Fear Park: The First Scream

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The Cover

 

I get what they’re going with in the original cover (stolen from its Amazon page), but considering the park isn’t even built until the last ten pages, it seems a little baity. Still, I like the imagery of a haunted amusement park a lot, so I’m willing to be nice. The boy leering over the scared girl is a nice touch too. I think it’ supposed to be a Ferris wheel because there’s not track underneath, but I don’t see any structure to support it.

The second cover is the collector’s edition (stolen from its Amazon page), which I’m reading out of. I actually do like this a lot. The amusement park with the sinister face leering over it is perhaps more apt to the story, especially since it seems to take place over decades. I like them both.

Tagline

Are we having fun yet?

I actually really like this one? It’s what these books need, something indicative of the danger inside, without revealing too much, and giving us a sense of foreboding. This one nails it.

Summary

Part one puts us in 1935, a few years after the stock market crash has plunged us into a depression, though besides a few people talking about “bringing more money into the town” it doesn’t really feel like the Depression. Not that I’m an expert, but everything seems pretty much the same.

We’re introduced to Meghan Fairwood, fiddling with a fountain pen her parents purchased her, thinking about her boyfriend Richard Bradley, football player and bully. She notices someone watching her, a pale solemn-faced boy with a familiar name. Robin Fear. Her magazines fall out of her locker, and he helps her pick them up, noting Clark Gable on the cover. They have a friendly conversation over their favorite movies and radio shows when Richard comes marching in, scooping her up in a kiss. Meghan’s a little annoyed that he does this without asking, and then he sneers at Robin, telling him to step off. He does some basic bully work, and Robin stutters away. He trudges home, so mad he couldn’t stand up for himself in front of his crush. He goes to his home on Fear Street, not the long abandoned mansion but a newer home. It seems the Fears have held onto their money somehow. He looks for his dad, opens the door to the study, to find a strange sight.

Nicholas Fear is floating in the air surrounded by purple swirling smoke like he’s doing light as a feather stiff as a board. He’s chanting something to himself, and Robin quickly leaves. He knows his father’s study is full of books on the occult. This apparently has never raised his suspicion before. I don’t know why the Fears don’t indoctrinate their children. Raise them on the black arts. Make them do their first blood sacrifice at five years old. I’m not saying you’re raising healthy children, but you don’t get situations like this.

He hears a soft thud in the library, which makes me think Nicholas stopped chanting and fell to the ground. The doorbell rings, and Nicholas emerges, telling his son to go answer it. Four men are there, one of them Jack Bradley, Richard’s father. Nicholas invites the men into his sitting room, and Robin peeks in from the doorway. His dad is pretty rude to these men who take it very kindly. Jack Bradley discusses Coney Island, and tells us that the town of Shadyside currently has little income thanks to the stock market crash. Most of the men in town are unemployed. Bradley has an idea to build an amusement park in Shadyside, offering work to the unemployed and bringing in tourism. But he needs land from Fear Woods to do so. They already have approval to start building. All they need is Nicholas to say yes.

Nicholas obviously says no and starts shouting at them. He tells them to get out, and Bradley won’t take no for an answer. He says he’ll send him the plans, that he needs to say yes, and then suddenly the men start choking. He’s pulled a Darth Vader on all of the men present, and Robin watches in horror as they start to collapse to the ground. He runs into the room shouting for his dad to stop it, and suddenly Nicholas pulls back. Nicholas plays dumb and says there must be something in the air, can I get you a glass of water, are you okay? But it’s clear what just happened.

I went back to my other recaps of the Fear Saga, because I remembered them saying the Fears had no money and I thought their land was forfeit too, but I forgot about Nicholas. I assume it’s the same Nicholas that showed up to claim his birthright, who went to one of the town leaders and ended up with a job, and who married his daughter after she killed everyone else around him. Book two in the sagas never revealed what happened after he decided to pledge his life to evil, so I’m assuming this is the definitive version. Nicholas is now completely evil. Ruth is now dead (don’t worry, we’ll see her soon), and all the land her father owned is now in Fear hands again.

After all this, Robin decides to get out of the house. He starts to leave and runs into his father, who offers to join him. Robin asks if he had to say no to those men (and if he had to murder them), and Nicholas tells him he’s a Fear, and the Fears stand apart in this town, they’re better. As they walk, they run into Mr. Bradley, holding a surveying tool in his hand. Nicholas calls him out for trespassing, but Mr. Bradley tells him the town council will back him on his plans. We’ll later learn that Mr. Bradley is on the town council, which suddenly makes this all look like a deeply unethical use of funds to put back into the pocket of Mr. Bradley himself, but I’ll forgive him because he’s not going to survive this book. Anyway, Mr. Bradley tells the Fears the town council is going to allocate part of the woods for the project. I’m not really sure how that works legally, though it’s possible the Fears don’t own all the woods, since that wouldn’t make much sense. I don’t think we’re ever shown the full extent of the woods, but they seem pretty large. It looks like that whole corner of Shadyside is mostly undeveloped.

Anyway, Nicholas storms back to the house, and Robin continues walking. He runs directly into Meghan. She says she comes to this spot in the woods because it’s her secret place. He calls the woods his backyard, probably showing off a little, and Meghan reminds us there’s a bunch of scary stories about the Fears, though she doesn’t name one. They make a little small talk, and then Meghan shouts because she got something in her eye. This is supposed to be the romantic moment where the love interest sees an eyelash on their face and leans in to get it off, fingers brushing against their face, eyes meeting, the protagonist vulnerable. But in this instance, there’s a dust mote in her eye, and Robin is described as touching her eye gently, which no. No. That’s not how anything works. He invites her inside the house for a drink, when two rough hands grab him. Guess who’s back! Richard is livid, thinking he saw Robin kissing Meghan. I actually love Robin’s internal monologue during these segments, because he’s always like “am I going to have to fight? Can I fight? This dude’s so much bigger than me.” Meghan shouts at Richard to stop, and he steps back, busting out laughing. He pretends it was all a big joke, and when he asks Robin if he really thought he was going to punch him, Robin’s like “Yeah dude.” It’s pretty clear Richard is covering up his anger after Meghan got so mad. Richard pushes Robin out of the way and starts making out with her.

Robin runs home, feeling empty inside. He pushes open the door and finds his father collapsed on the floor. He doesn’t seem to be breathing, and he shakes him, only to notice the purple smoke emerge again. Slowly Nicholas wakes and pretends he just fell. But once Robin gets him into the chair, he admits he was practicing. “Practicing what?” Robin asks, and Nicholas asks him if he saw his mother. Robin reminds him that she’s dead, and he insists that he could still see her. But they hear something at the door, and a figure floats into the room, veiled and surrounded by purple smoke. Nicholas rises from the chair, proclaiming, “It is she!” Robin can’t quite tell. It looks like a woman, yes, but more like a shadow or a flame. He tries to remember what his mother looked like, but he was so young when she died. Ruth leans forward, and her veil slips away, revealing a skeletal face of grey-green bone and rotted skin. Worms crawling across her face. Robin screams and doesn’t stop screaming for two full days.

He wakes in bed with a nurse over him and his father looking concerned. He’s told he had a nightmare, that he’s been in a “deep sleep” for several days. He tries to remember what he saw but can’t. Nicholas is raging because the council voted to take part of the woods away, and again I can’t help but note that Bradley is said to be on the town council.

We cut to Bradley himself with a handful of men who are getting started on the work. They’re doing some survey work and getting the land ready for when they have to build. Bradley says he doesn’t believe in all those stories, but he doesn’t want to stay past sunset either, and so they hurry. Or, they try to, until one of the men drives a wooden stake through his foot. The others take him to the hospital, and Bradley finishes up. As he’s working, he starts feeling itches on him from bugs he can’t see. He’s swarmed by them, his whole body now being bit and him scratching at it. He scratches the skin off his neck and chest but they’re still coming, and he can’t stop.

Meghan is wandering into the woods again to meet her boyfriend. Isn’t there a backseat of a car these kids would rather be in? He shows up late, and they walk and talk. She’s clearly annoyed at him, clearly more interested in Robin, but she isn’t sure she wants to give up the perks of being a sportsman’s girlfriend. Richard trips on the rope they were stringing up, and they notice what they think is a deer far away, but as they approach, it’s clearly not. It’s the skeleton of a man, but don’t worry. His head is intact. Richard drops to his knees when he sees it, the head still staring up in horror, but his skin and bones and muscle completely eaten away from the rest of him. It’s less a horrifying image and a more comical one, but it works.

Smash cut to a few weeks later, after Bradley’s funeral. The police don’t know what caused his death, but Robin does. His father is to blame. He hurries to his father’s study to confront him and hears voices. Multiple voices. Women’s voices. He pushes open the door, but it’s only Nicholas Fear, sitting in a chair, with a book in his lap. Robin asks him pretty directly if he killed Jack Bradley, and of course Nicholas says no. Robin, of course, does not believe him.

At school Meghan sees him again and chases after him. They talk about nothing at all, an then Meghan just kisses him. She has no impulse control. And, of course, Richard comes charging out of nowhere to punch Robin in the face. He wails on him for a while, and Robin’s only concern is that he’s not fighting back, that he looks like a wuss in front of Meghan. Robin runs all the way home. That night, Meghan gets a call from Richard who wants to apologize and she hangs up on him, only for him to show up at her house. He seems less bothered that she was kissing another boy and more that she was anywhere near Robin Fear. Meghan refuses to break up with him, and I guess after seeing his temper I would be too, but she never thinks that. She just doesn’t stop dating Richard. And when he tells her they’re going ahead with plans to build the park, she’s excited for him. Richard tells her that they’re asking all of the teenagers, even the girls, to come help clear stumps for a dollar  a day. I went to an inflation calculator to see what that was, and it’s equivalent to about $17 of today’s money, which doesn’t seem like a ton but it’s the depression. She’s very excited about this.

Meghan sees Robin at school and asks him to meet her. Robin asks if she wants to meet in the woods, but she’s still scared after finding Richard’s dad, so they go get a malt together instead. It’s not very sneaky, even with Richard at practice, considering all their friends are probably also there. They got to the malt shop and listen to Cab Calloway on the radio. Robin is nervous, and Meghan at first thinks he’s going to ask her out, but instead he blurts out that his father is evil and might be doing something to stop construction on the amusement park. Meghan is confused, and when he tells her he’ll be on the work crew, she’s not sure it’s a good idea. He seems to realize this isn’t going the way he wanted, and he adds that he mostly wants to join the work crew to be around her. She kisses him again.

