Amanda drops it in her drawer and runs out into the hall where she sees her two birds have their throats cut. Her parents then run out and are like whaaaaat is going on and Chrissy runs in saying someone put a bloody knife in her drawer and yeah it looks gosh darn damning that Amanda is covered with blood and left a knife somewhere but do birds have that much blood in them? That there’s just arterial spray everywhere and it’s still dripping all over Chrissy’s things in the other room? Unless Amanda was just painting herself in it BUT WHATEVER now Amanda has to see a therapist which is also weird like parents just take your kid home if this happened to my kid I’d be like okay we’re going back we’ll find you a doctor close to home and also not have any pets for a while.

(I also have to read the phrase “Chrissy’s silky white underthings” which is not a phrase Stine should be allowed to write.)

Dr. Elmont tells them Amanda is just suffering from pressure from failing algebra, which makes her feel like she doesn’t deserve her parents love and maybe Chrissy is taking her place. This makes absolutely no sense for a lot of reasons but also if you did suspect your child had just committed a violent and frankly gruesome act, I’d want to walk away with a little more than a “see me in five days and call me if anything else happens”. The parents decide not to fire Chrissy because they don’t see her as the problem. Amanda decides to fake getting along with Chrissy so she can do some more snooping, and when they get home she apologizes. Amanda also finds a calico kitten, which Chrissy tells her to throw back into the woods, and Amanda sneaks it upstairs. She then gets a phone call from a friend that Suzi is in the hospital after starting to bleed from her face at the library.

Amanda is informed that it’s Chrissy’s night off, and Amanda tries to get her out of the house so she can snoop, especially after she sees her put something in her brother’s milk. Luckily Dave shows up, and when Amanda tells him what’s up, he knocks over the milk and invites Chrissy on a date to see a movie called Blood Surfer. Amanda tries calling one of the references again, and this time someone does pick up. A girl answers saying she and her mom had just walked into the judge’s house and found something horrible. It’s very clear they just found the murdered bodies of whatever reference Chrissy decided to put down, and the fact that they answer the phone so casually at first, don’t immediately go “there is a dead body oh god please help”, and then just hang up on Amanda after saying to get out of the house if Chrissy is there is all very strange. A lot of time and energy could’ve been saved if they’d just said “Chrissy is a lying murderer and she’s probably going to murder you call the police”.

Amanda roots through Chrissy’s things and finds hidden in a shoebox the rest of the newspaper articles. I guess Chrissy just lays up at night reading about her own life while she plots, since a lot of these end up on her bed. On one of the newspapers is a photo of Amanda’s dad, who defended a homeless man falsely charged with arson. The law offices of Minor and Henry were burned down, one of those names being related to Chrissy. Dave and Chrissy come back then (like twenty minutes later at the most). Amanda grabs Dave and gets the fuck out of there. He drives her out to the bluffs to figure out what happened, but then goes into a trance and starts bleeding from the face and just keels over.

Chrissy then appears in what may be the best villain scene in any of these books. Chrissy is just floating around, posing on the Mustang, making fun of Amanda. She tells Amanda because everyone only uses 10% of their brain bla bla psychic powers. I guess Chrissy’s dad burned down his own law office or falsely accused that homeless man or something because Amanda’s dad hounded him until her dad committed suicide (I assume via carbon monoxide which is kind of shitty since it nearly killed his whole family) and so Chrissy is going to murder the whole family. Chrissy then pushes Amanda back into the car and pushes that car over the cliff, which narrowly avoids going into the water thanks to some rock outcroppings. She climbs out, climbs down, and passes out on the beach until morning. From there she hikes all the way back to her house, where she learns Chrissy sent her parents back to Shadyside to look for her under the presumption that she’d run off with some boy, and it’s just Chrissy and the two kids.

Chrissy discovers Amanda is still alive and tells her she won’t murder Merry and Kyle until she’s dead. Amanda takes this as her cue to feets don’t fail me now run all the way to the ocean, where she steals a guy’s water bike and rides away. She makes it to the secluded island where Chrissy sends her messages about how she’s going to kill the kids. Amanda finds the blood shed, eats some of the dehydrated food there, grabs a knife, and gets ready to Rambo out before Chrissy sends a psychic attack. Again, every object in a room attacks a person, and it’s not really a scary trope. I guess it kind of is because you can’t stop it but it just gets goofy if it goes on for more than a minute.

Amanda needs to save her siblings. She rides back towards the beach and sees Chrissy with the kids gagged on a skiff, which is a weird James Bond boss level to have, but okay. Chrissy knocks Amanda off the wave runner, but Amanda climbs onto the boat in time to stop her from slicing Merry’s throat. They have a big dumb fight that ends with Chrissy getting knocked into the railing and snapping her neck. They manage to swim back to shore, and Amanda saves Chrissy for no reason at all except she’s a good person I guess.

They get back to the house. Amanda tries to call her mom or the police or anyone. Chrissy gets back up. Chrissy lights the house on fire, planning to take them both out, but then the kitten from before runs out and saves the day like a champ, tripping Chrissy and pitching her into the flames. Amanda grabs the cat and runs out of the house as everything burns behind her.

We cut back to Amanda in the psych ward. Her doctor explains the missing pieces to us, that Amanda got arrested because running away from a burning building instantly means guilt, that her brother was in shock and couldn’t testify for her, and then that Lilith was Chrissy’s actual name and she developed her powers while in the coma. Chrissy is the name of her cat. Kyle started speaking again, so Amanda gets to go free, even though I assume she’s been here a while since they had a whole sentencing and everything. She goes back home where her parents and siblings are happy to see her and she has a new cat so everything’s fine. She thinks she sees Chrissy outside for a second, but then she’s gone, and there’s no sequel so let’s leave it at that.

Favorite Line

“No, not kill her. That’s dumb. My plan is better than that.”

Fear Street Trends

So many in this book! It’s been a while, since the summer reads have mostly focused on bathing suits. Luckily these kids are a fashionable bunch. Amanda’s best looks include khaki shorts (“Your basic white people clothes”) and a Pearl Jam t-shirt. Chrissy wears a lot of white, but also blue slacks with a white halter top (which actually feels a little 2001), and white shorts with midriff-bearing tops (also a little 2001). No familiar faces pop up. Once we get back into the school year we’re likely to see some more.

Rating

This was definitely the best of the summer reads, and I’m glad I wasn’t let down. Everything about it is delightful, and it’s certainly the most coherent of all the books (with like three Chekhov’s Guns to go off too). I’ll give it four floating girls out of five.

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