Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Lost Girl or "Someone Gets Stabbed Through the Eye With a Flaming Candle, No Joke."

Welcome back to Fear Street y’all!

Turns out that R.L. Stine is publishing the new Fear Street books pretty fast and furious. Nothing like he was in the 90s (approximately 400 per year) but he’s been publishing one every six months since 2014! We have some catching up to do, clearly.

I am back with The Lost Girl, and boy, what a return to form it was! Like all great Fear Street novels, this one starts with a prologue and jumps back and forth between 1950 and 2016. The prologue is actually pretty long (like 8 chapters!) and focuses on Beth and her Italian family.

Beth’s family is finally opening their own stable. Beth’s father, Angelo Palmieri, worked as a stable hand for a prominent Irish family, the Dooleys, basically his whole life. (My immediate thought was they are all in Italian/Irish gangs! I wasn’t that far off). He’s finally saved enough money to open his own stable, and today is the opening day.

The whole family is ridiculously happy, although there is some tension between Beth and her mom. Beth is mad because her mom grounded her from last Sunday’s sock hop since Beth failed geometry. Beth thinks “Everyone knows girls aren’t good at math. Why does mom expect me to be special?” This has nothing to do with the plot, I just loved that these types of lines were thrown in. Classic Fear Street.

Another Fear Street classic is coming up - Beth is being stalked by Aaron Dooley, of Dooley Stables fame. Well, he’s the nephew of the stable owners. He follows Beth around, trying to convince her to kiss him. This is on page 8: “I tried to squirm free, but his gloved hands were inside my open coat and he tightened them around my waist. ‘Aaron, get off’ I snapped. ‘Get your paws off me. I’m in a hurry.’. The icy blue eyes flashed with excitement. He tightened his grip and pulled me to the side of the apartment building. ‘I’m tired of playing games with you,’ he said.”

WTF.

And yes, it only gets worse! Assaultist Aaron pins Beth down and covers her face with kisses (weird), until Beth reveals the trick up her sleeve - she’s telekinetic and is mentally choking Aaron out.  She says “Why Aaron, you seem to have swallowed your tongue”, which admittedly, is a pretty bad ass thing to say while you’re choking someone.  Beth doesn’t kill Aaron, but instead leaves him in the snow, feeling very satisfied that he is now afraid of her. She’s not any worse for wear for the horrifying assault, as she laughs at how scared Aaron is, so that seems about par of the course for Shadyside women. She continues on her way to her dad’s stable opening and has a fine afternoon. Could RL have picked a less awful way for Beth to demonstrate her skills?

Martin Dooley, proprietor of Dooley Stables, shows up after the stable opening. Beth obviously stands around to eavesdrop, like all good Shadyside characters do. Martin accuses Angelo of betrayal for opening a competing stable, although how could he not have noticed this earlier? Like, when Angelo quit and built the stable? Maybe he has a flair for drama.  

While threatening Angelo about the business, Martin brings up Beth and how she “thinks she’s too good to go out with a Dooley?” Uh, yeah Martin, even Beth, the math dunce, is too good for Aaron. Anyways, Angelo and Martin get into a fight about who’s junk is bigger (I can only assume) and Martin leaves after threatening Angelo. The chapter ends with a classic “Two days later, my life ended.” OOOOOOOOOOHH.

Two days later, Irish thugs come and kidnap Angelo from the stable, while Beth looks on in horror from the office. She goes after the cars with her father in it, in the most boring and slow car chase. It is literally during a traffic jam. The thugs take him to Dooley’s Stables, of course, where he’s tied up on the ground between two stakes. Beth tries to do some telekinesis magic spell, but it doesn’t work. Beth kinda sucks.

What follows here though is quite possibly the most INSANE Fear Street death. Martin Dooley comes out and covers Angelo in honey and oats (delish!) and then releases...the horses? Yes friends, Angelo is savagely ripped apart when the horses are let loose and they eat the honey and oats, and I guess just keep on eating and kill Angelo? What? Is this something that horses do - eat their food and then just keep eating whatever’s beneath it until they’ve tunneled through to the centre of the earth? I actually googled “horses eat human flesh?” (note the incredulous question mark there). All I found is Greek mythology and a list of 10 countries who eat horse flesh. Maybe it was a revenge murder then.

Anyhoo, Beth has been watching this happen from behind a building. Since she kinda sucks, when she turns to run and get help, she runs the wrong way, and is quickly seen by the murderous irishmen and their band of flesh-eating horses (huh).  Oh, Aaron has shown up now too. They chase her into the woods and she crawls into a cave, hoping to hide from the absolute insanity she just saw. As she rushes deeper in the the cave she suddenly feels like she’s falling…

Present Day

We now meet Mike. Mike’s dad owns the snowmobile store and rental place in Fear Street which is pretty cool, and he has a girlfriend named Pepper who has fiery red hair - OF COURSE she does. We’ve discussed how Shadyside seems to have the highest proportion of redheads in the world, yes? I guess due to all the Irish gangs.

Anyways, he’s out grocery shopping for his mom when he spots the most beautiful girl - he describes her as looking like Emma Stone. Interesting. I think given our knowledge of RL’s love of redheads, we may have stumbled across his celebrity crush!  Mike is watching her so intently, he also watches her steal a bunch of food. Odd. They talk outside the store about Mike’s dog and two weird things happen: she knows his name without him telling her; and he apparently wandered out of the store without his groceries and has to go back in. She introduces herself as Mindy Barker. Get it together, Mike.

The next chapter introduces the rest of the characters: Gabe is Mike’s best friend, who loves video games. Diego is the big athlete, and Kathryn is the small artsy one. Pepper rounds them out. When Mike runs into Mindy in the hall and introduces Gabe, she laughs at Mike and tells him her real name is Lizzy Walker. Mike is embarrassed for some inexplicable reason - how would you know this random new girl would give you a fake name?? This had no impact on the plot. So weird!

Also, the name Lizzy? Are teens slower than they were in the 80s and 90s? Or does RL want people to catch on early? If you don’t understand my meaning, I’m sure you’ll catch up soon.

Mike runs into Lizzy again that afternoon - she tells him she’s LOST. Get it? He points her in the right direction and she attempts to hold his hand. Actually wait. She holds his hand, then pricks his finger with a thumbtack, pricks her own and pushes them together before Mike can react. WHAT?! She whispers “now we’re bloods.” Please tell me what your reaction would be if a person did that to you. Because holy crap, how Mike is not terrified for his life is beyond me.

He thinks very little of this extremely distressing incident and then goes to work on the yearbook with Pepper. Pepper saw him with Lizzy earlier in the day and is jealous (of course) but he tells her she has nothing to worry about. As he has Lizzy’s blood coursing through his veins! Scandalous!

That night, Lizzy wanders over to his house out of the blue claiming she got *lost* and also doesn’t explain how she knew where Mike lived. Super weird. His mom invites her in for dinner where she eats like a feral animal that’s been caught in a cage for weeks. She hears that Michael and his friends are going snowmobiling the next day and begs to come. When he says yes, she kisses him on the cheek out of happiness! Which is totally something new friends do... Of course Pepper comes over right then to see Lizzy eating at the dinner table with the family, also kinda kissing Mike. With Pepper super pissed off, Lizzy wanders off into the night again, in the wrong direction. Classic Lizzy!

The most surprising part of the snowmobile day is that the kids are drinking again! I mean, I’m not surprised teens are drinking, but it was very rare for Fear Street kids to drink in the original series, but it seems like they drink in every book now. It’s Mike, Pepper, Lizzy, and their three friends whose name I can’t bother looking up right now. Diego and so and so.

