I decided to read this after seeing it on Stine’s favorite Fear Street books list and I was not disappointed.
The cover (pulled from Lexile) is’t bad. The contrast of her to the sickly green glow coming out of the door, the skeleton hand, her scared expression, it’s all pretty good. What’s killing it for me (besides the mom jeans and the terrible shirt) is that left arm. It’s so poorly attached, and the line of the shirt makes a line cutting it off, so it looks like they copy and pasted it from somewhere else. Otherwise it’s a pretty good cover.
Don’t open that door!
I get on these a lot for having very generic taglines, but I like this one. It’s urgent, the cover gives you good reason, but it doesn’t give anything away really.
We are introduced to Lea Carson as she’s spilling her lunch all over the local mean girl Marci Hendryx. Lea moved into a house on Fear Street a week or so ago, and she’s already making a fool of herself in front of everyone. Marci storms out, but her boyfriend Don sticks around and talks to Lea, helping her clean up her lunch and being nicer to her. He’s called away by Marci after asking Lea out, and Lea goes to sit with her newest BFF, your friend and mine Deena Martinson. Deena warns her that Marci and Don are dating, and she says that Marci is someone to watch out for.
Lea returns to her new creepy home on Fear Street and lets us know how they happened to move in to such a weird place. Her parents love to renovate homes and move around a lot, so I guess they’re the original house flippers. Our real estate agent is Mrs. Thomas, mother of the famed Suki Thomas, and she plays up the roominess of the house to Lea and her parents. They go up into the attic and see a weird small room there that’s been boarded up. Mrs. Thomas, the worst real estate agent, tells them a hundred years ago someone was murdered and the door was boarded up. She quickly tries to sell it on the charm of the old house and that every house on Fear Street has a story like that, and almost none of them are true (all of them are true). Lea is creeped out by the door, though her parents play it off.
[Minor aside, I googled whether or not you have to disclose a death if you’re a real estate agent trying to sell a house, and I did find some interesting information:
What you’re talking about is the issue of “psychological damage” to a property, to be distinguished from “physical damage.” In some cases, the psychological damage is so great—such as after a violent or highly publicized murder or suicide, or widespread reports of haunting—that the house is considered “stigmatized” and therefore less valuable.
In most states, the owner would indeed be expected to disclose a defect causing the house to be stigmatized, so that buyers could adjust their expectations and purchase price accordingly. As a practical matter, this disclosure would likely be made on the seller disclosure form that is required in most U.S. states.
(via nolo.com) I’m more interested in this explanation because it includes the haunting.]
On Saturday night, Lea is waiting for Don to show up, talking on the phone with Deena. Don is half an hour late, so Lea calls his house, where his mom says he’s out with Marci. She decides to call Marci’s house. Marci immediately starts laughing and tells her it was all a big joke, that Don was her boyfriend and she couldn’t believe Lea believed he was going to pick her up, and that she put him up to it. Lea throws herself into her bed and hears footsteps overhead.
At school, Don tries to apologize, but he does a pretty poor job of it. He defends Marci, but doesn’t deny it’s a joke, and it’s a really weird apology, but Marci cuts him off and he runs back to her side. Marci then shows up and apologizes to Lea as well, claiming she forced Don to apologize and that she took the joke too far. Then she invites Lea to come hang out with her and her sorority in room 409 at school, but Lea figures out pretty quick the school doesn’t even have four stories. It’s a dumb joke, but Marci’s officially dedicated to torturing Lea, so she decides she needs to figure out a revenge.
(At this point, knowing Shadyside High’s level of what constitutes a prank, I started assuming that the ghost in the attic was actually Marci trying to trick her. Let’s see if I’m right.)
Lea is home alone on Saturday night watching Ghost (get it), and decides it’s time to head off to bed. But above her she hears footsteps again, and this time Lea can’t stand it. She goes upstairs and calls out, because that always works, when she sees blood seeping from the door. Blood starts pouring out in a waterfall, and she screams, run downstairs, and calls Deena. Deena doesn’t seem too worried, despite facing a murderer down herself, but she promises to come over. Lea calls the police as well and gives a poor retelling of what happened. When Deena arrives, Lea tells her everything that happened, and Deena tells her she was dreaming. They both go upstairs, where the door is unmolested, and there’s no blood. The police arrive and look around as well, though they are at least understanding when Lea apologizes. He tells her she should always call, and I’m so interested in the local police’s view of Fear Street.
Lea keeps hearing noises, but she decides it’s only a raccoon or old boards. She has another dream, where she opens the door and sees a monster who turns into Marci. She spends another Saturday night alone and continues to hear strange noises, which are getting louder and louder. She goes upstairs again, and then spikes shoot out of the door, causing her to run away. Luckily Don calls, inviting her out again. Lea is so desperate to get out that she says yes without thinking. But when she goes to meet Don, Marci is there! She’s being exceptionally nasty, and it’s clear Don didn’t plan for her to be here, but Lea is so embarrassed and mad that she leaves again and goes back home.
