Fear Street Superchiller – The Evil Lives!

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A bunch of stuff has been happening for me the past week, the most of which included my computer dying! But I got it fixed, and I’ll do our very last October update on the spookiest day of the year, Halloween! Get ready, folks, for some evil.

The Cover

the evil lives

The cover (borrowed from this Fear Street blog) is… not great. I want to like it. The Cheerleaders books are the only ones who’ve been consistently interesting. This one has too many things going on, and the uniform is all one color, with nothing to break it up. The ghost looks way too small, and the pose on the girl is awkwardly trying to fit in all the subtitles. That Fear Street logo takes up way too much space.

Tagline

Before the Cheerleaders, the Evil lived… in Sarah Fear.

Not horrible. On the nose, but as a clear far off sequel, it deserves a little intrigue into the canon. The only real thing that’s bothering me is how many proper nouns take up that sentence.

Summary

This Cheerleaders book starts the way most do: with cheerleading. We meet the next generation of cheerleaders: Amanda Roberts, cheer captain, Janine Klein, best friend, Natalie Morris, the competitive one, and the other, less important ones. Janine and Natalie both date boys on the basketball team who are competing as well. This’ll come up a lot. Amanda’s dating a boy too, but he’s incredibly unimportant, and she dumps him almost immediately to go out with Judd Hunter, also on the basketball team, sort of a surly dream boy type.

Luke (Natalie’s boyfriend) and Brandon (Janine’s boyfriend) get into a fight on the court while the boys practice, prompting Natalie to make some rude comments in front of Janine. They seem to cool off by the end of practice, though, and the girls go into the locker room to change. Amanda has a new locker (number 113, natch), and she notices there’s something still in it. A pale blue duffel bag with a name tag on it. Corky Corcoran. Amanda finds a couple of things in the bag, including an old uniform, a picture of five smiling girls, and a small box made  of smoother, dark wood with a brass catch to keep it closed. A label is on top of the box that says DO NOT OPEN. EVIL INSIDE.

The girls gather around to investigate. One girl points out Corky in the picture, saying she was cheer captain when they were freshman, giving a hint at the timeline. The same girl takes the box and lifts the lid. Nothing happens. But inside the box is a stack of papers, and Amanda sees that they’re letters written by Corky. Corky says that she wrote this as a warning, and once they’re done reading, they should destroy everything, including the box. This raises the question of, why did you leave a box here Corky? Literally no one would’ve messed with it if you hadn’t. This is all your fault. The letter continues and gives a summary of the first three books, but she managed to drown it. But the evil isn’t dead, she warns. Destroy this box! That I left behind! To be found in a public high school! By literally anyone!

The girls debate what to do about this. They start to look at the other papers, but Amanda’s boyfriend Dustin shows up and ruins the party. He’s oblivious to his girlfriend’s obvious discomfort and tells them that the two boys are at it again, leaving Luke with a bloody nose. Amanda walks with Dustin to his car and decides it’s time. When he leans in to kiss her, she tells him they should just be friends in an extremely awkward way that clearly shows she has no other way of saying I hate dating you. He stares at her for like a minute and then walks away. Amanda is a little freaked out and goes to see her friends, but they’re gone. She looks for the papers again, and those are gone too.

Janine stole it, and the girls decide a super fun thing to do would be to use the spells to call up the evil. While joking about how spirits aren’t real and they’re totally not all going to die, Amanda gets told she has to deal with Janine and Natalie and do her fucking job as cheer captain. Amanda decides to ignore that responsibility and get a snack. She runs into her sister, back from college, and asks if she knew Corky, and her sister responds in the most dramatic possible way. She tells her about Bobbi’s death by scalding and apparently the whole school knew about the evil? Which isn’t the craziest thing, that in Shadyside there are rumors of an evil spirit being summoned to explain tragic deaths, but it’s mentioned so casually it’s still kind of weird. Her sister warns her not to disturb the spirits, and Amanda’s like noooooo of course not.

Amanda goes to practice to be greeted by the sight of Janine and Natalie straight up brawling on the gym floor. The girls manage to pull them apart, and Amanda screams at them. Natalie’s boyfriend got the coveted spot on the b-ball team and wouldn’t stop bragging about it. The appropriate response to this is to grab a girl by the hair. Amanda gets them to calm down, and the girls practice more terrible cheers, but it seems to work. As practice ends, there’s the usual rigamarole of ex-boyfriends who won’t take no for an answer and creepy black candles in a circle, but the girls sit down and summon the evil. Amanda tells them what her sister told her, and the girls shake their heads. Besides, they know how to kill it. All you have to do is drown it. Natalie says that it’s like playing with a Ouija board and it’s all fake and it’s always gone so well for everyone involved. They do the spell, and bright light flashes at them, leaving them all freezing cold, right as two boys walk into the house. Brandon and Judd.

Judd looks absolutely confused and then straight faints. They get him some water and prop him up, and he comes to, telling them he’s probably just dehydrated. Amanda looks at him, no longer certain if that’s really Judd. The game comes, and she’s still thinking about Judd and how cute he is. They get ready to cheer for their boys, and Amanda sees Janine looking at her benched boyfriend. She tries to comfort her, only for Janine to tell her Brandon will play, her voice unnervingly certain. They cheer, the boys play, Luke gets the ball, and he starts running, and running, and running, and passes the basket, and runs and runs and runs close enough to Amanda that she could almost grab him and slams, headfirst into the bleacher. The whole gym stops. Amanda stares. Because there’s something next Luke where he collapses on the floor. There’s so much blood. His head. His skull. His scalp. Torn off by the impact.