Anyways, after downing a few beers, they start snowmobiling. Everything is going well; Pepper even promised to try to be nice to Lizzy since she’s new in town - probably a bigger person than me.  Mike is snowmobiling down a path and … someone starts to cross in front of him. Mike feels like he can’t move his arms to swerve, or hands to brake! He runs over the guy, and then is able to get his body under control. Too late - he's dead.

Everyone is freaking out. Lizzy says that she knows him - his name is Angel and he almost beat two kids to death! They all agree that he was bad news, and should probably just leave him there. Wha?  Luckily, Mike has a change of heart before they get back to his dad’s shop. He realizes that it clearly looks like Angel was run over by snowmobiles, so it probably won’t take too long for (even) the Shadyside police to put two and two together. So even though their change of heart was more based on logistics than morality, they troupe back to the scene of the crime to call for help.

Except.. The body is gone!

Part Two- 1950

It’s been a few days since Angelo was murdered by flesh-eating horses, and Beth is still missing. I guess the Irish gang dumped Angelo in the forest as the police tell her they think he was eaten by wolves. Nice police work there. Beth’s mom, Gina, decides to have a double funeral.  

During the funeral Martin Dooley comes to pay his respects, which does not sit well with ol’ Gina. She stabs him in the eye with a goddamn candle, which lights his face and head on fire. Gina does NOT eff around! This is how she reacts after she sees Martin Dooley go up in flames: “Gina crossed her arms in front of her chest and watched.” Bad ass.

Part Three - Present

Of course the Shadyside teachers take their students grave rubbing. Reminds me of the teacher in Hocus Pocus who is way to into the Sanderson sisters. Like, I get it, you live in a creepy town. You don’t need to drag children to cemetery on a dreary day.

Lizzy conveniently finds Beth and Angelo’s graves to do rubbings on. Weird.  Weirder still, when Michael is by himself, he sees Angel climbing out of a grave! His friends think that Angel must be alive then, that Michael didn’t kill him in  the snowmobile accident. So...the theory is that Angel is fine, but just hangs around in open graves…? I mean, it’s Shadyside, so this might be a valid theory.

Lizzy on the other hand thinks that Angel is dead (she claims he was real dead when she examined him at the accident) so it must be an evil ghost. I guess as equally likely a theory. Lizzy is very scared, so Michael gives her a hug. As he’s hugging her, this happens: “I held onto Lizzy. Her tears felt hot against my cheek. Am I becoming obsessed with her?”  Hahaha WTF. By the way, the italics were R.L.s, not mine! Classic Fear Street fear boner.

Anyways, Pepper sees this hug and dumps Michael, thank goodness. What a wang.  He gets a threatening phone call that night and the caller claims that Mike killed him. Mike refuses to go to the police, which is probably fair enough. I mean, this guy made a threatening phone call, but Mike had previously run him over.  

(Confession time: At this point in my recap, I put the book down and didn’t pick it up for 2 months. My recollection is hazy and my notes aren’t that good. Luckily, this recap is already super long so I don’t feel guilty with how poorly I will recap the rest of the book. This is only halfway!)

The next day, Lizzy gets knocked out at school and although she (unsurprisingly) doesn’t see her attacker, he whispers in her ear “one by one”. Much to Mike’s delight, Lizzy kisses him later that week at his house. Much to my disgust, she reminds him that they’re “bloods”, as in, remember that time I pricked your finger and gave you a blood-born illness? After she leaves his house, his mom is missing her special amethyst ring. Mike is flabbergasted by what could have happened to it!

Obviously, Lizzy is wearing the ring and telling everyone Mike gave it to her. He’s so mad he thinks about how he is actually seeing red! A little bit of a rage issue, like all good Fear Street men. Before he can confront Lizzy, he is given a paper bag full of red hair by a random student - Pepper’s hair! Mike doesn’t know what happened to Pepper, so he and Gabe rush to the hospital. On the way, their car is chased and rammed from behind.

Mike wakes up in hospital.  Gabe was crushed to death. My next notes says “Confesses all to cops. Asks about zombies?” I don’t remember that, but I really liked that note, so there you go. Even after all that has happened, Mike is still mostly thinking of Lizzy.  The police visit him a few days later to ask about Lizzy, since they’ve discovered there is no Lizzy Walker in school. Mike thinks about how he doesn’t know anything about her and “Maybe she’s poor…”. Worst case scenario for any Shadysider, I know.

Lizzy comes to find Mike and begs for his help.  When he tells her to go to the police she is certain that Angel would kill her for doing that, and insists she needs the help of her “blood”, gross.  She makes out with Mike then asks him to kill Angel for her (specifically, tomorrow night). Mike agrees and Lizzy says she’ll get a gun. That was fast.

In an interesting way to spend their time, Mike and Diego decide to continue filming a class project. Macbeth, to be exact. Diego wants to film it in the boiler room of their school, for unknown reasons. Mike agrees but when he goes down, Diego has been tied to the boiler, and when Mike releases the ropes, all his skin slides off his back. Barf.

Diego is surprisingly alive, although probably wishes he wasn’t. Pepper (who is fine, just got knocked out and had her head shaved) and Mike try to work on the yearbook to take their minds off their dead and maimed friends. They make an interesting discovery - in an old 1950 yearbook, there is a Beth Palmieri that looks identical to Lizzy! Pepper also points out their names are the same.  Mike remembers he saw something like that in the cemetery and they go confirm that, yup, Beth Palmieri is buried there. They don’t know what to make of this. Pepper asks to hang out that night but Mike says no, thinking about how Lizzy is getting a gun.

He goes to meet Lizzy that night at the spot of the old Fear Mansion. He can’t find Lizzy so he just wanders around the Fear Street Woods (at night in winter) until Pepper comes up behind him. She followed him because he’s been such a weirdo.  Lizzy comes then and flies into a rage when she sees Pepper there. She uses her telekinesis (which I kinda forgot about) to freeze Pepper in place. Lizzy excitedly tells Mike that he’s here so she can kill him.  Angel steps out of the woods too. It is actually Aaron Dooley for some reason? They are working together?

So apparently Lizzy has been lusting for revenge on Mike because (surprise!) Mike is Martin Dooley’s grandson. Martin Dooley has been dead for years (probably because his face caught fire), but Lizzy doesn’t let that satisfy her. Lizzy and Aaron lead Mike to the cave that she used to escape in 1950 and explains it’s actually a time travelling tunnel back to that year.  She also explains that Aaron followed her through the time portal, (most likely, because he was/is a stalker who is obsessed with her).  Aaron claims he was disgusted by how his father killed Beth/Lizzy’s father and he was too scared to move when it happened.  That doesn’t explain the assault from the beginning of the book. Oh here it is: “We...had a bad time before...A bad moment a few days before. I actually hated him. But I was wrong about him. He loved me. He loved me so much, he followed me into the cave.” God dammit R.L.

Lizzy and Aaron go to shove Mike through the time travelling cave where they say he will cease to exist (although I should mention that if they travelled from 1950 to 2016 and stayed 16, Mike would travel to 1950 and also remain 16. If they didn’t age, he wouldn’t anti-age into non-existence. The physics is all wrong!). Luckily Pepper comes out of her frosty spell and screams. This moment of distraction allows Mike to shove Lizzy and Aaron into the cave where… they age 70 years very rapidly (I don’t think this is how time-travel works). Also, they age until they are an old pile of bones, which I think if very unfair to 86 year olds.

