Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Bad Girl or "If You Would Just Stop Killing Things, You Would Have a Whole Lot Less to Worry About, DAWN"

Considering that the last Fear Street I recapped was one of my faves, I guess it’s only fair that the next one I did would be a complete piece of garbage. Yes, friends The Bad Girl actually belongs in the trash. And here’s the part that really gets me: The Bad Girl is mostly about zombies. My favorite! I don’t even know if the zombie theme will save the book’s score. We’ll see.

Since The Bad Girl is a “New!” Fear Street the cover is all crazy, what with the overlapping pictures that are blurry in some spots. I’m sure 12 year old me would have loved it. But it’s not very interesting, and neither is the tagline “Some people just won’t die”. Mehhhhhh.

The first chapter introduces our main character Dawn and her best friend Jan. Dawn makes it a point to tell us that she’s not “a bad girl”, so we know immediately that she’s a terrible bitch. And she is. The first thing that they discuss was Dawn’s date with Will Dinmore, the football star! Not terrible. But then they talk about Dawn’s boyfriend of a year, Clint, can never find out because it would kill him. Hmmm we’ll that’s kinda awful, maybe it was just a one time thing. A mistake! …Except Dawn then talks about all the dates she’s been on recently and let’s just say that the girl might be Shadyside’s High’s bicycle.

The girls were actually talking about the long list of guys that had felt Dawn up so loudly that they get kicked out of study hall. So I guess Dawn doesn’t care THAT much if Clint finds out. They go to the empty science lab to gossip, only to find CINDY there. (In my head, I always see Fear Streets like movies. In this scene, the camera pans from Cindy’s feet up to her head while Dawn describes how much she hates her.) Baggy jeans, oversized sweater, GLASSES, mousy-brown hair with tangles AND she’s pale. Got that? Dawn and Jan think she’s fug, as well as being a science geek suck up. Cindy is in the science lab to work on her project that’s due in a few weeks. Jan tells Cindy that her and Dawn’s project is gonna kick her projects ass! (Cindy’s is about the ecosystem, so I kinda don’t doubt Jan even though I know she’s bluffing) Jan and Dawn unlock the chemical cabinet and start pouring every chemical together that they can find. Huh. The potion predictably explodes and smoke pours everywhere, getting the girls in trouble but the potion actually ends up being a “pretty gold color” so Jan keeps it. In case she needs an exploding diversion at some point? I’m not sure. (You can tell I never took Chemistry in high school since I keep referring to whatever they made as a "potion". Science is like magic!)

Anyways, science class starts up, and the girls have to dissect a frog. They feel so terrible towards the poor dead frog (even though they could give a shit about Cindy, who they cruelly torment) that they decide to pour a little bit of their chemical potion down its tiny throat. I’m not exactly sure what they thought would happen, but after they turn away from the frog for approximately 5 seconds, it disappears. Dawn follows the slime trail… to a live frog! (or shall I say zom-frog?) Jan and Dawn capture their formally deceased frog and put him in the terrarium with all the other frogs. She grossly mentions that the new addition to the cage still smells like formaldehyde and the other frogs won’t go near it. They realize that they invented a mixture that brings to dead to life. REALLY? This is the premise of the book? Two high school assholes randomly invent one of the most important scientific discoveries? You can see now why the “New!” Fear Streets could never hold a candle to the originals.

After school, (and a near close run-in with both Will AND Clint) Dawn goes to her after-school job, which is at the animal shelter. Once her boss leaves, Jan comes in to visit with Dawn and generally make a ruckus. The first thing that Jan wants to do is go into the animal morgue. WHY? They open the door, see a dead dog, and scream like banshees. What on earth were they expecting? I’m starting to think that Dawn and Jan are horrible to everyone in an attempt to hide the fact that they have very, VERY low IQs. Anyways, they feel bad for the dog, so they pour a little bit of their mad-scientist mixture down its throat too! The zom-dog almost immediately hops off the table. Dawn and Jan close up for the night, and decide to take the newly risen dog home with them, since it might be suspicious for the vet to find him the next morning. You know, since the vet put him down earlier that day. The girls are all very calm about their new Voo Doo skillz. I feel like I would be having some moral dilemmas.

On the drive home, some crazed driver pretty much forces them off the road. But it turns out, it’s only because they recognized their dog, Floyd, in the car window! Doesn’t matter that they watched their dog be put down earlier that day, they knew it was him! Floyd seems to know these people, so the girls just let them take zom-dog home. People are asking remarkably few questions in this book.

When Dawn gets home (after a long day of re-animating corpses) she finds her boyfriend Clint on the front porch. He has a stick, and demands to know if she went out with Will the night before! While she quickly comforts Clint and denies, denies, denies, she also inner monologues that “they say that most people won’t look you in the eye when they lie. I didn’t want to make that mistake.” Bitch is cold! Clint believes her, which is probably unlucky since she is obviously a horrible person and will be the death of him.

At school, Cindy accuses Dawn and Jan of stealing frogs because almost all the frogs in the terrarium are gone. Only one is left. He smells like formaldehyde but this zom-frog is double the size from yesterday. And he is mysteriously surrounded by small, scattered frog parts. To sum up, since Cindy didn’t really get this: Zom-frog ate all the other frogs.

It’s a Friday night, so Dawn breaks a date with Clint, and the girls go to a killer Fear Street party. Dawn and Jan actually crack some beers! Has this happened in any other Fear Streets? I’m very excited! The party is kinda awful though, because someone invited Cindy as a bet, and then announces it in front of everyone. Ick. Even Dawn thinks it’s kinda cruel, but thinks better of speaking up for Cindy. You know. In case anyone thought she was lame (or had a heart). Cindy flees in tears. Dawn and Jan continue partying but soon realize that there is no more ice. But… what will keep their beer cold?! They decide to do an ice run to the gas station.

Jan is maybe-drunkenly driving down Fear Street, when suddenly a figure comes out of the mist: Cindy! They swerve to miss her, but it’s too late, and Cindy goes bouncing off the windshield. She is predictably dead. The girls decide to give her the magic potion, even though the zom-frog ATE all his peers earlier that day. I don’t think they even thought of the weird zom-frog behaviour! Anyways, zom-Cindy has a huge seizure and then reanimates. And looks at them with cold, dead eyes. They tell her that they came to find her after the horrible party joke (lies) and saw her slip and fall. Zom-Cindy is confused but believes them, so the girls take her home. And then go back to the party. FOR REALS?! You just murdered and reanimated some poor girl, so you decide to go back to a house party?!

Dawn really should have reconsidered the decision to go back, because Clint comes to the party unexpectedly and catches her cheating on him. Break up! I’m not sure why Dawn is upset because she obviously couldn’t care less about him. Dawn spends the weekend moping around because Clint dumped her. I’m sure she also gave some thought to the vehicular manslaughter they committed, but she doesn’t really mention it…

When Jan and Dawn show up for school on Monday they’re shocked to see that Zom-Cindy gave herself a makeover! She’s all hot and blond now. Which, by the way folks, is the first sign of an evil zombie. Jan and Dawn have to help out with the Spring Fling decorating, since they were supposed to be there all weekend but flaked out because they are awful human beings. The prom committee tells them to hang streamers from the catwalk, which is pretty fricken high. The girls are on their ladders, probably discussing whose life to ruin next, when the gym lights go out. And they feel someone yank their ladders from under their feet! Dawn and Jan cling to the bottom of the catwalk until the lights come on and a teacher helps to put the ladders back up. Since he helped them in a comically slow fashion, I like to think that he secretly wanted these bitches dead too.

Jan and Dawn go back to Jan’s house after their brush with death only to find Jan’s room had been totally trashed. They’re thinking about calling the police when the phone rings. It’s a mysterious voice, telling them that their ladder mishap was no accident. Who could it be? Actually, I think Clint and zom-Cindy hate them equally right now, so there are two suspects! They come to the conclusion that it was zom-Cindy and decide to confront her tomorrow.

