Fear Street #50 – Best Friend 2

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The Cover

best friend 2

The cover (pulled from Amazon) is nothing. The only thing I like about it is that Fear Street has a logo on top, but that logo leaves no room for anything else.

Tagline

There isn’t a tagline, just a reminder that this book was written after they held a contest. Fans submitted what they thought should happen to Honey. I wonder how much of this book came from Sarah Bikman, or if she had the initial idea. The initial idea’s fantastic and I wish it’d carried through more of the book, but what’s a Fear Street book without at least three plot twists.

Summary

This book is separated into parts as well, though these parts actually seem helpful to the overall narrative. It’s all done in first person. I cannot remember if the original book was in first person or not, but it’s the only way this book would work. Becka’s now going to Waynesbridge, the town over from Shadyside. She’s nervous about her past following her, and nervous about not fitting in. She calls herself “full-figured” and not cute, but she’s starting to feel good about herself again.

Becka has to check in with a counselor first. It’s not the only counselor she’s seen in the past year since Honey ruined her life, but hopefully it’ll be the last. Miss Englund pulls no punches and immediately asks her about Honey. Becka proceeds to recap the previous book, feeling extreme guilt over Bill’s murder. She sees him everywhere, and makes a fool of herself throwing her arms around some rando. He’s nice about it at least and walks her to her next class. Here she’s thrown into a class with a teacher who lectures and never stops. A pretty redhead girl takes pity on Becka and tells her to write down everything he says, introducing herself under the unfortunate name Glynis. They don’t really get to talk during class, since their teacher drones on, and Becka distractedly writes down whatever she can, only to realize she’d written BILL BILL BILL across the page. This’ll happen a lot, so I’m only going to make this joke once.

The good news is, Glynis seems to want to be her friend. They chat a while about Becka’s old school until Frankie rolls up. He’s clearly Glynis’ boyfriend, but Becka can’t keep her eyes off him, and he can’t seem to do the same. He’s the one who invites her out to pizza with the two of them. As they eat, Becka sees someone she recognizes and runs to embrace Eric. You remember Eric, right? He was in the first chapter of the Best Friend only to be dumped? No? I didn’t either. He’s a little standoffish with Becka, clearly trying to get out of the conversation, but she follows him to his car anyway, grabbing him as they get in and making out with him hardcore, though she’s really thinking about Frankie. When Becka gets home, she’s excited, relieved, and bubbling with hope. She looks at herself in the mirror. Her hairs only a few shades darker than Glynis, and about the same length. If she straightened it, stopped chewing her fingernails, bought a matching nail color, she’d look just like her…

Becka gets a phone call and hears Frankie’s voice on the other end. He wishes that Glynis would go away so they could be together, and Becka realizes she’s imagining this. She’s acting like Honey. She remembers the party, when Honey showed up in a matching outfit after cutting her hair, right before she pushed Trish down the stairs. The moment of revelation goes away as she paints on the same nail polish that Glynis wears, only to realize the words BILL BILL BILL have been scrawled over her face in that very nail polish.

Becka spends more time with Glynis. She ends up trying on all her clothes and then tucks a handful of them away to borrow. Glynis takes her shopping and asks about the clothes, but Becka plays it off, saying she had a date and wanted to try them. They go to the Shadyside mall (a bad idea, Becka), and go into one of the shops where Eric happens to be working. Glynis and Frankie talk to him too before absconding to the food court, and Eric asks the question we’ve all been thinking: Why are they calling you Becka? Because it’s not Becka at all. Surprising no one, it’s been Honey the whole time. Honey loses her absolute shit, made worse when Eric points out the real Becka is standing the same store next to her. She grabs a necklace of glass beads and starts choking Eric. No one seems to do anything about this. It’s not a quick and easy process to choke someone to death, especially with a department store necklace, but Eric goes down, and Becka screams that Honey killed him. Honey pulls the usual “no you!” on Becka, but it’s clear it’s not working.

Smash cut to part two, now narrated by the actual Becka, who has remained in Shadyside, is still best friends with Trish and Lilah. They’re attending poor Eric’s funeral, whose only crime was to make out with a girl he had to know attempted murder in the last year. They discuss how Honey forged her way into Waynesbridge with fake documents, and now she’s disappeared. No one knows where she was living or where she would go. As they walk home, Becka’s two friends try to console her, and they both point out she’s been distant and refuses to talk about anything. They’re interrupted by BILL running up the street! He’s not dead at all! He survived his stabbing last year, though he and Becka are donesville. It seems like he’s gotten very close with Trish, which will be a plot point later. He tries to talk to her, clearly wanting to get back together, even though she has a boyfriend now, and Becka brushes him off. She tells him she can’t.

The girls keep walking, and Trish speaks up. She tells them that Bill visited her in the hospital every day, that he was a good friend to her, and that Becka didn’t do any of those things. Becka tells her she was so messed up after everything that she couldn’t look at the people that were hurt because of her. She feels so much guilt over everything that happened. It’s why she can’t look at Bill anymore. But she promises to be a better friend.

Becka works at the Hacker’s Cafe (delightful) and her boyfriend Larry comes by to chat. She’s too busy to sit with him, and she has to do her job, but she tells him she’ll call later. As she leaves work, someone comes up behind her at her car, and she flips out, only to see Bill. He tells her he stills cares about her and bla bla bla. Knife victim, guilty conscious, boy that won’t take no for an answer. Becka’s rescued when Larry runs up. Larry seems to be one of those rare good boyfriends you can occasionally find in Shadyside. As he helps Becka into her car, she starts screaming, because someone’s taking a knife to the interior and tossed in a dead rat for good measure.

In a rare turn of events, Becka’s seeing a therapist and taking her meds. They aren’t doing their job of calming her down though, and she decides to investigate the house next door. Honey’s dad still lives there, and she wonders if there’s a chance he’s hiding her. But she’s interrupted by Lilah, who wants to show her something. They have a loud conversation outside the window, and that ends exactly as you’d expect it, with Honey’s dad looking outside. As soon as he recognizes Becka, he starts shouting at her, asking her where Honey is. The two girls run away.

Lilah tells Becka what she wanted to show her was a news article she found. It tells the story of Hannah Paulsen watching her father murder her mother and her brother before turning the gun on himself. Becka’s horrified, but Lila tells her they knew Hannah Paulsen. She was a total loser who followed them around in the fourth grade. They tricked her into embarrassing herself in front of the whole school, and soon after that she disappeared completely. And now she’s back. Hannah is Honey. Her “dad” isn’t her father at all, but her uncle.

