I like the cover (taken from its Goodreads page). It reminds me of that weird cover I found of Goodnight Kiss, with the sinister merry-go-round. Like many things that evoke a childlike innocence, it’s pretty easy to make them creepy, and I’m fond of this image. It’s unclear what the girl on the cover is screaming about, and her outfit looks a little old fashioned, so I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be Meghan or Deirdre.
Buy a ticket to terror.
That is a good tagline. Thematic, sinister, but no spoilers. It’s what would be on the movie poster.
We open about where we left off. Robin and Deirdre have just attended Paul’s funeral after his unfortunate accident at the Ferris wheel. Deirdre is very sad about this for good reason. She’s the one who found him after all, and they were dating, except she was cheating on him with Robin, which makes his appearance at the funeral a little crass. Robin tells her that Fear Park is cursed, that Nicholas Fear cursed it all those years ago, and that maybe her father should consider giving up on building that park. As Deirdre babbles about her father’s dream and how sad she is about her dead boyfriend, robin considers killing her as well, but not before a phantom walks out of the graveyard, someone who looks just like Paul. Only it’s not. Jared is a year younger than Paul, and Deirdre warns us he’s “kind of wild”. So just like every guy who attends Shadyside.
Jared snaps at Deirdre when he sees her, though he doesn’t bring up her bringing her new boyfriend to her now dead boyfriend’s funeral. He’s instead more concerned about her father, who’s still going through with building Fear Park. Robin is delighted by his anger. Jared threatens to go down to Mr. Bradley’s office himself and have it out, and Deirdre is worried about any trouble he might bring. As she and Robin walk away, he catches his reflection in a car window. Half of his face is fine, but the other half has sunken in, turned purple and grey, and started to rot. He quickly ditches Deirdre and hurries back to his manor.
He goes into his father’s library and finds his books. At no point does he explain why he’s remained immortal since seventeen, so pretty soon after the last book, and his father didn’t, or what happened to his mother who returned as a skull-faced ghost and then promptly disappeared from the story. He chants, channels some of that purple smoke, and fixes his face, only to be interrupted by a noise in the house. He goes to investigate and finds Meghan waiting for him. Meghan, for the most part, seems unbothered by anything she’s learned about the Fears. Robin tells us that he told Meghan he wanted to stay immortal to stop the Fear curse, rather than cause it like he’s actually doing, and he took her along in his journey. It seems all Robin has done with this is lock her in the manor. It’s been about sixty years since this would’ve happened, and Meghan seems only mildly annoyed that she has to stay inside while Robin gets to go out and play. We don’t see a ton of manipulation from him, which would’ve made for some good villainy, and it’s unclear why she agreed to this or how she feels about all this witchcraft nonsense. When we do get her perspective later on, it’s all about how jealous she is of Deirdre. Typical girl stuff amiright.
Deirdre goes to visit her father at his office in Fear Park and finds Jared there instead. He stammers through an apology and tells her he needs a job for the summer, that he could take over for Paul. He’s doing this as a ploy, of course, hoping to get on the inside so that he can cause trouble from there. Mr. Bradley walks in, and Jared has trouble keeping his cool, but when Mr. Bradley explains that all the positions are filled, he snaps at him and puts the blame for Paul’s death at his feet. He storms out where his friends are waiting, picks up a rock, and tosses it. They hear a shriek , and Jared realizes he accidentally he hit one of the monkeys in the park’s zoo portion. I’d always gotten the impression that parks are stocked with rides and things that any teenager could pick up the controls on without causing horrible death or mild inconvenience, and the animals they keep are better suited for a zoo. Honestly if I went to an amusement park with a lion preserve, I’d be worried about those lions.
Anyway, he gets into it with the animal keeper Gunther, who threatens to have them removed, and the boys walk away. Robin sees them and catches up, telling them he knows exactly how they can get even with Gunther. He leads them through the woods until they come to a cliff. It’s unclear how tall this cliff is, but it doesn’t really match my geography for the Fear Woods. But the story needs it. Robin says that Gunther feeds the lions from this cliff, and they can see them below. This seems exceptionally unsafe. If nothing else, there shouldn’t be an overhang where any old child could slip and fall to be mauled by lions. There would at least be a railing, but again, amusement parks seem like the kind of place where they would cut costs like this. Robin tells the boys he’ll let them in, and if they want to come along and scare Gunther when it’s feeding time, he won’t say a thing.
The boys lie in wait for Gunther, discussing how this might maybe be a bad idea, but then they see him walking up the trail to the cliff. The boys flank him as he comes to the feeding spot, and they do the whole song and dance of “I’m gonna push you off the cliff”, and as they threaten him, a strange purple smoke spills over the cliff. The boys start to back off, and this is where I wonder why Robin needed these punks at all. What happens is Gunther becomes possessed and just walks off the edge, falling into the lion pit below, where he is torn apart. This required no witnesses, and no one starts to suspect someone pushed him. Later when the police arrive, it’s an accident. It would’ve been far better if the boys became possessed and started tearing at each other like the kids with the hatches, sending all but Jared over the cliff. But, no. Jared and co. run away, even running into some security guards, and at no point is it brought up that they might be the culprits.
Deirdre and Robin find the body, the police are called. The lions get shot with tranquilizers because they’ve tasted human flesh and now want more, which is really kind of big-headed of us to assume that we taste so darn good it makes carnivores go into a feeding frenzy. As they walk away, Robin almost decides right then and there to smash Deirdre’s head in with a hammer but is stopped when a few workers come by. We cut to the next day, where Robin tells Meghan he has to go to the park to make sure nothing happens. Meghan, being trapped alone in the house for the past sixty years, her anxiety gets the better of her, and she decides to go the park. It’s actually kind of a nice scene, where Meghan marvels at the modern fashions and new electrics, and her heart is warmed to see Fear Park operational. Until she sees Robin, making out with Deirdre. She runs back in tears towards the mansion.