The next morning, zom-Cindy is somehow even hotter than the day before, and working on her science project in the lab. The girls come in and tell her that they know she pushed over the ladders and tried to kill them. Zom-Cindy refuses to admit anything, but does say that if she WAS doing it, they couldn’t stop her. Then she picks up an iron bar (that was just lying around I guess) and bends it with her bare hands! The girls skedaddle. At lunch, Dawn sees that Clint and zom-Cindy are sitting together and she feels jealousy for the first time. (No seriously, she inner monologues about that) Jan joins her and snaps her out of her pity party by telling her that zom-frog just blew himself up! With a teeny, tiny stick of dynamite.

Not really. Apparently Jan teased the frog and it got so enraged that it exploded from the inside. Well, at least they’ve figured out how to kill their freaks of nature, if it ever comes down to that. Later that day, a car tries to run down the girls (guess whoooo) and zom-Cindy calls them to basically threaten their lives and their loved ones. Jan mentions that her parents have this new fangled “caller ID” and they can figure out where zom-Cindy is! Dawn is freaked out to hear that zom-Cindy is at Clint’s house, so they rush over. And find him dead. I told him that knowing Dawn would be the death of him! Since the girls think that zom-Cindy is out to kill them because they killed her, not because she’s an evil zombie, I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t give the magic chemical potion to Clint. I guess Dawn got over her jealousy?

At Clint’s funeral, zom-Cindy shows up wearing a bright green dress, which seems tacky under any circumstances. Even if you are the evil-undead. The girls decide that there’s only one course of action. Kill zom-Cindy! Perfect, since you’ve already killed the zom-frog by enraging it, you know just how to kill zom-Cindy! Right, guys? Please tell me you caught on to that. Guys?

Apparently, they did not. Later that week, the science class has a field trip to the marsh to collect samples. The girls wait for science geek zom-Cindy to wander off on her own. They bash her head in with the shovels, tie her up, and drown her in the marsh. Well, that definitely how you would kill a regular teenaged girl. Unfortunately for Dawn and Jan, zom-Cindy manages to make the bus back to school. And she looks a little bit more pissed off.

Dawn and Jan didn’t learn anything from their first attempt to kill zom-Cindy, and when they see her walking across a deserted road the next day, they decide to take another shot at it. They run her over (just like before!) and they got out to check the body. No breathing. Dead for sure, right? Nope! Zom-Cindy comes into science class the next morning and scares the beejesus out of Dawn and Jan. The girls are like “Maybe we can get ideas on how to kill zom-Cindy by talking to the zom-dog’s owner!” They track down the girl who took Floyd home with her and ask how he’s doing. They find out that Floyd is dead, because her little brother teased him with treats so much that he snapped, destroyed their house and then exploded. Hmmmmm. Do you get it now, brainiacs?

They invite zom-Cindy over to Jan’s house after school to discuss what’s been going on. You know, all the murder attempts. She agrees, which just seems like a weird thing to do. Like mortal enemies getting together for tea. When zom-Cindy arrives the girls try to piss her off by telling her that she’s no longer human (true) and then tease her about being humiliated at the big Fear Street party. She gets pissed off enough to try to strangle Dawn, but doesn’t finish the job (too bad) before her face and body start to disintegrate and turn purple. Ewwww. The girls examine zom-Cindy, who is still NOT dead. Gawd this book is so long and terrible! She’s definitely dying, but asks for their chemical potion to bring her back to life. She promises she’ll be nice this time. Dawn and Jan race to get the potion for her, but can’t find it. They tell zom-Cindy they can’t give it to her, and so she becomes so mad that she shoots blood out of her face and FINALLY effing dies.

The girls relax with a bottle of Evian, while zom-Cindy lies dead at their feet. They find a note on the floor though… from zom-Cindy. It says that zom-Cindy stole their potion when she ransacked Jan’s room. She put it in a safe place though… in their Evian water bottle! So… what does that mean?

No seriously. What does that mean? Dawn and Jan aren’t dead, so it can’t bring them back to life. Would it kill them, then reanimate them? Just kill them? Do nothing to them? Also, I’m confused about zom-Cindy. While the zom-frog and zom-dog seemed a little vicious, zom-Cindy’s hatred of Dawn and Jan was justifiable. After all, they KILLED her. So was she truly evil, or just really pissed off at being murdered? And ALSO: who does the title refer to? Dawn or Cindy? Dawn was a HORRIBLE person in life, while Cindy was only “bad” in death, and she had good reason! What do you think kids?

I think that any Fear Street that makes me wonder about it this much after I’m done is NOT cool. I enjoy my endings to be neatly wrapped up, preferably with a bow. I don’t think that the awesome zombie-ness of the book saved it. 4 exploding frogs out of 15.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Fear Hall: The Conclusion, or “Blame My Imaginary Friend”

Fear Hall continues in this dramatic conclusion blog. To catch up, see Fear Hall: The Beginning blog.

We return to Hope and her imaginary friends, grouped together on the fire escape outside her room in Fear Hall. She is spotted by the cops and flees, vaulting over the fire escape (and apparently falling several stories). She runs to an abandoned sorority house and decides to set up camp there. Angel, Jasmine and Hope all pool their money – it’s trippy how Angel and Jasmine are there, but aren’t, and each is carrying separate cash (??) It’s also trippy that Eden is dead – like, it’s really possible to kill of imaginary friends.

Hope starts thinking about how much she hates the 3Ms, when Darryl appears in the doorway. He tells Hope he’ll take care of her – by taking care of the 3Ms. Hope grows a pair and tells her (potentially imaginary) abusive boyfriend to get out and leave her alone. He mutters threats, then kicks a cat that Hope just dubbed Lucky. Not so lucky, then. I think the cat is okay, but I still found that disturbing. Jasmine and Angel have disappeared, and Hope is left alone to her thoughts.

Which turn to her mother, who tortured her throughout childhood, locking her up and starving her for that horrible crime of being chubby. When Hope finally got a boyfriend in high school, Mark, her mother did everything in her power to keep them apart – including handcuffing Hope to herself whenever she planned to go out with Mark. It was around that time that Jasmine, Angel and Eden showed up, friends to make Hope happy, who were so close to her, like one person. And when Hope received a scholarship for college, she was able to leave mother dearest behind forever.

Ooh, fun, now we go to one of the 3Ms perspectives – Melanie’s. Melanie is the perfect one, Margie an opinionated bitch from Boston, and Mary is a sweet little girl from South. They discuss what happened with Hope a week ago, and how it was creepy she hadn’t been caught yet.

Darryl has been watching Mary for days, stalking her. He plans to get them back for getting him in trouble with Hope, by slaughtering them of course – that’s how Darryl functions. He follows Mary to her swim practice, then slips into the training room and pours six gallons of chlorine into the Jacuzzi, which Mary uses after practice, then slips into a hiding place.

Mary jumps into the whirlpool and starts shrieking, as her skin turns red and starts to blister and peel off. The coach comes into the room, and looks right at Darryl.

Hope is woken up by Darryl pounding on the door of the sorority house. She doesn’t want to let him in, but he barrels in anyways, telling her he killed Mary and knocked the coach over to get away. Hope freaks out and kicks him out again – or does she? Is Darryl really there? Hope finds a note then, on the floor, in a familiar handwriting: I’m coming for you, Hope. You can’t run away from me.

We go to Chris’ perspective. Who the fuck is Chris, you ask? Well, Chris is apparently the new boy in Fear Hall, moving into the lone boys’ wing after his apartment burned down. He’s pretty nonchalant about the apartment burning down, more nervous about meeting new people because he’s so shy. His new roommates Will and Matt are kinda nice (help him move) and kinda not (put red Jello in the showerhead and laugh as Chris shrieks like a girl). So Chris is undecided about them for the moment.

He attends a mixer at Fear Hall, but finds it a real downer as the only thing anyone can talk about is the death of Mary by chlorine overdose. Yikes, that would be a disturbing evening. So he goes to the coffee shop on campus and meets the girl of his dreams. She’s all sketchy and tells him to stay away from her, then tells him to meet her in two days in the coffee shop. Without giving a time – I hate it when people do that. How are you magically going to show up at the same time?