Becka gets a few more threatening phone calls, because why not, and Trish tells her she’s hurting Bill more than getting stabbed ever did. She goes to her counselor and tells him about some of the stuff she’s learned. He asks if she’s gone to the police with any of this, and she admits no. He does the first responsible thing I’ve seen an adult do in these books, and tells her she has to tell the police about the phone calls, since they can probably track them. No stalling. Go there right away. She leaves, only to be attacked by Honey five feet from the door. As she wails on her, Becka tries to reason, calling her Hannah and saying she knows the whole story now, but Honey screams that she’s not Hannah and she’s not Honey because she’s Becka now! She continues to beat down on her, until all Becka sees is black.

But Becka wakes up again and realizes Honey must’ve stopped because she thought she was dead. She drives herself home instead of going inside the building full of adults, but her parents make her go to the hospital, and the police are called. Someone really should involve them at some point. Despite being beaten in the street, she still goes on her date with Larry, who’s pretty standoffish. Becka screams when someone accidentally pokes her with their umbrella, and at dinner flips out when she sees a waitress carrying a steak knife. Larry, to his credit, doesn’t want to leave her alone and offers to stay at home with her until her parents get in, but she tells him to leave. Listen, kids, neither of you are prepared for this kind of relationship. Don’t blame yourself if it doesn’t work out.

Becka refuses to turn on any lights when she gets home, which is stupid. She makes her way up to her room only to find her bed is full of blood and guts and someone’s etched THIS IS U into the wall. No one has Becka leave the house, or be put into protective custody, or her parents don’t consider moving for a while. Her friends offer to let her stay, but Becka says no. As she hangs around the house, she gets another a phone call, this one telling her that her best friend is coming tonight. Becka flips out when she hears someone at her door, but it’s only Bill. She screams at him what’s happening, and he tells her to get in his car, that he’ll take her to his uncle’s murder cabin in Fear Street Woods. The phone rings again, and Becka answers it in case it’s her parents. It’s Lilah, who tries to tell her something, but she hangs up on her.

They get to the murder cabin, and Bill goes to get some firewood. Becka takes advantage of the phone. She calls Lilah, who tells her that Honey’s been arrested. They caught her two days ago. It was upstate, and Honey was giving different names, so local police only just figured it out. Becka realizes this means that Honey couldn’t have messed up her room and couldn’t have called her. As she realizes this, Bill comes in, telling her to put the phone down. He lunges at her when she tries to call 911 and rips it off the wall. She asks him why he did it, sneaking into her room and calling her, and he says it wasn’t him. Then Trish walks in. Yup! You guessed it! Trish was the best friend the whole time! Trish tells her that when she was in the hospital, Becka never visited her, only Bill was so sweet, and she’d hurt him too, and she was being so selfish getting over the trauma of being gaslit and hunted and thought to have murdered her own boyfriend. She then pulls out a knife, and Bill says they were only going to scare her, not actually hurt her. Trish brings the knife down, and Bill tries to stop her, only to get stabbed once more in the abdomen. As Trish screams this is all Becka’s fault, Becka goes for the knife. The two girls wrestle, but Becka manages to cut her neck as sirens wail in the distance. Becka drops down beside Bill, holding him, and tells him she’ll be at true friend this time.

Favorite Line

I am my own best friend! I told myself. I have to be strong. I have to be my own best friend now.

Fear Street Trends

At least two girls are described as “like a model”, and Glynis is described as resembling Claire Danes (which is actually a pretty good pull). Larry is described as looking like Bugs Bunny (less good). Glynis paints her nails a chocolate brown and calls it “the flavor of the week”, sparking a conversation where Honey as Becka talks about licorice nail polish. Her “very slim and trim” look is a yellow vest over a white t-shirt and a short green skirt over brown tights. That’s so many layers! Were we doing that many layers back then! No wonder we wore basically nothing in the 2000s. I may also have to give you the full description for the Hackers Cafe:

It’s actually just a coffeehouse. But Mr. Arnold, the owner, put computers at the counter so that customers could surf the internet and send e-mail while they drink their coffee and eat their muffins and pastries. The cafe became really popular, especially with kids from Shadyside High and young adults who work in the neighborhood.

Love it, love it, love it.

Rating

I don’t know how to feel about this one. The twists were obvious from a mile away, but they were interesting at least, and the eponymous best friend switching from Honey to Trish isn’t bad. Still, no one’s motives make much sense, and Honey’s barely in it. I’ll give it three murder cabins out of five.

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Fear Street Seniors #1 – Let’s Party

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The Cover

lets party

The cover (pulled from its Amazon page) is less than nothing. What is this even supposed to be? A blank red texture, a knife, and a stock photo? Y’all couldn’t even try? Also it took me a while to notice that this is “episode one”.

Tagline

You’re invited to… DIE!

Y’all couldn’t even try. The ellipses aren’t even in the right place!

Bonus Round!

What? Does this book come with a fully stocked cast of characters page shaped like a yearbook???? You know it does! I carefully photographed them with my phone like a professional and put them below. Peruse at your own leisure.

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Summary

It’s the last day of junior year! Bell rings, kids get out, and they’re now officially seniors! (Is that how it works? I wouldn’t think they’re technically until school starts in the fall, but we have to get this party started.) This is where we meet our impressive cast of characters. Josh is our main, and he passes by Dana and Marla, Mickey and Gary, Matty, Debra and Clark. Mickey and Gary are bullies, as is Josh, who passively sits by and calls people nerds, and Matty’s the fat kid who makes jokes at his own expense to keep in with the cool kids. Marla and Dana are the hotties, and Debra is Josh’s girlfriend, who he sees necking with Clark, the local goth. He wears all black and keeps his hair slicked back, so everyone calls him Count Clarkula. This’ll be important when Josh goes off the deep end.

Josh walks up to his girlfriend as Clark descends on her neck. He shouts her name, and both of them turn around, looking super suspicious. Debra tells him Clark was only helping her get something out of her eye, the absolute worst lie anyone’s ever told, but Josh is willing to believe it. Clark stalks off, and Josh tries to talk to Debra, who’s clearly uninterested. Sorry Josh. Leave her to the goths. But Josh thinks Clark is too big of a geek for Debra to be interested in, so he let’s it drop.

It’s okay, because Josie, Josh’s step-sister, comes running into the scene to break the tension. She’s livid because she got a D in trig, even when she did a ton of extra credit. It’s mentioned here she needs to get on honor roll for her parents to get her a car, but later her teacher says she has Bs and Cs in other classes, and I’m like, Josie. Maybe you’re just a bad student. Josie screams that she’s going to kill him and then storms off to talk to him. Thanks, Josie, for your contribution to this scene. Then their friend Trisha runs up and immediately collapses in front of them. They both run over to help her. Trisha tells them she had “the most horrifying flash”. Yup. Trisha’s a psychic. She’s also super rich. Her dad built the mall in Shadyside, which I think how everyone who’s rich in Shadyside got their money. Trisha tells them she saw the whole of the Shadyside seniors laid down in their coffins, dying one by one. Debra tells her that’s not true, that she’s just stressed, but Trisha clearly believes it. Josh tries to lighten the mood by reminding them of the killer party Trisha’s gonna throw, and she tells them she’s canceling it. She had another premonition of a girl sprawled out on her floor dead during the party. Josh and Debra tell her it won’t come true, and Josh tells her to have the party anyway, that nothing bad could possibly happen.