Which, like, of course it’s the Evil, but the deaths are so over the top in this it’s almost comical. He gets scalped from running into a bleacher, and later someone’s head just straight explodes. Not even going for subtle. But there’s a funeral first, and everyone’s real messed up about it. Janine goes to Natalie and apologizes to her for her behavior before all this, that she let her competitive side get to her, and she wants to be her friend again, but Natalie screams at her that this is exactly what she wanted and storms off. The girls start to wonder if maybe they did release an evil, but some of them are still skeptical. Amanda isn’t sure, but as Judd comes in she can’t help being suspicious of him. He lets them know there’s still going to be another game, dedicated to Luke, but he zones out and tells Amanda he’s been feeling really strange. When she presses him on it, he kisses her instead. She’s torn, since this is exactly what she wanted, but he’s been acting so weird, and he collapsed right after they summoned the evil.

The girls get ready for the pep rally before the game. Everyone’s so bummed and depressed because of the whole “basketball player gets his head lopped off” fiasco four whole days ago, but the cheerleaders tough it out. Amanda looks to Natalie, who’s not doing so hot, and Natalie tells her she’s going to tell the principal about the Evil. The girls are pretty certain they’ll just sound nuts, but it looks like Natalie just wants to pass this problem off to an authority figure so she can stop thinking about her dead boyfriend. She’s going to tell the principal right after the pep rally. The girls line up and start cheering, and it does seem to work. The school gets into it, people are cheering, and they pull off their routine. But at the end of it is silence. Because Natalie can’t move. Her elbows bend back the wrong way, and her face splits apart. The skin opens up to reveal the skull, which cracks, and blood pours out.

Absolute panic ensues. The auditorium runs for it. The girls are left stranded int he crowd. Amanda sees Janine just staring at Natalie, her face emotionless, unmoving, and then Janine turns to her. She marches at her, taking her by the arm, and the two go into the locker rooms. Amanda can’t help but imagine Bobbi being scalded here. She can’t help but imagine she’s next. Janine tells her she read Corky’s letter again and she does believe the evil is back. Corky told them to drown the evil (even though Corky got told the Evil couldn’t be drowned????), and they have to figure out who’s possessed and drown them. Corky also said the whole thing started with Sarah Fear at Sarah Fear’s grave, and the two decide to go there right now. This conversation takes maybe ten minutes, but Natalie’s body is already cleaned up, and they walk past the police officers who are apparently not taking witness statements. Cool. Dope. Great job guys.

They drive out to the cemetery and investigate the gravestones. Some of them are so old the names are weathered away, but they find her eventually. Sarah Fear: 1875 – 1899. I really should keep better track of the Fear timeline because I’m not 100% sure where she fits in. They decide if the grave is undisturbed, then the Evil isn’t released, which doesn’t make sense. The grave is where the evil was first released, but that isn’t it’s last known location. Ever since the first book, the grave has been utterly irrelevant, and I can’t help but think it still isn’t filled in from all that time ago.

The grave is open and empty, and they freak out. Dustin appears behind them, which is less evil and more asshole ex-boyfriend. He insists he wants to talk to Amanda, who tells him no, she doesn’t want to, she wants to go home with Janine, and he physically stops her from leaving, causing her to fall backwards into Sarah Fear’s grave. She struggles to get out but a darkness overtakes her, and she’s hurtled back… in time. She wakes up in an old timey period where two women are talking. The two women quickly identify themselves as Sarah Burns, engaged to Thomas Fear, a man she’s never met, and Jane Hardy, who plans to travel to England soon. They both desperately want what the other has: a marriage to a rich man or a life abroad. They agree to switch places, live the lives each other were meant for, and tell no one of what they’ve done. Amanda tries to follow them and manages to move the carriage, which you’d think would come up later but does not, and the two women go on.

Amanda is jettisoned to another time, another memory. She’s on the deck of the ship, salt water pouring down on her and wind slapping at the sea. Men are shouting, people are fleeing, and a woman is in the chaos of it all: Sarah Burns. Sarah laments that she was never meant to die like this, that it’s Jane that should be dying, and she’s thrown into the ocean. Her last moments are so filled with hate and regret that Amanda feels it burning out of her. Amanda watches her drown, and as she does, a green snakelike liquid pours from the dead woman’s mouth. The birth of Evil.

Amanda wakes up in the grave and her friends help her out. She’s soaking wet and it tastes of salt water, so she knows it wasn’t just a dream. She went back to that time and saw those things. She tries to explain it to her friends, but Dustin clearly thinks she’s insane, and Janine is having a hard time following her, but the important take away is that this is Jane’s grave, and the Evil is Sarah Fear.

Janine drives Amanda home, and I guess her parents didn’t hear about the whole girl’s facing exploding, because they’re pretty blase. Amanda does not tell them. She’s more concerned because she saw muddy footprints leading to her bedroom window. She creeps towards the door, and a voice whispers to her to come in. She sees in the center of her room a woman, half corpse, half skeleton, flesh dangling from her bones. Sarah Fear tells her they’re going to trade places now. But psych! That was just the cliffhanger! Amanda realized she’s imagining it and opens her door for real. There is mud in her room leading from the windowsill to her dresser. On it is a note signed Sarah Fear. Which, would Sarah ever think of herself as a Fear? She never met the family. She never took the name. Anyway, it’s unimportant. Amanda decides to go back to Janine before it’s too late, but it’s too late. Judd is at her door.