Once the school year is out, work begins. They’re all given extremely sharp hatchets to chop stumps with, and Robin shows up a few hours later, helping Meghan with her work. Someone takes a photo for the paper, which seems like a bad idea if Robin’s sneaking around, but whatever. Suddenly Richard comes rushing forward, axe in his hand, screaming at Robin to stay away from Meghan. Robin manages to avoid the first swing, and several kids grab onto Richard to get him to stop. Unfortunately, it means Richard slices open one of the other boys in response. Another kid strikes Richard down for it, and suddenly all the kids are doing it. It turns into a full on Battle Royale. They all start killing each other, and Robin grabs Meghan, pulling her away from the fray. She runs home, looking behind her to see the purple smoke rising up through the trees.

Robin also runs home, desperate to find his father. He runs into the room and tells him it worked perfectly, exactly as expected. He’s a real Fear now.

But that’s not all! We’re sent hurtling into “This Year” (publishing date looks to be 1996). Here we meet Dierdre Bradley hanging out with her boyfriend Paul. Paul is working at the newly built Shadyside amusement park all summer, which Dierdre’s dad owns, after spending so many years trying to get it built. The first week is free and open to the public to drum up publicity.

Dierdre’s a little guilty because her boyfriend gave up a better job upstate to stay in Shadyside with her, and when their date is over, she sneaks off with some other guy. She’s also worried because there’s been so many accidents building this park, but so far, on opening day, there’s been no problems. They go on some rides, and then he has to get to work. She goes off to meet her other boyfriend, Rob. I think this is supposed to be a reveal, but Stine didn’t even change his name.

She gets away from her second boyfriend and finds her dad speaking with some TV crews. Part of the park is a reenactment of the hatchet incident. Her dad says this is in honor and remembrance of those that died, but that’s a lot of horseshit. When they sit down to see it, it’s realistically done, from the sets to the limbs flying off. Which, there’s also barely any acting in it. A narrated tape is played over the action. The kids walk into the woods to clear stumps, and then they just start murdering each other. Limbs are flying, blood is gushing, and the reporter tells us it looks so real. This isn’t a way to honor anyone. This is gratuitous. But the kids get up once they’re done and take a bow, all except Paul. Dierdre runs up to the stage, but it’s just a cramp. She kisses him and realizes Rob is in the audience, watching them.

She sees Rob later and asks him why he was at the show. He’s mostly annoyed about her other boyfriend and brushes her off. She tells him goodbye and goes to meet Paul, only to find him crushed beneath the Ferris wheel. The park is shut down again, looking unlikely to reopen, and the workers have split. Dierdre’s dad bemoans his lot in life, but Robin arrives and offers his services. DUN DUN DUN.

Favorite Line

Wisps of purple smoke floated into the living room, carrying a sweet-sour odor. Spicy with a hint of decay.

Fear Street Trends

The fashions of the 1930s segment comes straight out of a magazine, with Meghan’s knee socks and Robin’s brown trousers. When doing work, Meghan wears men’s clothes and feels a little nervous about it, but so are all the other girls working. Nothing much from the modern sections, though we spent so little time there.

Rating

This first in the Fear Park series is pretty meh. There’s no real plot here, and no real climax. It’s all prologue, and if it’d been self-contained to just the 1935 segments, I think an actual story could’ve been built there. I think the idea is good, though as a late addition to the Fear mythology, it seems strange that something like that hatchet murders aren’t mentioned more often, especially since we’ve spent a lot of time in the Fear Woods at this point. I think I’ll like the concept a lot more once we spend time in the actual amusement park. Two hatchet mutilations out of five.

Fear Street Superchiller – Goodnight Kiss

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I said I’d be back June 4 but that was a lie. Summer is the craziest time of year for me, so I took my day off to relax with the Fear Street summer books I accidentally missed last year. Let’s get to some motherfucking vampires.

The Cover

I managed to find three images for this! The first is the original cover (borrowed from this Fear Street blog), which I go back and forth on. The bat looks goofy, and the sexy lady on the beach is both interesting and not. It’s just not very dynamic or interesting. Her skin is the same color as the sky, and the blood dots look glued on. The concept of vampires on the beach could be a fun one, and they gave a fairly generic cover.

The second is the edition I’m reading, the collector’s edition (borrowed from its Amazon page). It actually got donated to my library and I snagged it right up. The cover is actually holographic and really ridiculous looking, but I like how shiny it is. It’s more sinister than the original, but those goofy fangs have got to go.

The third I found completely by accident over on Paperback Swap and my goodness. My. Goodness. It looks like the Hungarian version of the book or something. A carousel is mentioned in the book and there’s a kind of creepy horse on it, but it does nothing and they do nothing with it. Still, I love this. It’s just so weird and goofy.

Tagline

Their first kiss could be her last…

I like it. It’s not particularly exciting, but it plays into the title, adds a sense of danger, without revealing more than it has to. A solid addition.

Summary

We meet Jessica as she walks around the shops in Sandy Hollow. She goes into one shop that has a sign “Bikinis Half Off”, which lets you know this is a PG-13 Superchiller. Jessica sets herself up as a townie, who’s recognized by people in the show, which adds a layer of confusion once we learn more about her. She chats with Lucy for a minute, who keeps telling her how beautiful she is. Jessica mentions she’s going on a blind date. The summer’s started, full of new people and exciting things, and she’s ready to go out.

She goes to meet her date, and we’re introduced to Gabri Martins, who’s tall, thin, and pale. He’s got very intense black eyes that effect every woman that talks to him. He shows up very late to the movie, and she’s a little annoyed but pleased at how handsome he is. They sit through a comedy for like half of it, and then he leans over and asks if she likes it, to which she responds no. They ditch. It’s kind of a power move from Gabri. They walk along the beach instead, and Jessica tells him she wants to run. She takes off, Gabri following behind her, and they tumble together in the dunes, rolling around, breathless, looking into each other’s eyes, and Gabri leans close to her, mouth opening to reveal long fangs that plunge into her neck.

Jessica immediately starts laughing and tells him she’s an “Eternal One” too. Their response to their respective blind dates being ruined is amazing. Jessica mutters that she bought a new dress and everything, and Gabri complains that she wasted his whole night. He groans about “the nectar” and needing it and how hungry he is. Gabri and Jessica have a good back and forth and I’m a little disappointed the book doesn’t end with them killing all the humans and getting together.

They both turn into bats, and Gabri attacks some girls on the beach. Apparently bats are common here, all coming off an island off the beach, implied to be where several Eternal Ones live. Jessica (still a bat) pushes Gabri off the girls, and they transform back on the beach, where Gabri yells, “What is your problem?” They argue some more, and then Gabri proposes a bet. He decides they need to figure out who’s more appealing and more attractive to humans, and they each find a boy or girl to seduce. The point isn’t to drain their blood, but to take “three small, measured sips” to turn the human into an Eternal One as well. Jessica agrees, but only if they pick out who the other has to seduce.

Smash cut to April, visiting for the summer with her family. She has to babysit her twin little sisters during the day, but at night she’s free to run around on her own. April’s coming from Shadyside, as is her boyfriend Matt, who her parents clearly dislike. She characterizes herself as a pushover, with her family trying not to argue, with her sisters pushing her around, and with her boyfriend, who’s pretty neglectful. She meets up with him and Todd on the beach. Matt does a classic Shadyside prank by grabbing her from behind, while Todd is quiet and doesn’t say much.

Matt is fairly immature, and they come across an arcade that he clearly wants to play at. April tells him she’d rather walk around the beach, and he gets a little pouty over it. He’s also very into horror movies. They wander around, see the carnival setting up, the Living Dead marathon at the movie theater, and a bonfire a bunch of townies they recognize have put on. They run into Ben, Matt’s actual love interest, who immediately invites him to the arcade and Matt nearly goes with him until he remembers April. Todd is clearly uncomfortable in the group, but they make space for him.

Jessica and Gabri have been watching the bonfire, and Jessica points to April. Gabri’s not happy that she has a boyfriend already, and complains that she’s making it harder. Then he points Todd out to her, which is maybe the dumbest mistake Gabri ever made. The nerdy awkward guy being propositioned by a beautiful eternal vampire? Jessica might as well waltz away with the prize right now.

And just like that, Todd is walking alone on the beach by himself. He recognizes how awkward he is and worries he’s a weird loner, and then a beautiful girl approaches him. She tells him she’s lost, batting her big eyelashes, and he just points and tells her where the summer houses are. She presses a little more, asking if he can show her, and he finally takes the hint. Todd gets lost in his own thoughts as they walk, wondering if he could even bring up the nerve to ask her out, and then she grabs him and kisses him. Question answered. She goes for the neck, and he sinks into darkness.

Meanwhile, April is hanging out by the arcade, waiting for Matt to show up. Getting bored and frustrated, she wanders off, hoping to find him, and runs into Gabri instead. He offers to walk with her until they find Matt, and for a while they walk and talk, April wondering if she’s attracted to him or just mad at her boyfriend. Gabri is getting hungrier and hungrier and decides to just nab the nectar while he can. He reaches for her as a bat flies in her hair, and she flips out, screaming and running. She runs directly off the beach into Matt’s arms. He asks her what’s wrong, and she tries to explain, but Gabri is already gone. He’s yelling at Jessica for stopping him, and she reminds him their bet isn’t that he can drain a girl. He has to make her desire him. He tells her he’s ready to play dirty.

The next day Matt calls Todd, wondering why he didn’t see him at night, and Todd’s dead tired and fast asleep. He tells him about the girl he met, and Matt’s proud of his boy for getting out there, and at night they go on a double date. Jessica’s strategy is clearly just to make out with Todd as much as possible, again a poor choice by Gabri. If some beautiful girl had come up to me in my awkward phase in high school (see: all of high school), I wouldn’t care if she was a vampire. Honestly it would have been a bonus. They go get pizza, because it’s a vampire book. Jessica refuses to eat, and then they run into Gabri, who flips out when April grabs the garlic. She shares the story of how they met and realizes Matt is jealous, which probably makes her feel pretty good. Jessica decides she wants to leave, and she and Todd go for a walk on the beach.

Jessica almost gets a second bite out of Todd, when Gabri as a bat scares a girl nearby. Again this shows Gabri as a poor tactician, as Jessica immediately starts playing up her fear and gets Todd to take care of her. Really, Gabri, this is your fault for making a bad bet. You’re just denying yourself now.

April is ready to meet Matt for another date, but he’s too busy playing video games with Ben and they’re going to see a triple feature of Friday the 13th. April calls the movie sexist and storms off, which is amazing. Immediately she runs into Gabri. He asks if she’s with Matt, and when she gets annoyed, he invites her to the carnival. April is clearly looking to make Matt jealous and goes along with it. They walk around, pointing at the various rides and the carousel, until April drags him through the house of mirrors. What you gonna do, Gabri. He solves this problem by falling very far behind. April gets lost, which I don’t think mirror mazes at pop up carnivals are actually meant to be like dangerous or easily lost in, if nothing else because they have to keep a good flow going, but April manages to hurt herself getting around. April does catch a glimpse of him and wonders why she can’t see his reflection. He uses the maze to get behind her and creep forward. He reaches for her, ready to drink, and hits glass instead. They meet again, and she does the disassociating thing the vampires force them to do, wondering aloud about his reflection, though he comments that it’s too dark. He starts to lean towards her, when they’re interrupted by a child crying. Gabri quickly absconds.