There’s another scene with Josh and Mickey that’s really unimportant except it reinforces the whole “Clark might be a vampire” subplot and also I think Mickey’s like a little gay for Josh? Just a little? Much like in Goodnight Kiss, Josh comes to believe in vampires over something completely innocuous, this time a wire sculpture of a bat. Josh also gets a threatening phone call from someone saying they’re gonna drain him dry. I also forgot this book is separated into parts, even though they’re totally unnecessary. (Did I add that to Fear Street bingo? I don’t remember anymore.) Part One consisted of five chapters. Part Two takes place on the same day, now starring Josie, and also takes place over about five chapters, though it feels more like two thanks to the length of them. I know YA as a genre is still new and innovative at this point in our history, but considering some of the door stoppers destined to come out during the height of the YA boom, these books feel incredibly juvenile.

Josie goes to meet her teacher, Mr. Torkelson and ask about her grade. Josie came to state her case, but she pretty much stammers out complaints and tells him she can’t have a D. When he tells her he rechecked her exam grade three times, she shouts that she had the flu during the final. He points out that Marla Newman also had the flu during the exam and got a perfect score, and gently mentions that she probably should’ve just taken a make up exam. Josie goes into a blind rage hearing about her mortal enemy, the perfect and gorgeous Marla Newman, made even worse when he mentions her brother gets good grades in math, and she fantasizes about smashing him over the head. This scene is almost entirely lifted from Final Grade, and I’m starting to wonder how hard Stine was phoning it in this book.

Josie stumbles around the school, seeing Ds everywhere she goes. She runs into Deirdre Palmer and Jennifer Fear, her two BFFs. Deirdre teases Jennifer about being a Fear, saying she casts evil spells and she’s a witch and the usual. Jennifer is clearly pissed every time she does it and she does not stop, but don’t worry. They go over to Jennifer’s creepy old house across the street from the Fear mansion, which Josie thinks is definitely haunted with the ghosts of old Fears, and they go into a room full of books on witchcraft! Jennifer’s mom flips out later when she finds them with the books and tells Josie they’re dangerous, and it’s like why even have them? Get rid of them. Throw them in a fire. Josie pulls out a book simply called The Spell Book (catchy) and flips to a page called DOOM SPELL. Deirdre insists they try it on Torkelson. In a great bit of timing, Josie tells them they need black candles, to which Jennifer responds, where would we even get those? Luckily Dierdre finds them in a carton from one of the shelves. It’s said several times that Jennifer’s family renovated the house, so this spell room had to be left in on purpose.

They start the spell. They feel wind blow in, candles flickering out, cold pressing against them, and just as the last candle is about to be blown out, Jennifer’s mom comes in. Mrs. Fear apologizes for interrupting their seance, but she looks real nervous. Hey, Momma Fear? Maybe if you found your daughter practicing black magic in a family history of that sort of thing, you say something? The girls rush off, but Josie pauses. She finishes the spell, imagining Marla and Torkelson being affected by the spell. As the last candle goes out, a figure in a red robe moves towards her, the face beneath its hood only a skull with a two-headed snake slithering in its open sockets. It reaches out to strangle her, and she’s shaken from her vision by her friends. She quickly puts the book back.

Josh, Mickey, and Josie go to the mall and run into Marla, who’s snide and condescending towards Josie. Josh gets distracted as they walk past a CD store and see Debra and Clark together. He walks up to them, and Debra quickly makes excuses, but Josh turns on Clark and asks if he’s behind the threatening phone calls. Clark tells him no, of course not, before skedaddling. Josh asks Debra what’s going on, and she tells him vaguely that she’s “drawn” to Clark. When Josh points out that they’ve been together a lot, she snaps that she’s not his property, and she can talk to whoever she wants, which is true. But, Debra, dear, your boyfriend getting jealous because you have a male friend is a little different than your boyfriend getting jealous because you’re dating someone behind his back. One of these is valid.

Josh wanders out, thinking about how Clark is so goth, and when he gets home he gets another threatening phone call. Now there’s a shadow outside his door, and it is Clark. Returning a sleeping bag. Lame and random. Moving on. Josie wakes up the next morning thinking about how she has to find a job because Marla stole hers. Her friend gives her a call to meet her at the school to retrieve a sculpture project she left behind. When she gets there, Clarissa is nowhere to be seen, but she does see Mr. Torkelson driving towards her. He holds his hand out the window to wave right as a delivery van rams straight into him. He’s slammed into a wall, and blood is pouring out of the car like a fountain. She runs towards the wreck and screams when she sees what’s lying on the ground. His hand, severed, blood spewing from it like a river, and its fingers still reaching to her.

Josie tells her friends that she finished the spell, and now she’s a murderer. Jennifer reminds her that magic isn’t real, and Deirdre tells her it was just a goof. Josie tries to call Marla to warn her, but Marla plays her off and hangs up on her, leaving Josie alone with her guilt. Meanwhile, Josh is hanging outside the movie theater, waiting on his date. Debra stood him up. He tries calling her house. No answer. He drives around and decides to go to Clark’s house. This puts things in a weird perspective. Clearly Josh and Clark know each other well enough that they know where they live, and also borrow things from each other. But Josh treats Clark like some weirdo he never talks to. Inconsistent writing or a character history being hinted at? You decide. He parks down the street and can see the two of them in the window. At first it looks like Clark might be biting Debra’s neck, but they’re just making out. He watches for a long time, which is weird. He knows vampires aren’t weird, but Clark’s so weird, and also Debra’s been pale and tired lately. Probably from all the sneaking around.

He leaves after Debra does and finds Mickey and Matty. He’s pretty sure vampires don’t exist, he tells them, and Mickey decides they need proof. That’s right, folks! It’s time to break into someone’s house again! My only explanation for Shadyside being the way it is has to be the evil has contaminated the water supply for so long. They drive back to Clark’s house, now empty and quiet, and sneak in through the window. The evidence they find is: a black cape, a book titled Lives of the Vampire, and dirt spread across the bed. Josh is now convinced he’s a vampire. He returns home, to hear his phone ringing again. He braves up and answers it, only for Trisha to be on the other line, calling from her cellular phone (fancy), to tell him the party’s back on! After hanging up on her, the phone rings again, and this time it’s Debra, yelling at him for spying on her and thinking he owns her. Again, valid complaints under normal circumstances, but she’s leaving out the fact that she ditched her boyfriend to make out with someone else. Josh tries to tell her Clark’s a vampire, which she doesn’t believe, and she breaks it off with him. What you should’ve done forever ago, Debra.