Hope runs home to tell Angel and Jasmine she just met the guy of her dreams. She’s been hanging around campus with the perfect disguise – she dyed her hair brown and calls herself Karen. This disguise reminds me of Party Summer – she probably walks with a limp too. At least she doesn’t have an eye patch.

Darryl follows Margie to her job at Marv’lous Dry Cleaners, where he’s been stalking her for awhile. He sneaks into the back, and when Margie comes to grab something, he knocks her out with a staple gun and shoves her into the steam press. He steam presses her body over and over, which has to be pretty gruesome, thinking the whole time how much he loves Hope.

Hope goes to the coffee shop, terrified Chris won’t be there. Magically, he is there at the same time as her, but he’s not too happy – he’s really freaked about the new murder on campus, ashe had met Margie at the Fear Hall mixer. He notices Hope has a line of bright red bruises, but it leads to a romantical hand-holding moment, and they start talking about everything and anything in life. Soulmates! Too bad Chris thinks her name is Karen, and that she’s sane. They kiss at the end of their date, and Hope is flying high when she gets home – only to crash when she finds Darryl there waiting for her.

Darryl tells her Chris will hurt her … like Mark did, when Hope was in high school. Hope went to Shadyside High (squee!) and was unpopular and fat, but was over the moon when Mark asked her out. They dated, and things were perfect until she received an unsigned anonymous note that Mark only went out with her because he lost a bet. That’s about when Darryl showed up, as Hope’s abusive knight in shining armour. Darryl ran over Mark, like, 7 times, so that could be perceived as romantic. Hope is worried Darryl is going to hurt Chris – unless she can control “him.”

Darryl has other plans, though. He is stalking Melanie now, the last of the 3Ms. He sneaks into Fear Hall and into her room – you think they’d up security since several students had recently been murdered, eh? He goes into Melanie’s room, ready to smother her, then notices the girl asleep in bed has long hair, not short like Mel’s. He pauses, confused, as another girl in the room wakes up and starts screaming. Did he go into the wrong room? This part confused me. Anyways, the girls are screaming for someone to stop HER – aha! So Darryl is another aspect of Hope’s multiple personalities. I find that disappointing, I had been hoping Darryl was real. Hope creating herself into her own boyfriend is really sad. And super disturbing that she created in herself a boyfriend who’s a monster – as if she believes she doesn’t deserve genuine love. Enough psycho-babble – Hope/Darryl escape Fear Hall yet again, and runs until everything fades.

Hope finds herself running across campus with no memory of the evening – where had she been? She’s freaking out because she’s lost time again. She rushes back to the sorority house to find the place trashed, a knife pinning a note to the wall: You cannot escape me. At this point, I kinda think the notes are being written by Hope's psychotic mother. Poor Hope, nothing’s working out for her. She goes for a walk, only to see Chris out on campus, talking with Melanie seriously. Uh-oh, looks like someone’s about to be outted as a psycho!

I’d be worried if I was Hope, but she’s crazy, so she goes to grab a coffee, then home again to find Chris leaving the abandoned sorority house. What was he doing there? When asked, Chris gets all bashful and tells Hope he just wanted to see her again. Really? No commentary that she lives in a boarded-up abandoned house? I’m impressed by Chris’ lack of judgment here. This moment doesn’t last long, because “Darryl” shows up and starts to strangle Chris.

Chris gets away from Darryl/Hope, and looks up all hurt and confused: “Why, Karen? I don’t understand!” is his general thought, before he flees. Hope is left alone, sobbing at the front door. She disheartenedly goes back into the house, to find another mysterious message in that familiar handwriting. There is no escape, Hope. No escape from yourself. And that’s when it clicks for her, why the handwriting is familiar – it’s her own.

Hope tries to figure out what’s going on. She discusses this with Jasmine and Angle, and they all get into a fight with Darryl, whom everyone agrees ruined everything. That would be a very interesting conversation to watch. Chris comes back and starts banging on the door. Hope slowly gets up and goes to him.

And is greeted by Chris, Melanie, and four police officers. Hope, Jasmine, Angel, and Darryl all fun for it, going upstairs to the bedroom, then running onto the balcony, over the decrepit railing. Chris turns his head just in time to see Hope land on hers. Hope finally comes together in one broken body.

Chris and Melanie head back to Fear Hall together, shaken by what they just saw. They find Hope’s note to herself: There is no escape, Hope.

Um, awesome! I loved this two-part book, there was just the right amount of gruesome deaths and multiple personalities to make it both fun, and super disturbing. I give this 5 personality aspects out of 5!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Fear Hall: The Beginning, or "College Isn't All It Cracked Up To Be"

When I was younger, I never read the Fear Hall books. I was “too old” at the time (as if there is such a thing.) So I was SOOO excited to read these when we got them. Fear Street all growed up and in college? What kind of trouble can we get into in an evil dorm? Premise sounds awesome.

It’s about four girls living in a room together, which sounds horrific already. Four girls in one room? The girls attend Ivy State College, and live in Fear Hall, an ivy-covered redbrick building. They live on the 13th floor (like, of course they do, but doesn’t 13 floors seem ENORMOUS for a redbrick college dorm?). Fear Hall is named after a benefactor of the school, Duncan Fear ( who doesn’t show up on the Fear Family Tree) and the whole place is cursed, yadda yadda yadda.

Hope is a fairly ordinary girl, but a bit chubby, which is pretty much the only thing she talks about. Angel is the slutty sexy one. Eden is sarcastic, plain and grungy, and writes to her mother every night. She also takes no notice of her appearance, and has never expressed any interest in boys ever. I was wondering if R. L. was going to take a “college experimental phase” twist in this series, but … well, you’ll see. Jasmine is beautiful but shy, and no one knows much about her, despite them all being friends since high school. They’re all really close and happy to be living together.

Hope is shaken awake in the middle of the night by Darryl, her boyfriend. He’s done something awful We find out immediately that Darryl is an abusive bastard – angry, possessive and violent. He thought he saw Hope out with another guy, although it was only Angel, being slutty in Hope’s clothes. He couldn’t handle it, and he carved up the guy. Yikes, WAY overreaction to that.

All the other girls wake up and freak out hearing the news. A know at the door freezes them all, and Hope makes the split second decision to hide Darryl, instead of turning him in. It’s not the cops, though, just the nosy girls from across the hall – Melanie, Mary and Margie, the 3 Ms. They’re wondering about the commotion, but Hope tries to play it off as a late-night gab fest between the girls. The 3 Ms are weirded out, but a bigger commotion outside the Hall distracts them all. Everyone stampedes downstairs to find the body of Angel’s date, sliced up. The 3Ms ask Hope whether she was out with him, but Hope’s all: it was Angel, why does everyone confuse us?

Hope goes back upstairs to confront Darryl, who is feeling very little remorse. He tells Hope if she does go out with another guy, he just might do it again. He runs before the police come to question Angel.

Jasmine is working her job at the campus coffee shop. You get the sense that Jasmine is smart, hard working, and poor – a tragic combination by R. L.’s standard. Angel and Eden come in to discuss Hope – they all want to turn Darryl in to the police, and are worried Hope is losing it. Her boss keeps glaring at her suspiciously, so they decide to confront Hope later, and she goes back to work. Later, while walking home, Jasmine is accosted by Darryl, who threatens to kill her or someone else if she tells the police.

Eden is writing to her mother, like always. Hope comes over and tells her a story about why she does not get along with her own mother. Hope’s mom had issues with Hope being a little bit chubby, and would call her Buttertubs in front of her friends. One day, when Hope was nine, she served herself and some friends big bowls of ice cream on a hot day, which sounds delish. Hope’s mom discovered them, and made her eat all the bowls, in front of her friends. Once she was done that, her mom forced her head into the carton and made her eat the whole thing – without her hands, just lapping it up like a dog. That story made me sick to my stomach, because I could actually imagine that happening. So, it stands to reason that Hope has some body image issues. Not to mention some mother issues.