Judd says he wanted to make sure she was alright, since their friend died maybe six hours ago, probably less. Amanda tries to get him to leave her alone, saying she has to visit Janine, but he sees that she’s white and shaking and offers to drive her. They drive towards Janine’s only to pass her in a car on the way. Judd asks if they should follow, and Amanda says yes. She’s now 100% certain Judd is the evil, and she’s looking for the next opportunity to jump out. But Janine and Brandon pass the mall and keep driving all the way back to Fear Street. They walk into the cemetery together. Judd questions if they should really be following them, but Amanda runs as soon as the car unlocks and races up the hill to find her friend. She screams at Janine that Judd is evil and going to kill them, forgetting that Judd is right behind her. Before he can respond to the accusation, Brandon says he’ll help, and his eyes turn an evil irradiated green. Amanda immediately realizes how stupid she’s being.

Brandon tries to kill both girls, but Judd jumps on him. The two boys rassle as the girls try to make their escape, only to see Judd go down like a sack of bricks and not get back up again. Brandon stalks after them. Using her cheerleader agility, Amanda manages to get some kicks in on Brandon and then picks up a branch, using it to whack against his skull. This seems to be working, despite the Evil supposedly being able to force people to kill themselves against their will, but I don’t know. They dance around for a while until they manage to push him into the grave. As they scramble to bury him alive, a skeleton woman approaches and stands at the grave. The girls go back for Judd as Brandon springs from the grave, and he and the corpse look at each other. They scream at each other that they’re supposed to be dead, and they realize the corpse woman is Jane Hardy. They fight some, hurting Brandon’s face, and then Amanda knocks them all into the grave, falling in after them.

Amanda finds herself on a ship once again, this time most likely on Fear Lake on that fateful day. She sees Jane and Sarah arguing, and they grab each other as the boat tips back and forth. She sees Brandon as well, no longer injured, looking very confused. She realizes the Evil isn’t here yet, that they’ve traveled back in time before it’s possessed anyone. The boat continues to rock back and forth, and finally the women are thrown over. Sarah struggles to break the surface of the water, but Jane holds onto her and drags her under. Neither woman comes up again.

And they wake up. This time in a hospital room. Janine is beside Amanda, who she says was found in the Fear Street Cemetery soaking wet. Amanda declares the Evil is dead, and Janine has no idea what she’s talking about. Janine tells her no one is killed, and they didn’t find a box, and she has no idea what this evil is. Amanda demands to see Brandon, and she gets him. They discover that Natalie and Luke are still alive, and the Evil didn’t die so much as never lived. Because it never existed, all the bad things never happened. Which, like, does that mean Kimmy is still alive? What about Jennifer? Bobbi? All of the events of the past few years erased away? They’re relieved for a moment, knowing the spirits are at rest, and then Brandon takes her hand as his eyes begin to glow and tells her they can’t rest. Amanda agrees, her own eyes glowing, and she knows the Evil didn’t drown…

Favorite Line

“Our parents are all having cows! Brandon declared.

Fear Street Trends

Not a ton this time around. A little disappointing. Amanda mostly wears hoodies and sweaters, and the boys wear sneakers. The misuse of slang above is maybe the most hilarious line in the whole thing. No rap style cheers, no attempts at being relevant. I’ll just have to be disappointed.

Rating

This one really feels like the fifth installment of a horror movie, when they’re running out of actors and everything’s sort of tangentially related, and they discover some new twist that poorly fits into the canon that’s been previously established. I didn’t dislike it. I didn’t really attach myself to any of the characters or any of the drama, but it’s a serviceable Fear Street book. I’ll give it three half-corpse women out of five.

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Fear Street Superchiller – The New Evil

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Merry Christmas! Assuming you’re reading this on the day of. For your Christmas this year, I bring you the best gift a Fear Street fan could ask for: more cheerleaders!

The Cover

the-new-evil

The cover (pulled from its Amazon page) is pretty great. Much better than Silent Night 2, which has a similar cover. Santa is much more sinister here, and the girl looks appropriately scared. I like that they gave her the cheerleading skirt even though she’s ice skating. The pink sock is a nice touch as well. The painterly quality of this one is way more on point than a lot of other ones, and while it doesn’t have the punch of the original Cheerleaders cover, it’s still solid.

Tagline

Season’s greetings… the evil is back!

I don’t know about this one. Even a “…from hell!” might’ve been more appreciated. The holiday taglines are so cut and paste, I’m not a fan of them.

Summary

The cheerleaders are doing what cheerleaders do best: cheer. They’re practicing for the Holiday Tournament, I guess the basketball players are going to go through in December. Corky and Kimmy are there, as is Debra, who are the only ones left who know the full truth of what happened in the previous years. They’re with Heather and Hannah as well. They chat a while, and then Corky, Kimmy, and Hannah drive back, though the roads are slippery from the ice. They gossip about the new girl on the squad, Naomi, who’s really smart and has good ideas but slips up every practice, and the fact that Corky is dating Alex, who half the school also seems to be dating. The car slips on the road, they go flying, and Hannah is thrown from the windshield after proclaiming she didn’t need a seatbelt. Buckle up kids!