Party time! Finally! Josh drives up to Trisha’s mansion, complete with gate and security guard. There’s food and music and the grounds are huge. He sees Mickey with a girl, tall, beautiful, redhead, but the two of them are arguing. She shoves him hard, and he shoves her back. They seem to be getting into a physical fight, and Josh starts towards them, only to be interrupted by Pheobe Yamura. They have a quick conversation, and when he turns back around, the two are gone. Well, no need to break up that domestic dispute. What a good friend Josh is. Trisha is dancing with bad boy Gary Fresno, who is also someone else’s boyfriend, and then the redhead is next to Josh. She gives him a shove, ans asks if he’s Mickey’s friend. The two flirt for a long time, and she introduces herself as Saralynn. His eyes catch Debra and Clark in the crowd, and he decides to spend the whole party with Saralynn, making her jealous, and immediately forgetting that she and Mickey are clearly a thing. What a good friend Josh is.

It’s fine, because a thunderstorm sends a downpour over the party, and they all race inside. Trisha announces this is perfect, because now they can play a murder game! She hands them all cards, either a victim, a suspect, or an investigator. Marla draws victim. Josh and Phoebe get investigator. Mickey stumbles into the party, blood marring his face. He tells them all he tripped and slammed his face into his car by accident, but Josh can’t help notice that they look like scratch marks. He thinks about his fight with Saralynn. Then does nothing. What a good friend Josh is.

Trisha tells the suspects and the victim to go into the next room and make up a scenario. They have to choose how the victim died, and who did it. So it’s less of a game and more of a theater workshop. After a while of waiting, they hear noises from the other room, and Josie screaming help. Josh immediately rushes in, and they find Marla on the ground, dead. For reals. Trisha flips out, because her vision came true. Hey, Trisha, why did you plan a murder game at your party where you had a vision of someone getting murdered, Trisha? They all panic, trying to think of who could’ve murdered her, and Josie belts out that she did. It’s all her fault. She tells everyone about the Doom Spell. Jennifer tells her it’s not her fault and tries to get Josh to comfort her. They try to call the police, but the phones are dead. Trisha’s cell phone is in the car her parents took. They agree to go to a neighbor, or maybe just leave, and they all head out into the rain. But as soon as they get to the gate, it’s padlocked. They’re locked in.

They make it back to the house. Josh notices some people are missing, including Clark and Saralynn, and as they walk back into the dining room, they find Marla’s body missing. As they try to figure out who moved it, Josh also notices Mickey. He’s dry while the rest of them are soaking wet. He points that out, and Mickey tries to make excuses, just as Jennifer sees a dark red stain against the closet door. They open it, and Saralynn falls out, also dead. They quickly turn on Mickey, who announces he did kill them, and he’ll kill again, before he grabs Josie and drags her into the next room. Josh races forward, knocking Mickey to the ground. They rassle. Mickey gets real close to Josh’s face, and I’m like are they gonna kiss? But no. Mickey starts laughing and announces that he can’t do it anymore.

Saralynn gets up and Marla pokes her head in, asking if the game is over. You guessed it, folks. It’s another of those classic “pretend there’s a murderer on the loose” games Shadyside kids like to play so much. Trisha announces the joke is over, and Josie’s livid. Marla laughs and asks her if she really cast a spell on her. Josie darts off, just as Clark descends the stairs, floating, cape out, fanged teeth grinning. Trisha tells him he’s too late, that the game’s already over. He’s disappointed after he did so much research and even tried to get into character by sleeping in dirt.

Josie doesn’t hear any of this. She’s in the bathroom, calming herself down. She can leave, she thinks, and be a laughing stock, or just party on. Reapplying her lip gloss like armor, she steps out into the party. Josh tries to talk to her, but she tells him she’s fine. Then the doors swing open, and a red robed figure floats in. People notice and start to congratulate Trisha on another prank, but the figure looks at Gary and tosses him against the wall, where his head splatters. Some R-rated gore and violence happen in this chapter. Trisha gets her head squeezed like a grape, Marla gets punched in the chest and her heart just falls out, Phoebe gets her head twisted off, and Josh’s arms are ripped right off.

Josie runs for it. She gets in her car and drives all the way to Fear Street, finding Jennifer’s house. She knows it’s too late to save them, but she has to try. When Jennifer’s mom opens the door, she makes up an excuse about needing a CD and sneaks past her to the library. She tries to find a reversal for the Doom Spell, but finds something else entirely. Time Spell. It can help her go back in time and stop this from happening. It’s only an hour, but it’s an hour she needs. She performs the spell and finds herself back int he bathroom, right before everyone’s dead. She tries to think of how to get everyone out and knows she can’t convince them. She goes to the doors, where the red robed figure makes its appearance, and she does, well, she does nothing. It looks at her, taps the glass, and then leaves. Cool.

The only mystery left is who made those phone calls? Josh goes up to Trisha, and she tells him it was Matty, duh. He told everyone. Josh is reasonably embarrassed by this, and he walks back to the food spread, before he treads on something. He lifts it up, showing it to Trishsa. They’re the plastic fangs Clark was supposed to wear. Never opened. He turns as Clark walks out the door with Debra. Smash cut to black. Credits. Music.

Favorite Line

“Know who else has a crush on you? Her sister Deirdre.” Josie slapped her hands over her mouth. “Oops. Forget you heard that. It just slipped out.”

Fear Street Trends

There’s a good bunch of trends here. Debra’s described as “a clean-cut Kate Moss.” Who’s like a model. I’m not sure how much more clean cut you get than that. Marla and Josie where vests over t-shirts, pretty fashionable, and Debra wears a blue crop-top with blue shorts on her date with Clark (very matchy matchy). Mickey and Matty are playing Madden ’99, such a pull that I’m assuming that’s something Stine’s son played at the time. My favorite description is of Josie when we first meet her: “She wore a short black skirt over black tights and a black vest over two t-shirts.” Was that a thing in ’98? Were we wearing two t-shirts at the same time? And, of course, Trisha is shown to be rich and cool by having her own cell phone, with terrible reception.

Rating

This book seems pretty generically Stinian. A lot of it feels pulled from other books, from the vampire subplot to the curse ghost, to the party games. Probably the only thing new in it is the time travel, though last Halloween we saw a time traveling ghost, so even that I’m not sure. I will say Final Destination came out in 2000, while this book came out in 1998. Make of that what you will. I’ll have to give it two Mortal Kombat finishes out of five.

Fear Street #43 – All-Night Party

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I’m still playing a bit of catch up right now, but hopefully I’ll be back on track after this week. If you’re looking for something to read between books, my writing blog is updating with short stories about vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and monsters. The first is already up, and the second will go up tomorrow! I’m trying to get back on a regular schedule with this, so bear with me while I finish sorting everything out.