Eden takes Hope to a pub to cheer her up, but Eden immediately meets some fun guys and Hope takes off without her noticing. Eden gets a huge crush on a cutie, Dave, which surprised me because I kinda thought she wasn’t into guys, but they make plans to meet up later. Eden goes home, wanting to see where Hope got off to hours ago. She finds Darryl in their room, reading her mail. He threatens her the way he threatened Jasmine – he’ll kill again if they push him. Darryl sounds like a stellar guy.

The next morning, Eden’s day starts out pretty good – she runs into Dave on her way to class, and they agree to meet for coffee afterwards. But then things take a strange turn. While her professor is taking role call, her name isn’t on the list, but Hope’s is. Eden is pretty disoriented, as I would be, because she’s been to that class all semester, and has no idea what is going on. She does have an idea that Darryl is behind it all, and is so frustrated, she goes to call the police – only to be interrupted by Hope, who pleads with her to wait a bit longer. Eden is unwilling to wait any longer, but is interrupted by Dave who appears around the corner. She hurries off.

Eden and Dave go out for a night on the town – Eden is wearing Hope’s clothes. You think you might want to lay off the clothing of the girlfriend with the murderous abusive boyfriend, but nope, Eden went for it. She sees the 3 Ms and they mistake her for Hope – this probably isn’t going to end well. But Eden cares about nothing but Dave. They go for a romantic date at an abandoned driving range … I was going to make fun of that, but that would actually be kind of fun. They are flirting something mad, getting all kissy, when … Darryl shows up. Always there to ruin a party. Eden tries to scream to warn Dave, but it’s too late – Darryl bludgeons Dave to death with the 5 iron.

Eden runs back to Fear Hall, covered in Dave’s blood. As she lays sobbing on the bed, Hope tries to convince her not to call the police. She tells another lovely story, about her mother, and how she always made her wear clothes that were too tight for her, so that her bulging fat was on display for everyone. Okay, that’s awful Hope, but what does that have to do with Darryl? He was the only person who’s ever not called her fat, and only loved her for who she was. Pathetic, yes, but still call the cops, I think. Eden cries herself to sleep.

Darryl shows up, with the intent to strangle Eden. Hope does the right thing by … telling him she’ll deal with Eden herself. When Eden wakes up, Hope knocks her out with a blow dryer, then ties her up and stuffs her in the closet. Psy-cho! She starts to freak out about what she did to her friend, and goes to release her and finds that she … is still in bed. Hope had imagined the whole thing. While she’s relieved she hadn’t actually attacked her friend, she’s fairly certain she’s losing it. Somehow, Darryl is to blame for this, everyone is sure.

Jasmine shows up to her shift at the coffee shop, late once again. Her boss is beyond furious – it seems unreasonably so, until he lets her know it’s because she completely missed her shift the day before … news to Jasmine. She has no recollection of the day before, so something mysterious is going on here. She wanders to the cafeteria to grab a coffee, trying to remember the day before, when Darryl comes over and joins her, all intense and psychotic like always. He tells her that he thinks Hope was going to call the cops on him, so he hurt her real bad. Like, bludgeon her to death hurt her? Jasmine runs home to find out, only to find Hope crying in bed. Darryl hurt her alright – he called her fat. Personally, I’d prefer that to a golf club in the brain, but Hope has her own issues.

Angel is in a parking lot, making out with a random. Her inner monologue tells us she often picks up guys in random parking lots, and restaurants and theatres and stores, because they make her feel good about herself. A few minutes alone with them in parked cars does wonders for her self-confidence … I guess. It makes you think Angel has as many issues as Hope. Just then, Darryl shows up. Angel tells Darryl to back off, and random guy tells Angel she’s frightening him. Then he jumps in his Toyota and speeds off.

Hope returns to the dorm around eleven, to face her three roommates. They discuss how bat-shit crazy Darryl is, and how he’s following them everywhere. Their only option is to call the police, and Eden has the honours of that. She tells them to come to the boys floor on Fear Hall to pick up Darryl. They think everything is going to be okay, until Darryl steps out from the fire escape. He heard everything, and you could say he wasn’t taking it well. He picks up Eden and cracks her back over his knee, then throws her out the window. Thirteen floors is a hell of a drop. The police come right then, and everyone freaks out and decides the best course of action is for all of them to sneak out onto the fire escape together. From there you can hear everything.

Hear the 3 Ms talking to the police. When the police say they got a call from Eden, they are confused, as they’ve never met a girl named Eden. As you can see, the room 13-B is a single room, with a single bed, with a single girl living there … Hope. Hope lives by herself.

Hope is all of the girls? Hope has multiple personalities. That is – awesome. And I never saw it coming. I could usually write these books in my sleep, but Hope having multiple personalities is way out there. The question I’m left hanging with is … is Darryl a part of Hope? Or he his own special brand of crazy? We’ll find out soon, since this blog is …


Saturday, April 18, 2009

All-Night Party or "Amateur Nancy-Drew-Type Sleuths are NOT Qualified to Solve Murders.”

Seeing as I haven’t really done any ‘regular’ Fear Streets in a while (mostly the horrific Sagas) I was very exciting to start reading All-Night Party. And boy, it did not disappoint. In the god-awful-I-can’t-believe-how-bad-this-is-super-awesome way. I mean, it certainly disappointing in a literary aspect. But it was SO amazingly bad. I loved it!

The cover. Well, this one is nuts. I mean, lets look. Judging by the cover, this book is obviously about a (redheaded) girl who has a jealous boyfriend and who is cheating on him with some geek with a terrible haircut. This triangle is being watched VERY CREEPILY by a girl in the background, so she’s obviously jealous of Miss Auburn ’97. There will be many suspects as to who is trying to kill Red, right? WRONG. This cover has zero to do with the book! I assume Red is Hannah since she’s the one with red curly hair, but she’s not even our main character. Hannah has only one boy interested in her, her BF Gil, but Gil is also in love with their friend Cindy, so this boy-girl-boy triangle makes no sense. And I assumed the mad-looking dude was our main character’s (Gretchen) boyfriend, Marco. So even less sense. Also, Cindy never creepily watches people from the background while dancing with a faceless/nameless boy. Seriously, nothing makes sense on this cover. A+ to the cover artists for obviously not doing his job properly but still getting paid!

Let’s get down to it. Gretchen (the main character who is not even on the cover) and her friends Hannah (Red), Gil (Red’s BF), Patrick (random, crazy friend) and Jackson (random, surly friend) have planned a surprise birthday party at Patrick’s cabin on Fear Island for their friend Cindy (blonde, slutty). All-Night Party without parents! Woot woot. They decided to kidnap Cindy from her parents place in a way that sounds terrifying. They know her parents are out, so they all sneak into her bedroom, surprise her and then tie her up. Then Patrick pulls out a gun. WHAT?! Yeah, this was not part of the original plan, and everyone is mad at (crazy) Patrick. No shit!

Patrick tells him that his police-man dad gave it to him for protection. From? O yeah, the escaped mental patient who specializes in killing teenaged girls! The gang still decides to go on with their party on the abandoned island without phones because they convince themselves that the convict would be on the run. (Um, yeah… to somewhere isolated!) While Patrick is telling the story, surly Jackson is staring at Gretchen and creeping her out. Am I supposed to think that Jackson is the escapee? Because I don’t. They start talking about lighter topics, including why Gretch didn’t invite her bad-boy boyfriend Marco. Gretch didn’t want him there because she’s desperately trying to break up with him, but can’t.

As soon as they arrive though, Gretch gets a shitty surprise. Marco found out where she was from her mom and came to surprise her! To a private party at someone’s cabin on an island? That seems… excessively needy. Gretchen is pissed that he’s there but strangely turned on, apparently: “She couldn’t help but notice the way his white T-shirt hugged his muscles or the way his blue jeans were molded to his legs.” (I bet he stuffs.)

