Fear Street #42 – Killer’s Kiss


The Cover

I really like the original cover (taken from this Fear Street blog)? There’s something very classic about it, from the old photograph to lip stains on it, to the colors. It has very little to do with the plot, but that’s okay, because it’s sinister and sweet all at the same time.

The new one (taken from its Amazon page) is better than most of the updated covers. I appreciate a good skull though I don’t know why it’s wearing sunglasses? That color with that bridge crack definitely makes this skull look like a cool dude. The kiss on the forehead too is weird. I know why they did it there, but that doesn’t say “tender love turned deadly” as much as “bad Photoshop”.


Her lips were sweet and deadly.

Also a pretty good tagline. It could use an ellipses in there to really sell the drama, but I like this.

Sweet, tender, and vicious.

Not as good, but they’re nearly identical. I think vicious isn’t as sellable as deadly I think it loses something from not being a complete sentence.


We open on Vincent Milano watching Delia apply a tube of purple lipstick to her lips after a makeout session. The first three chapters made me think Vincent would be our main character, and I thought this was going in a more Double Date direction, but he sort of disappears from his own story after this introduction? Unlike other Stine books where someone’s dating two people at once (which is an alarming number of them), Vincent is pretty much just there to lie and die.

The important thing is, Vincent and Delia have just been making out super good, and we see Delia do something she’ll do a hundred times in this book: she applies her lipstick and then presses a tissue to her lips, making a perfect lip mark. Vincent’s also a pretty bad womanizer. Delia asks him about his birthday party, and he realizes both she and Karina are invited and decides to do nothing about this. He’s also invited both girls over on the same night for making out. Too late he realizes the clock in his living room has stopped and Karina might be there at any second, so he kicks Delia out without much fanfare. Literally as she pulls out of the driveway, Karina turns down his street. If you’re going to two-time two girls who despise each other, at least plan it better.

Karina arrives and chats with Vincent on his porch before they walk in, and she realizes Delia left a huge purple lip mark on his cheek. Vincent quickly backtracks with some lame excuse about helping her with her homework and that she gave him a peck on the way out. Karina proceeds to give the same speech that Delia gave about her: the two are rivals, and the one is always stealing the other’s clothes and friends and now boyfriends. Karina flips out though and shouts that she won’t let her win before slamming the door and driving off. A totally normal Shadyside reaction.

We cut to Delia hanging out with her friends on the bleachers in the gym. Britty and Gabe are discussing the Conklin Award, which is never fully explained but appears to be an arts scholarship that allows Delia a free ride to the “most expensive fashion college in New York” (you couldn’t figure out a name, Stine?). Without it, Delia’s not even sure if she can afford community college in Waynesbridge. They say seven kids applied for it, which seems improbably low for a huge scholarship that could get you into art colleges in New York, but maybe it’s a local thing? There also seems to be a talent portion that is unrelated to the actual art that the student does? Delia paints and sketches fashion, but she plays guitar for her talent, and Karina sings, and Stewart, another contender, does a magic show? I don’t know much about art scholarships but I don’t think they work like a beauty pageant.

There’s a little more about Karina and Delia’s rivalry, and Britty mentions they all used to be friends. She still hangs out with Karina and offers to talk to Delia for her. Gabe mentions they had a truce for a whole year and were nearly on friendly terms, but Delia won’t stand for her boyfriend being stolen. Which is when the doors fly open and Karina comes shrieking in. She lunges at Delia and starts to choke her! She screams that Delia’s not going to win this time, and Delia manages to shove her off. For the first time ever in a Fear Street novel a teacher intervenes. The coach takes Karina to the principal’s office, and Delia is shaken. Her friends comfort her, and Britty promises to talk to Karina to see what’s going on.

Delia and Vincent are chatting, and I don’t know why Vincent is even with Delia. He clearly doesn’t want to talk to her and would choose Karina over her in a heartbeat. As he starts kissing her, Delia realizes they’re being watched, and she sees her younger sister Sarah. The two sisters fight, and Delia snaps at Sarah that she’s just jealous because no boy’s ever kissed her. Sarah flips out and screams that she hates her. She threatens her sister, steals one of her paintings, and runs upstairs.

At school, Delia is caught off guard by Stewart, who she says is the stiffest competition for the Conklin Award. She’s clearly into him and forgets for a second that she even has a boyfriend. Stewart asks her out, but she sees Vincent coming down the hall, and she tells him no. Stewart seems genuinely disappointed, which is a little sad. But later on she hears someone talking from within a storage closet, and she sees Stewart and Karina inside, talking quietly. She thinks maybe they’re plotting against her. She runs into Britty, who tells her that there’s no real reason for Stewart to help Karina, and it’s more likely that he asked Delia out because he likes her. They watch Stewart leave, but Karina doesn’t. Delia asks Britty to talk to Karina, to explain that she’s with Vincent, and she’s willing to be cool so long as Karina doesn’t come for him. Britty seems reluctant, but as they see Karina leave, she goes to greet her.