The books of course ends with Mike doing a grave rubbing of Beth Palmieri’s grave, because why the eff not.

Alright, this book was waaaaayyyy too long and also, didn’t make the best sense. Putting the issues with time-traveling caves aside, I don’t really get Lizzy and Aaron’s plan. Okay, they wanted to torture Mike for what his grandfather did. Did they have to kill and maim multiple innocent others? Also, why did they have to run Aaron/Angel over with the snowmobile?? Couldn’t they have just started stalking Mike out of the blue? Aaron seemed great at that!


Well, there you have it. The Lost Girl by R.L. Stine.  I can’t say that I loved it because it was a little crazy in a bad way. Seventeen flesh-eating-horses out of thirty-two.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Don’t Stay Up Late, or “Crazy Things Happen to Crazy People”


Time for another new Fear Street!

I am liking the new Fear Street relaunch, in theory. The new books definitely look appropriately scary, anyways, and Don’t Stay Up Late is no different. Girl alone in a darkened room, horrifying shadow pressing in behind her. It’s creepy. Even the title, Don’t Stay Up Late, gives a shivery warning, which makes it feel just a little bit naughty. The tagline: In the dead of night, the evil one awaits. That is effing creepy. So far I’m impressed. Does the substance of this newer, sexier Fear Street live up to its shiny wrapper? Wait and see …

Part One

Oh, lordy yes! Already divided into parts. This used to be how you could tell a super chiller from a regular Fear Street, it was separated into parts. Now, all the books have parts? We will roll with it.

Enter Lisa, our heroine of the novel, who is new to town and self-identifies as a twisted psycho. An interesting way to introduce yourself, she’ll fit right in at Shadyside High. Lisa has been at school for a month and already she has a best friend (Saralynn) and a boyfriend (Nate). Nate and Lisa met when she (accidentally) pushed him down a flight of stairs. It was love at first assault. They also have another friend, Isaac, who is described as chubby and funny, which pretty much ensures his death.

She explains the night of the accident started off like any other. She was out with her friends at the local burger joint as Saralynn tells them that she wants to make a horror movie for a class project. And it just so happens that Nate is a horror film nut, with tons of movie posters and costumes in his attic. They all agree to be in this film. I love it, I can already see how things are going to go south here, crazy boyfriend, film becoming much too realistic.

While they are chatting, Lisa confesses she snuck out of the house to be there as her parents are super overprotective. This is just as her dad comes storming into the diner and forces her to leave, causing her to die of embarrassment. Lisa behaves exactly like any other teen ever, and is a brat, fighting as they drive home. Her dad loses control of the car and they have a horrific accident.

When Lisa wakes up, she’s in a hospital bed. Her father is lying next to her, the steering column jammed through his skull. As she starts screaming again, her mom and nurses appear to calm her down and explain she’s had some head trauma that is causing hallucinations. But she was right about one thing – her dad is not okay.

Well, that is effing horrible. Rarely do Fear Streets start off with such genuine grief and horror. I’m feeling for Lisa. On top of losing her father, she’s going to see horrific visions due to the brain trauma. That’s just peachy.

Part Two

Lisa has started to see a psychiatrist to help deal with her grief and hallucinations. Dr. Shein doesn’t think she’s up for school yet. Just as an aside, I’m impressed that they all seem to be coping with their dead dad/husband quite well, as in their actually trying to deal with their loss. Like, she’s having nightmares of his death after two weeks? No problem, that’s normal. In old Fear Streets, you were supposed to get over death instantaneously. Grief must expire at the funeral, otherwise everyone acts like there is something wrong with you.

Late one night, Lisa hears a dog howling under her window so goes out to find it. The world looks strange at night, and she sees a shadowy creature – standing on two legs, skinny, bald, with red glowing eyes, pig ears and snout and a row of fangs. Lisa figures she must be dreaming but she can’t stop screaming, and the shadow creature grabs her …

It was her mom, who’s frantic that her daughter’s sleepwalking in the middle of the night. Lisa wonders if she’ll be crazy forever.

The next morning she goes to Nate’s and starts screaming because she sees a hideous green creature. It comes towards her and grabs her around the waist – it was Nate and he’s all pleased with his joke, as Lisa is like – yup, I’ll be crazy forever. They are filming Saralynn’s horror film, using one of Nate’s many horror costumes. Hmmm … like maybe with a weird pig mask with red eyes? Lisa gets a funny feeling that Nate and Saralynn are keeping something from her. Like how they are trying to make her even more crazy by torturing her with monster costumes?

Lisa sees her shrink again, who lets her go to school and encourages her to get a job. She knows of a woman looking for a babysitter for her little boy, which would be perfect for Lisa. And they live on – dun dun DUN! – Fear Street.

Part Three

Isaac tries to convince her not to take the job. She’s at his house, waiting for her other friends to arrive, listening to his horrible band rehearse. Isaac is wearing a (pop culture reference!) Vampire Weekend tshirt. Yay! I don’t remember that many pop culture references from the older books – maybe I just didn’t get them. Isaac stresses how much she should not go to Fear Street. He even gives a brief run down of the Fear/Goode curse and that they learn about it in school! Awesome. Lisa is mad that Isaac is such a downer. Then he behaves as all Fear Street men do and leans in to kiss her after trying to scare her. Nate arrives just then and Lisa doesn’t know if he saw the kiss or not, but he doesn’t mention anything. He does say that Brendan Fear is a good guy and Fear Street isn’t so bad. He drives Lisa to meet her new boss, Brenda Hart.

The babysitting job isn’t hard – she’s to pick up eight-year-old Harry from his aunt’s house (where he’s homeschooled) three days a week when Brenda has to work late, and the job pays really well. There are some signs that Harry is different – he’s super self sufficient, there’s no sign of a kid in the house, and he goes to bed very early. Brenda stresses how important it is that he doesn’t stay up late. Lisa thinks Harry is adorable, but Brenda warns Lisa to NEVER let Harry stay up late. She’s very intense about this. Her reason is because he would be cranky the next day. Haha, as a mom, I totally get this.

Lisa gets a call from Summer Lawson, Nate’s ex. Summer warns Lisa that she’s in lots of trouble because of Nate, then hangs up. Alright, Lisa is getting creepy on all sides here.

The next day she goes to pick Harry up, first day on the job, and once again thinks how angelic he is. Lisa hears what sounds like sobbing from Harry’s aunt’s basement, but the aunt says it’s just the cat.

Nate calls her while she’s babysitting to see how it’s going and Lisa tells him about the weird call from Summer. Nate gets cagey when she asks him where he is and he just says “out.” Hmmm, following his cheating heart or getting ready to terrify his girlfriend? Given that it’s Fear Street, I’ll take door number two …

Lisa drifts off on the couch as she does her homework, only to be awoken by tapping upstairs. She sees a figure at the top of the stairs – she chases it to Harry’s room where it jumps out the window. It looks up at her and she sees the same demon face as before.

Harry isn’t in his room and she’s full out panicking, until he makes a noise at the front of the house. He was hiding in the front closet all along. Lisa doesn’t tell Brenda about the demon intruder because she doesn’t want to lose the job. That’s some crazy logic. I’d be like: fuck you and this crazy house, I am out of here.

She does tell her mom, Nate, and her shrink about what she saw, and not one of them believes her. Dr. Shein wants to put her on medication for her hallucinations.