The attic is still making noises, and she takes a hammer and pulls off the boards. A young girl’s voice calls out to her, and she finally opens the door to find a fully furnished bedroom. She meets Catherine, who is dressed in Victorian clothes with blond ringlets. She has ghost powers that can make herself see through and invisible, as well as become solid. (This is the point I figured out it was probably not Marci.) Catherine tells her she’s lonely, and Lea is scared, closes the door, and runs back downstairs.
Lea now has two problems: a ghost in her attic and Marci Hendryx. Marci is telling everyone Lea is throwing herself at Don and making a fool. Deena warns her in a moment I was absolutely certain for a second Deena was going to come out to her but WHATEVER, and Lea’s social life is basically ruined.
At home, Lea goes back upstairs, and she talks to Catherine again. Catherine tells her she was born out of wedlock, and in Shadyside that makes her evil. Her parents locked her up in the room in the attic, and when Catherine tried to escape, they killed her. She’s never been able to leave until Lea opened the door for her. She grabs Lea, which scares her, and Lea shuts the door and runs back downstairs. But quickly Lea realizes she has a solution to both her problems. If only she could sic Catherine on Marci!
Lea returns home and talks to Catherine again, and they have a much more pleasant conversation. Lea offers to take Catherine outside, so long as she helps her deal with Marci. She’s going to pretend to have powers, and Catherine will move things and shake things. Catherine has to possess Lea’s body to leave, and Lea doesn’t like the sensation, but she rolls with it. They walk over to Marci’s house. Marci answers the door and is immediately aggressive. She tries to slam the door in her face, but Catherine catches it. Lea threatens Marci, while Catherine makes things float, and then Catherine makes Marci float. Marci tries to run upstairs to get her mom, and then she falls, hitting her head on the way down, and she dies.
Lea was not expecting this. She’s terrified of what happened and an ambulance drives her home. She realizes Catherine pushed her down the stairs, and when she confronts Catherine about it, she tells Lea she wants to be alive again and tries to take over her body. Lea closes the door on her, tells her parents a ghost is haunting her, and is immediately taken to a doctor to see what’s wrong. Lea tries to take them upstairs, but when they get up there they see the door is still boarded and nothing has been changed.
Lea is put on bedrest and isn’t sure if she imagined it or not, until Catherine arrives and tells her she put all those memories in her mind and she’ll stop anyone from opening the door upstairs. Catherine possesses her and decides to kill Don for wronging them as well. This is a weird theme in Stine’s stories, where an evil spirit will take over a body, and then their agenda will become righting wrongs against the person they’re possessing. If I was an evil spirit who’d been unable to leave for a hundred years, I wouldn’t give a fuck about the petty grievances of high school children. I’d be out. But Catherine-as-Lea convinces her family to let her take a walk. She goes to Don’s house and nearly chokes him out when Cory Brooks and Gary Brandt show up. Catherine-as-Lea returns home, exhausted from the excursion, and Lea is given a minute of her body back.
Lea decides to find out why Catherine is so scared of the closet upstairs. She takes a hammer and undoes the nails, but Catherine shows up to stop her. Lea manages to get the key in the lock and pulls open the door, where both girls are horrified to see rotting corpses in the room. They shamble up, rotted flesh falling off skeletons, and it’s at this point I wonder how much is part of the ghost world and how much is two rotted skeletons, because if people were still rotting in there it would’ve smelled disgusting. The skeletons reveal themselves to be Catherine’s parents, whom she murderered, and they drag her back to hell. Lea passes out from the horror of it all.
Lea wakes up learning she’s had a fever for a week now and has been in a hospital. At first I thought Stine was pulling a “it was all a dream” thing, but Marci really is dead, and Don’s been calling after Lea. As soon as she’s home, she looks upstairs and finds the room boarded up. She wonders if it was a dream, until she finds Catherine’s ribbon on her dresser. She decides to keep the secret bedroom a secret forever.
Catherine disappeared inside this foul, murderous hug.
Fear Street Trends
So many! Of course we’ve got our cameos. Deena is still hanging out with Jade and doesn’t seem too traumatized from their prank phone call gone wrong. Cory Brooks from The New Girl makes an appearance this time instead of Lisa. Mrs. Thomas, Suki Thomas’ mother, makes an appearance as well. Suki is, of course, the town slut, originally appearing in The Overnight. Ricky Schorr from the Overnight also makes an appearance.
Everyone has bangs in this, and they’re all super cute. Marci wears a green suede skirt and a shiny green top (matchy matchy) and for a date, Lea wears a pair of tan corduroy slacks a a new yellow Benetton sweater. Lea also reads Sassy magazine, I thing I didn’t even know what it was until I read this. Please google it. The images are amazing.
I was a little disappointed that the ghost turned out to be a ghost, though I guess I shouldn’t be because I’m always slightly disappointed when supernatural stuff isn’t happening, but I feel like there isn’t too bad of a balance of teen drama and creepy stuff. I like how the girl always ends up with the worst boyfriend and it’s treated as such a good thing, but also teenage boys are the worst so I don’t think there’s any avoiding it. All in all, I’m going to give it three murderous ghosts out of five.