They get their seven person, non-drinking party underway. We find out then that Hannah’s boyfriend Gil and Cindy used to date. Actually, they were dating until like 2 months ago, which seems weird to me. And they only broke up because Cindy’s parents didn’t like him. Gil and Cindy are very, very, inappropriately flirty and Hannah is (reasonably!) upset. Hannah tells Gretchen that Cindy won the scholarship that she herself needed, and now can’t go to college. Yikes. Hannah admits that she would be a lot better off if Cindy was dead. Hmmm. I wonder what will happen…

Cindy opens her presents and is an asshole about it. She hates most of them and gives them away. Everyone kinda splits up after that, with Gil and Hannah going to make-out, and Gretchen going outside to get wood. She hears Cindy inside arguing with Jackson and hears someone get slapped. She runs away, embarrassed (oh domestic abuse. How embarrassing!) Marco comes and joins Gretchen outside, and she takes this opportunity to dump him. In the middle of a party? Lame. But Marco has the best reaction! He asks if she’s scared of him, then repeatedly stabs the tree behind her head with a switch blade! WHAT? Who does that?!

They go back inside after their terrible breakup and no one is around. Gretchen looks around and finds Cindy in the kitchen. Only problem… Cindy’s dead. She was stabbed to death at her own birthday party. That sucks! Hearing Gretchen scream, Marco and Pat both come in, and Patrick is covered in blood. Human blood? Pat says he cut his hand upstairs. Sure… Hannah and Gil come in after their makeout sesh, and Jackson come in too. I don’t know what he did, creeped around outside for a little bit. Patrick tells them they can’t call the police because there aren’t any phones, and they can’t leave because the weather is too shitty to make it back across the lake. Well that sucks.

They decide that it must have been the escaped convict. The boys search the upstairs in case he’s still inside the house, while the girls check the downstairs. Gretchen thinks she sees something outside the window so she goes outside to check it out. (Really? That is the LAST thing I would do. If it’s outside, it can stay out there.) Jack comes to the same conclusion as I did, so when he finds her outside, he yells at her for being irresponsible. Gretchen is creeped out by his concern, but I think it’s nice.

After it’s clear that there is no convict inside the cabin, the friends start to turn on each other. Gretch suspects Pat because he’s covered in blood (fair enough). She suspects Jackson because she heard him fight with Cindy. Gil and Hannah confess that they weren’t together the whole time either, and either one of them could have done it! Gil and Hannah accuse the other one of doing it and break up. Which is kind of a weird reaction, but I guess they were stressed out. They decide they need to stay put to stay safe from the maybe escaped convict. They also discuss waiting for the police to arrive, but that seems unlikely since they have no way of contacting anyone! So they might wait a very long time.

Jackson soon decides that he needs to investigate the body of Cindy further. Really? Like CSI style? They see that Cindy is clutching… Patrick’s baseball hat! Smoking gun! Well, not really. But Jackson also sees a boot print in the flour spilt on the floor. While Gil and Marco hold Pat, Gretchen check’s boots… which are covered in flour. Okay, so there is some evidence accumulating. The rest of the gang ties up Patrick and go upstairs to rifle through his belongings. They find a note written to Patrick from Cindy talking about telling his dark secret. Interesting… but not substantial. They do however find the bloody murder weapon wrapped up in his sleeping bag though, which IS a little suspect. So Patrick is covered in blood, Cindy is holding his hat, his boot was all over the “crime scene”, and the murder weapon is in his sleeping bag. So the gang focuses on the note they found. What?

Patrick voices up that he’s being framed, because he’s not nearly so dumb as to leave all that evidence just lying around. This … actually makes sense to Gretchen and the rest of them, so they decide to compare the handwriting from Cindy’s note to Patrick to her journal. Everything matches… except for the Y’s. The Y’s in the note are different, so our team of Nancy Drews and Hardy Boys decide that Patrick isn’t the killer. REALLY?

While Gretchen, Gil, Marco and Jackson were all comparing handwriting samples, Hannah took this time to freak the fudge out and run away. She left a note (what’s with all the notes?) that says she’s too scared, so she decided to run into the deserted, dark woods. Alright...

The rest of them go after her, running in separate directions like all good horror movie characters do. Gretchen sees Jackson looking at her, and immediately decides that he wants to kill her so she runs away. Aren’t these two supposed to be friends? Why is she so freaked out? I guess he does end up chasing her, which is never a good sign. Gretchen eventually falls down a little hill, and Jackson does the same and lands on her. He’s all “Why’d you run?” and she’s all “Why did you CHASE me?”, to which I say… fair enough.

Jackson takes this moment in time (hours after a friend was murdered, trying to find a runaway friend in the dark) to confess that he likes her. He doesn’t even LOVE her, he just likes her. This kinda-shallow-not-imperative confession probably could have waited, Jackson. Gretchen is all “Oooo, I just dumped Marco tonight” and is all twitterpatted, even though she thought he was going to kill her about 30 seconds ago. All's normal in Fear Street! She’s happy that now she can trust him. Which… really? That’s all it takes? I’m going to test this out. Tell someone who’s afraid of me that I like them, then kill them once I gain their trust. I bet it would work.

The other boys found Hannah, and have successfully dragged her back to the cabin by the time the new love-birds get there. They are in the midst of accusing Hannah of murdering Cindy out of jealousy because Cindy was AWESOME and Hannah totally SUCKS. Which would be hard to hear… but at least Hannah will win now because Cindy is definitely dead. While the boys are yelling at Hannah, Gretchen discovers something in her purse that solves the murder.

A note. GAWD. She finds a note from Patrick from before, just talking about the party planning and whatnot. But she notices that the Y’s from Patrick’s note and Cindy’s phony note are the SAME. Patrick framed himself! (PS: did he write Cindy’s fake note in his own handwriting then? How did our super-sleuths miss that one?!)

Patrick is all “Yes, I’m the killer” and pulls out the gun again. They all demand to know why Patrick killed Cindy! “She found out something I did. Something bad.” Yeah… so? And?? “She teased me.”

WHAT?! A bullying related murder?! Awesome! He also said that he came on to Cindy that night and when she rejected him, he snapped and killed her. Wow. I did NOT see bullying coming. Patrick decides that since they’ve figured out he killed her, he’ll have to kill all of them. Yeah, that won’t be obvious when Patrick comes home all alone from the big All-Night Party (!). He aims his gun at Gretchen and goes to shoot…

When the door bangs open! (Yes, Gretchen thought she’d been shot) The police are there! They must have heard their ESP cries for help! Actually they work with Patrick’s dad. Pat’s dad saw that Patrick STOLE his gun and asked them to go get it. And to arrest his son? I didn’t understand whether Patrick was in trouble for stealing the gun, but I guess it pales in comparison to actually committing a murder (oddly, without the gun). Patrick has one last confession: he made up the crazy murderer! Actually, Patrick, you didn’t make up the crazy psychopath, you ARE the crazy psychopath.

The book ends with the surviving friends (and loser Marco) discussing how Cindy never even knew what Patrick did (it was burn down a school, BTW) but teased him because she had a crush on him. I guess Cindy had just decided to play hard to get that night… and it got her killed. Ooo that kinda sounds like a tagline hey? Much better than “Party till you drop … dead”. Especially since it was the lamest all-night party

Moral of the story? Teasing, and refusing sexual advances will get you KILLED. Well done R.L.! The non-sensical cover art, plus the awful super-sleuthing (Babysitters club style!), PLUS having a terrible moral? That’s at least 77 phony notes out of 83.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Halloween Night II, or “You’re Still a Shitty Friend”

Sequels, almost by definition, suck. So what happens to the sequel of a not-so-awesome Point Horror book by R. L. Stine? Halloween Night II, that’s what.

First off, let’s talk about this cover. The costumes are fairly creepy, I’ll give you that, but more in a pseudo-religious-cult way than in a crazy-awesome-Halloween-costume way. The scary effect is somewhat ruined by the bags of candy the participants are holding. Bags of candy sounds way more like a pseudo-religious-cult I’d like to belong to. Does Scientology give out candy? I feel they might.