Britty gets Karina to stop walking so Delia can listen in. Britty asks her what happened the other day at the gym, and Karina blows it off. Britty is rightfully upset that she doesn’t see a strangulation as a big deal, and she tries to lightly bring up that she’s acting out of control. Karina gets real menacing and says Delia won’t win the Conklin and won’t win Vincent, and then she calls out to Delia in the hall before storming off.

Delia is all nerves as the competition starts for the Conklin Award. She dreams about Karina covering her in her Midnight Wine lipstick (less fun than it sounds). Delia chose to go last in the competition and regrets it, since she has all the time in the world to get nervous. Karina sings as someone plays piano, and Delia notices her sister sitting away from them, watching Delia. Delia runs backstage, her nerves getting to her, and she picks up her guitar case. The judges call her name, and she’s saved the embarrassment of playing an original song she wrote about Vincent when she realizes all her strings are cut, and a dead rat has been stuffed into its hollow center. Gabe helps her off stage, and she accuses Karina of messing with her. The judges again present themselves as reasonable authority figures and tell the girls that they’ll investigate what happened and decide from there.

Delia gets home to find a note taped to her door from Vincent, inviting her out to Red Heat. She decides to get some clothes that Britty borrowed from her back, and when she arrives at Britty’s house, she finds she and Gabe are making cookies for her. It’s genuinely sweet how these two support Delia, and they chat about Karina and eat cookies together and it’s great. As Delia drives back home, she sees Karina and Vincent kissing. She tries to slam on her brakes but hits the accelerator instead, and then a patch of ice, and then she’s spinning out of control. Karina helps her out of the car, and the two share an awkward moment. Delia admits she didn’t know Vincent was dating both of them, and Karina tells her he’s been lying. Karina apologizes for going berserk in the gym but swears she didn’t ruin her guitar, and she asks for a truce. Delia reluctantly agrees, and then Karina gets the fuck out of there so Vincent can arrive. I’m not 100% sure what happens next, but we cut to Vincent on the phone with Delia clearly the same night, telling her that he can’t go to the Red Heat after all, which is fucking crazy. He tells Delia that Karina was lying and kissed him against his wishes and, like, dude. If you’re going to keep playing this terrible game, at least go dancing with her tonight to reinforce it. Also she almost died getting an outfit to look good for you so you can at least show up. He doesn’t even wait for Delia to respond before hanging up on her. As he hangs up, he cuddles up to the next girl on his couch: Sarah.

The next stage of the Conklin Award appears to be presenting what you’re actually going to school for. Delia waits with her paintings. They’re all also artists and appear to be pretty good, so again, I don’t really know what the the requirements are for this scholarship. Stewart continues to be sweet to Delia and soft asks her out. But Delia’s called in, and she removes her paintings from their portfolio, only to discover they’ve been smeared with Midnight Wine lipstick. Delia flips out and immediately goes to find Karina, who is making out with Vincent.

Britty and Delia talk during an elaborate display of Britty pulling out salsa, jalapenos, and black beans and rice, which I guess is meant to tell us that Britty is Latinx, but it sort of comes out of nowhere? I’m not sure what Stine’s thought process was with this. Delia tells her she’s going to see Vincent, and Britty tells her to drop his ass. But Delia won’t let it lie, and she goes to Vincent’s house, only to find him making out with Sarah. Vincent tries to write it off, but Delia doesn’t even seem to care. She’s worried about Karina, and she makes him promise to talk to her before she gets too out of control.

And now it’s time for something completely different. Britty and Gabe appear to be helping Vincent set up his party in an abandoned house in Fear Street. I’m not 100% why either of them agreed to help or would show up with Delia, but narratively it needs to happen. Karina arrives instead, and Britty and Gabe vacate. Vincent doesn’t even seem to want Delila at his party, and when Britty comes up to him later saying she’s worried, he blows it off. He refuses to be worried about it at his own party, though he still seems kind of worried about it. Britty is getting snippy with him and says that they’re stopping by Delia’s on the way home, not that he cares. But as they start to leave, Delia arrives, making her grand entrance. Her heels are snapped, her dress is torn, her arms are scratched, and blood is on her face, and she collapses right there in front of everyone. They all gather around to see if she’s okay, and Delia points an accusing finger at Karina. She says Karina invited her over to talk, and then tied her up on her bed. She demands to know what Karina’s plan was after the party. Was she going to kill her? Karina screams that she didn’t do it, and when Delia says they can go to her house, she tells them no. Vincent tries to talk to Karina, but she screams at him and runs off.