Friday night, she goes to hear Isaac’s band playing. They talk about their fake IDs and their club outfits – the place is open to teens because a teen band is playing, but Nate has to use his ID to get beers. Nate snuggles into Lisa’s neck and it sends a chill down her spine, but in a good way, I guess? Lisa likes that kind of thing. Saralynn cryptically tells her there’s a lot she doesn’t know about Nate. To reiterate this, Summer Lawson approaches her and warns her about Nate, but Lisa thinks everyone is just jelly. She’s the only one who’s getting his spine-chilling caresses! Nate comes to kiss her again and she gets another chill when his cold lips find hers – Fear Street is so hot.

Summer calls her again when she’s babysitting, but she doesn’t answer. Later on Lisa hears footsteps in the kitchen and freezes in fear – the demon! She goes to call 911, but her cell phone is dead – of course it is! Half of horror stuff can’t happen when there’s proper communication. She makes a mental note to ask Brenda for an iPhone charger. Then she goes back to being terrified.

Never mind, it was just Nate, creeping around. He wanted to make her feel better about the intruder last time by breaking in himself. Good to know some things haven’t changed in Fear Street and boys still behave like stalkers. Lisa goes to check on Harry, and when she comes back down, Nate is gone.

The only person there is the demon creature! It spit green goo at her and runs out the back door. She hears screaming outside but doesn’t see anyone.

When her babysitting shift is over, Nate comes back to pick her up. He has blood and scratches on his face he can’t explain. As they leave, they see something across the street. It’s Summer Lawson’s body, her stomach ripped open and bite marks all over her.

Part Four

At the police station, Lisa is told Summer was torn apart and eaten by a human, yuck. Lisa tells the police about the creature and is shamed by everyone, because they are all a bunch of assholes. But Lisa is beginning to suspect that Nate is into more than just horror movies.

Once she has Harry again, it is reiterated that he absolutely can’t stay up late. Now they’re telling her he gets seizures if he doesn’t have enough sleep. You would think that’s kind of pertinent information.

When Harry is in bed, Lisa peeks through some family albums on the shelves and finds a photo of a family reunion that includes both Saralynn and Nate. She calls Saralynn with the evidence and Saralynn confesses they are all second cousins, Nate just didn’t want to tell her.

On Friday, she picks up Harry, and this time her friends come over and they study together – I guess it’s okay because they are related to Brenda and Harry? Nate leaves to see if he can find Isaac. Right after that, Lisa sees the creature, but Saralynn calmly tells her nothing is there. She’s totally gaslighting her, right? Lisa runs to check on Harry – he’s gone too.

As they search for him, she hears a fight outside, then screaming and runs out to see the creature running away. It left something behind – Isaac’s mangled body, half-eaten. Yuck again.

At the police station, once again no one believes her and call her crazy. Saralynn explains she didn’t see a creature. But, like, there was still the body, right? A hallucination didn’t do that. Dr. Shein thinks that Lisa should be better by now – ouch. She puts her on medication and threatens her with a mental hospital.

Lisa has had about enough. She doesn’t take the meds and decides that Nate is the killer. Just then Brenda calls, because she needs an overnight sitter. Lisa thinks she can find something at the house. She searches all the photo albums for clues, and finds a letter from Harry’s former babysitter, Joy, explaining she was having nightmares from her time at their house and had to quit.

Lisa goes to see Joy from the address on the letter, only to be told she was at a mental hospital. Damn. Joy looks normal, but freaks out when Lisa mentions Harry. She keeps shrieking “he’s a demon,” while Lisa is like “oh, so you know Nate?” Lisa is not exactly the sharpest tool in a Fear Street mental institute.

The next day with Harry, because Lisa keeps going back despite the pile of disemboweled bodies, he forgets his backpack at his aunt’s house so Lisa goes back to get it. She hears screaming at the aunt’s house, and follows the sound to the basement, where there are three creatures like the one she saw, in cages. So, it’s a family of demon breeders? She’s all like, yay, proof, but doesn’t take an effing picture, because that would be too easy. She gets Harry home, calls the police, then leaves Harry by himself to go see what happens at the aunt’s. But when she arrives, there’s nothing in the basement and everyone is pissed. Lisa realizes she’s about thisclose to rooming with Joy. She lets Harry stay up late and that’s when the shit hits the fan. His eyes glow and roll back in his head as he turns into the demon and tries to eat her.

Brenda comes home and is remarkably calm, is just mad at Lisa for letting Harry stay up late. She can’t let Lisa go, now that she knows about their family and how they raise demons. There is no explanation as to why they are raising demons. Or why they would rely on a bunch of teenage girls to keep these demons in check. Seriously, what is Brenda doing on those nights that’s more important than not letting the demon out? Anyways, Harry is special because he can take human form. Brenda then tries to stab her in the chest. Nate comes in and saves her and Lisa escapes.

Lisa is at Dr. Shein’s, telling her everything. Of course Shein is in on the whole thing and plans to have her institutionalized because she knows too much. Lisa was chosen for the job because she was already hallucinating since her accident.

But, haha, Lisa was on FaceTime the whole time with all of the police officers outside the door, and they watched Shein’s entire confession. FaceTime ftw! Lisa had figured out Shein’s involvement because she had referred her in the beginning. Lisa and her mom get to go home. Nate and Saralynn disappeared in the night, as does anyone else in connection with the demons.

All is well in the world. Lisa gets a job at a daycare and really likes it. Until one day an angelic little boy comes in, looking exactly like Harry. He’s not Harry, but he does want to stay up late …

Okay the final word on this is that it started off with such promise, and ended up being really cheesy. I mean, the whole demon breeding thing doesn’t make any sense. I guess I’m expecting too much, but I think the whole thing would have been much creepier if her friends had actually been trying to drive her crazy while filming it. That would have been genuinely horrifying. And while little kids can be uber creepy, once Harry turned into a demon, all I could imagine was some kind of cheesy old school horror movie, like creature from the black lagoon, especially with the spitting of green goo.

But hey, I’m just happy that there are new Fear Streets out there! I give this book 4 cheesy swamp monsters out of nine. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Party Games or "Get to the Escape Canoe!"



Welcome back Fear Street fans!

As you can see below, L.K. Stine has already posted her recap of Party Games. We figured since the new books will be so few and far between, no one would mind if we both reviewed. I also didn’t want L.K.’s post to influence me, so I haven’t read her recap yet.

First off: The cover is good, in the sense that it looks pretty creepy.  Dilapidated stairs full of old balloons? Perfect. Although I do miss the 90's covers, with the illustrations of teenagers and their amazing 90's fashion. Don’t worry though, there is a lot of discussion about 2014 fashion in Party Games. R.L. really liked to dropping fashion knowledge like “skinny jeans” and “tangerine jackets”. Tagline: “Are you dying to party?” Yes! It makes sense. I love it. So many fond memories of Fear Street are flooding back.

And there’s a lot of familiar Fear Street trends in this book too. Such as our main character: Rachel. Rachel is poor, hard-working, and pretty (but not too pretty). She goes to school, then works for hours every day after school at a local restaurant, Lefty’s, then goes home to study until she passes out.  Her best friend is a sort-of pudgy red-haired girl named Amy. Aren't they all? Seriously, there are so many red-heads in Shadyside.

Part One

The book opens with Rachel working at Lefty’s and serving some kids from her school, including her crush, Brendan FEAR. He’s sitting with Kerry, Patti and Eric (warning! There are so many characters in this book. Feel free to ignore their names).  Turns out they're planning Brendan’s upcoming birthday party.  And even though Rachel and Brendan have barely ever talked, he invites her to his party. An all-night party at his cabin on Fear Island. She’s super jazzed.  (Note about Brendan. He is always wearing black jeans, and video game t-shirts. …is that cool now?)