The Cover

So I found three covers for this book. The first (found at this Goosebumps fan site) is pretty good. There’s a danger element to boys and the girl looks suitably nervous. The girl peeking over the shoulder of her date to watch also adds a creepy element. I think the colors are pretty passive, though I do actually like her blue dress, and maybe something bolder could’ve been added, but this is nice.

The two revamp ones (found through Random Blogger and Amazon) are not good. There’s no danger to them. The silhouettes look bad. The colors are bad. They don’t have any danger element to them at all, and it feels very generic.

Tagline

Party till you drop… dead.

Not bad, not bad. Very generic but it gets across a danger that I appreciate.

Everyone is dying to be invited.

Also not bad. Kind of nothing, but it works for what it needs to do.

An exclusive invitation… to die.

Bad. Bad bad bad. It’s the worst of the three.

Summary

We’re introduced to Gretchen as she and her friends are on their way to Cindy’s house to surprise her for her birthday. More specifically, they’ve decided to Jawbreaker style kidnap her, take her to Fear Island, and have an all night party. Gretchen is new to Shadyside, having only livedĀ  here six months, but she fits right in with this bad plan. Hannah says it’s “just what Cindy deserves”, which probably hints at the larger problems in the group. Cindy is blond, beautiful, and always gets what she wants. She’s also described as a huge tease a large number of times, which isn’t completely inaccurate.

They march into Cindy’s house and storm into her bedroom. Gretchen and Hannah blindfold her, and then Patrick pulls out a fucking gun and puts it to her head. Everyone reasonably flips out, and Gretchen asks why he even brought it. Patrick tells them that his dad, a police officer, told him a convict escaped and is hiding on Fear Island. He was put away for killing three girls, and his dad gave him the gun for protection. It’s not loaded at the moment (at least he practices gun safety?? kind of????). They agree to go out anyway, assuming anyone escaping probably wouldn’t stay in one place too long.

They row out to the island, and the teen drama starts coming to the surface. Hannah comes with her boyfriend Gil, who is also the ex-boyfriend of Cindy, who still flirts with him a lot. They broke up because her parents told her too, and it’s obvious the two are still into each other. Hannah’s very annoyed by this. Also with them is Jackson, who stares at Gretchen a lot and is kind of a creepy dude. He says a lot of weird stuff and otherwise does not talk at all. Cindy asks Gretchen where her boyfriend Marco is, and Gretchen admits she’s been looking for a way to break up with him. He’s a dangerous dude with one earring and a motorcycle. Typical Shadyside guy. Gretchen didn’t invite him, but he shows up anyway, letting her know he found out through her mom. At least these kids were responsible and told their parents where they would be.

The party is kind of lame with only eight people in attendance. There’s some cattiness between Hannah and Cindy as they argue over who knows Gil better. Gretchen tries to get as far from Marco as possible, but it’s not really a good scenario with nowhere else to go. Hannah storms into the kitchen, and Gretchen follows. Hannah tells her that Cindy got a scholarship she’d applied for, even though Cindy’s parents could pay for her college and Hannah needs it. Hannah says loudly that she wishes Gretchen was dead. They go back into the room and open presents, which Cindy kind of tosses aside. She tells everyone thanks but seems really unenthusiastic and doesn’t really care. They put on some music and dance, but Gretchen really wants to get away from Marco, and she makes an excuse to go outside.

Hannah and Gil go with her to find a private spot to neck, and they disappear. Patrick stays inside, as does Cindy, and so does Marco presumably. Jackson continues to watch Gretchen, who heads to the shed beside the cabin. Inside the shed, she can hear voices in the kitchen. Voices that sound like Cindy and Jackson. She hears a sharp slap and then silence, but decides it’s none of her business. As she walks around outside, she hears someone behind her, and it’s Marco again. Gretchen tells him point blank she didn’t invite him because she didn’t want to go out with him anymore. He takes this well by pulling out a switchblade and hacking up the tree beside her. They walk back to the cabin together in probably the most awkward silence there ever was, and it’s empty. Gretchen goes into the kitchen where she sees the mess from their cake making earlier, flour all over the floor, and something red spilling everywhere. It’s Cindy. Dead.

Gretchen staggers out of the kitchen feeling sick. Marco runs over to her, and she tells him what she saw. She tries to run outside and runs straight into Patrick, whose shirt is covered in blood. He tells her he cut his hand on the upstairs window. Everyone else is coming in to as Patrick surmises that it’s he escaped prisoner that must’ve killed Cindy. Gretchen says they have to go to the police, and he insists no. There aren’t any phones in the cabin. There aren’t any phones on the whole island. They’re trapped. Until dawn. (dun dun dun)

It doesn’t take long for the panicking to set in. They decide to stay in the cabin and wait until their parents notice they’re missing, but someone points out the murderer could still be in the cabin. They decide to search the cabin. Gretchen thinks she sees someone outside only to run into Jackson, who tells her he’s worried. She thinks about the argument she heard and considers asking him, but he walks away. As they come back together, they consider the possibility that their friend Patrick is covered in blood and insists they shouldn’t go to the police and also has a gun with him. Gretchen looks at Hannah, who’s sobbing, and remembers her saying she wants Cindy dead. And then Gretchen tells everyone about the argument.

This is a good set up, and should devolve into them screaming and stabbing each other. Gil screams at Hannah that he was going to break up with her anyway to get back with Cindy, Hannah is a mess convinced the killer is going to come back for them, and Jackson tries to keep them together and insists they look at the body one more time. Now Gretchen has time to actually look at it, and they all notice something. A red baseball cap in her hands. It’s Patrick’s. They argue over whether he was wearing it or not, if Cindy put it on herself, if anyone else did, and Patrick says if he did kill Cindy he wouldn’t shot her instead of using a bread knife, which causes everyone to point a finger at him, because how did he know? Patrick points out that it’s missing from the knife holder. But there are footsteps in the flour, and Gretchen goes to get everyone’s boots and see which have flour on them. Guess who does?

They tie up Patrick, and then they go through his things. And they find everything! A note from Cindy saying she isn’t going to keep his secret, a bread knife wrapped up and stuffed into his sleeping bag, along with all of the other evidence. They bring it all to him and ask him to explain, and he tells them he’s being set up. He tells them if he did kill Cindy, he would’ve hidden the evidence instead of leaving it lying around. They discover that the note is forged. As they decide maybe Patrick isn’t the murderer, they notice that Hannah is missing. She ran off, leaving a note, which makes Gretchen suspicious that she may have done a murder. She goes outside to look for her, and Jackson follows, telling her he needs to confess something. It turns out the reason he’s a big creep is because he has a big ol’ crush on her. His choosing this moment to tell her reinforces that he’s kind of a big creep. But Gretchen seems sort of into it? She admits to him that she and Marco broke up, and after the conversation decides she feels safe with him. Sure. That’s how that works.