The next day, Delia seems fine, which is probably the biggest red flag. She won’t go to the police, and she’s applying her makeup like normal. She and Britty and Gabe go over to the house to clean it, but they wait outside for Vincent first. When he doesn’t arrive, they check inside, only to find his body there, his body stabbed, and a purple lipstick mark on his cheek. The police take Delia in, and Gabe tells her not to accuse Karina, in case that makes her sound guilty, but the current story is that Karina ties up people to her bed so like mention that I guess. The detectives leave Delia with their murder board which doesn’t seem appropriate protocol. She watches as they start putting pictures of evidence on the murder board. They come out and tell her they took her lip print (????) and compared it to the print on Vincent’s body and found it a match. We don’t get the scene where a bunch of grown men in police uniforms force a teenage girl to kiss something to get her “lip print” and for that I’m thankful.

They do tell her not to talk until her attorney arrives, but she decides she can prove it wasn’t her. She does a full Mythbusters and says that if it was truly her lip print, the print would be reversed on Vincent’s cheek (?????). She does the thing where she presses a piece of paper to her lips and shows them the print, and then points out that this must’ve been pressed to Vincent’s cheek. I’m not a scientist, or a biologists, or an artist, but I’m pretty certain this is not how lipstick marks work. I don’t know if I could tell the difference between a direct kiss stain and a reproduction. Also, Delia, how much lipstick are you globbing on that your tissue paper blotting can reproduce a full lip mark after use. I feel like Stine maybe thought up this part first and then wrote us a story to get here. It’s written like a real Sherlock Holmes moment, but it doesn’t make any sense.

Anyway, the police go to search Karina’s house and find a saved sheet of lipstick marks. I’ve avoided talking about the homoerotic tension between Karina and Delia but man oh man could I get into some stuff. Karina flips out when Delia accuses her and tries to attack her again. Her mom promises to get her help, and Delia feels it might finally be over.

Cut to senior prom, sort of. Gabe and Delia are going together, but they stop by the psychiatric hospital to see Karina first, I guess to make her feel extra bad? Gabe mentions he’s been coming every week, though I don’t know why. He tells Delia he’s proud of her for winning the Conklin Award, and she says this isn’t how she wanted to win. She then proceeds, with no prompting, to tell Gabe exactly how she dug a dead rat out of the trash to wreck her own guitar, and ruined her own paintings, and she got so mad when she caught Vincent with Sarah, so she faked her own kidnapping, planted evidence in Karina’s house, and then killed him. She kisses Gabe and begs him not to tell anyone, and then comes the worst ending to a book I think I’ve ever read:

Gazing over Delia’s shoulder, he saw a white coated doctor standing grim-faced in the doorway.

“I heard the whole story,” he told Gabe. “I’ll phone the police.”

And then it’s over. What? It’s such a clumsy exit.

Favorite Line

“You’ve been out in the ozone somewhere since we got here.”

Fear Street Trends

So many! Thank goodness! Karina and Delia are clearly meant to be opposites, and they dress like it. Delia constantly mentions finding her clothes at thrift shops, and she wears loud colors and crazy designs. We see her wearing an orange shirt dress embroidered with yellow flowers. The outfit that almost kills her is a black suede miniskirt with a matching black suede fringed vest (ugh) with a purple lace bodysuit (what!) and platform red boots. Her “artsy” outfit for the second part of the competition is a braid with stone studded silver earrings. And her trademark purple lipstick. Karina is only described a handful of times, but Vincent says she looks like Michelle Pfeiffer (I’ve missed you celebrity descriptions!). She dresses more conservatively with pleated pants and a pink sweater.


This one is bad. It’s the only real word for it. The book is mostly bloodless and the unreliable narrator could’ve been cool if we were given more reason to distrust her. There’s a few red herrings but none of them are played up. The ending’s the worst part, and I think if she’d gotten away with it in the end, I would’ve forgiven this book some of it’s faults, but I guess Stine didn’t want to pull another Best Friend. I’m giving it one rat filled guitar out of five.


Happy Halloween!


Halloween, as we know, is the most magical time of the year. I’ve been consuming a lot of media this month, including some brand new podcasts and even reading a non-Stine related book, and in the past I’ve given my recommendations related to these things. I don’t plan on taking a break in November this year, though I will be going back to my every other week update for the conceivable future, so in the week while you’re waiting for the next chilling adventure, I suggest you check out this cool media:

Meddling Kids is a book inspired by Scooby-Doo and Lovecraft. The cover is vividly gorgeous, and the writing inside is strange, but ultimately weaves together a tale of friendship, fishmen, and fear. Set in 1990, it’s a perfect read for a fan of Fear Street.

