The cover (borrowed from its GoodReads page) is pretty good, actually. There’s lots of things I like about it. The romantic pose is really nice (though that girl is ridiculously skinny), with the full ocean and the moon behind it. It’s got a good “romance, but spooky” vibe.
It’s the kiss of death.
Pretty similar to the previous one, but I like it. Vampires are weirdly romantic, and it plays into the whole “sex and death” thing they usually have going on.
We open with a scene that’s sort of the inverse of the first scene in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Diana and Eric are walking on the beach, and it leans into Diana being a vampire without saying it. Eric tries to leave before the sun comes up, but she drags him beneath a beach umbrella and tells him her sister died last year thanks to vampires. Eric tries to attack her. She impales him with the stake for the umbrella, and he turns to dust, which is also a very BtVS, though obviously Stine writes of it in more loving detail.
We are then introduced to Billy and his friends Jay and Nate. Billy is returning to Sandy Hollow, bringing with him the memories of his last girlfriend, Joelle. Nate also has a little sister named Lynette who tags along with them. She’s the exact sarcastic little sister character that’s in every 80s movie, but I like her okay. Billy also mentions he’s had a rough year spent in a hospital. This will be important later.
As they walk along, they see hundreds of bats flying from Vampire Island. Billy mentions a story where some kids went out there on a dare, the exact dare being to “find the vampires and destroy them”, which is kind of extreme for your average high school dare. Anyway, they set a coffin on fire, and vampires killed them. Everyone agrees the story is dumb. Lynette turns around and sees two bats trying to carry off a small dog, which is a crazy image. Also, eighteen pages in, and there’s your dead animal.
Billy tells everyone that vampires are real, and his girlfriend Joelle was killed by them. The others argue there’s no proof of that, and when Billy admits his last year was spent in a mental hospital, which makes them pretty dismissive. Jay and Nate try to calm Billy down and remind him they’re here to party, not destroy vampires. Billy is unsatisfied, but let’s it drop.
Cut to April. You remember April. She died in the last book, turned into a vampire. She’s here now, watching as two vampire bats essentially do a Sims costume change and spin into people. They immediately go to attack April, but she yells at them that she’s an immortal. They rehash that Gabri is the one who turned her. Irene and Kylie are our new vampires. Irene is more thoughtful, but Kylie is obsessed with nectar and is hungry all the time. She also doesn’t want to cloud people’s minds, since she thinks she’s attractive enough to snag her prey either way. They roll up to the boardwalk and see the three boys, immediately deciding to drink from them. They do the usual flirtation, and April is amused to see Billy pull away from Kylie.
April invites the boys to be in a play! She explains the local theater group is putting on Night of the Vampire, and they always need more boys to be in it. Rehearsals and performances are always at night, because “a lot of us can only make it at night”. Which sort of makes it sound like a vampire troupe is putting this together, which I kind of love. Also, I know these girls are cute, but I don’t know if I’d want to sacrifice my summer doing bad theater. I can do that anytime.
The boys leave. The girls argue about nectar. A bet is made. Instead of drinking them dry, the first one to turn their partner into an immortal wins. This bet is made a lot, I’m noticing, which is sort of ridiculous. I think more suspicious than people dying on the beach are the number of people turning into fecking vampires.
Billy goes to the tryouts, which I was genuinely surprised to learn were real, which I think just justifies my new theory that it is 100% vampires running this show. Jay reads and does pretty well. Kylie comes over to creep on Billy. His absolute disinterest in her is the best. Kylie goes up on stage and overacts, while a girl named Mae-Linn whispers commentary to Billy. They click really well and are laughing together already. When she goes up to read, she kills it. As Kylie comes back to flirt with him some more, he blows her off, saying he already promised Mae-Linn they were going out. Kylie is clearly angry. As Billy and Mae-Linn walk along the shore, they see April and Jay in the sand. Mae-Linn says goodnight, and Billy has to remind himself why he’s here this summer.
We cut to a scene of Irene and Nate making out, and she’s just about to go for it when Lynette interrupts. She leaves quickly. Meanwhile, Billy has weird dreams about vampires and is woken up by the police. They tell him Mae-Linn was missing and he was the last to see her. He takes them to the spot where they were walking, only for them to find Mae-Linn’s body. Billy vomits, as you do, but he does notice on her neck two small puncture marks.
The vampire girls argue about killing Mae-Linn, and Kylie insists she didn’t. Billy goes to see Jay, only to learn that he’s incredibly sick. Billy is now pretty sure April is a vampire. He goes to Nate next, and Lynette jumps out at him. Billy and Nate walk to rehearsals together, where everyone is talking about Mae-Linn. But the play continues with Kylie in the starring role, and she runs a scene with Billy. Billy, a lost delivery boy, runs into Kylie, a beautiful vampire. She pretend bites him, and he freaks out. The group decides to head out after practice, but someone runs into April and recognizes her. April shoves him somewhere private, and in her absence, Billy tries to get a look at Jay’s neck, but he shoves him off.