They hear Hannah screaming and find the other boys pulling her back inside the cabin. Gil tells them that he and Hannah separated for a bit while they were walking in the woods, meaning she could’ve gone back to kill Cindy, meaning Gil also doesn’t have an alibi. Gretchen finds a note in her pocket, and she realizes immediately who the killer is. The handwriting of the note matches the handwriting of the forged letter. It’s Patrick. He’s still the killer! Patrick framed himself, which is kind of silly because he’s also the one who had to convince his friends he was being framed. He tells everyone Cindy was a tease and loved to flirt with him and then push him away. He tried to give her a kiss for her birthday, and she laughed at him, and it set him off. Patrick pulls his gun on them, just as two police officers make their way into the cabin. They immediately tackle him and take his gun.

The officers explain Patrick stole the gun from his dad, and he sent them to get it back. There’s no escaped prisoner at all, Patrick had just planned to pin the murder on a fake story, but also he framed himself? This guy had too many plans. Just stab someone Patrick, and worry about it later. The officers wonder if the secret Cindy found out was the fires he set back in Waynesbridge, and Hannah realizes she didn’t know about that. She just liked to tease. She also thinks she may have liked Patrick, which was why she teased in the first place. This is the lesson, kids. Don’t be a tease.

Favorite Line

“I wish I hadn’t taken the gun out when we were kidnapping Cindy!”

Fear Street Trends

So much denim! Gretchen wears denim, Patrick wears denim, Marco is described like a 1950s greaser with a white T and blue jeans, though he also has a silver hoop in his ear. No one is really described that much, and the fashions are pretty nil. They do pull out a portable CD player, and they listen to some “heavy rock-and-roll”.

Rating

This book felt like #2 in the series, not #43. It’s kind of phoned in. It does share a lot of similarities with the Overnight, and Party Games seems to borrow a lot from it. On one hand, I appreciated how short it felt, but I really feel like the ball was dropped here. This could’ve turned into a Battle Royale style suspicion and murder, with kids turning on each other and splitting up and trying not to get murdered while taking out the suspects, but it really feels like the whole events took place over like two hours. One suspicious baseball cap out of five.

Fear Park: The Last Scream

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The Cover

the last scream

This is the least inspired cover from the series (pulled from its Amazon page). I’ve enjoyed the mix of theme park imagery and screams, the two work well together, but this falls back on tired things. The best thing about it is Dierdre’s outfit.

Tagline

It’s closing time… for Dierdre.

Dull, boring, blah. There’s no menace to it. “Time for the last ride” might’ve been a better one. I don’t know. It’s not good.

Summary

We’re introduced to Dierdre dreaming about the Hatchet Show at Fear Park, and the text tries to fake us out where she thinks it’s a dream and then thinks it’s not but she wakes up. She reminds us of what happened in the other books, and she mentions the park is closed for a while since they’re doing more safety checks on it. Which is crazy. A literal bomb went off in the house of mirrors. It seems like it’d be shut down for the rest of the summer.

Dierdre goes downstairs and finds her dad choking and pulling worms out of his throat. We cut to Robin Fear, who is in his father’s study making worms appear in Jason Bradley’s throat. I’m realizing that Robin has near infinite power. He can cause people to murder each other, cause people to commit suicide, and make people explode from the inside out, and yet for some reason he just cannot get this park shut down. Anyway, Meghan comes in and asks him what he’s doing, and he tells her he’s casting a protection spell. Meghan tells him she’s tired of trying to keep the park safe, and she’s tired of being immortal, and I don’t blame her. It seems like she’s had a bum rap this whole time. Robin’s tired of her complaining and decides to kill her off as soon as possible. This starts a trend of Robin starting to choke people to death and changing his mind, having to play off his throat grabbing in an insincere way.

Dierdre and her father get to the park, with him exhausted and scared. He refused to go to the doctor, and she thinks it’s because he’s embarrassed, but he tells her he sunk all of his money into the park, every last scent of it. The money Dierdre’s mother left, Dierdre’s college fund, and took out huge loans to cover it. They’re broke. They’ve got nothing left. This is at least a reason for them to keep the park open. Dierdre promises to do what she can to help him out. Robin comes in, and she announces to him they’re doing everything they can to keep the park open. He’s clearly annoyed and tells her he has his shift at the Ferris wheel, and as he leaves, Dierdre gets a call warning her to stay away from Robin Fear.

Robin storms away and imagines straight up hitting Dierdre, which is maybe the most upsetting thing he’s done. He steps into his booth on the Ferris wheel and is so filled with anger that he yanks down on the speed control, sending it into a terrifying frenzy, which I’m not sure if Ferris wheels are made for. I don’t know if you’d build something like that and give it a speed control like that. A bunch of guards run up and reach for the control, but he tells them it’s stuck and they have to get Mr. Bradley. No one even tries to touch the lever again, and when Mr. Bradley shows up, Robin shoves him into the wheel. He reaches down again to strangle him to death, but then he remembers that there are people right behind him and maybe this isn’t the best time to do this. He’s more surprised when Meghan shows up. Shes asks him if he dies, if then the park will close, and Robin wishes that was true. As they leave, Robin sees a skinny, redheaded boy staring at him and feels unnerved.

Dierdre receives more phone calls as she leaves the the trailer to go see her dad in the hospital. She runs into Robin, who she acts coldly to, and she blurts out that they have no money and they have to keep the park open. She’s stopped by the same redheaded boy, and the text cuts back to Robin, who watches their conversation from a distance. It must be so difficult for Stine to keep a sense of suspense and mystery through the entire book. He sees the two of them talking furtively, and Dierdre looks unhappy to hear what he’s saying. for some reason this puts Robin in a panic, and he races back home.

He calls Dierdre under the pretense of asking about her dad, and she acts very distant and cold to him, refusing to talk to him. This convinces Robin that the redhead boy is an immortal. He goes to the park to work and sees Dierdre and the redhead kid there together. It’s very clear the two of them are on a date, and I’m sort of in love with the idea of a villain thinking their significant other is suspicious of them and not cheating on them. Though this does paint Dierdre in a bad light, as it’s clear she either doesn’t know how to break things off with boys or she’s uninterested in doing that.

He overhears her call him Gary, and he stalks them around the park for a while. He sees them get on one of those swing rides and starts to cast a spell to cause Gary’s swing to break, but gets distracted when a kid starts screaming. In the confusion, the ride starts up, and one of the swings breaks free, throwing itself off into a power line where the body is electrocuted. In his excitement, Robin runs up to it, realizing with horror that it’s not Gary at all! He can’t tell if dumb luck saved Gary, or if he’s an immortal who has magic of his own.

Dierdre goes to visit her dad, Robin unsuccessfully tries to strangle Mr. Bradley again, unsuccessfully tries to kill Gary again, Robin gets bullied by some rando, Meghan begs to grow old, and then in a strange scene Meghan and Robin get into an argument that ends with them literally tearing the flesh off each other’s faces. There’s actually a kind of nice scene between the two of them where Robin puts their faces back together with magic and they talk for a bit. He asks her if she remembers a Gary, and she says sure. Gary Barth.