Gabri’s a little distracted as they keep walking, since he knows Jessica is way ahead of him and will soon win. April tries to talk and flirt with him, but he’s nonresponsive until they get to the Ferris wheel. As soon as they’re high enough, he takes a bite.

There’s a few scenes of Matt being told by others that April was out with a boy, and Todd sleeping through the day, and an interesting scene with Jessica where she notes that after becoming a vampire she doesn’t have any memories, something Gabri also mentions in another scene. The vampire lore is actually really interested and shared in small bits and I want to know more. Jessica goes to meet Todd, kissing him, when she sees a bat flying towards them and assumes it’s Gabri about to fuck up her whole night. She gets overexcited and drains Todd too much, and he falls over dead.

Matt takes his morning jog and finds Todd’s body in the ocean. Jessica goes to see Gabri in his home on the island, which is said to be claimed by him by spreading burial dirt, and he rests his coffin in a house. He tries to get her to concede, and she tells him the bet isn’t over yet, because she’s going to try it on Matt next.

Matt struggles a bit after finding Todd’s body. He dreams about him, and a cloud of bats descending on his best friend, which makes him think vampires are the reason he’s dead. I mean, he’s not wrong, but it’s a weird conclusion to make from a dream. He immediately runs to April and tells her this, and April gets angry, telling him that stuff isn’t real and treating their friend’s death like a horror movie is sick. He leaves, dejected. He held onto Todd’s lighter and is playing with it when he runs into Ben, who he also tells his theory and who immediately makes fun of him. Storming off, he runs into Jessica, who starts working her mojo. She pretends to be distraught, though she also pretty much immediately kisses him. Todd’s been dead like four days.

There’s a scene where Gabri wakes and composes himself, his face revealed to be ancient upon waking and he uses vampire powers to make it young. Also super interesting. Jessica comes, mocks him, and Gabri runs off to finish off April. In a weird scene, he hangs out with her family and even gets along with the twins. April shows him the cross necklace her dad bought her as an early birthday present asks that he clasp it on for her. He pretends to and lets it drop.

Matt is dead tired from being with Jessica and collapses in his bed, when he gets a strange visit from his bloated corpse of a friend Todd. Todd warns him about the vampires, and when Matt wakes again, he isn’t sure if it was a dream or not except for a foul stench left behind. He tries to warn April, but she isn’t responding to him. To convince her, he takes his dad’s camera and follows her to the carnival, where she is with Gabri. He realizes he’s supposed to meet Jessica but decides against it on account that she’s a vampire. Of course, after stalking his ex-girlfriend all night, it’s too late to get the film developed, and when he goes the next day the machine is down and he has to wait until seven to pick it up. Luckily when he does, the film shows exactly what he expected: April alone in all the shots, talking to an invisible partner. He runs to find April and runs into Jessica instead. She pulls him in, and for a minute it looks like she’ll win, until he sees April in a rowboat with Gabri heading towards the island.

He follows in another rowboat, getting to the island and searching for her in Gabri’s house. He finds her in a chair, slumped over, seemingly out of it, and Gabri appears behind him. He lunges, and Matt takes his only weapon–an oar from the boat–and manages to accidentally stab him with it. It’s like in Buffy when sometimes a vampire trips and falls on a fence post and dies. Of course, it being an R.L. Stine book, the end is much more gruesome.

And as Matt stared in horror, Gabri’s body collapsed to the floor, folding like an accordion. His eyes stared lifelessly up at Matt, and Gabri’s face began to crumble, the skin drying and peeling, flaking to powder until the entire skull was revealed.

And then the skull too disintegrated.

He manages to wake April, and then Jessica arrives. She lunges at him, bites down, and he’s prepared to die until April lifts herself off the chair and fights Jessica back. Jessica manages to pin April, and then Matt pulls out Todd’s lighter, using it to catch Jessica’s hair. Her death is equally as gross.

Matt and April stared in horrified disbelief as the flames raged over Jessica’s head, as she slowly melted, her skin sagging, dripping, wet chunks dropping off under the heat of the flames.

Jessica’s outraged expression disappeared as her face caved in. Her skull was aflame, melting as her face had, and the fire spread to her shoulders, cracking loudly.

The fire spreads, of course. They manage to escape off the island, leaving the horror behind them. Story’s not over yet though! A few days later, Matt meets April, and they discuss what happens. He finds her silver cross on the ground and starts to return it to her, but she tells him no, revealing herself to now be an Eternal One. Her fangs extend, and she bites into Matt. Smash cut to credits.

Favorite Line

“But I need the nectar!” he cried, turning to her. “Without the nectar, I’ll perish.”

“Where’d you get that line? Out of an old horror movie?” Jessica joked, shaking her head.

Fear Street Trends

Usually summer Fear Street books are full of bikinis and swimsuits, but luckily these kids remember their fashions. Lots of cut offs and shorts on the boys. It’s general beach wear, so breezy shirts and neon colors. In the first scene, Jessica picks up a glow in the dark swimsuit and immediately rejects it.

Rating

I’m going to be frank here: I love vampires. I love vampires so much I think half the stories on my writing blog are about vampires. And this was a pretty solid vampire book. Honestly Stine stepped up his game here. There’s several descriptions and paragraphs that were genuinely well written, and the opening scene set up to reveal is fairly well done. I loved Jessica the snarky vampire and there’s some lore written into it too. Sometimes these books are a slog to get through, but this one I liked. I’m giving it five melted vampires out of five.

Fear Street #20 – The New Boy

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The Cover

the new boy

The cover (pulled from its GoodReads page) is okay. It’s not sinister enough for me. There have been other covers that have done more with the interplay of sex and death, and this one just feels a little flat.

Tagline

He was a hunk of trouble…

God, I love this. This is what every Fear Street tagline should be. It’s punny, it’s indicative of the book without being spoilery, it’s so good.

Summary

Janie is hanging out in the hallway when she first gets a glimpse of the new boy. She sees him from a distance, and he’s brooding and dreamy. Her thoughts are interrupted by her two BFFs Faith and Eve. Faith is a rich girl, while Eve’s family struggles to make ends meet, much like her boyfriend Ian who’s working about five jobs to pay for his college. They all worked to plan the school dance and now have to count the money from it. Of course, her friends are more interested in gossiping than doing their job. Eve does a mean prank on Janie, making Janie think they lost the money, and Faith brushes her off for it. They all three see the new boy walking towards them, his arm bleeding, and when they rush forward he tells them he was helping someone with their bike and accidentally sliced his arm on the fence. He introduces himself as Ross Gabriel, and Faith and Eve help him go to the nurse’s office, leaving Janie behind, who pouts that she saw him first.

The girls return to help Janie, who lets them know she’s interested in Ross. The others tease her and discuss their own boyfriends. The boys themselves, Paul and Ian, show up and start goofing around with the girls, joking they’d steal the money and tossing stacks of bills at each other. Their interrupted by Mr. Hernandez, their principal, who at first threatens to suspend them, then lightens up and let’s them know he’s joking. They finish counting it to a little over twelve hundred dollars, and Janie goes to tell Mr. Hernandez the final count while the other two leave. She forgets the amount, returns to the drawer where the money is, and finds that it’s missing for real!

Janie goes over to Faith’s a few days later, still stressed out over the missing money, but relieve the girls aren’t suspects. She sees Paul at her house, and they all have kind of a tense conversation. After he leaves, Faith asks Janie if she’s going to ask Ross out, or if Faith herself will do it, dismissing Paul when Janie brings him up. They make a bet: ten dollars to the first girl who asks out Ross. They even call Eve, and she agrees to play the game.

Ross is Janie’s chemistry partner at school, and he plays it cool and funny when he’s with her. He lets her know his old school was way a head and he’s done this experiment before, and then he drops in some wrong ingredients, creating a stink bomb. He plays dumb in front of the teacher, saying he made a mistake, and the teacher takes the test tube out of the room. The other kids are grateful for his disrupting class and removing the teacher in one move. Ross says, “I like to mess people up.” It’s so strange, and even Janie’s like, what, but the bell rings. As they leave, she starts to ask him out, but he sees someone in the hallway and quickly bolts. It’s okay though, because Eve runs up to Janie and proclaims herself the winner of the bet.

On Friday night, Janie and Faith are talking about how jealous they are over the phone. Faith says she could call Ian right now and let him know Eve is on a date, but Janie tells her not to. Faith worries a little her parents might be divorcing, since they’re no longer in the same room at the same time anymore, and she’s extra annoyed that Paul asked her for three hundred dollars to fix his car, and she’s pretty sure he only goes out with her because she’s rich. Janie invites her over to watch a movie, but Faith tells her she just wants to stay in.

We cut to Eve in the car with Ross, and they’re making out. This is paints Eve in a pretty poor light, especially because later we learn Ross agreed to go out with her because she promised him half of the bet money, which makes it sound like she pretty much only did this to win ten dollars. We don’t really see her and Ian together at all, and so it’s unclear if she’s interested in fooling around, or if she’s lonely because Ian works so much. It doesn’t matter much, because she and Ross walk into the Fear Street woods, and she does not walk out again. Janie gets a call Saturday morning from Ian, who tells her Eve never got home last night.

Janie calls Eve’s mom, who lets her know Ross is missing too. Ian comes over to Janie’s, and he asks if they can drive around, since he’s too nervous to sit still. Ian kind of accuses Janie of knowing Eve went on a date last night, and Eve deflects. Ian slams on his breaks as they near Fear Street, claiming he saw a dog, and they both see something in the woods. Getting out, they find Eve’s body. The police arrive, and Ian’s clearly a wreck. Janie tells him they can go now, that the police are handling it, and he tells her he’s certain someone killed her over the money. At first she thinks he’s talking about the bet, but then he clarifies: Eve stole the dance money. He then demands to know who Eve went on a date with, and she tells him the truth, that it was all a stupid bet. He flips out and tells her to get out of the car, and she’s afraid he’s going to do something stupid, so she steals his keys and tosses them into the grass. The paramedics take Eve’s body away, and Janie worries that Ross is lying dead in these woods too.

Janie and Ian are called into the police station to answer more questions, and they see Ross being brought in by two officers. Janie’s excited to see him alive at first, and he told her Saturday morning he went with his parents back to his old town bright and early, meaning he didn’t even know what happened until they got back and the police were waiting for him. He lets her know he dropped Eve off at home and watched her go up to her door. She was safe, as far as he knew. He asks if she believes him, and she hesitates. Ian makes it clear he doesn’t.