Buzzfeed Unsolved is, for the five people who haven’t heard of it, a web series produced by Buzzfeed that focuses on unsolved mysteries and supernatural stories. A marathoned all the episodes in less than a day and love both the absolute drive to believe by Ryan and the relentless skepticism of Shane. If you’re looking for something spooky for Halloween, I recommend the Chilling Exorcism of Anneliese Michel, but they also have episodes on the O.J. Simpson case, Men in Black, and even the recent strange road trip of the Tromp family. For a fan of mysteries, it’s a must.

Ghostwatch maybe the most fascinating item on this list. Originally aired in 1992, it depicted an investigative team examining the strange haunting of a home in London. While initially harmless, with interviews from neighbors dressed up for Halloween, the haunting escalates until the ghost takes over all the cameras. It’s never had a repeated viewing on BBC, it started a War of the Worlds style hysteria, with people believing a ghost was invading their homes, and several cases of trauma popping up afterwards. Sawbones actually did an episode on the phenomenon it caused, and it’s worth a listen. Every year folks do a “seance” of sorts, starting their viewing of the program at the same time and going to Twitter under #ghostwatch. You’ll have to find a version yourself, but it’s worth a watch.

For some reason I’ve become obsessed with exorcisms over this month, and I started listening to Wondery’s deep dive into the Exorcist movie, titled Inside the Exorcist. Four of seven episodes have been released, and they cover all the factors that went into making the exorcist, from the author that wrote the original book, from the case that inspired it, to the life of the director who made it. Done partially as a narrative and partially as a documentary, it jumps between times and focuses and creates a chilling picture of one of the scariest movies of all time. If you don’t know anything about the creation of the movie or are just curious, I recommend checking it out.

And, if you haven’t watched it this year, go ahead pick up Evil Dead 2. It does not require seeing Evil Dead to watch it, and honestly I enjoy it more than Army of Darkness (which is still an amazingly hilarious movie). It hits the stride between horror and comedy while playing on Evil Dead’s original concept. It’s Bruce Campbell nailing down Bruce Campbell, with tons of over the top gore, strange animations, and a scene so manic and delightful that you’re laughing when a man chops off his own hand. I realized while rewatching it that it’s the Bride of Frankenstein of our day, a parody of it’s own material, far better than it’s predecessor, and a delight from start to finish.

Hopefully these suggestions will find you something good this Halloween! Barring anymore hiccups I’ll post again on November 11, where we’ll continue to follow the Fears and this unusual town to the very end. Stay spooky!

Fear Street Relaunch #2 – Don’t Stay Up Late


Sorry, guys! I meant to post this last week, and I got very, very sick so I ended up posting none of the things I meant to. But I’m back now! After really enjoying the first in the Fear Street relaunch, I decided to give the second one a try, and let’s just say this one shows a little more of R.L. Stine’s traditional style.

The Cover

don't stay up late

Here’s what I like about the cover (stolen from Goodreads): it plays into the central conceit of the story, which is It’s Scary to Be a Babysitter. I like the pop of red from her sweater, I think the colors are spooky, and while there’s still a weird filter over it, I overall enjoy this. I think the figure at the window is the least scary thing they could’ve chosen, especially because the weird brick wall behind it is distracting and looks like they paid a dollar for it off Canva. I don’t feel like it captures the tone of the book, which is not clueless babysitter is unaware of the danger she’s in. Lisa is constantly on edge and constantly feels like she’s in danger when everyone tells her she’s not. But otherwise a fairly good cover.


In the dead of the night, the evil one awaits.

Um. I feel like my complaint about the taglines was heard too clearly. This is not your generic tagline. This is very specific, and it still doesn’t really have anything to do with the story. I guess it kind of does, but you don’t figure out who “the evil one” might be until after you’re led through six other red herrings. It feels more like Satanists are going to come after her or something. I guess they tried. I’ll give them points for that.


We are introduced to Lisa in the worst opening line ever not written by a thirteen year old goth girl:

My name is Lisa Brooks and I’m a twisted psycho.