Halloween Night II continues to follow the plight of Brenda, an angry young woman by any standards. She’s choked because cousin Halley is still in her house and will live there forever now, since her actual parents lost custody of her, deemed unfit by a judge. That seems like a random judgment by the family judge. Halley is now going steady with Ted, Brenda’s ex, while Bren has moved onto man-whore-extraordinaire Jake. Her former bff Dina went to a mental institution after trying to stab Bren, and her besties are now Traci, and new girl Angela, who is fat. Are we all caught up now?

The girls are making a video called “Night of the Jack-O-Lantern” and keep playing scary pranks and catching people’s reaction on tape. It’s a school project, or something. It’s like the murder plot they had been writing last year but a little bit different. See what they did they did there? Halloween is once again approaching. In the midst of this movie-making all the girls are surprised by the appearance of Dina in Bren’s kitchen, holding a knife. Stabby Dina has been released from the institution, and wants to be friends again. A hint, Dina? Put the knife DOWN. Bren refuses to be friends with her – trying to kill her puts her solidly in the ‘frenemy’ category.

Jake walks through the door, with a slit throat and blood dripping from his mouth. Surprise – it’s just a gag, makeup that Halley did for him. Bren is super unhappy with Jake spending any time with Halley. She gets over this soon, making out with him, dripping blood and all. Here’s a huge shocker – Jake’s lips are soft and warm! Like an actually pleasant kiss. R. L. always has to put in random details about the kisses. As they kissed, Brenda could taste the makeup. It tasted sweet and powdery.

Next day, Angela and Brenda are shopping in the mall. When Angie complains about her weight, Bren suggests she buy really tight clothes and try them on each night, to inspire her to lose weight. That’s such a bitchy friend comments, I feel Angie must also be somewhat of a frenemy of Bren’s. Brenda loses her wallet, and they search a bit for it, until Brenda notices a fat homeless man eyeing her intently, then run after her. The girls dash away from him, because apparently there’s a fat homeless dude nicknamed “The Maniac” attacking people around town.

They only just escape this peril, when Brenda walks into the food court to see Jake and Halley making out. In the food court? Way low classy. And Halley has got to stop stealing boyfriends, it’s getting old. Brenda agrees with me. They leave through the underground parkade, where the Maniac catches up with them and starts banging on the car door. The only thing to do in a situation like that is to peel out and leave him far behind her.

Brenda drops Angie off at her home, which looks like a haunted house. Angie explains her parents are REALLY into Halloween. Brenda then confronts Halley at her house and they get into a fight. Brenda always has to take things to a physical level. She gets so angry, she forces Halley into a noose she’s rigged from the balcony and lets her hang. Actually, it was for the video, but Halley didn’t know that, and has awful rope rash on her neck. K, Bren? You’re a psycho. Halley agrees with me. She gets back at her by pouring sulphuric acid across her hand, causing the skin to burn off. What? These chicks play for keeps!

A few days later, Brenda gets a card in the mail, of a frowning jack-o-lantern and the words: Happy Last Halloween. She assumes it’s Halley, despite the person who did the same thing last year is out of the crazy house. Brenda continues to be really dumb. I’d say she’s also really self involved, but probs because everyone in her life really do centre around her. They should just stop that, I think everyone would be happier.

Traci and Brenda go to Angie’s house to work on their video. The inside is as Halloween-crazy decorated as the outside, with no furniture but two enormous black coffins in the front room. Wow, overdone? Angie is in one of the coffins and jumps out to scare them. She’s pretty into Halloween, too. The mean jokes keep on coming for Brenda, when someone puts a rotten pumpkin in her locker.

Brenda is pretty fed up, and when Traci decides to tape a major fight Jake and Halley are having in the driveway, she doesn’t warn her Jake hates to be embarrassed by anything. Jake catches Traci and destroys the tape – and their entire video project. Traci is now out for blood, so they decide to get back at him by terrifying him and catching it all on tape. If there was You Tube back then, that’s exactly where the video would end up.

Their plan starts off well when Jake grabs Brenda the next day and tries to make out with her. She decides to coldly play along to better manipulate him. She suggests they go trick or treating on Halloween to Angie’s (all dressed up like cult-skeletons) – where it will be all set up to scare the crap out of him, conveniently caught on tape. Their evil plan decided, Brenda comes home to find Dina in her house, hanging out with Halley. I know they’re fighting, but bringing a would-be murderer into the house of her intended victim is a little cold. They start fighting as Dina quietly leaves. The fight goes on until Brenda sees the Maniac outside her door.

Brenda calls the police, then runs to protect Halley. Aww, she DOES love her deep down. The police show up and are like: Fat and homeless, you say? Sounds like our guy – good detecting skills there. After that scare, Brenda just wants to go to bed, but finds her pillow stuffed with worms. She runs to Halley’s room and attacks her. The girls decided that Halley must be involved in their scare-party, as she is crazy (although, to be fair, in no way crazier than Brenda.)

Jake comes over Halloween in his skeleton costume, and he, Brenda and Traci go trick or treating, and Jake behaves like an ass. They come to Angela’s house, and outside the door is a big frowning pumpkin – like the ones she’d been getting in her threatening cards. They walk into Angela’s creepy house, all done up with coffins, candles, and funeral music, and can’t find her, as per the plan. The room is extra scary, with all the jack-o-lanterns arranged with knives in their heads. Jake goes to open the coffins and … finds them both empty. Traci and Bren get nervous, because the plan was for her to jump out of one. Jake disturbingly tries to get Brenda to join him in one of them, but she turns him down in disgust and goes to find Angie.

She doesn’t find Angela, but she does find … Dina and Halley. Un-oh, probs not good for Brenda. But they had been invited by Angela too, so they all go on a search to find her in the haunted house. They find there way back to the coffin room, where an arm is dangling out of one. It’s Jake, a knife through his chest.

Much freaking out ensues. Some want to leave, others want to find Angela. Some well-timed thumping occurs upstairs, and they rush to find Angela tied to a chair and gagged. She screams the Maniac got her, and is still in the house. Traci yells she’ll get the camcorder, which would have taped the murder. This stops Angela cold, and she turns on everyone, knife in hand. It was the fat girl all along! And she did it for the sole reason that she’s fat and lonely.

And crazy. She believes some plastic skeletons are her parents. Angela goes after Brenda with a knife (because it’s ALWAYS about Brenda), only to be stopped by Halley slamming a jack-o-lantern over her head, so that it covered her like a helmet. How … comical. Although, really, Pumpkin-Head could probably still swing a knife, right? Brenda and Halley hug, because they remember they love each other. Apparently it takes an annual near-death experience to keep these two together!

Next day, angry fat homeless man bangs on Brenda’s door. Oh, no! Actually, he’d found her wallet at the mall that one day, and was hoping for a reward. Brenda’s dad gives him $10. The end.

Meh. I think the best part about this book is the in-fighting between Brenda and Halley. I mean, boyfriend stealing? Fake hangings? Sulphuric acid? Their relationship SO belongs in a soap opera, especially with all the boyfriend exchanges. You know that 20 years down the road, they’ll both have stolen and married each other’s husbands several times. Now THAT’S a book I would read. Halloween Night II, not so much. 8 acid spills out of 20.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Hidden Evil or "Out of Two Siblings, One is Always Evil" or "I've Got My Eye On You, L.K. Stine"

The Hidden Evil, another Fear Street Saga. As you can probably tell, we are anxiously awaiting our next shipment of TRUE Fear Streets so we can get back to basics. One thing I feel is important to point out is how creepy the back description is! “It is a story of evil. The worst evil imaginable – the evil in the heart of a child.” Now you may not think this is scary. But I however, have been working in a daycare for the past 4 months and KNOW how true that statement is. I swear, sometimes certain kids look at me … and it’s pure evil in their cold, soulless eyes. Gack!

There are actually two parts to this book. Timothy, in 1858 Boston starts us off by getting a group of his peers (his “gang” if you will) together to tell ghost stories. God, the 19th century must have been dull. Anyways, he says he’ll tell them the scariest ghost story ever if they agree not to interrupt or leave the room. I hope it’s quick though, cause I gotta pee.