“DON’T GO.” This is Amy, town buzzkill, telling her best friend not to go to a party with her crush. Yeah right, Amy.

Amy and Rachel walk home after work, and when Rachel gets home, she sees that her front door is wide open. After a search of the house turns up nothing, they decide it must be that pesky wind. That is, until Rachel finds a dead rat in her bed! She immediately blames it on her ex-boyfriend, Mac. Well, she calls him her ex-boyfriend, then mentions that she just stopped responding to his calls or texts and stopped seeing him. So. Not saying he’s a nice guy, especially since Rachel thinks he’s the type of person to stuff a dead rat in a bed, but… did she even dump him? Cold, Rachel, cold.

Rachel hilariously monologues to herself: “Mac, you can frighten me. But you can’t ruin my life. I’m going to Brendan Fear’s birthday party. It’s going to be the greatest all-night party ever.” Remember when parties were the biggest deal in your life? Like even bigger than discovering someone broke into your house and left a dead rat in your bed? Teens. Don’t ever change!

Rachel goes to meet Amy at a basketball game and runs into Eric from the night before. Eric is the class clown – always making jokes and hitting on girls, but no one takes him too seriously and loves him for it. Amy calls and says her parents grounded her so Rachel leaves to go visit her. 

I’d like to stop here and discuss something weird that I noticed. Rachel talks and thinks SO much about people and situations that didn't have to do with the plot of the book. Case in point: she spends so long explaining Amy’s weird home life and relationships with her parents, and then Amy isn't in the book!  Other ones I noticed: Rachel talks about her sister Beth constantly, so much so, that I thought maybe Beth was dead, and Rachel was crazy (I think that was a Fear Street book at one point); Rachel also talk about Eric all the time. I get it. He’s a lovable doof.  My only thought is that maybe this series is connected, similar to Fear Street Seniors. If R.L. is laying the groundwork for the next few books, I’ll be really impressed. If not, well, I won’t be too surprised.

Anyway, Rachel leaves the game and is accosted by Mac. Mac Attack! is what I called it in my head.  Mac is described as a young Brad Pitt with blonde hair, blue eyes and skinny jeans. He also tells her not to go, saying he “knows what's being planned”. Rachel finally wrenches herself away, with Mac falling over in the process. When she looks back, he’s sitting up and shaking his fist at her. Classic!

Part one ends with Rachel having a scary dream. I hate dream sequences. As a friend once told me, “why would I care about a dream? It’s a weird story that didn’t happen. No thanks.” (This was directly after I told him about a dream I had).  It was about a rat or whatever. I skimmed.

Part Two

There is a huge catamaran to take the kids over to the island on the day of the party. They even have a boat captain, Randy. There are a lot of introductions, since there are so many GD characters in this story! Here are the names: Kerry, Patti and Eric are there again. New characters are April, Delia, Geena, Spider (Robby) and Brendan’s two cousins that don’t know anyone. I barely kept track of them.

As soon as they disembark at the island dock, Randy the boat captain has an accident. He slips and hits his head and then falls into the water. And doesn't resurface. AND NO ONE DOES ANYTHING. There are two Fear employees there, Miguel and Antonio, (servants I guess?) and one of them makes a half-hearted attempt to rescue Randy, while the other one leads the way to the cabin. What?It just seemed too weird that all the teenagers were like, “yeah… I’m sure this employee can mount a rescue attempt by themselves”. So bothersome.

They have to hike a bit to get to the cabin, which is actually a giant, creepy mansion. As they are putting their stuff away, April suddenly mentions that she found a dead squirrel in her bed. Wha? Geena found a dead raccoon! The girls are way too nonchalant about these dead animals. They decide it was someone who wanted to scare them away from the party. Why aren't they more worried that they know someone that would do that!? Also, Rachel is wearing a tangerine jacket. That will be relevant.

They go downstairs to the ballroom, which looks like the ballroom from Beauty and the Beast. Brendan is there, and tells them that Randy the boat captain is fine, and it’s time to get trashed! They have a giant feast, as well as a full service bar, since it’s his 18th birthday.  In my notes, I wrote down a quote from Brendan: “Are you into torture?” Rachel WAS into it. And I remember zero other context, so I’m going to leave it at that.  Rachel just thinks it’s the best day ever!

Until she goes to the bathroom and hears someone that sounds suspiciously like Randy screaming for help. She goes to find him, but Antonio and Miguel, el creepo workers, block her path and tell her everything is fine. Rachel is really freaked out. Remember when she thought it was the best day of her life a few minutes ago? She also keeps thinking about Eric and how he’s both funny and annoying. This strain of thought literally goes nowhere.

She joins back up with the group and they open up the envelopes they were given when they arrived. It contains a scavenger hunt list! See, Brendan wants to spend time playing retro games, so he had his employees (servants?) hide a bunch of weirdo crap around the house and now they’ll find it! April pipes up and asks if dead squirrel is on the list. She accuses Brendan of doing it. Brendan claims innocent, then launches into a story about his great aunt Victoria, who lived out on the island by herself and was really into taxidermy. Apparently she ended up stuffing herself! Right.

Geena still thinks Brendan did it to put them “in the scary mood”. No one else pipes up, so we don’t know if they: 1) believe the taxidermy ghost did it, 2) Brendan did it (crazy-pants), or 3) someone did it to warn them. And yet, they move on, like all those possibilities are totally normal. WTF.

Much to Rachel’s excitement, her and Brendan are partnered for the scavenger hunt. He takes her to the top floor of the mansion in an elevator! (side note, I knew a guy who had an elevator in his cabin. Rich people are weird.) The elevator gets stuck, causing Rachel and every single claustrophobe reading this book to panic. But, JUST KIDDING, Brendan did it as a joke so he could kiss Rachel. She swoons, although I'm not sure if it’s due to romance or relief.

As they’re exploring the upstairs, Rachel and Brendan get separated and Rachel finds a bat nest. Gross. She runs around trying to find Brendan and finds him…hung from the ceiling. Dun dun dunnnnn!

Nope! It’s just another R.L. trick. It was a mannequin, but it’s dressed like Brendan, and has a little note attached: “ANYONE FOR A GAME OF HANGMAN?” They are all “hmm that’s odd” when they hear screams coming from another part of the house.  All the other kids are gathering in another room, and Patti is at the centre. Dead. For real this time! We see no cause of death other than her limbs are all twisted and she’s covered in blood. Her note reads “Twister, anyone?”  Brendan pronounces her dead.

Part Three

The next events happen pretty quickly, and since this post is getting crazy long, I’ll skim a bit.  They realize that there is a psycho murderer, but Brendan points out that they have no cell reception, or phones to call for help. And he says they can’t leave the island since their boat captain is incapacitated with a concussion from his fall. I guess… although I would rather try to figure out how to sail (drive? ride?) a catamaran on a lake then be stuck on an island with a murderer. Just me, maybe.

Then the lights go out. They try to find the chest of flashlights, but they are all gone. The teens start panicking, and Brendan is mysteriously quiet when they demand to know if Randy is really alive. The lights come back on so they check the security camera footage. They see two masked men with shotguns arrive at the house a few hours previously. Uh, shit.  They decide that enough is enough and go down to the docks to take their chances with the boat. Except! All the Fear mansion workers are on the boat and sailing away! Wait, were they going to leave the workers there while they escaped? Justice.

They realize another member of their party is missing – Kerry, who was Patti’s boyfriend. They start looking for him in the construction zone of some renovations.  Rachel spots him under a bunch of concrete slabs. His note says “I was never any good at Jenga”. Damn! Brendan also pronounces Kerry dead, which seems a bit unnecessary, since they are all staring at his body under a bunch of concrete slabs.