Kimmy is sure the evil is back. Corky refuses to believe it. Corky reminds she drowned it in the river, and the river’s frozen over anyway. We learn that Hannah’s going to be stable, though no one seems to have much hope for her. The cheerleaders have to hold some quick tryouts. As they practice, the basketball team comes out, and Corky tries to get Alex to look at her. When that doesn’t work, she fakes a leg cramp and walks it off in his direction, where his friend Jay is weirdly flirtatious with her. There’s several times where Jay is openly flirting with her and declaring she should dump Jay and hang with him, and I admit I’m a little on his side, though at one point he declares, “Three’s a party!” and I legit thought he might be pushing for a threesome. Anyway, Corky asks Alex to take her to the river, and he agrees, though he’s a little weird about it.

Alex drives Corky out to the river and immediately starts macking on her. She tells him that’s not what she’s here for but she makes it clear it could be. They walk down to the river, and then Corky sees in the frozen ice that there’s a huge circle cut into it. Steam is pouring from it, fog-like, and Alex tells her the fishermen cut a hole in the ice and it’s just the warmer water below hitting the cold air above. I’m a little confused about the whole ice fishing aspect of this book but I’m not from the Northeast so maybe that’s a thing? Corky tells Alex they have to get out of there and then back home hallucinates the evil coming for her.

At this point I’m trying to figure out the timeline. It’s been at least a year since the evil got trapped in the ice, since it’s explicitly stated that Hannah, who was new in the third book, is now a veteran and there are more newbies on the team. I’m trying to figure out when the last book took place, though I realize I was look at it again it might’ve taken place in the summer, or maybe right before classes started. My point in all this is that the evil was not immediately frozen in the ice when Corky drowned herself, nor when Sarah Fear originally drowned herself either. So the assumption that the evil would be trapped as long as the river is frozen means they should’ve assumed already that the evil was gone. If anything, releasing it into the river instead of letting Corky properly die would’ve made it more difficult to track, as it could’ve gone anywhere.  Though, we learn at the end of part one, that it is still in the ice, and it has been laying dormant. I like to think it just needed to nap after being active and then forced back, since it stayed in Sarah’s grave as well for a long time without a real reason. When the girls summon it (spoilers), it woke up.

Corky tries not to freak out and fails. She tries to call Kimmy and is told she’s at Debra’s, and when she goes to Debra’s house, she finds them in the middle of a seance. Debra is chanting, candles are set up in a circle around them. It’s actually kind of hilarious when Corky interrupts them, because Debra is so blase about it, and Kimmy jokes that they’re trying to summon Alex with no clothes on. Debra shows her a book she bought that tells them how to summon spirits. Corky’s worried they’re summoning the evil spirit, but Debra tells her they’re trying to summon something to protect them. Corky tells them what she saw, and they decide to sit down together to summon the spirit of protection. It seems to work, as the whole room starts shaking, cold air blows out all the candles, and Debra calls out to the spirit, but Kimmy gets too scared and demands they stop. Debra insists they should keep going, but Kimmy’s too scared, and Corky’s too traumatized to even consider it. They agree not to mess with it again unless they need to.

They hold cheer practice. Their coach is out, so it’s Kimmy and Corky deciding together. Three girls are at the top: Ivy, Lauren, and Rochelle. While this is happening, some workers are doing something to the bleachers, it’s unclear what, but the girls are warned to keep away. Kimmy and Corky go into the coach’s office to talk over their choice, and Corky notices Ivy creeping on them. Ivy promises she wasn’t eavesdropping, though she definitely was, and Corky tells her to go back with the other girls. They decide the order of the girls they like, that is Rochelle, Ivy, and Lauren, which is only important because two seconds after they decide this, one of the workers drops a screwdriver so that it lands in the back of Rochelle’s neck. There’s panic, an ambulance is called, and Corky is sure she sees Ivy smiling.

There’s a kind of nice moment where Corky goes off on her own to cry while the police come, and she says she’s not crying for Rochelle, who she barely knew, but for her sister Bobbi. She has to believe the evil is gone because it killed her sister, but now she’s not so sure. Ivy comes over to her and asks who the new cheerleader is, and everyone’s a little shocked, but Corky’s willing to see it as them trying to get back to normal. Lauren’s pissed when Ivy is chosen, and she shouts at Corky, demanding to know if it’s because she went out with Alex.

Corky tries to get on with life. There’s another nice moment where Debra lets her know there’s a counselor at the school for kids who saw the accident. Corky calls Alex to ask about Lauren, and he promises he just helped her with her homework. They go back to cheer practice, where Corky learns Lauren demanded to be an alternate in case one of the other girls gets hurt. Apparently Ivy put her up to it, and Lauren spends the whole practice asking if she should be put in every time a girl gets a cramp. Their coach brings out the confetti cannons they’re going to be used, currently half-loaded so the girls can practice with them. They do a cheer into some handsprings, and as the girls set off the cannons, one of them backfires. Luckily Heather isn’t dead, just knocked out. She gets back on her feet and tells them she’s okay.

Kimmy and Debra go up to Corky after practice, now sure the evil is back. Debra’s convinced Ivy has the evil in her, and again if this were true (it turns out not to be, spoilers), the evil is exceptionally petty. We saw this in the previous Cheerleaders books, we saw this in the Secret Bedroom. For some reason when an evil spirit possesses you, it decides to take care of your unfinished business instead of going on with whatever evil it has to do. Anyway, Corky breaks down in front of them, telling them she can’t go through it again, that losing her sister was too much, and they back down.