Dierdre is at the park, and Robin finds her. He forces her to walk with him. She’s freaked out and uncertain and at some point just turns around runs away from him, framing it as just wanting to race. She buys some cotton candy, and Robin casts a spell that makes it stick across her face, choking her. He pretends to go get help, but thank goodness Gary arrives with a cup of water, which is all that’s needed to dissolve it. Robin runs up to them. Deirdre gets nervous and tells him that Gary was her boyfriend last year, and now that he’s back she wants to pick things up with him again. Robin thinks this is a ploy and she’s lying. I don’t know why he thinks this. He returns home and goes through his spellbooks, trying to figure out how to get rid of Gary. He finds a passage that tells him an immortal can only be killed by the dead, and he concocts a scheme, inviting Meghan to the park with him.

He gets Meghan, Deirdre, and Gary to meet him at the Hatchet Show. The lights dim, the four of them take their seats, and the actors walk across the stage. But when the actors turn around, they start screaming. They’re not actors at all! They’re zombies back from the dead! They crawl out to the audience, but instead of attacking the others, they drag down Robin, raising their axes, and chopping him to pieces. The girls cheer as the evil is defeated. They hug each other and thank each other for helping out with their plan. It was Meghan sending the messages, and it was Meghan who turned Deirdre against Robin, and they found the spell to bring the kids back to life and engineered a way to bring Robin here. They explain all this to Gary, who must be really confused but seems to just roll with it. The dead kids run off to enjoy the rides they died for, before disappearing forever.

Favorite Line

Robin smoothed the skin over Meghan’s cheek with two fingers.

“Like new.” She smiled.

“No–don’t smile!” Robin warned. “You’ll crease it.”

Fear Street Trends

Actual fashions this time around! It’s so weird to read about robin being in “baggy chinos”. All the boys are in baggy pants, Gary wears a muscle shirt, Dierdre wears a scrunchie (so 90s!), as well as pink crop tops with cut offs.

Rating

I’m torn on this one. I found this the most boring of any of the Fear Park books. It’s repetitive and there’s nothing that actually happens in it for most of the book, but the ending is probably the best in the series and a really good, satisfying ending to this trilogy, and it honestly ties everything in together. So I’m going to give it three throttled necks out of five.

Fear Park: The Loudest Scream

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The Cover

the loudest scream

I like the cover (taken from its Goodreads page). It reminds me of that weird cover I found of Goodnight Kiss, with the sinister merry-go-round. Like many things that evoke a childlike innocence, it’s pretty easy to make them creepy, and I’m fond of this image. It’s unclear what the girl on the cover is screaming about, and her outfit looks a little old fashioned, so I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be Meghan or Deirdre.

Tagline

Buy a ticket to terror.

That is a good tagline. Thematic, sinister, but no spoilers. It’s what would be on the movie poster.

Summary

We open about where we left off. Robin and Deirdre have just attended Paul’s funeral after his unfortunate accident at the Ferris wheel. Deirdre is very sad about this for good reason. She’s the one who found him after all, and they were dating, except she was cheating on him with Robin, which makes his appearance at the funeral a little crass. Robin tells her that Fear Park is cursed, that Nicholas Fear cursed it all those years ago, and that maybe her father should consider giving up on building that park. As Deirdre babbles about her father’s dream and how sad she is about her dead boyfriend, robin considers killing her as well, but not before a phantom walks out of the graveyard, someone who looks just like Paul. Only it’s not. Jared is a year younger than Paul, and Deirdre warns us he’s “kind of wild”. So just like every guy who attends Shadyside.

Jared snaps at Deirdre when he sees her, though he doesn’t bring up her bringing her new boyfriend to her now dead boyfriend’s funeral. He’s instead more concerned about her father, who’s still going through with building Fear Park. Robin is delighted by his anger. Jared threatens to go down to Mr. Bradley’s office himself and have it out, and Deirdre is worried about any trouble he might bring. As she and Robin walk away, he catches his reflection in a car window. Half of his face is fine, but the other half has sunken in, turned purple and grey, and started to rot. He quickly ditches Deirdre and hurries back to his manor.

He goes into his father’s library and finds his books. At no point does he explain why he’s remained immortal since seventeen, so pretty soon after the last book, and his father didn’t, or what happened to his mother who returned as a skull-faced ghost and then promptly disappeared from the story. He chants, channels some of that purple smoke, and fixes his face, only to be interrupted by a noise in the house. He goes to investigate and finds Meghan waiting for him. Meghan, for the most part, seems unbothered by anything she’s learned about the Fears. Robin tells us that he told Meghan he wanted to stay immortal to stop the Fear curse, rather than cause it like he’s actually doing, and he took her along in his journey. It seems all Robin has done with this is lock her in the manor. It’s been about sixty years since this would’ve happened, and Meghan seems only mildly annoyed that she has to stay inside while Robin gets to go out and play. We don’t see a ton of manipulation from him, which would’ve made for some good villainy, and it’s unclear why she agreed to this or how she feels about all this witchcraft nonsense. When we do get her perspective later on, it’s all about how jealous she is of Deirdre. Typical girl stuff amiright.

Deirdre goes to visit her father at his office in Fear Park and finds Jared there instead. He stammers through an apology and tells her he needs a job for the summer, that he could take over for Paul. He’s doing this as a ploy, of course, hoping to get on the inside so that he can cause trouble from there. Mr. Bradley walks in, and Jared has trouble keeping his cool, but when Mr. Bradley explains that all the positions are filled, he snaps at him and puts the blame for Paul’s death at his feet. He storms out where his friends are waiting, picks up a rock, and tosses it. They hear a shriek , and Jared realizes he accidentally he hit one of the monkeys in the park’s zoo portion. I’d always gotten the impression that parks are stocked with rides and things that any teenager could pick up the controls on without causing horrible death or mild inconvenience, and the animals they keep are better suited for a zoo. Honestly if I went to an amusement park with a lion preserve, I’d be worried about those lions.

Anyway, he gets into it with the animal keeper Gunther, who threatens to have them removed, and the boys walk away. Robin sees them and catches up, telling them he knows exactly how they can get even with Gunther. He leads them through the woods until they come to a cliff. It’s unclear how tall this cliff is, but it doesn’t really match my geography for the Fear Woods. But the story needs it. Robin says that Gunther feeds the lions from this cliff, and they can see them below. This seems exceptionally unsafe. If nothing else, there shouldn’t be an overhang where any old child could slip and fall to be mauled by lions. There would at least be a railing, but again, amusement parks seem like the kind of place where they would cut costs like this. Robin tells the boys he’ll let them in, and if they want to come along and scare Gunther when it’s feeding time, he won’t say a thing.