Rachel is kinda freaking out, but instead of staying with the group, she decides to go into the house by herself to get a drink of water. The house where two of her friends were just murdered by two intruders. She walks past a room where she sees a light on…she investigates closer…and basically falls into the room. Smooth, Rachel.

And she’s walked in on an old-timey ghost! Man, R.L. has just PACKED this book. The table in the room is covered with animals and animal parts. The ghost is a woman, all grey and spooky. But worst of all, the woman is sewing her skin together. Sick. This ghost is clearly Great Aunt Victoria of crazy taxidermy fame. Rachel screams and goes to find the group. She takes them back to the room of animal parts, but nothing is there. Ooooooh damn! Is Rachel cracking? (Also, are we supposed to think the ghost is killing people? Or the two intruders? Too much is going on here).

Outside the room, Rachel sees a blur run past at the end of the hall. But she recognizes the hair of the blur – It’s Mac! Are we in for another Mac Attack? She follows Mac, but doesn't catch up. It’s then that she realizes someone is rushing towards her in a ski mask!

Nope. It’s just Brendan and the shadows made his face seem ski-mask-y. They hear more screams and run to find their friends around Eric’s body. His feet are jammed at the top of a ladder and his face is all purple near the floor. They think for a second he might be alive because his hand twitches but no, Brendan examines him and declares him dead too. His note reads: “Chutes and Ladders isn't always a baby game”.

As Rachel is emo-ing about how she’ll never hear another one of Eric’s hilarious jokes again (seriously, she talked about him all the time), she’s grabbed from behind. By Mac! Mac Attack! But no, he’s not attacking her. He tells her he followed them here in a canoe and they can escape now. Rachel won’t go with him though. Probably since he won’t explain what he’s doing there, what’s going on, and also because he followed her in a canoe. Creep. He sees something behind Rachel that spooks him and runs off into the darkness of the mansion. SO WEIRD.

Brendan takes the surviving members of the party to the theatre to regroup.  Brendan says a weird little speech about this being the “final curtain” and pulls back the curtain to reveal their three friends bodies heaped on the stage. (What kind of house has a stage?) Gasp! So Brendan was the killer all along?

NOPE! They aren't dead. Patti, Kerry and Eric rise up all zombie like, then basically shout surprise. Yup, it was all a creepy joke. What. The. Fuck.

Everything that happened that night has been a joke. The dead animals in the girls beds, Randy falling, the servants leaving, the horrific deaths, the bats… everything. Randy shows up, along with a cousin of Brendan’s who’s dressed like the ghost of Great Aunt Victoria. Seriously, Brendan planned everything to scare the shit out of his friends. Rachel can’t decide if he’s a creative genius or dangerous sicko. UM, I CAN ANSWER THAT FOR YOU, RACHEL.

Just then, two masked men burst through the door. They start yelling at everyone and Brendan tells them to knock it off. But they just punch Brendan. Brendan clues in that these are not the two men he hired to scare everyone (or maybe they are, and are just taking advantage of this remote location?). The masked men hustle everyone besides Brendan and Rachel into the basement and declare this party a good old-fashioned kidnapping!

Part Four

How is this book still going? The intruders, who are referred  to as “Blue Eyes” and “the pudgy one” discuss how Brendan’s dad, Oliver Fear fired Blue Eyes and this kidnapping is his revenge and money-making scheme. Things are going swimmingly for the kidnappers until… MAC ATTACK! Mac bursts in and demands the kidnappers let Brendan and Rachel go. Not sure why they would listen to him… Anyway, in the ensuing struggle, one of the rifles go off, and Mac is shot. Brendan and Rachel heartlessly use this distraction to escape! Using the loud, old elevator to bring them to the top of the house! WTF. No part of that is a good plan.  Are there no stairs in this house? Come to think of it, I don’t remember ever reading about stairs, only this terribly loud elevator. 

Unsurprisingly, as soon as they reach the top, the elevator is called back down to the patiently waiting kidnappers.

So they climb a tree to get down to the ground floor. WHY didn't they just run out of the house in the first place! So frustrating. They run through the woods, get separated and lost, then Rachel falls into a pit of BONES (which by the way, is never explained). She has to make a pile of human bones so she can climb out of this pit of digustingness. Rachel finally makes her way to the dock, but can’t find Mac’s canoe. She hears someone coming through the woods, and instead of running back into the woods at a different spot, Rachel chooses to wade into the water and hide underneath the dock. OMG Rachel, you deserve to die basically. How far away could the trees have been, that this is a better plan?

The person ends up being Mac, who can clearly see her since he immediately knows she’s there. So dumb. Mac wasn't actually shot but pretended so Rachel could escape. Is creepy canoe Mac the real hero of this book? He tells her to follow him to where he hid his escape canoe, and Rachel is relieved her nightmare will be over soon (Fuck Brendan, I guess?).

NOPE! Mac returns her to the kidnappers, who caught Brendan. Turns out, Blue Eyes is Mac’s father and that’s why he looked kinda familiar to Rachel. Mac tells her he had to bring her back because she “recognized his father”. Too bad Mac didn't realize that Rachel is much too dumb to recognize anyone, and he brought her back for no reason.  Rachel and Brendan escape again, although I can’t remember how. Rachel runs and finds the canoe, but old Blue Eyes catches up with her again and shoots the canoe full of holes to sink it. He marches her back to the mansion at gunpoint. During this walk, Rachel has a disturbing fantasy that she kills him, but I won’t bore you with the details since it’s another dream sequences. No thanks!

Once back at the house, the pudgy kidnapper presses Blue Eyes to kill Brendan and Rachel now that they know their identities. Blue Eyes is resistant so Pudgy runs at Rachel with a knife – and cuts off her ponytail! Ack, there are way too many fake-outs in this book.

Suddenly! The police burst in! They seem kinda weirded out by the situation, but Brendan yells that the three men are kidnappers and need to be handcuffed. The police awkwardly put Blue Eyes, Pudgy and Mac in to handcuffs. Rachel (and I) are super confused. Brendan just kind of laughs and tells her those were two actors that he hired for the night to scare his friends.  He guesses they must have been super late. And then tells her their guns are fake! Seems like a dangerous gamble to make the actors take, Brendan.  Well, he’s clearly insane and doesn't give a fuck about anyone, so that seems par for the course.  Rachel and Brendan make out, obviously. Shouldn't they be letting their friends of the basement now?

We cut to Rachel back at work at Lefty’s and probably suffering from some pretty severe PTSD. R.L. actually kinda mentions that she’s messed up over it. Her sister, Beth, comes in to visit her and she’s so excited. They share one scene together, and that’s it. Rachel spent so much time talking about Beth throughout this book, and all they do is hug in Lefty’s. I sincerely hope Beth is in another Fear Street book, otherwise, half of Rachel’s inner thoughts were for no reason.

One last part. Yes, this book is STILL NOT OVER.  Rachel had been wearing a super cool tangerine jacket at the party, but had taken it off at some point during the night. She makes Brendan take her back to that house of NIGHTMARES for this stupid jacket. Girl, buy yourself something else and call it a day. She goes searching through the house by herself. And what does she find? A g-g-g-ghost!!