Corky has some boy trouble, thinking Alex might break up with her, but she’s pretty focused on this whole evil thing now. At the pep rally, the cheerleaders show off their fire baton trick, which would definitely never be approved at a high school, which ends with one of the girls being set on fire. Luckily Kimmy puts her out before any irreperable damage is done. Ivy’s the one who handed out the fire batons, making them all fairly sure if the evil is here, it’s inside her. They see Ivy and Lauren do a weird ice skating routine on the river, which makes them even more suspicious, and Debra says they have to drown her.

They do what any normal person would do in this situation, and plan a party. On top of all this evil, Corky feels Alex being realy distant, and he doesn’t go with her to the party, giving not really any excuse at all. They have the party out at the river, playing music while they ice skate. They’ve invited all of the other cheerleaders and the basketball team. Debra has her magic book with her, Jay flirts with Corky a little, and then Corky sees Santa skating towards her with a pointy icicle, but it turns out to be Alex, who wanted to surprise everyone. Why he’s skating around with a weapon isn’t explained, but it does make an excuse for our cover image, so who cares.

As soon as everyone’s there, Debra, Kimmy, and Corky go further down the ice. They plan on calling the evil spirit forward, assuming Ivy will skate towards them, where they’ll break through the ice and drown her. It’s kind of a bad plan, to do it at this big public party, but it sets a nice scene where, once they start doing it, the ice beneath them shatters, sending them flying, and the evil appears from where it always was, laying dormant in the water. The girls realize they’ve unleashed it, and all hell breaks loose.

Kind of. We cut forward to them being on the road for the tournament. The girls are treating Ivy really well since accusing her of being possessed by a demonic spirit. Nothing’s happened since they released the evil, and they’re all secretly hoping it went away. This part is my favorite, because we get to spend some time on Who’s Corky’s Bisexual Crush: a cheerleader named Lena on the opposite team. Some choice quotes:

One cheerleader on the Lions’ squad really stood out. She was tall and well built, athletic, with long black hair that fell to her waist and a pale, pretty face with big green eyes. Dramatic eyes.

“That’s Lena,” Debra said, leaning close to Corky to be heard. “That girl you’re staring at.”

Or

But Corky had never seen a cheerleader as graceful and athletic as Lena.

Or

Corky watched in total admiration. Lena had to be the best cheerleader Corky had ever seen.

Or my favorite:

Her sleek black hair drifting behind her, Lena lowered her hands to the bench and began doing stretching excersizes. She really is beautiful, Corky thought. And look at how limber she is. Wow!

All of this is to set up Lena when the evil takes over her body, and she backflips herself to death. Well, no. She can’t stop backflipping, and some boys have to hold her down while an ambulance is called, because her limbs won’t stop moving. The evil attacks the confetti cannon again by making it blast black bile. Jay flips out on his coach, and then the coach is murdered via water cooler. The kids are trapped in the motel overnight, and Corky mentions her parents wouldn’t drive up this late, which is an insane thing to say when someone’s been murdered. At night, Ivy sneaks out, and Kimmy, Debra, and Corky follow her. They see all the other cheerleaders and the basketball players join up, and they realize it’s everyone they invited to the party. They do a weird dance on the ice and look like puppets, and I kind of love the trend of the evil being summoned by dancing. A wild dog attacks the teens, sensing evil, and they snap its neck. The teens notice the cheerleaders and chase after them. Debra falls first, and then Corky is separated from Kimmy. She runs to the payphone to call the police and is stopped by Alex.

Alex tries to drag her out of the phone booth, but she pushes him away and runs. She runs all the way back to the frozen lake, where she sees a body beneath the ice, and Kimmy’s face staring up at her. She can’t find Debra, and the other teens are calling after her. She finds two trees that are twined together, and she hides in their joined trunks. For hours she hears the others calling after her in what becomes a legitimately tense scene. Finally it becomes quiet, and the sun starts to rise. Corky crawls out and goes back to the motel, where she sees the team getting onto the bus, and the bus driver leaving back into the motel. A moment of genius strikes her, and she climbs onto the bus, starts it, and drives. She realizes this means she has to drown all of her friends, something she struggles with as she gets the bus up to speed, but she accepts her fate. She points it over the bridge, jumps, and watches it fall.

For some reason she walks the rest of the way to where the tournament is being held, arriving to find her coach there. She tries to tell everyone they’re dead, but then they announce the team is going onto the floor. She sees the entire team, and the cheerleaders, bloated and blue, looking just dredged from the lake, and she starts screaming and passes out. Corky comes to in a hospital, where she’s told she and all of her friends are being held. When the bus dove into the lake, the ice fishermen pulled everyone out, after the evil had left their body. Alex even tells her they didn’t get frostbite because for some reason the water was hot. Debra’s alive too, telling Corky she just ran after everything and got picked up. Kimmy’s still dead, but it’s Christmas Eve, and the evil might really be gone for good this time. (It’s not.)

Favorite Line

“Give me a break, Alex. He faked you out of your Nikes!” Jay shot back.