Janie meets up with Faith, and they’re both miserable. They agree not to tell anyone that Eve stole the money, a bad idea, and they’re interrupted by Ross. He sits beside Janie, and Faith gets openly hostile, something he picks up on. He wants to know if she’s thinking he’ll kill her too, which sounds like a threat, and he starts screaming at her, again, not a good look. Faith runs away as she sees Paul and Ian, but Janie hangs behind. She tells Ross she does believe him, and this is where he admits he only went out with Eve because of the bet money. He mentions something that went down in his old town, and Janie asks about it, but he brushes her off.

Her friends are still suspicious of Ross, but Janie isn’t so sure on them. Paul mentions he found the money to pay for his car, and she starts to wonder if Faith gave it to him, or if he got it on his own. Ross comes over to her house to work on French homework, driving her to a restaurant, where his car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, which gives Janie a lot of anxiety. He lives on Fear Street too, and he runs inside his house to grab his wallet. This is all set up for after he drops her off back home, and she has to return his text book. She arrives at his house, and an old woman answers the door, telling her no one named Ross lives there. She’s worried she’s falling for a murderer, and her friends are disdainful of the relationship. Faith mentions she overheard some rumors about Ross from his old school but refuses to elaborate. The rumors at their school circulate that Ross was arrested for the murder, but they see him in the cafeteria, where he kind of flips out that everyone is accusing him. Janie asks him about the old woman, he tells her his grandmother is senile. She forgets things, including her grandchildren, and sometimes her own son. He also says Ian told the police about the stolen money, surprising Janie, but the money wasn’t found at Eve’s. He then starts to hand her a scarf, which Janie thinks is Eve’s, and she flips out and runs away.

Janie runs to the parking lot only to see Faith and Paul having a huge fight. She decides not to tell them that Ross has Eve’s scarf, since they’re in the middle of something. After school, she goes to the mall to see Ian, and he talks about his many, many jobs. When she gets home, Faith is calling her, and she tells her she has something really important to tell her about Ross. Suddenly she gets another call, and she goes quiet for about a minute, then returns, asking Janie to come to her house. Janie asks why she can’t just tell her over the phone, but Faith insists. When Janie gets to Faith’s house, the door is ajar, and she smells something burning. She runs into the den to find Faith on the ground, struck by a poker. She calls 911 and thinks she hears someone in the house. The operator tells her to leave calmly, but Janie’s so disoriented that she locks herself in the den. Then someone comes up behind her, and it’s Ian! He tells her that Faith was going to tell him something about Ross, and when he sees the body, he starts to freak out and blame him again.

A funeral is held. Ross is missing. Everyone is sad. Janie runs into the girl who scared Ross off before, and she spills everything. That at his old school, his name was Robert Kingston. He went out with a girl for a few months, and after they broke up, her body was found in the woods. He was questioned but not arrested. Robby hung around with some bad boys too, and his alibi was that he was in a stolen car. Now knowing this, she runs into Ross that night and is terrified to be near him. He’s getting unhinged, it seems, and demands she get in his car and talk to him. He then tries to give her scarf back to her, and Janie realizes it is hers, not Eve’s, and she flipped out over a misunderstanding. She refuses to go with him, but she says she’ll meet him at the pizza place at eight tonight, promising. That seems to satisfy him, and he drives off. Janie gets home and tries to call the police so they’ll know where Ross is, but a storm has knocked out the phone lines. Her parents are out late, and she’s getting anxious alone in her house, and around eight-thirty, Ross comes a-knocking.

Ross is clearly angry, but he tells her the truth. He didn’t kill that girl. He found her body, and the police took him in for that, but the rumor mill wouldn’t stop. He wasn’t even in town when Faith was killed, but the police are still picking him up to ask questions. He gets aggressive with her, and then a pair of headlights come up the driveway, chasing him off.

The kids at school get more aggressive, and Paul and his friend start to beat up Ross when they see him talking to Janie. Janie herself is skipping class and hiding out to avoid him. Ian finds her and tells her he has proof that Ross killed Faith. As usual, he says he can’t tell her here, and he drives her out to the woods. They park across the street from Ross’ house and go into the trees. He has with him a baseball bat, and once they’re far enough, he starts to threaten Janie. He tells her he knows Faith told her everything, that she’s a loose end, and Janie has no idea what he’s talking about. It turns out Eve stole the money for him, but when he heard about her date with Ross, he got jealous and angry. He killed her there with the bat in a fit of rage, and then drove her body to the woods, where he led Janie the next morning. Janie screams that Ross is right behind him now, and he tells her he’s not stupid, only for Ross to grab him and be rewarded with a hit of the bat. Janie flips out and attacks Ian, pinning him to the ground and pressing the bat to his throat to choke him. Ross gets up, holding Ian down, and tells Janie to run to his house and call the police. She agrees with a smile, happy that she’s no longer in love with a murderer.

Favorite Line

“I usually don’t put a move on a girl the first date.” He shrugged. His eyes locked on hers. “I usually wait until the second date!”

Fear Street Trends

We get to see Corky and Kimmy out of a Cheerleaders book, which is a delight! Deena Martinson breaks up with Gary Brandt, and Ricky is still the class clown. There aren’t a ton of fashions, but my favorite is Eve’s sexy red denim jeans she saves for hot dates, worn with a blue blazer borrowed from Janie. Blazers are such good date wear.

Rating

More than usual, this Fear Street book felt especially cookie cutter. Cute boy, dangerous love interest, murder, murder, plot twist, two characters who should no longer trust or like each other get together at the end. I’ll give it two stolen money bags out of five.

Fear Street #14 – The Knife

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This one I’ve been putting off for a while for a few reasons, but my low bank account and a pile of Fear Street books donated to me by a friend meant this time around I went old school and read a real physical book (and ran out of sticky tabs doing it). Get ready for some hospital horror…

The Cover

the knife

The cover (taken from a Buzzfeed article, bleh) is alright. There are things I like about it. I like the element of “something hidden going on at the hospital”, or the sweet innocent girl chatting with what should be a normal man, but the colors are just too bright and pastel. I think there’s a more dynamic way of having this image without it just being a man with a knife behind his back. Definitely could be better.

Tagline

In this hospital people are dying–to get out!

It’s an obvious choice and I don’t hate it. I think a “what goes on under the knife” might be better, though there’s no actual surgery element to the book. It’s just kind of meh.

Summary

There’s an unnecessary prologue where Laurie is running through an unconstructed area of the hospital with a man chasing her. She’s grabbed, and her thought is “where is the knife”, which is a bonkers thought, especially when we get context later, but it’s a title drop.

We cut to one week earlier where Laurie and her friend Skye are playing candy striper in the kids wing on the ninth floor of Shadyside Hospital. They note the new wing under construction thanks to a big donation by Franklin Fear, descendant of the Fear family,and the wing will be named Fear Wing, which seems like a bad idea for a hospital, but whatever. Skye tells her she’s bringing more toys for a sick kid in one of the rooms, and there’s a running joke that he’s constantly getting new presents. As Laurie goes to run her errands, she hears crying in room 903 and finds a sick little boy named Toby. His room is bare, no balloons or toys or anything, and he doesn’t talk at all. She comforts him a little after reading that he has pneumonia, when one of the nurses walks in and tells her to get out. The nurses are all portrayed as mean and snappy, but there’s also a lot of mention going into how overworked they are. It’s a little weird, and I think Stine just didn’t want us to think he hated nurses or something when he made them all so mean.

Anyway, Nurse Wilton says the boy doesn’t talk at all, but Laurie is pretty certain he’s pleading with her, and not just because he’s sick. When she sees Skye again, she asks her if she could steal some balloons out of the other kid’s room so she can bring them to Toby, and Skye says the kid probably won’t even miss them. They also talk about a raffle for a red Mercedes-Benz that Franklin Fear is putting on to help pay for the wing, which is used as a plot point later on. We get some more girl talk. Skye makes plans with multiple boys and then decides who to drop last minute, while Laurie has been dating the same boy, Andy Price, son of the hospital director, who she’s trying to figure out how to dump. There’s a weird jab about Dr. Price being his step-father, which I think is meant to exonerate Andy later in the book, but we never really see the two of them interact, so whatever.

They’re interrupted by a handsome man entering the cafeteria. Rick is constantly described wearing loud t-shirts, and today his shirt says WRONG WAY GO BACK. He’s also a student volunteer, but he’s also in his second year at college, which will make his later flirtation with Laurie kind of creepy. He says he’s going to medical school, but a code blue gets called and he’s confused by it, and the girls explain it to the readers him. Laurie thinks the code is for room 903, and she runs off, hoping that Toby is okay.

She runs to the room, and Toby is flailing under the care of Nurse Wilton, but it’s only because she’s trying to get blood from him for a test. The code was for room 503. Laurie offers to help, saying she can calm Toby down, but the nurse tells her to get out. Laurie walks back to the nurses station and overhears the nurse there talking to Toby’s mom, Mrs. Deane, who wants her son out of the hospital. Nurse Girard lets her know Toby will likely be going home the next day, but they have to be sure he’s out of danger. Laurie sees Nurse Wilton leave the room, and she sneaks back in. She tells Toby what the nurse said, and she holds his hand until he’s asleep. As she leaves the room, she sees someone enter the restricted construction zone and realizes it’s Rick.

Laurie goes home, to her aunt’s house. Her parents are dead, and she lives with Aunt Hillary, who’s a big name accountant and often works late. While she’s feeding herself, alone in the house, she gets a phone call, and like many phone calls in these books and other horror media, it’s just breathing on the other end. She starts to hang up until she notices the wail of an emergency vehicle in the background. The phone rings again, and this time it’s Rick Spencer, who asks why she left the cafeteria so quickly. She tells him a little bit about Toby, and then asks him why he was wandering around on the ninth floor. He tells her he wasn’t. He then asks her out on a date, but she tells him she’s already taken.  In the background, she hears the siren again. When she asks how he got her number, he says Skye gave it to her, and she quickly gets him off the line. Out of curiosity, she calls Skye next, asking her directly if she gave out her number to Rick. She says no, and in true friend fashion asks if she should. All this proves is that Rick is a big fat liar.

The next day, Laurie talks to Andy a little bit, and despite her saying she’s looking for a way to break up with him, they seem to get along fine. She sneaks off to work early and buys a teddy bear for Toby, but when she gets up to his room, it’s empty. At first she flips out and assumes he’s dead (I don’t know why), but the second she walks to the nurses’ station, she sees him with Mrs. Deane. She notices Rick is the one talking to Mrs. Deane, and Toby runs over to her while his mom is distracted. She gives him the bear, he thanks her, and says his first words when she tells him to head back to his mom, those words being, “She’s not my mommy.” Laurie is stricken by this, especially when Toby says she’ll be mad if he tells her who she really is, but Mrs. Deane calls Toby back over before Laurie can ask more questions. They walk out, and Laurie asks Rick why he’s on the children’s floor and what he was saying to Mrs. Deane. He makes up a bunch of excuses and asks her out again, and she starts to tell him no when the phone rings. As she reaches for it, she sees a box of surgical knives open on the desk, and it freaks her out a little. Rick answers the phone, writes a note, and then picks up the knives, pocketing them. Laurie is shaken.