Yes, she walks in on Great Aunt Victoria Fear again; only this time, it’s apparently a real ghost. She is also sewing her skin together really creepily (probably the only way you can sew yourself together) and surrounded by dead animal parts.  And she’s wearing the tangerine jacket! Rachel runs to get Brendan but when they come back, the animals and the ghost are gone. But her tangerine jacket is left in ball on the floor. Rachel tries to tell Brendan what she say and he goes “You don’t believe those crazy stories – do you?” FIN.

I don’t know Brendan, seems like you may have totally fucked Rachel up, so maybe don’t be so judgemental. A few final unanswered questions. Is Rachel smart enough to BURN that jacket as soon as she gets home? Probably not. Why would she even take it? Also: Where did Brendan and his friends get the dead animals that they stuffed in Rachel’s bed? Did they…kill the animals themselves? Or go look for some? WTF. What happened with the police ACTORS and the kidnappers? Did the actors just take them back to Shadyside in their non-police boat? And drive them to a police station?

So many questions. Such a long book! I don’t think Fear Streets ever need to be 275 pages. I can’t decide if I loved this book, hated this book, or hated it so much I loved it. I mean the plot was crazy and way too long and unnecessarily complicated. But it did fill me with so much happiness to read a new Fear Street. And I can’t wait for the next one. Hopefully we get a release date soon for the next one!

Party Games gets 67 newly-haunted tangerine jackets out of 111.  Hope you enjoyed this crazy long post!


Friday, October 31, 2014

Party Games, or “Murder Isn’t a Game, Right?”


Hello all Fear Street lurvers, and Happy Halloween! And what a treat we have this Halloween, what with R. L.'s NEW Fear Street book. Y'all can probably imagine the joy this book has brought to us at Shadyside headquarters. R. L., you are amazing. Please don't ever stop again, we love every last cheesy, terrifying word.


Let’s get right into it. That’s what you’re here for, right? A recap on the first new Fear Street book since … I should know this.  Luckily Wikipedia does all the work for me and he hasn’t published a Fear Street since 2005. The good news? Guys, this book is good. It will not disappoint. I felt like it had everything I can hope for in a Fear Street book, and then some.
The bad news? There isn’t any. Everything is wonderful.

I’m going to put a little spoiler alert up here, which I normally don’t do because we assume everyone already read the Fear Streets when they were twelve. But this, Party Games, this is new. Maybe some of you are like A. M. and I and pre-ordered your copy, but maybe you didn’t and haven’t actually read this yet. But there are spoilers here – this is a recap, not a review. Also, sorry for the length. I got excited.

Part One

Party Games takes place in the present. There’s all kinds of awesome things you find in 2014, like Facebook, and texting, and Netflix. Obviously every teen has a cell phone, so I can’t wait to find all the creative ways to get around this problem – most things that happen in horror books or movies could have been easily prevented by some solid communications, so we’ll see how this plays out. I’d actually love to see R. L. use technology as part of the horror sometime – idk, like ghost cyber bullying? That would be cool.

I really felt like this book was setting up Shadyside as it is today. There was a lot of time spent introducing people, some who played zero part in the plot whatsoever. I’m hoping that this is the “cast” of characters who’s going to be in each of the novels – I loved it when a character you already knew from an older book turned up in a new one, even if it’s just a cameo. It doesn’t have to be Seniors styles, but I like to keep up with who’s going out with who.

There is a Fear at Shadyside High – I think that might be the biggest deal of all here. Other than in the Seniors books, I don’t think a Fear had ever gone to Shadyside, and I like it. It means that the creepy Fear family is going to have a much more active role in the hauntings of the town.

Our fearless main character of this inaugural book is Rachel. She is poor, but newly poor, and pretty. In the world of Shadyside, being poor and ugly is usually a death sentence, but I think things balance out and she’ll be okay. Her father used to be a director of an investment company, but now is a shift manager at Walmart. I’m assuming due to the recession? I like the realistic tone here. Rachel’s mom is recovering from a bad bout of Lyme disease, which seems like a really random disease to have.

So Rachel is picking up the slack by working at the popular burger joint all the kids hang out at, Lefty’s. She works hard and is often sweaty and covered in grease, things that can be a real drag when you’re trying to make it in high school.

She is in love with Brendan Fear, who is smart, handsome and popular. I also like that the Fear kid isn’t some scary goth – that fits in way too much with what we’d expect. Brendan is super into video games and there are rumours he’s already working to program his own games.

His father is Oliver Fear, an investment banker and billionaire, and it looks like he runs the town with money and power. He built an enormous stone mansion on Fear Street for all the towns people to be in awe of.

Rachel is working a busy shift when Brendan enters the burger joint, along with some of the who’s who in Shadyside High: Kerry, a jock, and his girlfriend Patti, a beautiful girl who looks like a doll, who Rachel knows from childhood. Rounding out their little group is Eric, a joker, who’s always flirting with Rachel.

As he leaves, Brendan invites Rachel to his 18th birthday party, an all-night thing at his family’s estate on Fear Island.

In walks Amy, Rachel’s best friend, who warns Rachel not to go to the party, because she’s heard wild things happen there. Rachel’s pretty much like, are you kidding, the man of my dreams wants to do wild things, I’m there. Amy is introduced: chubby and redheaded, all bad signs when it comes to survival. But she doesn’t really play a significant part in the book at all, so I’m hoping she’s being introduced for later.

It comes out that Rachel has a boyfriend – sort of. Mac’s the good looking bad boy who transferred to Shadyside High last year for fighting issues. She’s been trying to ditch Mac for awhile, which means she changed her FB profile from “In a relationship” to “It’s complicated.” A sure sign things are over! But she’s not being a bitch, actually she’s scared of him because he has a bad temper and can be controlling and possessive, she’s not sure he won’t get violent with her. Oh yes, the Fear Street abusive relationship. It did not take long for that to get in there. However, I feel that R. L. is much more sensitive about the subject matter now. As opposed to making Rachel horny, Mac’s possessiveness makes her wonder if he’s a psycho. Literally, one of the chapters is charmingly called “Is Mac A Psycho?” It made me laugh. But she does find a dead rat in her bed and suspects that Mac put in there, so clearly she needs to be away from this boy.

Rachel goes to a high school basketball game, where she flirts with Eric, then is accosted by Mac outside, who warns her not to go to Brendan’s party. She breaks up with him unequivocably, which is pretty awesome. Props to her for using her words.

Part Two

All the invitees to the party hop aboard a catamaran, which will take them to Fear Island. She sits with Patti, Kerry and Eric. There are some other kids aboard, some from her high school, but she’s surprised at what a small crowd it is and wonders why Brendan invited her. Mac hides in the bushes and watches them leave, like a great big stalker.

They sail by the Fear House that’s been built on the island, basically a three-storey mansion of evil. I love it when people refer to their “little cottage by the lake” when they know it’s eighteen times the size of your house. They have to hike through the woods to get to the house from the lake, and are led by guides Antonio and Miguel.

The pilot of the boat, Randy (aside: isn’t it the captain of the boat? Or is that just me, I know nothing about boats), slips off the dock and falls into the lake, hitting his head on the way in. Randy doesn’t come up, only a big pool of blood. The two guides say they’ll take care of it and the kids are hustled along the path towards the house. Already there’s an ominous atmosphere of tension and dread. Good. Oh, and conveeeeniently, there’s no cell reception on Fear Island. Of course there isn’t.

The staff does a poor job of pretending all is well, looking shifty and harassed, while they show the kids to their rooms where they can freshen up. Rachel shares with two other girls, April and Geena. As they talk, the discover that each of them found roadkill in their beds – wonder if it’s a warning.

They meet with everyone in the ballroom, lit entirely by candles. If they knew the Fear’s history, they probably wouldn’t have been so keen to light everything by fire!