Fear Street Trends

The best part of the Cheerleaders books! They do more “rap style” cheers, though those are never put into text, unlike the more original cheers which pepper this book. Jay’s sporting a Mighty Ducks cap, and when he’s not, his white blond hair is spiked. Lots of loose fitting clothes from the girls, who are athletes, and the outside scenes they’re most in sweaters and leggings. Jay’s described as “thrashing” at one point, extra hilarious because the only music mentioned at the party is traditional Christmas music like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Jingle Bells. There’s definitely some bad lingo in here (see the above quote), and Gary Brandt and Jade and Deena are seen. It’s a pretty good book for continuity.

Rating

After the Reva Dalby series, this was a breath of fresh air. I cared a lot about the characters going in since we’d been with Corky and Kimmy and Debra for three books now, and I honestly got sad when we found Kimmy’s body, since she’d made it so far with Corky, and she’s probably had the most character development. I genuinely enjoyed this read and the handful of twists that came with it, and I think there were some pretty good images within. I give it four drowned basketball players out of five.

Fear Street Cheerleaders #3 – The Third Evil

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Here we are, closing out the first of the trilogies. Of course, the Fear Street Cheerleaders don’t stop here. A new evil’s going to arise, but I may take a break from them to investigate the Fear Street Saga, where the true origin of Sarah Fear lies.

The Cover

the third evil

I don’t mind the cover (pulled from its GoodReads page), but I don’t really get it. I guess we learn the truth about Sarah Fear in this, so it’s back to the beginning with the gravestone, and you’ve got to make sure there’s a cheerleader on it. It’s a little hodgepodge.

Tagline

Fight, fight, fight or die, die, die!

You know what, I like this. It’s weird, but it’s kind of true. Corky’s gotta fight, or Corky’s gonna die.

Summary

Corky, Kimmy, and Debra are still on the squad, on their way to cheer camp. There’s a new girl on the squad, Hannah, who’s only a freshman but perfect in every way. She does flips better, she’s more enthusiastic, and she’s basically just cuter than you. A lot of this book is like Bring It On Lite, without the racial tension (though I’ve started wondering if Kimmy’s crimped hair is supposed to code her as black? Feel free to add your thoughts to that). But the girls are hype because they’re going to cheer camp for a week on a real college campus. This is also like But I’m a Cheerleader in that Corky is definitely figuring some stuff out about herself. Choice quotes about the local better than you HBIC, Blair:

“But what a figure!” Corky exclaimed. “She’s so tall and–and–look at  that tiny waist and–“

Also from Corky:

Again, Corky watched Blair O’Connell in her sleek blue and gold uniform, and an expression of superior amusement on her beautiful face.

Love quickly turns to hate, though, as Blair wins every competition and award without any effort. Hannah is wiggling her way to the front of the pack as well, but it seems someone is putting her in her place. She gets into a bath drawn by Corky that ends up scalding her, and in the middle of the night her braid is cut off her head. Corky is convinced it’s Kimmy who’s possessed again, until she finds the scissors used to cut Hannah’s hair in her things, and in a dream-like state she tries to kill Hannah. After that, it’s very clear Corky is the one who’s possessed.

Corky’s possession gives us a first hand look at the evil spirit, and I gotta say it puts the past books in a strange perspective. Corky hallucinates wildly about cockroaches and her dead sister and razor blades. She’s constantly flipping out, and there’s a voice in her head telling her to kill. The fact that not Jennifer nor Kimmy mentioned this to anyone is baffling. Maybe not in Jennifer’s case, as she and Corky weren’t close until after her possession, but Kimmy def should’ve known something was up.

Corky also realizes the evil holds memories from the people it’s possessed, including Sarah Fear, the person who managed to hold it in her grave. This raises a bunch of questions. It was sort of implied in that last two books that it was Sarah Fear herself possessing the girls, but in this one it becomes clear Sarah was tortured by it, just as the others were. Also, Sarah managed to kill it because she killed herself, throwing herself into Fear Lake to save her babies (and then killing her babies in the aftermath, whoops), and so it was trapped in her grave until Jennifer was thrown onto it. But other people would’ve touched the body and carried it long before Jennifer got there. Certainly she wasn’t the first person to walk by the grave. But I may be asking too many questions, let’s focus on the story at hand.

Corky’s super murder town at this point. She tries to kill Debra with her car and then push her off a tall thing, both foiled by some randos. Like First Date, this becomes a comedy about a serial killer who just can’t get the job done. Corky tries to fight off the evil from the inside, but she drags Kimmy out to meet her, shoves her into a river, and then swan dives off herself. She drowns super hard, but luckily Kimmy didn’t die, and she revives her with CPR (but no mouth to mouth). The evil is defeated, everyone lives, cheer practice is back on.

Favorite Line

“I’ll kill you tomorrow,” Corky told her.

Fear Street Trends

Surprisingly not that many. At one point Hannah is wearing a t-shirt over leggings, but it’s mostly work out clothes and cheer uniforms. No repeat names stood out to me, but a teenager does order split pea soup, which is basically a thing that has never happened in real life.

Rating

I enjoyed Corky’s hallucinations, and it was fun to get a firsthand perspective on the evil. It was a pretty good end to the trilogy, especially after number two was kind of a snoozefest, so it’s four sexual awakenings out of five.

Fear Street Cheerleaders #2 – The Second Evil

2

The Fear Street Cheerleaders return as the evil they undid is not quite undone. I wonder how quickly in succession these books were written. If Stine’s method is believed, he probably typed up all three in a day and called it finished.