Laurie wants to know why Rick is lying to her, but she more importantly wants to figure out who the woman who took Toby away is. She sneaks into the patient record room and finds Toby’s file, copying down his address which is, you guessed it, on Fear Street. She tries to think of an excuse for going over there and remembers that she’s selling raffle tickets for that car in the lobby. It’s the perfect reason to knock on the front door. She starts to leave but sees Nurse Wilton right outside the door. Unsure how to escape without being seen, she thinks to wait her out, and when that proves it isn’t going to happen, she just makes a run for it. Nurse Wilton sees her, and she escapes to the elevator on the far side, letting the doors close in Nurse Wilton’s face. She’s shocked to see a person lying on a gurney beside her, monitoring equipment jutting out of the sickly woman, and the orderly demands she get out. She ducks out on the next floor, which says restricted personnel only.

She looks back at the elevator, but it’s moving up again, and she’s worried Nurse Wilton might’ve seen what floor she got off on. She runs through the unfamiliar halls and ducks into the first room she finds. It’s freezing cold, filled with metal tables, and when she puts her hand down on one she realizes she’s touching a corpse. It’s the anatomy lab, where medical students dissect corpses, and they are everywhere. Outside she hears a jangle of keys and realizes she’s been locked in. She starts to slam on the locked door and accidentally knocks over a skeleton, gains her balance by grabbing onto the first thing she finds, a hand that ends at the wrist, whirls around to see a severed head with its skin peeled back, and as she slams her fists again on the door, she thinks she sees something moving behind her. When nothing does, she makes herself breathe, realizing hysteria is getting to her. Calmly she re-examines the door and finds the deadbolt, manages to unlock it, and runs back into the hallway. She runs back to the elevator and stops again, this time seeing Nurse Wilton talking with Dr. Price. At first she thinks Nurse Wilton is complaining about her, but she realizes even she couldn’t be crazy enough to take a minor problem to the head of the hospital. Too traumatized to think about it, she finds another set of elevators and gets the fuck out.

When she meets up with her friends later, Laurie tells them what happened, and they joke about it with her. She asks if they’ll come with her to Fear Street, since she’s too scared to go alone. Skye makes them agree to go with her, though Andy is unexcited, and while they joke about it, when they actually get there, they’re all quiet. Since the houses don’t boast numbers, they split up the raffle tickets, and Skye and Laurie go up to the house they think is the Deanes. Mrs. Deane answers the door and seems annoyed by them, but to get them out of her hair she goes to grab her purse and make them leave. Laurie hears someone crying from inside, and when Mrs. Deane doesn’t return, she barges in. She sees Toby on the stairs and starts to talk to him, but he doesn’t seem to recognize her, and then Mrs. Deane shows up, yelling at him to go back to his room. She throws the dollar at Laurie who runs off, and the others demand to know what happened.

Laurie tries to figure out what to do about this development, and while she should call child services and be done with it, she gets called into the head nurse’s office instead and is told she’s being transferred out of the Children’s Floor. She sort of tries to explain the situation, but she’s told she’s been getting a lot of complaints, and if it’s true that she broke in to look at patient records, she could be fired. Laurie’s sent to the X-Ray Department to file for the rest of her life. She decides to go talk to Nurse Wilton to explain the situation, but when she finds her, the nurse is walking into the construction zone, and Rick follows her. At first, Laurie waits for them to come out, but after a long time passes, she follows them in. The construction area is barely done, and there’s all kind of strange shadowy shapes lying around. She almost walks through a hole in the floor and stops herself. When she turns around, she realizes one of the shapes is Nurse Wilton, a surgical knife sticking out of her neck.

Laurie flips out and runs back to the nurses station, grabbing Nurse Girard and Skye. Neither of them really believe her or do anything about it for a full minute, but they agree to go with her to collect the body and call security to the ninth floor. Laurie points security to where she found the body, but then she realizes there isn’t one anymore. Skye is enraged because she thinks it’s a big joke Laurie is playing, and then a doctor arrives, asking if another doctor put the girls up to this. He tells them he’s been playing a game of gotcha with one of the other physicians, and Skye says yes, of course, this is all a big joke. Laurie is convinced Rick killed the nurse, and she’s also convinced it’s connected to Toby somehow, though I don’t really know how she made that leap in logic. She goes to the patient records office again, but this time she can’t find Toby Deane’s file. Someone has taken it.

Nurse Wilton doesn’t show up to work again, but no one believes Laurie when she tells them the truth. Laurie’s convinced something is happening on Fear Street, and she drives to Toby’s house again. She watches for a while. She sees Toby in the kitchen with another woman who sees to be trying to comfort him, and he has a suitcase with him. Mrs. Deane and a few men arrive, picking up Toby and his suitcase and putting him in a car despite his every protest. She hears another child crying inside. Laurie tries to figure out what to do next and decides to talk to Dr. Price, since it’s his hospital. At no point does ‘call the police’ enter into her thoughts. She sprints back to her car and sees a Honda drive past slowly. As soon as it sees her, it backs up quickly, and a man gets out, Rick. He starts to call her name, and she drives away.

Laurie gets home to find it empty. Andy calls her, asking if she wants to watch a movie with him, and she asks if she can talk to his dad tomorrow. He starts to initiate something, asking if her aunt is home, and if not, can he come over, and she quickly hangs up on him. Alone, freaked out, and feeling like she was followed, she calls Skye and asks if she can sleep over, but changes her mind when she hears the door open, assuming her aunt is home. She calls Aunt Hillary’s name, and with no response, she realizes the person isn’t her aunt. In a desperate attempt to pick up the phone again, she knocks everything over, but is saved when the front door open and Aunt Hillary walks in for reals this time. Laurie runs to her, tells her there was someone in the house. Aunt Hillary says she saw a car leave just now, a Volvo, which is what Andy drives, but when Laurie tells her someone broke in, she starts to call the police. Laurie stops her for some reason and starts to tell her everything, but like everyone else, Aunt Hillary refuses to even entertain the notion that she actually saw any of this.

Laurie tries to go to sleep and is woken by a phone call from Rick. He tries to explain things to her, and she tells him she saw him steal the knives. He says he did take them, that he was bringing them to a doctor on the surgery floor, and then makes a joke asking if she thinks he stabbed anyone with them. She demands to know why he followed Nurse Wilton and why he was on Fear Street tonight, and he tells her to stay away from Fear Street.

The next morning, Laurie goes over to Andy’s house bright and early and pretends she’s interviewing his dad for a project. She goes into Dr. Price’s office and quickly tells him what she saw. He’s the first person to react like a person. When she tells him she suspects Nurse Wilton has been killed, he calls the office and asks about her schedule, and is told she’s gone on vacation for three weeks, explaining her absence. She then tells him about Toby and how his records disappeared. He then tells her she must be overworked or misunderstanding things. He offers to talk to the head nurse and put her back on the Children’s Floor, as well as have someone follow up with Toby, but it’s clearly a pacifying technique. As she walks out, she and Andy get into a fight, and she tells him to leave her alone forever. This goes nowhere.

Laurie goes to the mall to meet Skye and doesn’t have too much fun shopping. She’s surprised, though, because she sees Mrs. Deane there with Toby, who cries and struggles as she pulls him into her car. She does not mention this to anyone. When she gets home, she calls the Deanes, unsure of what to do, and tries to talk to Mrs. Deane about the raffle. Over the phone she hears Toby calling her name, and then hears Mrs. Deane strike him. She hangs up and runs straight over there.

She breaks into the house and is hit over the head for it, waking up tied to a chair. Mrs. Deane is there, talking on the phone to someone, saying they need to deal with her and her aunt before it gets out of hand. Toby finds her, and she asks him to get her some scissors so she can cut the rope. She asks him about the boy who got into the car, and he tells her it’s his twin brother Terry. As she cuts herself free, she hugs Toby and tells him to be quiet, and she can get him out of here. She picks him up and runs back to her car, driving off as Mrs. Deane calls after them. She pulls over briefly to call her aunt and warn her and is told she’s at the hospital, waiting for Laurie to come pick her up.

As Laurie drives to the hospital, the radio sputters on to say a car was found in the Fear Street woods, with Nurse Wilton inside of it. Laurie thinks to call Dr. Price, certain an autopsy will reveal the true cause of death, and they pull into the parking lot. She realizes Rick’s Honda is right behind them, and she picks up Toby, racing inside. Leaving Toby with a nurse, she gets on an elevator for the ninth floor. Rick is running in after her, and she isn’t sure if he saw her as the doors close.

She runs to the nurses station where she’s supposed to meet her aunt, but she isn’t to be found. Rick then enters the floor, momentarily distracted by Nurse Girard. Laurie looks for a place to hide and runs into the construction area. Rick follows. We get a chapter that is the prologue, once more with clarity, and when he grabs her he pulls her away from the hole she was about to step into. She screams for help, and then Rick is hit from behind. Dr. Price tells her it’s safe to come out. For a moment, she thinks she sees a knife sticking out of Rick’s back and screams that Dr. Price killed him, but on further inspection it’s another of Rick’s loud t-shirts. Rick starts to wake up, and he tells Laurie not to trust Dr. Price, that he was the one who killed Nurse Wilton, and that he’s been kidnapping children and selling them. Laurie’s frozen as she doesn’t know who to believe, and then Dr. Price lunges for her, removing a gun and pressing it to her temple, and he starts backing up towards the open hole in the ground. He takes one step too many, and they both fall through, but Laurie is caught by Rick. He drags her up, and they’re both safe.

As they wait for the police, Rick explains everything. His sister was kidnapped from a hospital, and he’d been searching for her, which led him to Dr. Price. He guesses that Dr. Price killed the nurse and hid her body under a sheet, pretending to be an orderly to get her out of the hospital. Aunt Hillary says she’d been at the hospital doing some auditing of the books and found a strange extra fund that no one seemed to know about, undoubtedly related to the selling of children. Laurie and Rick kiss for some reason, he makes a bad joke, and the day is saved.

Favorite Line

A descendant of the Fear family, Franklin shared a family trait with his ancestor Simon Fear–he liked to have things named for him.