I guess Lisa’s supposed to come off as sardonic and slightly broken from her ordeal. She’s a bit of a bad girl in the not-prologue, meeting up with her friends when she’s supposed to be home studying. She’s not even doing anything bad, but her parents treat her like she broke a covenant. Anyway, we’re introduced to her friends and boyfriend, Nate, who’s an acrobat much like Corey was. He’s into scary movies and talks about his friend Saralynn a lot. Both of these things will come up later. They’re served cheeseburgers at Lefty’s by Rachel from the previous volume, restarting the ancient Fear Street tradition of recycled extras. She and her friends do a weird ritual where they pile their phones on the table, and the first one to ring has to pay for dinner. I’m not a hip cool teen, but do teenagers call each other anymore? Isn’t all texting and snapchatting? I do like the line where Lisa complains about her parents leaving her voicemails, because who listens to voicemails?

Saralynn mentions she has to do a video for a class, and she asks Nate if they can use all his horror stuff. He’s a huge movie buff and lists Evil Dead II as his favorite of all time, which I actually agree with (fight me nerds). Their friend Isaac, who’s in a Metallica cover band, offers to get blood from his cousin who works in a medical lab. They’re interrupted by Lisa’s parents showing up, and her dad demands she comes home with him right now. It’s mostly regular concerned parent stuff, but he does take it a little far dragging her out of the booth. It’s unclear if Lisa’s ever done anything to deserve this. She says she dated a guy with tattoos, but that doesn’t seem enough to warrant this. Anyway, he drives her home, and the whole family argues, until dad careens into another car and is instantly killed.

Lisa does not do well after the accident. The family dog ran away, and she has hallucinations sometimes, as well as vivid dreams. She runs outside at night thinking she hears her dog and sees a strange inhuman monster, but her mom pulls her inside and tells her she was sleepwalking. Concerned, her mom sends her to Dr. Shein. On her way to her appointment, Lisa thinks she sees the creature again, but it’s only Nate in a costume “used in an old Universal horror film back in the fifties”. Which, like, if this kid actually has the costume from the Creature from the Black Lagoon, a) his family is probs rolling in it, b) this kid’s horror credentials went through the roof, and c) why the flip is he wearing it outside? The kids are nice to Lisa, clearly aware she’s still struggling, and they invite her over to watch horror movies, though Lisa declines. Isaac asks her if she wants to see his band play, and Nate and Saralynn share a weird moment that makes Lisa a little jealous.

Lisa goes to see her doctor, who tells her that hallucinations after the accident aren’t uncommon, especially since she might have a minor amount of brain damage. Dr. Shein affirms that she is making progress, even though Lisa feels like she’s getting worse. Doc tells her to go back to school, thinking it’ll help her get re-adjusted, and she sets her up with a babysitting job so her off hours are taken up too. Lisa’s happy about this, until Dr. Shein mentions the house is on Fear Street. You don’t have a problem with Fear Street, do you, Lisa?

Lisa goes to Isaac’s band rehearsal, and it’s cringe worthy. He warns her away from Fear Street, and mentions they’re taught about the Fear Street curse in sixth grade history, which isn’t totally bonkers but is a little weird. Suddenly he kisses her, and she pushes him away, right as Nate walks up. Nate just tells Lisa they need to get going, and never mentions the kiss. Lisa knows he saw it, but she doesn’t know how to react to his no reaction. Nate doesn’t buy into the Fear Street paranoia and even mentions that Brendan Fear is a cool guy. They come up to the house, and Lisa goes in for her job interview. She meets Brenda Hart, who seems a little tired and a little young. She tells Lisa that for three days a week, she needs someone to pick up her son Harry and stay with him until she comes home after 9. She offers to pay Lisa three hundred dollars a week, which is a major red flag for me. Lisa mentions that she’ll have to work to earn her way into college, especially after the bad luck that’s been following her and her mom around. Brenda takes her to meet Harry, who’s a sweet looking boy with curly blond hair. He begs Lisa to let him stay up late, and she amuses him, but as Brenda takes her back downstairs, she warns her never to let Harry stay up late.

We cut to Lisa and Nate making out as Lisa recounts the story to Nate. The doorbell rings, and Saralynn and Isaac walk in, Isaac complaining about his band. There’s still some tension as Nate and Isaac joke with each other, neither acknowledging the obvious elephant in the room. The phone rings, and Lisa picks it up to hear Summer Lawson on the line, a previous girlfriend of Nate’s. She tells Lisa she’s in major trouble, and she has no idea about Nate, and then she hangs up.

Babysitting goes well. Harry loves having Lisa around, and he’s a pretty easy kid. After putting Harry to bed, Lisa chats with Nate, who’s kind of vague, and she wonders if he’s thinking about Isaac kissing her. She hears a noise and goes upstairs to see a monster darting from the house. She flips out and runs to Harry’s room to see if he’s okay. He’s nowhere to be found, and she starts tearing off his covers and looking under the bed. She finds him in the closet, and he tells her that someone came into his room. Lisa lies and asks him if it was a nightmare, and that seems to calm him. She gets Harry back to sleep, and Brenda comes home. Lisa doesn’t tell her what happened. Like a dummy.