New York 1847

Maggie and Henrietta are mourning the death of their father, who fell down dead the night before. The police show up and Maggie gets unusually pissed off when she sees them. They inform her that the autopsy showed their father had been poisoned so his death was actually a murder! (Well, duh, why else to police show up the day after a death?) Henrietta starts talking about how it’s IMPOSSIBLE someone poisoned their dad since Maggie was at home alone with him the whole time! And they were together the whole time because Maggie and him were having a big fight all night! Um, shut up Henrietta.

Right, so they search Maggie’s room where they find a vial of POISON! How they know it’s poison is beyond me. (I can only imagine that Maggie labeled the tiny bottle “POISON: which I will use to kill my own Father!”) However, since these are policemen in a Fear Street novel, they determine that the case is CLOSED, and arrest Maggie and sentence her to death. Seems reasonable.

Four months later and it’s the day before Maggie is supposed to be hung. Henrietta visits Maggie in jail for the first time. And of course gloats over the face that it was SHE who poisoned their father! It’s weird how Maggie didn’t figure that one out in the four months she rotted in jail without visits from her sister. Henrietta was jealous of how gorgeous Maggie was, and knew that she would never get a husband without their father’s inheritance. So she got her money and revenge for being the hideous sister all in one swoop! See, now WHY must all villains gloat about their horribleness? It’s always their downfall!

Fortunately for Maggie, her luck finally turns around when she’s rescued by a policeman disguised as her executioner. He helps her escape the prison in a nick of time, and randomly thanks her for something her family did to help his a few years earlier. But no one ever mention what happened anywhere else in the book. I hoping it happens in another Saga book and they’re connected! So the policeman and his family help Maggie get a job as a governess for a family who recently lost their wife and mother.

She arrives at Tanglewood Estate a little nervous because she’s never had any experience being a governess. Her nerves are not helped by the consumptively thin Cook (who never gets a name throughout this book) and the fact that her employer, Mr. Malbourne isn’t even there. She meets little Andrew though and her cold heart melts! She’s in charge of cherub-faced Andrew and his brother Garret. Who introduces himself to Maggie by hurtling a vase at her from the second story landing. So I guess there isn’t really a mystery about who the evil child is…

Garret proceeds to have the mother of all tantrums, in which he slams himself against his door and screams about how much he hated his dead mother. Once he’s calmed down a little, Maggie tries to get Garret to open up a little bit. She looks through his sketchbook, which are full of imaginative drawings of him in jungles or in hot air balloons. Cute! But the rest of the book is filled with drawings of his old governesses, who are drawn in coffins in various stages of decomp with different animals feasting on them. … Less cute. Maggie is rightfully horrified when she opens her closet later in the day and finds a life-sized drawing of her in a coffin, with birds pecking out her eyes.

The next day, Andrew takes Maggie on a tour of Tanglewood Estate which includes a topiary maze! Loves those things! He also shows her the stables, their frisky cat Charcoal, and the painting gallery. Maggie sees a picture of Mr. Malbourne (the absent father) and gets immediately turned on by his rugged handsomeness. I feel like I’ve already read this book before, but it was written by a one Nora Roberts…

Maggie is so twitterpatted by Mr. Malbourne’s painting that she decides to go and snoop around his room. Yeah, I didn’t get that leap of logic either. She accidentally finds the hiding place of a key in an old music box. Garret comes in and gives her shit for being in his dad’s room. Which, I’m sure Maggie found annoying, but it’s totally within reason. I’d giver shit for snooping too! Garret finds a way to make it creepy though: he tells her that his mom can see everything and is gonna be pi-iiiiissed. P.S. Her spirit is still alive and locked in the tower. Thanks for the nightmares, Garret!

When Maggie hears wailing that night coming from the tower, she decides to investigate to put her mind at ease. Instead of a terrifying ghost, she finds Andrew crying at the door to the tower because he misses his mom. Aw! I rarely feel sympathy in a Fear Street book but that’s just too sad. After putting Andrew back to bed, she slides into her own bed and finds… a dead cat. Someone slit poor Charcoal’s throat and put it in the bed with the note “Curiosity killed the cat” attached to it. 19th century mobster?

Maggie makes a supremely weird choice to go and immediately bury the cat outside even though it’s the middle of the night. While she’s outside, she sees the ghost of Mrs. Malbourne in the window of the tower. Maggie runs for the house, and bumps into… super sexy Mr. Malbourne! Once he figures out who the MANIAC burying his dead cat at 3am is, he’s very sweet and kind. Maggie is practically salivating over Mr. Malbourne in this scene and he reciprocates by calling her “pretty”. What, no burning loins and quiverations? O right, Fear Street book, not Nora Roberts. Dammit!

The next day, Mr. Malbourne tries to convince the boys to go for a horseback ride with him and Maggie, but they already suspect what Maggie wants: a big ol’ ring on her finger! They don’t want a new mom, and shut Maggie down hard. Maggie decides to go to the stables anyways, to introduce herself to the horses. Unfortunately, while she’s in the stables, they go up in flames! She quickly lets the horses out of their pens, then runs to open the stable doors. Wait. She let out the panicked horses without first opening to stable doors? No wonder she almost gets trampled! She kinda deserves it. Mr. Malbourne rescues her before she gets too hurt and she falls even more madly in love with him.

Maggie breaks down and tells Mr. Malbourne all the creepy stuff that’s been going on while he was away. He responds by being like “Well, I have to go away tonight, but I’ll come back tomorrow and everything will be fine! Even if we have to abandon our home.” What? In whose mind would abandoning their home be a good idea? (FYI we never even find out what was SO important that Mr. Malbourne had to leave for. Maybe something with the escape-plot policeman?) He forces the maid (who convienently bears a striking resemblance to Maggie) to sleep in Maggie’s room with her.

After Mr. Malbourne leaves, Maggie decides to investigate the well on the property that Andrew seemed to be afraid of earlier. While she’s leaning WAY over the edge of the well to try and reach something shiny at the bottom, two tiny child-sized hands push her all the way over the edge, and into the well. Except since Maggie could almost touch the bottom when she leant in, that would make it, like, two feet deep. Maggie stands up and gets out of the well. OOOOO! She found the something ‘shiny’ though. It’s a ring with Garrets initials.

When she asks Andrew why Garret’s ring was in the well, Andrew breaks down and tells her the whole story. Garret killed their mother by shoving her in the well. She didn’t drown (because that would be impossible and totally lame) but she got so sick afterwards that she wasted away. Her unhappy soul is now locked away in the tower room and has vowed revenge against her son Garret. Yikes! What about unconditional love there, Mom? Maggie gets Andrew to lock himself in his room all night to protect him from Garret. Turns out Maggie needs a lot more protecting than Andrew, because she walks into her room and finds him standing over the dead body of the maid (who looks identical!) with a knife in his hand. Whoopsie! They pulled the ol’ switch-a-roo and really showed him, didn’t they?

Maggie panics because now she’s the only adult and there’s a homicidal child after her. And maybe people who don’t hang out with kids think that would be all cute and funny, but NO. Children can be evil and terrifying, trust me. Maggie gets a great idea though. She grabs the secret key from Mr. Malbourne’s room which she correctly deduced opened the tower room. She thinks since the ghost of Mrs. Malbourne wants to kill Garret, then Maggie doesn’t even have to do the dirty work! Garret screams at her not to do it, that she doesn’t understand, but he’s lacking credibility at this point. She opens the door and a GHOST actually comes out. What? A ghost that can’t go through walls? I call shenanigans! Anyways, the ghost of Mrs. Malbourne is super pissed… and comes after Maggie! The former Mrs. is super pissed that Maggie was creeping on her husband.