The boys lie in wait for Gunther, discussing how this might maybe be a bad idea, but then they see him walking up the trail to the cliff. The boys flank him as he comes to the feeding spot, and they do the whole song and dance of “I’m gonna push you off the cliff”, and as they threaten him, a strange purple smoke spills over the cliff. The boys start to back off, and this is where I wonder why Robin needed these punks at all. What happens is Gunther becomes possessed and just walks off the edge, falling into the lion pit below, where he is torn apart. This required no witnesses, and no one starts to suspect someone pushed him. Later when the police arrive, it’s an accident. It would’ve been far better if the boys became possessed and started tearing at each other like the kids with the hatches, sending all but Jared over the cliff. But, no. Jared and co. run away, even running into some security guards, and at no point is it brought up that they might be the culprits.

Deirdre and Robin find the body, the police are called. The lions get shot with tranquilizers because they’ve tasted human flesh and now want more, which is really kind of big-headed of us to assume that we taste so darn good it makes carnivores go into a feeding frenzy. As they walk away, Robin almost decides right then and there to smash Deirdre’s head in with a hammer but is stopped when a few workers come by. We cut to the next day, where Robin tells Meghan he has to go to the park to make sure nothing happens. Meghan, being trapped alone in the house for the past sixty years, her anxiety gets the better of her, and she decides to go the park. It’s actually kind of a nice scene, where Meghan marvels at the modern fashions and new electrics, and her heart is warmed to see Fear Park operational. Until she sees Robin, making out with Deirdre. She runs back in tears towards the mansion.

Robin and Deirdre, meanwhile, are enjoying their break from work as they walk around the park. He tries to convince her to go on the Ferris wheel with him so he can push her off the top, but she’s nervous because of that whole dead boyfriend thing. He tells her when you fall off a horse, you have to get back on, which I’m not sure is the exact same as the trauma of seeing your boyfriend sliced up by a machine meant to bring joy. She tells him no, and he goes back to his shift.

Jared and his buddies are watching the news, trying to figure out what to do about Gunther. They’ve figured out no one’s coming for them, but they do know there’s a loose end: Robin Fear. They decide to go to Fear Park and see what he knows, which may be the worst idea this gang of bad ideas has come up with. They go up to the ticket counter, where they are appropriately asked for tickets, and Jared flips out, saying he just needs to talk to someone. He gets so angry about being asked to pay entrance into the park, he grabs the man through the booth and starts shaking him violently. When security arrives, Jared has now changed his tune and says they can’t kick him out if he pays for a ticket, which is obviously wrong. Jared and co. quickly back away and find another entrance, sneaking into the Hall of Mirrors through the emergency exit. Robin sees them and starts to follow. To compound their mischief, the guys plant firecrackers along the route. Jared sees Robin watching them, and Robin quickly ducks out, delighted at this turn of events.

Robin finds Deirdre and points her to the Hall of Mirrors, telling her to take her turn. It’s great, he tells her, she’ll have a hoot. She turns around, telling him she’s got to get something to her dad first, but she’ll meet up with him later. Only slightly disappointed, Robin begins to do a spell, and possibly for the first time in this series, the magic words are written down. “Jadot kalisto,” Robin whispers, and “Exto denota.” I’m guessing this is some modified Latin, but I can’t tell you what it’s supposed to say. The air vibrates, and from within the Hall of Mirrors comes an explosion. A body with no head lands at Robin’s feet, and it seems to be raining body parts. I’m not an expert in explosions, I’ve only watched every single episode of Mythbusters, and I’m not sure if this is how that works? It makes more sense to see splattered and burned meat than say severed limbs, but maybe in the Fear Street universe people are built like those robots in the World’s End. Robin also watches Jared and his friends react with horror and then bolt. Bradley comes running up, presumably with firefighters in tow, and Robin grabs him, telling him he saw exactly who did this.

While the park is cleaned up, Deirdre goes home, exhausted, afraid, and defeated. She finds tucked in an envelope a news article from 1935 with a picture of the kids before the massacre happened. A picture of Robin Fear. Robin gets home after telling the police a description of four boys, and Meghan comes running at him with a knife. She plunges it into his chest, and he pulls it out, blood free, no damage. She tells him she saw him with another girl, and he tells her that girl is Deirdre Bradley. That he had to get close to her to make sure the park was running smoothly. That Meghan is the only girl for him. She seems to believe him, though he’s not sure and starts planning her demise.

Jared and co. are having a real rough day, and are trying to figure out what to do about it. One of the boys suggests running, but they know there’ll be police on the roads. Jared figures Robin Fear saw them, and he saw them planting firecrackers, which may be enough to clear them. They decide to go to him and get him to tell the police they’re innocent.

Deirdre sees Robin too, and she holds the news article in his face. He’s confused at first, and tells her that he looks a lot like his grandfather. She’s obviously embarrassed, and I’m not sure what she was accusing him of in the first place. I guess with a surname like Fear you get that sort of thing a lot. Robin immediately storms home and demands to know from Meghan why she sent that, and she’s confused. How could she give Deirdre the article? This is more concerning to Robin, because it might mean someone else followed him from 1935.

He leaves the house, only to get nabbed by Jared and co. They show him the sketches, and he plays innocent, telling them he hasn’t even seen them yet. Robin sneaks off, pretending to talk to the police, and when he returns he tells them that they refused to listen, and they have orders to shoot on sight. The boys panic, and Robin tells them they have to make the police listen. By taking a hostage. By taking Dierdre as hostage. The police are just human, he reasons to them. Surely once they hear what you have to say, all this explosion and hostage-taking nonsense will be forgiven.

Robin leads Dierdre to possibly the stupidest boys in any of these books. As soon as he walks through the door, he’s knocked out, and Jared grabs Deirdre and knocks her out. She comes to in room, Robin on the floor, with the boys arguing in the next room about what to do. She immediately searches for something to cut her ties with and sees some shears. She inches toward them, and Jared comes into the room. They all start to argue as purple smoke fills the room, and one by one, the boys explode. Robin grabs Deirdre and tells her it’s the curse as they watch them all pop, and then the smoke disappears without harming either of them. They stand up in the horror show, and Dierdre says she has to convince her father to abandon this project, and Robin promises to help her.

Favorite Line

“I’m giving you a two-man escort out of here. We only do that with our VIPs–Very Import Punks!”

Fear Street Trends

Not too many. Jared, of course, as a bad boy, has one ear pierced, and as Meghan wanders through the fairground she sees girls in short skirts and jeans, marveling that even old people wear sneakers. I’m hopeful Meghan and Deirdre interact in the next book, with some contrast between the two of them.

Rating

I cannot imagine reading these as three separate books. There’s no separation between them. At least this one felt like it might have an actual plot, but it still feels incomplete. The only real addition to the story is the return of Meghan and the mysterious voice. Nothing else went anywhere. I’ll give it two hungry lions out of five.

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 dollarĀ  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.