Brendan is at the centre of the room, welcoming them. He tells them Randy is fine and they need to start partying. There’s beer – he mentions 18 is legal in their state, is that true? I thought all of the states was a 21 age minimum (ridiculous, by the way). He has two cousins there, Kenny and Morton. Also, there is way more food there than people, which makes Rachel wonder what’s going on.

Anyway, Brendan says he wants to party like his ancestors. This should be a flashing red light. They didn’t party in a safe way at all. But apparently he just means old-fashioned games.
Rachel gets a beer (ooh, naughty) and Brendan comes over to talk with her. Rachel’s a bit of a flirt, and she pours it on for Brendan, who eats it up. Awww, young love. She’s flying pretty high, but excuses herself to the bathroom. There, she hears someone screaming for help, a young man that sounds an awful lot like Randy. When she tries to find him, her way is politely but firmly blocked my two servants, who shoo her away.

When she returns, the games have begun. They’ll play a scavenger hunt, looking for a list of creepy items hidden throughout the mansion. Brendan warns the attic is haunted. Delia, one of the girls, wants to go to the attic with Eric – Delia might be related to Suki, who undoubtedly would have a near-adult child by now. I hope Delia is the new Suki of Fear Street!

They are assigned partners, and Rachel is matched up with Brendan – he had the servants hide everything, so he could still play.

Before they leave, some of the girls accuse Brendan of the roadkill in bed, to scare them. Brendan goes white and shares one of his family’s secret ghost stories: his great-aunt Victoria had one love in life, taxidermy. She would stuff everything. She used to hide dead animals in unwanted guests’ beds, which is just so charming. She eventually stuffed herself, right there in the house.

Another Fear family story is passed around: about a hundred years ago, the Fear family hunted down all of their servants on this very island, for sport, and left their bodies in a hidden mass grave.

No need to worry about that, though. Brendan and Rachel set out, and he takes her to a hidden elevator. Their advantage falls short when it breaks down and everything goes dark. Brendan uses this time to make out with Rachel – he had actually turned off the elevator himself. Rachel is loving this party.

The couple get separated on the third floor, where Rachel is attacked by bats. She finally finds Brendan … hanging from the rafters. Underneath his body is a note:
ANYONE FOR A GAME OF HANGMAN?

Brendan comes running at Rachel’s scream. The hanged body is a mannequin, dressed in Brendan’s clothes. They think it’s a sick joke, until they hear another scream.

They find everyone freaking out in a bedroom, standing over Patti’s broken body, her limbs all contorted. Her note says:
TWISTER, ANYONE?

Only it’s not a joke, Patti is really dead.

Part Three

Everyone wants to get the hell off the island and call the police. As they are all freaking out, the lights go out, leading to more freaking out. Brendan leads them to a cabinet where the flashlights are kept, but they’ve disappeared. The lights come back on and they begin to suspect they’re being toyed with.
Brendan remembers there’s a security camera. They go check it out and see two masked men enter with hunting rifles a few hours earlier.

Time to get out of there. They make a run for the boat, only to see the catamaran leaving the dock, full of all the servants. They are left behind, alone with the hunters who seem keen on killing them off one by one. A crash is heard from behind the house.

A storm has blown in and no one can concentrate in the wind and rain. Rachel suggests they go back to the house. They can be hunted anywhere, but at least they’ll have shelter there. I’m not sure if I’m down with the logic, but okay. They go back, and discover Kerry is missing. They search around the back of the house, where there’s a construction area where work is being done on the house. Underneath a slab of concrete that’s been pushed over, is Kerry’s crushed lifeless body.
I WAS NEVER ANY GOOD AT JENGA

Everyone agrees the whole thing is sick (good consensus). Brendan tries to comfort Rachel, but she runs out to get some air. She stumbles into the library and discovers she’s not alone. A woman is there, all grey, surrounded by mist and animal parts. She’s sewing up her own side – it’s Victoria Fear!
Rachel freaks, gets everyone to come back to the library, which they find empty. Rachel looks completely insane. She runs away again, embarrassed and scared. Brendan finds her, kisses her and tells her no one will hurt her.

More screaming. Eric has been found strangled, dangling off a ladder.
CHUTES AND LADDERS ISN’T ALWAYS A BABY GAME

Rachel backs away, is grabbed from behind. It’s Mac, telling her she has to go with him, but Brendan interrupts and Mac flees.

Brendan gathers everyone in a theatre room to calm down. He pulls the curtains up to show the pile of their friends’ bodies. And the bodies start to move. Everyone screams, then gets angry/relieved as they realized it was all an elaborate plank. Brendan is killing himself laughing. He planned everything; calls the game Total Panic. A girl in heavy grey makeup comes in – the ghost of Victoria Fear was actually his cousin Karen. Rachel wonders if Brendan pretended liking her as well.

The two men in masks and rifles come in. Brendan tells them they’re late, but when they don’t respond he realizes something is wrong – they’re not the hired actors.

Part Four

One of the men looks familiar to Rachel. They start to rough up the kids, rounding them up and locking them in the basement, except for Brendan and Rachel. One of the guys has been laid off by Oliver Fear and wants to hold his kid for ransom.

They go to tie up Rachel and Brendan, but Mac busts in and tells them to give it up. Mac is shot. In the chaos, Rachel and Brendan make a run for it, heading to the elevator, then shimmying out a window down a tree to freedom. They run for Mac’s canoe at the docks but lose each other in the woods. Rachel hears a gunshot and hears the men saying they got the boy.

She runs blindly and falls into a pit of human bones. Instead of freaking out, she decides she’s going to survive. She piles up the bones and uses them to climb out of the pit. I like how strong and resourceful Rachel is, I’m a fan of this character. She makes a break for the lake, but doesn’t find the canoe. Hearing the men coming up behind her, she hides in the lake under the dock. The men don’t find her, but she hears a familiar voice calling her – Mac! He faked being shot to give them a chance to escape. He says he’ll take her to the canoe.

Only to lead her back to the men, who have Brendan alive but tied up. One of the men is Mac’s father! At first Mac wanted to protect Rachel, but now apparently he wants to protect his father. There’s a lot of confusion and the other man wants to kill Rachel, they get into a fight and in the mix, Rachel’s ponytail is cut off, which, as it turns out, is the only fatality in the book.

Just then, two cops show up, guns pointed. The armed men give up pretty quickly and are handcuffed. Brendan is pretty bossy with the cops, ordering them around. Once they’ve all hussled away and they are safe, Brendan turns to Rachel, smiling. He confesses those weren’t real cops, but more actors he hired, as scared as anyone there, but it worked to convince the inept kidnappers.

He’s laughing and Rachel kisses him, telling him, accurately, that he’s crazy.

A week later, Rachel is still upset by the events but is trying to get back into her life. She’s starting to see Brendan, and is really happy when her older sister Beth comes home from college to spend time with her.

At the end of the book, Brendan takes Rachel back to the Fear House to get her jacket she left behind. She walks into the library to see the real Victoria Fear wearing her jacket, skull face grinning at her as she sews up  animals.

Brendan laughs at her for believing in the ghost stories …

This book was such a great set up for the series. Lots of interesting characters (I did not go into all of them here, I hope I’ll get a chance to in later books). This used so many themes from the original Fear Streets: maybe paranormal stuff going around, a lot of poverty-induced anger, not to mention bringing the Fear family right into the mix here. I give Party Games 10 out of 10 hacked off ponytails. I am really excited to see what R. L. has for us next. Great to have you back!