Lisa tries to tell her mom what happened, but it’s clear her mom doesn’t believe her, and when Lisa accidentally knocks something over while she tries to convince her, her mom says she’s out of control. I’m starting to suspect Lisa didn’t have very good parents in the first place. Lisa returns to Dr. Shein, who suggests medication, and she continues to say this isn’t unusual, which sounds like a lie. Lisa gets a happy moment with the return of her dog, though, so maybe things are looking up.

The gang goes to the club to see Isaac play with his band, and again mention is made that you can be eighteen or older to buy beer. I’m completely certain that every state now has the drinking age to 21, but what do I know. The teen club is called the Hothouse now, though it sounds more like they let under eighteen in until a certain point. Nate goes to buy them drinks with a fake ID, and Saralynn offhandedly mentions he got caught last year, and says to Lisa that she doesn’t know everything about Nate. Lisa is mildly weirded out by this, if only because it makes Saralynn sound jealous. Isaac and his band go on, and they are terrible. Lisa goes to get another drink and runs into Summer, who she describes as “beautiful, like a goddess”. She warns Lisa that she’s in trouble, and when Lisa tries to get her to say more, she disappears into the crowd.

Lisa goes to babysit Harry again, and while she’s reading up on her science assignment, she gets a call from Summer. She lets it go to voicemail and tries to get back to her homework, when she hears a thud. She goes to the kitchen and finds Nate standing there. He says he was on his way to pick up his brother and decided to swing by, offering her a ride home. She hears Harry calling for her, and he’s crawled out of bed. She puts him back to bed, comes downstairs, and Nate is gone, but she hears noises again. She sees the creature on the staircase. She screams at it, it spits at her, and she charges it. She thinks she chased it out of the house, and then she hears a high, shrill scream. Lisa runs outside, sees nothing, and then runs back upstairs to check on Harry. He seems to be asleep. Brenda comes in, and Lisa debates telling her what happened, when Harry appears on the stairs, announcing that he stayed up late by faking sleep. Brenda is annoyed but sends him upstairs, asking Lisa if she’s okay when she sees her trembling. For a moment, she considers telling Brenda what she saw, but Nate honks his horn outside. Nate has scratches all over his face. Suspicious. He tells her he fell into a rose bush. They see something weird across the street, and Lisa goes to inspect it, discovering the body of a dead girl. Summer Lawson.

They’re brought to the police station and questioned again. They meet Captain Rivera, another striking move for diversity in the Fear Street series, tries to be friendly with the teens. Lisa’s mom tells him Lisa has “emotional issues”, and again, I’m starting to think Lisa just has bad parents. The media is calling it the Cannibal Killing, since apparently Summer had bits of her chewed up. Lisa admits she heard a scream that night, but her priority was on Harry. Her mom demands she tell the police about the creature she saw. Lisa admits to the police what she thinks she saw, and Captain Rivera isn’t a jerk about it. He asks her if it was a movie she saw, and when Lisa’s mom mentions the accident, he’s sympathetic.

Saralynn texts Lisa, but she ignores her. She’s a little suspicious of Saralynn’s relationship with Nate, and why Summer was out on Fear Street, and she’s thinking about Nate’s horror movie collection. At school, she sneaks out of study hall with Nate, and she tries to talk to him about the monster. He clearly doesn’t believe her, and he offhandedly mentions something Dr. Shein told her, making Lisa feel more suspicious. She remembers how Nate was all scratched up. But Nate interrupts her by asking about Isaac, and he tries to bring it up, but she dismisses it immediately. He offers to help her babysit on Friday to make her feel safe, and then offers to bring Saralynn too, which makes Lisa more suspicious. They run into Saralynn, who agrees to come over. Lisa walks away, not before hearing Saralynn say they should tell Lisa the truth.

Lisa goes to pick Harry up and asks about his sleep. Harry’s aunt tells her that he has a form of epilepsy, and if he doesn’t get the right amount of sleep, he could have seizures. Lisa is startled by this, but she’s promised so long as he gets his sleep, he’ll be fine. She takes Harry home. She tucks him in on time and amuses herself by flipping through the family photo albums. Photos of Brenda and her husband, family reunions, picnics, and then Lisa sees two familiar faces: Nate and Saralynn. Immediately Lisa calls Nate, but he doesn’t pick up. Brenda comes home after ten and asks Lisa how she’s doing. She wonders if Lisa is thinking about quitting the job with a murder happening so close, but she says Harry loves her, and Lisa admits she’s fond of him.