Fear Street Trends

Skye and Laurie are both a fashionable bunch who take care in their clothing. When Laurie gets down to business, she puts on a pair of distressed jeans, and she likes cable knit sweaters for comfort. Skye says Rick looks like Tom Cruise, and his graphic tees are tight enough that they can see his muscles. Besides his knife and wrong way shirt, he’s said to wear a Batman shirt (that looks like a mouth?) and a Harley Davidson tee. He’s a pretty fashionable guy. Toby is described as wearing Oshkosh overalls at one point too, which I think was supposed to add to his innocent look. Skye has that “skinny girl looks good in everything” look going on, and is mentioned to make even their volunteer uniforms look good.

Rating

I’m wobbling on this one a little. I ended up liking it a lot. It’s less repetitive than the other Fear Street books, and there weren’t as many “gotcha” scares. Just about every scene moves the plot forward, and the hospital setting was probably helped by my just finishing a replay of Silent Hill 2, so I was in the mood to be creeped out. Despite it’s strange plot, I think it is one of the better and creepier Fear Street books, so I’ll give it a four dissected corpses out of five.

Fear Street Sagas #2 – House of Whispers

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The Cover

house-of-whispers

I kind of adore the cover (pulled from the Simon and Schuster website). I mean, the girl falling out the window is hella goofy, but the girl in the foreground is spooky, serious, and while it’s clearly meant to be Amy, there’s a danger to her. I also adore the title, though it has very little to do with the actual book. All in all, still a good cover.

Tagline

You will never be allowed to leave.

Again, standard, but still pretty good. Creates a sense of danger without doing very much at all.

Summary

Amy Pierce is the protagonist of this story, and we’re back in 1863. Amy’s traveling to New Orleans for the first time to live with her cousin Angelica, now Fear, for reasons. We’re told Simon is off to help in the war effort, that being the Civil War, and since all of our characters are from the South, there are many mentions of them being suspicious of the Union. People suspect Simon of selling supplies to whichever side that pays, and Amy finds it hard to believe he’d support the North. This is only mildly uncomfortable for the few times its mentioned.

Of course the Fear children are still alive. I will admit, though this probably makes the continuity all kinds of wacky, I was super disappointed in the original Fear Saga when we jump from Angelica and Simon getting together to Angelica being insane and her family falling apart. In this we get to see a lot more of Angelica, and we also get to see a lot more of the children, the girls especially, though I feel like their dynamic is slightly altered. I was re-reading my own recap of The Burning to remind myself what happened, and I did feel slightly denied of any actual interaction with Angelica. It makes this story kind of refreshing, especially since Simon is ushered out.

Anyway, Amy arrives to town, the villages warn her not to go up to the castle, Angelica greets her warmly but also in kind of a creepy way, and Amy makes nice nice with the servants. Amy’s family is stated to be poor, and she’s a little uncomfortable having Nellie make up her things and dress her. I guess she and Nellie are the same age, but Nellie’s given no actual description in this book, so I had a hard time with that. It’s only important because they bond and then Nellie dies (spoilers).

The girls are off to bed, but Julia comes by to warn Amy. As you remember, Julia is the un-favorite daughter, who makes pottery and isn’t very pretty, and she tells Amy that she should shut her door at night and lock it, because a thing made of black smoke and many faces walks the hallways at night consuming people. Before she drops that, she and Amy bond a little, and Amy gives her a silver bracelet, claiming it’s good luck. Still, Amy’s freaked out, and when she lays down she does hear crying outside her door, to which she opens it. There’s no one there, and she goes back to sleep.

The next day Amy finds Angelica in her library, and Angelica’s playing with tarot cards. She tells Amy to ask about her father, and she shows her how to use the deck. Amy feels a physical reaction to this, and she realizes she knows exactly how to read the cards despite never seeing them before. Angelica tells her that in the Pierce family, one or two women of each generation are born with an innate power. She tells her it’s a gift, and offers to teach her of the power, which is honestly really interesting, especially since we know Angelica was practicing magic before she ever met Simon. But Amy’s too scared, and she runs off, finding the children instead. They play a game of hide and seek, and Amy runs across the neighbors, who live behind a white garden fence. She sees a woman screaming in the yard, a snake coming at her. Amy cuts its fucking head off, spraying snake blood all over her, and helps the old woman up.

The woman is Claire Hathaway, and her son David comes out to help. Amy and David have a moment until Angelica comes running in. She pulls Amy away, and Amy sees David’s anger at that. Nellie comes in to help Amy change out of her clothes and starts to warn her about David Hathaway. I was waiting for the shoe to drop that David and Angelica had an affair, or that he and Nellie did, making Angelica jealous, but Angelica’s animosity towards him is never really explained, and what Nellie tries to warn her about is left a mystery. He does have a temper, but for a Fear Street love interest it’s like a normal human temper, especially since he’s hinted at suffering from PTSD. Anyway, Angelica warns Amy that David killed in war and will likely kill again.

Amy seems undeterred by any of this, and when Claire Hathaway invites her over to thank her for saving her life, she accepts. David is there as well, and at first he seems standoffish and and avoids her gaze, but she realizes he’s scarred on his face and turns his head to hide it from her. She tells him she doesn’t mind, and the eyepatch gives him a “rakish” look. He seems pleased that she doesn’t hold her tongue. He walks her back to the house, and they have a moment until they see Nellie plummeting from the third story of the Fear home.

Like The Burning, the descriptions in this book get practically gruesome. Amy runs up to Nellie and sees her eyes were shoved “deep into her skull” and white bone is exposed in her hair. Angelica runs to the rescue again, and she orders David to take Amy inside. Amy looks back and sees Angelica dabbing Nellie’s eyes with her handkerchief, which she pockets. David tries to explain to the children what happened, and Amy runs up the stairs to the study. She finds the tarot cards and feels compelled to use them. What happens next is a cliche, but the effect its used to is actually fairly well done. Amy removes the first card, and it’s Death, of course, why put a tarot deck in here if you aren’t going to use the Death card. But she pulls the second, and it’s also Death. Hands shaking, she flips the third. And its’ Death.

Things seem to calm down in the week following Nellie’s death. The family is going to a ball, and Angelica dresses up Amy, putting rosebuds in her hair. It’s hard to tell how much Angelica is grooming her, but she also puts down Amy easily, reminding Hannah that she’s prettier than her. They go to the Harvest Ball where they see David dancing with Bernice Sutherland, and Angelica’s friend Chantal Duvane comes up to speak with her. They gossip about David, and again, they sort of hint that he might be something of a playboy, or possible he’s just the most eligible bachelor in New Orleans at the moment, and every woman wants a piece. They’re all surprised when David comes up and asks Amy to dance. Angelica’s salty about it, clearly.

The song is over, and David offers to get her something to drink. Amy watches as he goes to the drink table, and then Bernice leads him away. She becomes upset, until someone screams fire, and they see Bernice running through the crowd aflame. We watch Bernice melt as Amy tries to save her, and then David saves Amy as the building crashes around her. As they run away, Amy thinks she sees flames leaping out of Angelica’s eyes, but when she looks again, her face is normal. Amy realizes she turned the Death card up three times, meaning there is one more death waiting.

David comes to comfort Amy and kisses her right after they watched a woman burn alive. Romantic. He says he’s leaving for a few days, but to meet him at the fish pond. She agrees.We then cut to her waiting at said fish pond, and David does not arrive. Instead of seeing him, she has a vision in the pond. She sees Chantal drowning. She also sees David pulling her down into the depths. Amy tries to put the vision out of her mind, but the next day, she finds Chantal in the lake, her eyes eaten out by fish. And again, she sees Angelica taking blood from the body.

Amy becomes convinced David is the killer, since all three of the women had a connection to him, and the vision showed him drowning Chantal. Amy goes again to the tarot cards to find another vision, but she feels a force stopping her, freezing her in place. She remembers what Angelica said, that the power is hers, and she breaks free. She turns over the card which I think is the High Priestess. She is then given another vision of Chantal drowning, this time existing in the vision as Chantal. Then Chantal changes to Mrs. Hathaway, and Amy realizes she’ll be the next do die.

Amy runs to the Hathaway house in the middle of the night and sees Mrs. Hathaway standing on top of the long staircase, David behind her. She screams at her to stop, sees David reach out to her, and then pull her back. David tells her she was sleepwalking, and she would’ve died down falling down the stairs if not for Amy’s arrival. They ask Amy why she’s there. Amy tells the truth. She tells them about the cards, about Angelica, about her powers, and David asks if Angelica could be the killer. Amy tells them to pretend nothing has changed, that she’ll wait for her parents to send for her, to keep Angelica’s wrath off them. David walks her back and tells her he’s in love with her. He gives her his mother’s ring. They embrace one more time, and when Amy returns to the house, Angelica is waiting for her.

Amy is sent to her room, where Julia finds her and gives her something. It’s a burnt letter. Amy’s parents have sent for her, but Angelica has been burning their letters. She’s both angry and relieved, and she considers going to David to tell him, when she sees him and Angelica arguing. Again, I was waiting for the shoe to drop that they were lovers or something, but they just have an intense argument, and he leaves. She sees Angelica do some kind of spell that summons an invisible monster. She takes out the handkerchiefs dotted with blood, and it confirms that she’s evil.

Amy manages to meet with David, warning him not to come into the garden or come to the house at night. They discuss leaving and going to her parents, and she tells him Angelica is too powerful. As she returns to the house, Angelica is waiting for her and claims they are celebrating All Hallow’s Eve. Amy is instantly suspicious, as the house is empty, including the servants and children. She makes an excuse to leave and goes to the tarot deck one more time, and every card she turns over is Death. Angelica catches her and summons her monster, the spirit made of black smoke and many faces. Angelica admits her anger over Amy’s affair with David is because she was saving David for Hannah, who would then inherit the Hathaway fortune. She killed all those women who were interested in David, or who were trying to warn Amy. The monster is set on Amy, and the black pillar absorbs her.

Amid the smoke monster, Amy sees the faces are people she knows, Chantal and Nellie and the other people Angelica killed. The faces lick her, which is super weird and creepy, and try to tear her skin off. But Amy taps into that Pierce power and sends them all away in a column of flames, knocking Angelica back. She runs, straight into David, who’s possessed by Angelica and drags her back inside. Angelica tells him to bring her to me, she says no David I love you, he breaks free. He pulls out his revolver and shoots Angelica, and they run, grabbing his mother, getting in a carriage, and get the fuck out. They see Angelica, alive and unharmed, and Amy wishes she could’ve taken Julia with her, but they say they can never go back, and they can only hope to be safe. They swear to never speak the Fear name again, and presumably go off to live happily ever after.

Favorite Line

“You have freckles,” he said.

She covered her nose with her hand. “I hate them.”

“I like freckles.”