Robin and Deirdre, meanwhile, are enjoying their break from work as they walk around the park. He tries to convince her to go on the Ferris wheel with him so he can push her off the top, but she’s nervous because of that whole dead boyfriend thing. He tells her when you fall off a horse, you have to get back on, which I’m not sure is the exact same as the trauma of seeing your boyfriend sliced up by a machine meant to bring joy. She tells him no, and he goes back to his shift.
Jared and his buddies are watching the news, trying to figure out what to do about Gunther. They’ve figured out no one’s coming for them, but they do know there’s a loose end: Robin Fear. They decide to go to Fear Park and see what he knows, which may be the worst idea this gang of bad ideas has come up with. They go up to the ticket counter, where they are appropriately asked for tickets, and Jared flips out, saying he just needs to talk to someone. He gets so angry about being asked to pay entrance into the park, he grabs the man through the booth and starts shaking him violently. When security arrives, Jared has now changed his tune and says they can’t kick him out if he pays for a ticket, which is obviously wrong. Jared and co. quickly back away and find another entrance, sneaking into the Hall of Mirrors through the emergency exit. Robin sees them and starts to follow. To compound their mischief, the guys plant firecrackers along the route. Jared sees Robin watching them, and Robin quickly ducks out, delighted at this turn of events.
Robin finds Deirdre and points her to the Hall of Mirrors, telling her to take her turn. It’s great, he tells her, she’ll have a hoot. She turns around, telling him she’s got to get something to her dad first, but she’ll meet up with him later. Only slightly disappointed, Robin begins to do a spell, and possibly for the first time in this series, the magic words are written down. “Jadot kalisto,” Robin whispers, and “Exto denota.” I’m guessing this is some modified Latin, but I can’t tell you what it’s supposed to say. The air vibrates, and from within the Hall of Mirrors comes an explosion. A body with no head lands at Robin’s feet, and it seems to be raining body parts. I’m not an expert in explosions, I’ve only watched every single episode of Mythbusters, and I’m not sure if this is how that works? It makes more sense to see splattered and burned meat than say severed limbs, but maybe in the Fear Street universe people are built like those robots in the World’s End. Robin also watches Jared and his friends react with horror and then bolt. Bradley comes running up, presumably with firefighters in tow, and Robin grabs him, telling him he saw exactly who did this.
While the park is cleaned up, Deirdre goes home, exhausted, afraid, and defeated. She finds tucked in an envelope a news article from 1935 with a picture of the kids before the massacre happened. A picture of Robin Fear. Robin gets home after telling the police a description of four boys, and Meghan comes running at him with a knife. She plunges it into his chest, and he pulls it out, blood free, no damage. She tells him she saw him with another girl, and he tells her that girl is Deirdre Bradley. That he had to get close to her to make sure the park was running smoothly. That Meghan is the only girl for him. She seems to believe him, though he’s not sure and starts planning her demise.
Jared and co. are having a real rough day, and are trying to figure out what to do about it. One of the boys suggests running, but they know there’ll be police on the roads. Jared figures Robin Fear saw them, and he saw them planting firecrackers, which may be enough to clear them. They decide to go to him and get him to tell the police they’re innocent.
Deirdre sees Robin too, and she holds the news article in his face. He’s confused at first, and tells her that he looks a lot like his grandfather. She’s obviously embarrassed, and I’m not sure what she was accusing him of in the first place. I guess with a surname like Fear you get that sort of thing a lot. Robin immediately storms home and demands to know from Meghan why she sent that, and she’s confused. How could she give Deirdre the article? This is more concerning to Robin, because it might mean someone else followed him from 1935.
He leaves the house, only to get nabbed by Jared and co. They show him the sketches, and he plays innocent, telling them he hasn’t even seen them yet. Robin sneaks off, pretending to talk to the police, and when he returns he tells them that they refused to listen, and they have orders to shoot on sight. The boys panic, and Robin tells them they have to make the police listen. By taking a hostage. By taking Dierdre as hostage. The police are just human, he reasons to them. Surely once they hear what you have to say, all this explosion and hostage-taking nonsense will be forgiven.
Robin leads Dierdre to possibly the stupidest boys in any of these books. As soon as he walks through the door, he’s knocked out, and Jared grabs Deirdre and knocks her out. She comes to in room, Robin on the floor, with the boys arguing in the next room about what to do. She immediately searches for something to cut her ties with and sees some shears. She inches toward them, and Jared comes into the room. They all start to argue as purple smoke fills the room, and one by one, the boys explode. Robin grabs Deirdre and tells her it’s the curse as they watch them all pop, and then the smoke disappears without harming either of them. They stand up in the horror show, and Dierdre says she has to convince her father to abandon this project, and Robin promises to help her.
“I’m giving you a two-man escort out of here. We only do that with our VIPs–Very Import Punks!”
Fear Street Trends
Not too many. Jared, of course, as a bad boy, has one ear pierced, and as Meghan wanders through the fairground she sees girls in short skirts and jeans, marveling that even old people wear sneakers. I’m hopeful Meghan and Deirdre interact in the next book, with some contrast between the two of them.
I cannot imagine reading these as three separate books. There’s no separation between them. At least this one felt like it might have an actual plot, but it still feels incomplete. The only real addition to the story is the return of Meghan and the mysterious voice. Nothing else went anywhere. I’ll give it two hungry lions out of five.