Lisa goes home and manages to get Saralynn on the phone. Lisa asks her about the photo, and Saralynn says, yeah, she told Nate to tell her, but the three of them are related, distantly. Brenda, Saralynn, and Nate are all vaguely second cousins or something. She says it was Nate’s idea to keep it a secret, getting more and more vague by the second. Lisa isn’t sure she can trust them, but Saralynn insists they want to help.

On Friday, the whole gang shows up to help with Harry. They all play Harry’s Xbox game and turn the sound down when Harry goes to bed. Lisa confronts Nate about hiding his blood relations, and he doesn’t say anything convincing. They study for a while, and Nate notes that Isaac hasn’t answered any of his texts, despite him supposed to be coming over as well. He decides to go pick him up. The girls chat for a little while, until Lisa gets up and sees the monster on the stairs. She screams and points to it, but Saralynn can’t see anything. Lisa has a total breakdown, realizing she is crazy, and Saralynn offers to call her doctor, but Lisa insists she has to check on Harry. When she gets upstairs, Harry is gone. They search the house, finding nothing, until Lisa hears something outside. It sounds like a fight, and some hissing, and general monster noises. Lisa goes outside and finds Isaac on the ground, dead.

They’re taken to the police station again. Nate says he was hunting for Isaac all over, but couldn’t find him, giving him a pretty good alibi that no one can back up. Rivera brings up her hallucinations again, and Lisa’s mom is no help. River than says he’s not accusing Lisa, but also is it possible that she’s the one doing all the murders? Lisa insists what she saw was real, but as soon as they leave, she breaks down again, saying she needs Dr. Shein, because she might actually be crazy.

Lisa gets put on medication, avoids Nate because she thinks he might be the killer, and doesn’t go back to work until Brenda calls begging her to come over, that she’ll pay her double, because she needs a babysitter. While babysitting, Lisa goes through the albums again, looking for any clue. She finds a picture of Harry with another girl in a blue sweater that’s only labeled “Joy”, though considering how unhappy the girl looks, it’s a poor description. Tucked into the pages is a letter from Joy, saying though she loves Harry, she can’t keep the job as his babysitter. The nightmares are too bad. There’s an address attached, and Lisa writes it down, determined to find Joy.

Lisa manages to borrow her mom’s car and drive out to the address. A woman answers the door, and when Lisa asks, she screams that joy is in the state hospital up in Martinsville. Lisa drives over there and sees the plaque that says the hospital was built by Jacobus Fear in 1911. I honestly adore the far reaching Fear family. It’s a little refreshing from the first run of the series, where they’d all disappeared. It’s a really bad depiction of a mental hospital, with people shouting random crazy phrases, sad moans everywhere, and a man licks her hand. Your usual description written by someone who’s never actually been to a mental hospital. She tells the nurse she’s Joy’s friend, and they let her in to see Joy. Lisa starts to ask her about Harry, but Joy flips out and calls him a demon and a monster. Lisa thinks she’s talking about Nate, but we all know the truth.

Lisa tries to get more information about Nate from Saralynn, who remains useless. Still, she goes to get Harry from his aunt’s house and walk him home, but she stops halfway there when she realizes his backpack is gone. She tells him to stay there and she’ll grab it, which is dumb, but it leads to Lisa going back to the aunt’s house to hear strange howls. When she opens the basement door, she sees three strange creatures that are almost human like, but hideous and malformed. She escapes, runs with Harry back to the house, and she calls the police, trying to play it cool the whole time. She gets Captain Rivera and convinces him to meet at the aunt’s house to search the basement, but, of course, when they get there, it’s empty. Lisa sulks as she goes back to Harry, who convinces her to let him stay up late. He asks her if she can guess why he likes staying up late so much, and he tells her it’s because he gets to change. She asks what that means, and then he does. He becomes that hideous monster she’s been seeing and snaps at her as Brenda comes in, shouting at the both of them.

Brenda scoops up the monster, that turns back into regular Harry. She tells Lisa she can’t leave, now that she’s seen Harry like this, and tells her it’s her fault that Isaac and Summer are dead, since she couldn’t do her job right. She monologues for a minute and then tries to stab her with a kitchen knife, and then Nate runs in and saves her. He attacks Harry, and Lisa runs for it. Apparently she does nothing about this new information until the next day, where she goes to Dr. Shein’s office. I guess she didn’t try to call Nate to see if he was okay, or ask Saralynn what she knew, or try and get the police again. She tells Dr. Shein everything, and Dr. Shein decides to put her in a hospital like the one Joy is in. Because it turns out Dr. Shein was in on it too! Lisa is calm though, because she lifts up her phone and reveals that she was FaceTiming this whole conversation to the police! How modern! The police arrest the mad doctor, and the day is saved, kind of.