Fear Street Trends Anachronisms

I have a lot more to talk about on this one. I mostly want to talk on the strange “All Hallow’s Eve” point at the end. It’s used to seem witchy, an old-timey way to see Halloween, but the truth is All Hallow’s Eve is a religious holiday. I talked about all this over at my old west supernatural serial, discussing specifically when Halloween and its celebration as it grew in America, and I’ll sum it up like this. It’s doubtful before the 1870s that Hallowmas would’ve been “celebrated” except with solemnity and contemplation unless the family was Irish. Pierce could be an Irish surname, but we’re not given the trappings of an Irish celebration. And honestly if this were the 1880s and set in a Victorian Halloween, I’d actually enjoy that, thanks to the Victorians loving to make everything about romance, but it’s just a few decades too early to get away with it.

I will say the Civil War stuff seems to be on track, if, like me, Stine or his ghostwriter had only read the Wikipedia page for this sort of thing. It is weird reading a book where all of the characters fully believe the subjugation of an entire race of people, but Gone With the Wind is a lot of people’s favorite epic romance, and that does a lot more preaching towards the beauty of pre-Reconstruction south that people are totally willing to let slide.

Rating

I was honestly surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. It wasn’t great, but as a reprieve from the usual straight line we have to take to get the full Fear story, it was nice. I did feel in the original saga that Angelic was denied an actual interesting story, and it was nice to see her evil while free of Simon. It muddles the continuity, sure, but it was an interesting story that was genuinely disturbing in some places. Four exposed skull spirits out of five.

Fear Street #22 – Bad Dreams

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The Cover

bad-dreams

The cover (pulled from its Amazon page) is pretty good. The girls look good, especially the hair on the one in front, and they seem genuinely afraid. I do love how they’re grabbing onto each other. The canopy post does good for implying a shadow or shape in the scene. All in all, I really like this cover.

Tagline

Don’t go to sleep!

I also really like this tagline! It’s a little generic, maybe, but it plays into the title, and there’s an urgency I appreciate.

Summary

We start with an unneccessary prologue. An unnamed girl sleeps in her bed, and is woken by a human figure in her room. She screams, “But you’re my sister!” and dies.

Smash cut to Maggie in the car with her family as they search for their new house on Fear Street. It’s just her mom and her sister Andrea and their dog Gus. I absolutely expected Gus to be horribly murdered in this book, and he is not. No animal violence at all. It’s a breath of fresh air.

The opening scene is just to establish that Maggie is the better sister. She’s a year older, a little prettier, she has a steady boyfriend, she’s doing well on the swim team, and Andrea is petty, mean, and has a complex. They’re moving out of North Hills, the swanky side of Shadyside, into Fear Street because their dad recently died. It seems like he had an anuerysm or heart attack, but they never really talk about it.

They make it to the house, and it’s a creepy old Fear Street house. They go up to find their rooms, and in Maggie’s room, the previous owners had left behind a canopy bed. It’s set up like the girls didn’t know what furniture they’d get, but later a neighbor tells them the house has been empty a long time, which means when they viewed the house, they would’ve known, but whatever, it’s an excuse for Andrea to complain. They fight, Andrea screams at her, their mother tries to settle them down.

They settle into the house. We’re introduced to Justin, Maggie’s boyfriend, and Dawn, who’s on the swim team with them. At night, Maggie’s exhausted, and she falls into her canopy bed. She has a dream where she’s walking through the mist and sees a girl with ash blond hair. She wakes up screaming, and her family rushes in. Andrea asks her to describe the dream and suggests she might’ve been thinking of Dawn, since she has blond hair. Her family comforts her, and she goes back to sleep.

There’s a nice moment with Justin, where he brings the family a bouquet of kitchen sponges, which delights Maggie’s mom, and she offers him something to drink with only two cans of Sprite in the fridge. They make out for a while, and when Maggie looks up, she sees the girl from her dream watching her from the shadows. Justin turns around and says hi to Andrea, and Maggie thinks she was spying on them. He’s friendly but curt to Andrea, who’s clearly hurt by it. He then scares Maggie by pretending to choke to death in front of her. That good ol’ Shadyside humor.

It’s swim tryouts day, and Maggie and Andrea are competing for a spot in the 200m swim. Andrea has a minor freakout where she accuses Maggie of stealing her swim cap before she finds it on the floor next to her backpack. There’s a long scene of them swimming, but the final result is Dawn, Maggie, Tiffany, and then Andrea. Dawn flips out at Maggie accusing her of interference, but the coach puts it down. They change, get ready to leave, and Maggie sees Dawn floating face down in the pool. She panicks and jumps in after her, only for Dawn to tell her she was practicing her breathing. They laugh about it.

Maggie goes to sleep again and dreams. She sees the blond girl thrashing in her covers, and a knife in the darkness, and she wakes suddenly to see the girl standing over her bed. She starts yelling, and then Andrea reaches down and tells her to stop. Andrea says she heard Maggie having a bad dream, and she came in to make sure she was okay. Maggie makes a crack that the house is haunted. Andrea worries it’s stress that’s making her dream this, and tells her to take it easy on the swim team, and Maggie flips out on her, telling her of course she would say that, so Andrea could finally beat her. Andrea says dreams are all wishes which is the wildest thing anyone’s ever said and accuses Maggie of wanting to stab someone. Maggie realizes she’s identifying with the person who was stabbed.

Maggie’s exhausted at school to the point where she doesn’t remember her locker combo. She’s trying to get to her next class when she sees her sister up ahead and runs into Dawn on the stairwell. She starts talking to Dawn right as she starts to fall. For a moment, she doesn’t move, and then she starts wailing that she was pushed. Her arm is broken. Maggie sees her sister, and it looks like she’s happy about this. Dawn accuses Maggie of pushing her.

Maggie talks to her friends, who tell her Dawn was probably angry and concussed, which was why she accused her. Tiffany assures her she had no reason to push Dawn. Maggie gets home and naps, and her mom wakes her up by making spaghetti and vegetarian meatballs. She goes outside and takes a nap as well, and is woken by a strange man who is reaching down for her. She panicks, but he tells her he’s her neighbor, and he was worried she was baking too long in the sun. He introduces himself as Milton Avery and invites her over to meet the missus. He tells her a terrible thing happened in the house, and it’d been empty so long it might as well felt haunted. Mr. and Mrs. Avery keep calling Maggie a “pretty young girl” and I half expected a shocking swerve where they were the murderers or something, but they’re just old. They tell her the Heifers lived there before, and their daughter Miranda was stabbed in her own bed.

Maggie meets up with her friends again. Dawn apologizes for accusing her, but Maggie isn’t sure if she means it. Justin tries to make out with her, but Maggie is still thinking about Miranda. He gets mildly weirded out with her ghost talk. When Maggie sleeps that night, she wakes up with Andrea standing over her, and the gleam of a knife in her hand, but Andrea tells her she’s borrowing her curling iron, and Maggie breathes a sigh of relief. Her dreams aren’t getting any better. She goes downstairs and reads Moby Dick at the suggestion of her late father, who called it the most boring book, a sentiment I heartily agree with. She goes back upstairs and finds her bed messed with and a knife sticking out of her pillow. She runs to her mom’s room and accuses Andrea of doing this, and when they return to the bed, the knife is gone, and the blankets are back to where they were. Maggie wakes up Andrea and screams at her.

Maggie’s too tired to race properly, and her coach tells her to get plenty of sleep. Her coach tries to talk to her, and when they come back out, Tiffany is laying down on the floor with blood pouring out around her. Maggie reaches down to help her when her coach walks in, and she immediately starts yelling that she didn’t do it. It’s not at all suspicious. At home, Maggie’s mom tells her no one suspected her, and it’s such a tragedy, and Andrea gets off the phone with Tiffany, letting them know she’s fine. Andrea’s clearly happy despite everything and says she won’t pretend to be excited now that she’s swimming the 200 IM. Maggie shouts at her for it and storms off.

At night, Maggie dreams again, and this time she starts in a dark tunnel. She watches Miranda run away from someone wielding a knife, and then falls into the canopy bed. Miranda wakes up and sees someone standing over her, with ash blond hair, and she asks if she’s a ghost. The figure nods and raises a knife. Maggie starts screaming, and her mom runs in, but now the ghost has disappeared. Maggie’s mom tells her they’ll get her all the hep she needs.

Maggie goes on a school trip to some caves. She’s distracted, thinking about the ghost, but she’s put in a group with our two faves, Deena and Jade. They walk through the tunnels, and Miranda gets dizzy. She sits for a moment. When she looks up, her group is gone. She runs to catch up, and she’s reliving her dream, feeling like someone is chasing her, footsteps behind her, and she slams into a dead end. She panics as the person gets closer and closer, but it’s only Justin. The group had noticed she’d gotten lost, and he tells her everyone is waiting back at the bus. They walk out together.

Maggie starts seeing a therapist. She talks to Justin about it, but while they’re hanging out, she sees the ghost. She runs after it, leaving Justin behind, but Miranda is gone. When she gets home, she sees her mom with Mr. and Mrs. Avery, and they have dinner together. Maggie’s quiet, but Andrea’s ecstatic. Maggie’s too tired to continue, and she tells her mom she’s going to lie down. When she gets to her room, she finds the canopy bed is gone. Moved. Maggie’s mom had some movers come over and they put it in the attic. I don’t know why she didn’t take it to a resale place or smash it into firewood, but the rest of the plot needs to happen. Andrea convinces Maggie to come back down for dinner, and at night, when everyone is gone to bed, Maggie sneaks up to the attic.

Maggie’s certain she just needs to see the rest of the dream, and she climbs the creaking staircase to open the door, only to find someone already sleeping in the bed. She wakes Miranda, who jumps out of bed, knife raised, and starts singing that someone stabbed Miranda. She’s not a ghost after all, and she’s not Miranda either. Gena was Miranda’s sister, and she starts singing that she has to kill the mean sister, and Maggie’s mean like Miranda was. She’s been sleeping in the attic this whole time. Andrea hears them and runs upstairs as well, and Gena tells her she’s going to kill Maggie for her. Maggie struggles against Gena, and Andrea manages to tangle her up in the bed, and they wrap her up as their mom comes up to see what the noise is.

The police take Gena away. The women sit around and discuss what just happened. Maggie thanks Andrea for saving her life, and offers her the canopy bed. Andrea politely refuses. Finally, they head back up to bed.

Favorite Line

“Dreams are all wishes, right?”

Fear Street Trends

Our faves Deena Martinson and Jade Smith are back, of course. They don’t do much. Not too many outfits are described, but my favorite is Andrea’s “short-short khakis, and orange tank top, and gold hoop earrings.” To which she says, “I was feeling like dressing up a little.” Justin wears some generic white boy clothes, and Maggie wears some faded jeans and “a green-checked vest” which is definitely something I wore in the 90s.

Rating

This one was kind of meh. I wasn’t sure what I was hoping for, but this went by pretty quick, and I was surprised at how quickly I got to the end. All in all, I’m going to give it two stabbed pillows out of five.