Kylie takes Billy out and clouds his mind so the whole thing feels like a dream. Kylie starts to bite down on him when two vampire bats attack. She fights them off, and Billy is impressed. She teases they should go to the island, and he says he can get a rowboat no problem from the guy he works for. As they climb into the boat, Kylie lols that she loves to do stuff like this because she’s just so weird and crazy. We get it, Kylie. You need attention. Billy just starts to think this might be a bad idea as they row up to the island.
I guess Kylie’s plan is to get him alone (and on her turf), while Billy’s plan is to scope out the place. They wander around the dark, lush forest. Bats fill the sky, and dog growls are heard. They find the remains of a burned out house and Kylie drags him inside. Hundreds of bats are inside, hanging from the ceiling. They leave, but almost immediately Kylie disappears, leaving Billy alone. A large black wolf jumps out at him and attacks, and Billy has to fight it off. He finds a table leg and stabs it into the creature. No blood. It isn’t alive. It falls over and crumples up. Billy has killed his first vampire.
Kylie finds Billy and they leave, only to find Rick, the boy April was talking to earlier, dead in the water. The next day the whole group meets, and Billy studies Jay, who’s exhausted and can barely keep his head up, and April, who’s distraught over the death. April says she can’t eat anything. Billy tries to force her to eat a slice of pizza, and Jay cuts him off. Later, Billy goes to tell Jay he’s pretty sure April is a vampire, and Jay says he needs to tell his parents he’s having these thoughts, since he’s clearly not over whatever he went through last year. He goes to find Jay and April and runs into Nate and Irene instead, along with Lynette. At the arcade, he sees another boy, one he recognizes instantly. Jon. Jon, who promised to look after Lynette that night. Jon, who killed Joelle. Jon, who’s dragging Lynette out the door into an alley right now.
Billy races to save her. They fight. Billy makes his second kill. Lynette is knocked out, and Nate runs up behind him, immediately blaming Billy for Lynette’s condition. In a less kind way than Jay said it, Nate screams that Billy is sick and needs to go back to the hospital before storming off with Lynette. Kylie finds Billy wandering alone and tries to bite him again. He leaves and finds Jay, who’s completely out of it. He sees the puncture marks on his neck and tries to convince him, but Jay won’t have it.
After they find the body of the drama teacher with bite marks in her neck, Billy tries one more time to convince his friends that vampires are real. He convinces Jay to go along with it, and on a double date with Kylie and April, they enact a plan. While out, a storm starts up. Billy ditches Kylie and follows April and Jay to the theater. They hang out there until dawn, lying to April about what time it is, telling her that the storm is still going. It’s not a great plan, but it’s working. Billy grabs April and forces her upstairs into the rays of the sun. And, nothing happens. Jay immediately snaps at Billy, but April is only angry that her plan is ruined. April reveals that she’s not April at all, but Diana. April was her cousin, who was turned into a vampire and returned to Shadyside only to throw herself into the sunlight. She’s back for revenge.
The two vampire hunters decide to do something about this. It’s still raining as they row out to the island with stakes they crafted. They split up immediately, which is dumb, but okay. Billy finds a house with coffins inside. He lifts the lid only to find clothes inside, like swimsuits and short skirts. I love the thought of vampires using coffins as storage. It just goes with the decor. He lifts another lid and finds Kylie sleeping there. He raises his hammer and stake but hesitates. She’s not a person, he reminds himself. She’s a monster. But Kylie and Irene wake up before he can finish it, and he’s quickly overwhelmed. Irene is staked, and Diana rushes in, killing Kylie. They leave quickly after that, even though there’s probably a hundred more vampires on the island.
Diana and Billy celebrate with some pizza. Billy is messing with a knife when he accidentally cuts himself, and Diana freaks out when she realizes there’s no blood. Billy admits he wasn’t in a hospital for the past year, but in a coffin, being a vampire. He killed Mae-Linn because he was so hungry, and Rick too. He needed revenge, but now he just needs nectar, and Diana is the closest neck to him…
What should I do? Billy wondered. Should I tackle him? Rip off his shirt?
Fear Street Trends
These are some fashionable vampires! When Billy opens the coffin, he “picked up a short skirt, a midriff top. He rummaged around, sifting through bathing suits and jeans.” Kylie wears cut offs and halter tops and straight ponytails, which is very early 2000s of her. Tourists are seen with Hard Rock Cafe t-shirts on. Love it. Love all of it.
Like many summer reads, Shadyside only gets a mention. Diana and April are from there originally, obviously, though I don’t think they’re Fear Street residents.
I still liked this one above average of a Fear Street read. Vampires living in the modern day are always fun, and you can kind of tell Irene is older while Kylie may have died in the last decade and April is fresh. If the plot twist had happened halfway in the book instead, with Diana and Billy teaming up, as a human-pretending-to-be-vampire and vampire-pretending-to-be-human, I might’ve really enjoyed that dynamic. But last scene plot twists is the way of the world in 90s youth oriented horror. I’ll still give it three crumbling corpses out of five.