Apparently the police kept the arrests and mad scientist business out of the papers, which seems ridiculously bonkers. Lisa takes up a job at a daycare center, appreciating how busy it is and how many kids she sees in a day. She’s a little sad about Nate, who did save her life, but is happy now that she’s not babysitting a literal monster. She’s introduced to a new kid, Sam, who is just Harry, who begs to be able to stay up late.

Favorite Line

“Dr. Shein, do you see this phone in my lap? It’s connected to an app called FaceTime. Do you know what that is?”

“Yes, I know what FaceTime is,” she muttered.

Fear Street Trends

These kids get more and more fashionable. I guess because Isaac’s a musician, Stine actually googled some popular bands, so Vampire Weekend and Daft Punk get a shout out, as does a fake psychobilly band. Previous folks get a cameo, including Kerry Reacher and Rachel Martin. Lisa and Harry watch Kung Fu Panda 2 on Netflix, a weirdly specific choice, which makes me imagine Stine had to watch it with his grandkids, and Harry plays an Xbox game called “Candy Catastrophe” which is clearly Candy Crush, but on a console I guess? Lisa’s dad looks like Clint Eastwood, and her mom is a Denzel Washington fan. Harry reads a story by Willa Cather, who I googled to see if it was symbolism. I can’t tell.


Um… I don’t know? Admittedly it took me a minute longer to read this one, and the fatigue set in earlier, unlike say Party Games, where I at least felt the characters were doing something the whole time and not just milling around until the story caught up to them. It made very little sense, and it’s honestly nonsensical ending (how did the aunt move all those monsters?), I feel compelled to give it a low rating, but I’m also the one who constantly wants actual supernatural things to happen in these stories. It felt a lot more Goosebumps-y than Fear Street, which may not be a bad thing to the right person, but the thing I’ve enjoyed about Fear Street is it’s more thriller style nature, versus the kid vs monster style of Goosebumps. The death of the dad added almost nothing to the character and was only there to service the plot, and bad therapy is a major part of the Fear Street series, but it was egregious here, though I guess on purpose? I’m still going to give it two shapeshifting children out of five.

As a note, I’m taking a short vacation from this blog while I sort out the many, many projects I’ve given myself and prepare for summer reading. There will be no new reviews posted in May, and I currently have a plan for June, so we will see if that works out. I will tentatively say the next review will go up June 4 (my birthday!). Tentatively. See you then!


A Brief Break


I’ve now read thirty some-odd Fear Street books and I’ll be taking this week off. The Fear Street books are kind in that you can knock them out in an hour, but I’ve also read so many of them in one go I think I need to give my brain a break. If you’re looking for horror to hold you over until then, I make these suggestions:

  • The Diviners and Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray. Set in the 1920s without ignoring some of the ghastlier bits of the decade, it involves teens with special powers who come together to face supernatural threats. While the first one feels incomplete, the second more than makes up for it, and both have their horror filled moments.
  • Harrow County by Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook. I discovered this completely by accident while shelving in the library and if you are a fan of southern horror look no further. Featuring a small town, witches, haints, and demons. It is both quiet and ghastly.
  • The Black Tapes produced by Pacific Northwest Stories. A podcast centered around the unsolved cases of Dr. Richard Strand, a skeptic, in which Alex Reagan discovers mystical doorways, shadow men, and Satanic math. Done in an NPR style, it covers several well known horror tropes in interesting ways.
  • On that note check out Archive 81 as well, much shorter but a found footage style podcast chronicling Daniel Powell as he listens to historical documents surrounding a very strange building. If you’re looking for a more old school radio experience, The Horror! from Relic Radio brings you forgotten stories of classic radio.
  • And if you’re still in a nostalgic mood, I recommend The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, which takes the Sabrina formula, tosses in some Satan worship, and sets it all in the 1960s. Despite it’s sparse release schedule, it’s been a delight from start to finish. I also had the pleasure of checking out Afterlife with Archie and found myself enjoying it quite a lot. It uses the recognizable characters without removing them too much from familiarity, while also tossing them in a dark and dangerous world.

If you’re so inclined, you could also check out my bi-monthly horror serial Deadlands, which uses old west tropes and classic ghost stories. I’ve been attempting to fill it with more content as well, and I’ve discussed the history of Bigfoot and the Chupacabra, as well as how one discovers cowboy songs. If you’re interested in different kinds of stories, I’ve also started a writing journal, which features things like princesses, vampires, and other adventures.

I’ll return next week with that classic R.L. Stine flavor. Happy hauntings!