The Cover

the second evil

It’s not quite as good as the first one. That cheerleader definitely looks possessed, and it’s not a bad image, but I miss the blood red pompom. (Pulled from goodreads)

Tagline

Cheers — from the grave!

Just terrible. This book is the middle child, and it’s suffering all over the place.

Summary

It’s been a few months, since the horror that killed Corky and menaced her friends disappeared into the grave of Sarah Fear. The cheerleaders you actually care about: Ronnie, Debra, and Kimmy are driving along Fear Street for reasons. They pass the cemetery and see Corky there, talking to her sister’s grave. It’s been a real hard time for her, losing her sister, though it doesn’t seem to be that way for her family. We see her brother later and he is unaffected for losing his older sister, and her parents are mentioned exactly once, but Corky visits the grave every single day because she flipping lives next door to it.

Corky is talking to her dead sister when she sees the ground start to shake and the corpse of her sister rise from its grave. Surprise! It’s a hallucination! Turns out having your sister scalded to death does not make you the most well adjusted person. The other girls find her and walk her home, which is again next door. Kimmy and Ronnie try to help Corky, but Debra’s going through her Wicca phase and believes in crystals and spirits and keeps telling Corky the thing that killed her sister is still here and that she should be super scared of it. Meanwhile, Corky keeps seeing a strange boy out of the corner of her eye, but no one else seems to. She goes to make hot chocolate for everyone and finds herself possessed, and the spirit pours scalding water over her hand.

Corky’s put up for a few days while her hand recovers, and we see her interact with Chip. You remember Chip. He dated Kimmy and then dumped her only to immediately ask out Bobbi, and when that didn’t go so great, he jumped onto her mourning sister. He’s the exact kind of boy you should not date but it’s fine he’ll be dead by the end of this book. Chip takes her out on a date, and they end up at the cemetery again. There they meet Sarah Beth Plummer, a strange graduate student who’s been doing gravestone rubbings for a project. She talks to them about Sarah Fear and all the strange things that happened to her, including her love affair with a servant, and their mysterious death on Fear Lake, where all the occupants of her boat were seemingly boiled to death on a cloudless, calm day. Sarah Beth is super shady and totally untrustworthy as far as Corky is concerned.

Kimmy tries to convince Corky to rejoin the cheer squad. It’d be good for her, after all, to get back into a routine, have a social life again. Kimmy, you may remember, was a mega bitch in the last book, who flipped out when she didn’t make cheer captain and played the mean girl, but she’s chilled out a lot. She talks to Corky and tells her they’re all in this together, and she has to get her head in the game. Corky agrees to go back, but as soon as she starts cheering she’s overcome by the sound of a screaming girl. She can’t shake it, and she leaves.

Corky does not have any easy go of it the next few days. After school, she’s hanging out in the creepiest science lab in the world. It’s described like this:

Shelves beside the skeleton held large specimen jars filled with insects, plant specimens, and all kinds of animal parts.

I went to a high school and was even part of some science clubs, and I’m pretty sure that was not how it looked. But her science teacher is super chill and peaces out while she takes a makeup exam. As soon as he leaves, the lights go out, and she’s attacked by everything in the lab like this was Indigo Prophecy. She has to dodge jars and equipment, and the skeleton tries to choke her out. She manages to escape, only to find Chip dead with his hand severed in woodshop. This is the second death Bobbi has had to face in so many months, and not once do her parents seem to suggest pulling her out of school, moving, or even seeing a therapist. She does mention seeing a therapist (the same therapist Mayra sees in the Sleepwalker, I think) before all this started, but I’d suggest keep going. It’s only going to help.

Corky still tries to keep her routine, and she performs with the cheerleaders at the final game. She gets up on top of the pyramid, and when she jumps back, Kimmy is frozen and watches her fall to the ground. Corky breaks an arm and is sent to the hospital. All in all, a terrible week for Corky.

In between all of this, Corky and Debra have been investigating. They learned the man who was stalking Corky was Jon Daly, Jennifer’s brother, who believes Corky killed his sister. They tracked down Sarah Beth, who revealed that she was Sarah Fear, not the Sarah Fear, but a descendant of the line who was interested in her family history. They learn a little more about Sarah Fear but absolutely nothing new in a monologue that takes up half the book and is mostly her spouting off the notes Stine made in a journal when coming up with this story.

So you, dear reader, are wondering who is the evil possessing? Is it Jon Daly, who went missing after trying to summon a spirit out of Sarah Fear’s grave? Is it Sarah Beth aka Sarah Fear, overtaken by her namesake? Is it Debra, who’s been kind of a creep this whole time?

When Corky gets home, she decides to take a bath because it’s been a flipping long week, and when she looks up Kimmy is there. Kimmy is possessed by the evil! Kimmy tries to drown Corky, but Corky fights back. They struggle, and then Corky pushes Kimmy’s head under water until she’s not breathing, at which point she spits out a “foul-smelling, green liquid snake” that gets sucked down the drain.

Kimmy does not remember a gosh darn thing since the night at Sarah Fear’s grave so many months ago. She’s baffled and sick, and Corky is just relieved. Finally this is over. But Corky goes to get the mail a few days later and finds a note addressed to her, a note that claims the evil cannot be drowned in a chapter literally titled “The End?”. DUN DUN DUN

Favorite Line

Even from a distance, even through the hazy glass, Corky could see the gleam in Sarah Beth’s dark eyes, the unmistakable gleam of… evil.