Fear Street #23 – Double Date

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The Cover

double-date

The cover (pulled from Goodreads) is kind of meh. Bobby looks like a mannequin, and the girls are just kind of doing nothing. It should be sinister, but it’s far too bright, and the people don’t look real at all. There’s few salvageable things about it.

Tagline

Two’s company. But three can be murder.

I do actually kind of like this. It’s a decent play on an old saying and sets a tone. It’s only extremely out of place on this boring cover.

Summary

We’re introduced to Bobby forcing a girl named Ronnie into a locker and then kissing her. Our hero. He talks about how he dated Ronnie pretty much only so he could say he went out with all six cheerleaders. For the first time, I think, we get to see Kimmy outside of the cheerleaders books. She yells at Bobby for standing her up last night and going out with another girl. He brushes her off and goes to band practice with his two main dudes, Arnie and Paul. Thus begins the running gag of bands changing their names, which is a thing in just about every teen fiction I’ve ever seen. They changed their name from “The Cool Guys” to “Bad to the Bone”. They’re going to need a lot more help.

Bobby is all about music. He has a white Fender Strat “like Jimmy Hendrix”. Arnie is Bobby’s best friend and clear supporter, but Paul kind of thinks Bobby is a narcissistic skeeve. They start to practice, and two girls enter the room. Bree and Samantha Wade moved to Shadyside a year ago, and they’re looking for one of their teachers. Bobby takes the moment to chat with them, but they leave to get done what they need to do. Arnie and Bobby joke about going out with twins, while Paul is clearly agianst the idea. As practice finishes up, they’re visited by Melanie, who Bobby used to go out with, and who is now dating Arnie. She’s antagonistic towards Bobby, and when she hears Bobby might ask out both twins, she tells him to stay away from them.

He promptly ignores her and runs straight into Bree. He invites her to see their band play that Friday, and after they can go out. He goes home and tells Arnie, doing a weird victory lap in his room. My favorite moment from this scene is a line that paints Bobby as an absolute narcissist:

Arnie is my biggest fan, Bobby realized. That’s why we’re such good friends.

It’s honestly so enjoyable to read what a terrible person Bobby is (unlike say Paul from Haunted) because the piss is clearly being taken out of him at every turn. He calls himself Bobby the Man and struts around singing “I’m cool” while Paul and Melanie are in the background lamenting any association. Lines like that paint him as such a loser.

He calls the Wade household and gets Samantha on the phone. He asks her to a movie Saturday night, and she gets instantly nervous. She tells him Bree’s really looking forward to their date on Friday, and asks if this is a bet or a dare. In the end she agrees to go out with him and promises not to tell her sister.

Friday comes, and Bobby and his band play on stage. He does a “Chuck Berry strut” and the crowd cheers. As they get off the stage, the club lights up. Paul tells Bobby he ruined the set with his showboating, which ends with him pulling his amp out accidentally, but Bobby won’t hear it. He and Bree dance for a bit, but she gets tired, and they walk out together. As they drive around Shadyside, and here’s where we get the craziest aspect of this story, which adds almost nothing to it. The kids in Shadyside are doing science projects, and Bobby has two monkeys he got from his uncle who is an animal importer for zoos. This already sounds highly illegal, but his his experiment is he only feeds one bananas and water, while the other has a mixed diet. Is his experiment the fastest way to murder a monkey? Part of me assumes Bobby only did this to show off at school, which wouldn’t be out of character for him.

They make out, Bree asks him out tomorrow, and he says no. The next day he meets Samantha, and they head to the movies. Samantha thinks they’re all really boring and instead they walk around the mall. They try on earrings at a kind of expensive store, and she gets yelled at for actually putting them on. She starts to leave the store, and they’re yelled at for shoplifting. They race through the mall as security chases them. They get out and run across the parking lot, where they run straight into a security guard, who chastises them for running. They walk away laughing.

They go back to his car, and Samantha demands to drive, a thing I highlight only because recently I’ve realized how strange it is that in straight couples the man will always insist on driving even if it’s not his car. They go to River Ridge to make out, and she warns him that Bree can get a little crazy when she’s hurt. She refuses to say anymore.

It seems like Bobby’s been dating the twins for a few weeks. Everyone at school knows about it, and the fact that the girls don’t seem to makes it all the more suspicious. After Melanie rags on him some more, he goes home and gets a weird phone call, where a whispered voice tells him three’s a crowd. He figures out pretty quick it’s his friend Arnie, who laughs at him. They talk a bit, and then he’s interrupted by someone knocking on the door. It’s Bree, syaing they have to talk. She says she’s worried about Samantha, who is seeing someone and refuses to tell her. Bobby plays it cool, and when it’s clear Bree doesn’t know what’s going on, he tells her he’ll try to find out for her. She leaves, and Samantha calls, warning him that Bree’s on her way. When he tells her it’s cool, she was here and left, Samantha says she’s sick of sharing and asks him to break up with Bree. The longer they drag it out, the more she’s worried she’ll get hurt, and the easier it’ll be for her to fly off the handle.

Bobby goes out with Samantha again, does some more shoplifting, and they run into Bree. Bobby briefly considers taking them both on a date at the same time, but they skedaddle together. He walks outside and finds both his tires slashed, and Melanie driving up. He’s convinced momentarily that it was her doing, and she’s probably still obsessed with him, but he decides girls don’t know how to handle knives, and thus she’s off the hook. At school, Bobby and Samantha sneak off. He shows her his monkey (hur hur), and she shows him the way to tell the twins apart. Samantha has a small butterfly tattoo on her shoulder. As they make out, she tells him again to dump Bree, and then she shows him her science project: a colony of cannibal ants eating a dead mouse. Shadyside really values its education system, huh.

The band, who have changed their name again to the Desperadoes, are playing at school, but the second Bobby hits his Fender, he’s electrocuted and jolted to the ground. There’s a brief interlude where he’s in a grey fog with ghostly faces all around him, but the second someone says the amp was cut, he sits straight up. They realize someone had deliberately cut it. He goes off with Samantha and asks if Bree was capable of this. She says her sister could do anything as Bree walks into the room.

Bobby and Arnie sit together in the cafeteria. Melanie comes in again and tells him she’s known the Wade twins since elementary school. She warns him again, and he tells her she’s clearly still in love with him. She calls him a pig and leaves.

Bobby goes out with Samantha, but while they’re making out, he realizes her butterfly tattoo is missing, which means he must be with Bree. He asks her about it, and she gets confused, claiming she doesn’t have a tattoo. She acts hurt and gets him to drive her home. At school the next day, he’s confused, and when he opens his locker he finds it coated in blood with a monkey’s head laying on top of his books. A note reads “THIS IS YOU INSIDE”. For once, someone in Shadyside has a normal reaction to this kind of treatment, and he tosses his breakfast. Arnie comes along, confused, and picks up the fake monkey’s head. It’s a prank. Another disgusting Shadyside prank.

Bobby and Samantha go out, and she’s driving again. She takes him to a place out in the trees where there’s a small cabin. She demands to know why he hasn’t broken up with Bree yet, and then tells him they have to kill her. Bobby agrees, but it’s pretty clear he’s just going along, trying to get out of this situation. He sees the butterfly tattoo on her shoulder again. He asks her again, and she says of course she has a tattoo, she told him about it. They go inside the murder cabin and make out some more.

Bobby calls Bree immediately and tries to tell her what’s up. He picks her up to go dancing, and he explains to her that Samantha took him out and threatened to kill her, still kind of lying his way around the whole “cheating on you with your sister” thing. Bree tells him they aren’t twins, but triplets. They have a third sister named Jennilynn, the fakest, worst name I’ve heard in any of these books, which earn the prize in made up terrible names. She tells him Jennilynn is crazy, and attacked their parents, so they sent her away to live with their family on the West Coast. She says the real way to tell her apart from Bree or Samantha is that she has a butterfly tattoo on her shoulder.

He drives to Arnie’s after dropping her off and immediately spills the beans after promising not to. Melanie is there, and he asks her directly, since she admitted to knowing them since they were kids. Even though one threatened to kill her sister, and the other told him a story about their murderous triplet, he’s still not quite ready to give up dating the Wade twins. He meets up with Samantha the next day and tells her what Bree said about Jennilynn. Samantha is horrified, because there isn’t a Jennilynn. She’s Bree’s alter ego, which whom she acts out terrible fantasies. He checks her shoulder again. No tattoo.

Bobby has no idea which sister is telling the truth, and instead of maybe going to their parents and asking or forcing the sisters to talk to each other, he continues to date them. Samantha picks him up in the car and takes him to the cabin. He sees the tattoo on her shoulder again, and she says of course she has a tattoo, she told him. He realizes she’s still planning on killing Bree, but the second they’re at the cabin, she brains him with a bottle, ties him up in only a t-shirt and his boxers, pours honey all over him, and drops her cannibal ants on him.

Samantha/Jennilynn leaves, and Bobby manages to  break free. He runs free of the cabin, straight into Melanie, who says the twins had their car stolen, and they were pretty sure it was Jennilynn. She came to find him, and he says they have to go back to the house to warn the sisters. They run inside the house, Bobby shouting about Jennilynn, and is surprised to see both sisters and a lot of girls from school. The Wade parents are there, and they have no idea who Jennilynn is or what Bobby is talking about. They don’t even own a cabin. Also, cannibal ants are not a real thing. He points at the girls and demands to see which one has a tattoo, and they dutifully show their parents their bare shoulders. Melanie, Kimmy, and Ronnie each make fun of him for his appearance and for dating every girl in school. Samantha and Bree laugh about all the acting they had to do, with Samantha pretending to be a wild girl. This also means that either Samantha and Bree or every girl involved are the ones who slashed his tires, filled his locker with blood, and maybe tried to electrocute and then kill him? Troubling, of course. But in Shadyside, it’s not out of place.

At school, things seem to fall apart for Bobby. The band breaks up. He’s dejected. Bree and Samantha see him and bring him an envelope with a letter inside. It says they both knew from the very beginning what was going on, and on the inside is small temporary butterfly tattoo.

Favorite Line

Girls aren’t strong enough to cut tires that deeply, Bobby thought to himself. Girls don’t know how to handle knives.

Fear Street Trends

So many! I feel like it’s been so long since the kids have been described like this! No one looks like a celebrity, but Bree and Samantha are described in every scene. A lot of faded jeans, cut off shorts, and midriff-bearing blouses. Samantha is almost always described as wearing something low cut or that shows off.

David Metcalf makes an appearance, and Suki Thomas gets a special mention. The teen club in this is the Mill, when I think it’s usually the Red Heat. What surprises me the most is the mention of real stores. McDonalds, Waldenbooks, and the Gap all get a mention.

Rating

I think I loved this one. Bobby is a straight up narcissist and psychopath, and the twist at the end was probably one of the best in Fear Street history. I’m giving it five fake butterfly tattoos out of five.