Fear Street Trends

Nintendo has been introduced to the Fear Street universe. The visiting cheer squad also does “rap cheers” and “club-type dancing,” so the 90s are in full swing I guess. No one’s extremely fashionable except for Ronnie’s fur coat, which is mentioned about one hundred times in the first three chapters.

Rating

Not as exciting as the first, with fewer twists I feel, and a lot more unanswered questions. I imagine Stine did write these all in in one go, and it feels like a middle child. It’s a setup for the last one, where we find the truth. Sarah Beth disappears, Jon Daly dies after serving his purpose of being menacing, and we’re left with a “the end question mark.” I’ll give it three screaming cheerleaders out of five.

Fear Street Cheerleaders – The First Evil

4

This is the series I have the most memory of. My idea was to read them all in order, but Fear Street #2 is super difficult to find, as are the other originals up until #5. So here we are, the Fear Street Cheerleaders, published in 1992, I think, honestly I’m having trouble with the dates and when things were reprinted, and you know, for apparently being one of the best selling YA series of all time, you think there’d be a little more information on all of these. But let’s join Bobbi and Corky, the two most late 80s/early 90s names we could come up with, as they move to Fear Street.

The Cover

107928

Only one cover this time (borrowed from the GoodReads page), and I gotta say I really like it. The skull and blood in the pompom is good, and the girl looks possessed. It’s a nice, sinister cover.

Tagline

When the cheers turn to screams…

Pretty basic. I don’t love it, I don’t hate it. It does feel like they couldn’t come up with something better.

Summary

Bobbi and Corky have just moved into a house in Fear Street, and they’re looking to join the Shadyside cheerleading squad. They were all state at their last school and are looking forward to jumping in. They make it easily into the new squad, but unfortunately it ruffles some feathers. They kick out another member of the team to make room, and Kimmy, BFF of team captain Jennifer, is upset that they’ve been added even though the team had already been set. But the girls are on the team, and they all travel together to Shadyside’s first away game. But tragedy strikes, and the bus crashes. Jennifer is thrown and lands on Sarah Fear’s grave, where she seems to die and come back to life.

Weeks later, Jennifer’s in a wheelchair, Bobbi is promoted to team captain, and Kimmy is pissed off. Not helped by Kimmy’s ex-boyfriend showing interest in Bobbi, or Jennifer and Bobbi being BFFs now. The girls are getting catty, with the team splitting between people who trust Bobbi and those who don’t. It’s not helped by a weird paralysis that seems to be taking over people, causing them to get hurt or hurt others. Bobbi is frozen when Kimmy performs a dangerous stunt, and Kimmy ends up breaking her arm. Bobbi thinks she’s going insane when she sees Jennifer walking, sees lockers opening and closing on their own, and then she’s scalded to death in a shower.

This book has like three fake protagonists. Jennifer is our first perspective, Kimmy gets a chapter to herself, and then Bobbi dies in a shower halfway through. Corky is our Final Girl, even though she’s done absolutely nothing through the whole book. I kind of forgot she was there, and then she’s rocketed into protag position. She finds a pendant that belongs to Kimmy at the scene of the crime and realizes Bobbi’s death isn’t natural. She goes to confront Kimmy, who tells her that she gave the pendant to Jennifer. Corky flips out and runs to Jennifer who is driving a car. Jennifer goes to Sarah Fear’s grave and does an interpretive dance. Corky goes to fight her, and Jennifer reveals that she’s actually Sarah Fear herself. The night Jennifer landed on the grave, she died, and Sarah took over. Sarah’s plan is to hurt Jennifer’s enemies, which doesn’t really make any sense because Bobbi didn’t do anything to her, and Kimmy didn’t do anything to her, and Kimmy’s boyfriend definitely didn’t do anything to her, but whatever, ghosts be tripping. She also has a plan to put Bobbi in her grave, but it’s unclear why? Like she brings her skeleton to life and it does a little dance and I think Bobbi would have literally replaced her body or something but listen the book is almost over we don’t have time for this.

And again I think making the main character a gymnast was just a good way for Stine to get her to do some sweet flips. She gets out, grabs Jennifer, and then tosses her in her own grave. The body shrivels up and dies, and Sarah Fear is trapped. The police show up, but they’re just like “Fear Street, am I right?” and let them go.

The book ends on Corky finding Jennifer’s pendant in her room and screaming. Smash cut. Credits. Literally every chapter in this book ends with someone screaming, justified or no. Stine does suspense like this because he knows his main audience are like 9 year olds and they only get to read one more chapter before they go to bed.

Favorite Line

“Because… because it would make me feel really bad,” Bobbi said with emotion.

Fear Street Trends

R.L. Stine knows what the cool kids are into. Like in New Girl, everyone is wearing GAP t-shirts and high tops. Popular girls look like popular movie actresses (Jennifer looks like Julia Roberts). I’m doubly amused that Kimmy is described as having crimped hair. I was born in the 90s, and I def had a hair crimper. That’s the realest thing I ever read.

Also from New Girl, Lisa Blume gets a shoutout. She tells them every house on Fear Street is haunted, though to be fair in her own adventure turned out not to have a ghost in it at all, just girls in need of some therapy.

Rating

This is much improved from the first one. Better prose, only slightly better dialogue, more interesting characters. Updating these books is a crime. They should be time capsules, and I’m doubly pleased that this is so. I’m giving it four screaming cheerleaders out of five.