Maggie manages to outrun the ghost (also unlikely, judging from the ghost hunting books I’ve read) but unfortunately, falls and breaks her leg in the topiary maze. She breaks her leg in half, with the bones sticking out and everything. How the eff do you do that running? She also attempts to get up and run on it, which seems like a terrible idea, so lets just pretend she’s in shock. Andrew catches up with her and Maggie is all concerned with his safety. UNTIL he tells her that he doesn’t think very highly of her trying to take his mother’s place. O nerds! Turns out it was Andrew who was evil all along (plot twist!). He killed the other governesses and tortures Garret on a regular basis by getting him blamed for all the evil stuff.

Well Garret’s finally had enough of his shit, because he comes up behind Andrew and blows a giant hole through his chest with a musket! Well, that’s kinda badass. The ghost of Mrs. Malbourne finally catches up to them (what?!) and sees what they’ve done to her precious Andrew. But all she does is scoop Andrew up in her arms and twirl around until they both disappear. Worst. Ghost. Ever.

The next day Maggie and Garret are having a nice breakfast, waiting for their absentee father/soon-to-be-lover. They discuss how Garret did all that creepy stuff (the drawings, etc.) to scare Maggie away. And he just happened to walk in after the maid was murdered the night before and pick up the blade. Right… Maggie reads the newspaper and sees a story about Henrietta, her evil sister! Henrietta killed again but this time got caught. She’s confessed to everything, so the authorities are looking for Maggie to apologize. How nice of them! No hard feelings! Mr. Malbourne soon comes home and they marry.

Boston 1858

Timothy has finally finished his story. All his friends are generally creeped out and go to leave. Timothy thinks to obviously, that he changed the name Fier to Malbourne and Timothy to Garret. It’s his own family’s story, reader! Timothy sees one guest who hasn’t left yet, sitting in a dark corner of the room. The guest gets up and reveals themselves to Timothy. It’s Andrew in ghost form! (WTF) He says “I have been waiting for you to tell our story. Because as soon as you did, I knew I would be allowed back. Mother and I are very angry!” And then he pounces on Timothy, presumably at a very slow rate. Also, what kind of ghost rules are those? He’s just allowed to come back? Very poor plot twist R.L. I’m disappointed.

This wasn’t the worst Saga out there, but it certainly wasn’t the best. Instead of civil war zombies, it had … a super slow ghost. But it did have evil children which really creeps me out! I give this book 14 drawings of corpses out of 19.

P.S. Can we discuss how terrifying the child on the front cover is? GACK!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Forbidden Secrets, or “Gone With the Wind on CRACK”

Now THAT sounds like a historical romance. In fact, I’m fairly certain I’ve read several romances with the same title. I am missing the brawny shirtless man on the front, but other than that, let’s see how R.L.’s Sagas stack up on the romance side of things.

We start with an old lady on the porch, telling the tale of two sisters, Victoria and Savannah, who live on the plantation of Whispering Oaks. They both fall in love with Tyler Fier, their brother’s friend. The old woman is one sister, the other is dead, but we don’t know who is who.

Whispering Oaks, Georgia – Spring 1861

Back when the girls were young, and Savannah Gentry is, well, Scarlett O’Hara. She’s beautiful and boy-crazy and says “Fiddle!” a lot, and just fell in love with a young soldier named Tyler Fier, the friend of her brother Zachariah. He apparently feels the same way, because after their first kiss, he proposes. Savannah is excited, but worried about her sister Victoria who she thinks also loves Tyler. Victoria is the smart homely sister, who hangs out with the slaves and learns witchcraft from them.

Victoria overhears the proposal, and runs to the slave quarters to sacrifice a piglet. She starts chanting domination per malum (to us hardcore Fear Street fans, that means power through evil), and goes to kill the pig, when Savannah stops her, having to break her out of a trance. Victoria claims she learnt about Tyler, the he comes from a cursed family, and Savannah should stay the hell away. I’d say Victoria is bang on, and less in love with Tyler, so much as outright hates him.

Just then, like literally that minute, war breaks out. Savannah feels betrayed because Tyler, being from Massachusetts, will fight for the North. She refuses to refuses to marry him, and Tyler gets mean and possessive. I believe his words before riding away on horseback are: “You will regret choosing the South over me! I swear it!” So far this book is awesome.

Whispering Oaks – Summer 1863

Victoria and Savannah are completely alone on their plantation, and Savannah never got over Tyler. She keeps repeating “We will not go hungry tonight.” This book is a poor man’s cliff notes of Gone With the Wind. They do gross things like eat worms to stay alive. At night, Savannah dreams her brother comes into her room, bleeding from a gunshot wound to the head. She wakes up from the nightmare to find drops of warm blood where Zach was standing. The next morning a letter comes from Tyler, telling her about Zach’s recent death. Prophetic dreams?

Savannah is more worried about Tyler than the death of her brother. Victoria still wants Savannah to stay the hell away from him. Savannah starts to suspect her loving sister is so jealous of her, she’ll harm her. Sigh. The love of a man coming between two sisters – an age old tale.

Whispering Oaks – Spring 1865

The war is over. Savannah runs to tell Victoria about this, only to find Victoria playing with voodoo, letting a waxen image of Tyler melt in the sun. Oookay … Victoria tires to give Savannah protective grave-dirt, and Savannah decides she’s bat-shit crazy.

Eventually, Tyler comes to Savannah, and re-asks her to marry him. This time he gets an unconditional yes, and Savannah immediately regrets it when she realizes he’s taking her to his home up North, Blackrose Manor. They decide to bring Victoria with them, because all marriages should start with a crazy third wheel. Vic portends that one of them will be buried before the year is out.

Blackrose Manor, Massachusetts – Spring 1865

Blackrose Manor is a huge manor surrounded by black roses – I’m underwhelmed by the creativity of the author here. The manor itself sounds like it was modeled after Disney’s Haunted Mansion – wrought iron and spindly turrets, the occasional flash of lightning. Victoria is horrified by the whole place, but seems to find a kindred spirit in creepy ancient Mrs. Mooreland, the housekeeper, who also seems to find the place evil and warns them away.

Savannah is shown to her room. At first I thought it was weird she wasn’t staying in Tyler’s rooms, and then I thought it was weird that 19th century Southern belles were being put up by some rich bachelor. Is this … seemly? I mean, they’re not married yet. Savannah is already regretting coming here, when she walks in on Tyler attacking a portrait with a butcher’s knife, overcome by some post-traumatic stress from what he did during the war. Savannah says she understands what Tyler did, because she had to eat worms. Um, I don’t think that’s exactly what he means, Savannah.

Just then, Victoria and Lucy come running into the room, screaming over a pouch of protective grave-dirt. Lucy is a little girl who’s like a sister to Tyler, as their parents died at the same time or something, I don’t care. I def don’t think it’s seemly that Tyler was living alone with a child, then abandoned her for war. Lucy immediately proves to by a psychopathic pyro, obsessed with the pretty fire. Lucy brings Savannah to see her doll collection. All the dolls have black hair and eyes, like Lucy, dressed up in black, WOW creepy. She’d names all her dolls Lucy, except the one whose hair she cut off and named Tyler.

Savannah comes away from that disturbingness, to find Victoria trying to slip an eyeball under her pillow for protection. It’s a hawk’s eye, but still. Ew. Victoria’s hair is turning stark white. Victoria also tells Savannah that Lucy isn’t a little girl at all, but a severely stunted seventeen-year old. Her and Tyler are even more fucked than I thought. Anyways, a 17-year-old Lucy in love with Tyler seems much more dangerous.

Especially, it seems, since Lucy wants to be Savannah’s new sister. She sits next to her at breakfast, as Savannah sneakily feeds her sausage to a begging kitten. Cute. Until the kitten has fits and nearly dies, from poisoned sausage. Between Victoria, Mrs. Mooreland and creepy Lucy, Savannah has too many people who might want to kill her.

That night someone sets fire to her curtains. Savannah deals with this by moving up the date of their wedding. Because everything will be okay then, right? Lucy reveals her parents were killed in a fire, somehow related to the Fier curse. Savannah is starting to suspect that everyone is out to get her. Until she finds Mrs. Mooreland in the oven with her hands cut off. She goes to find Victoria and Tyler fighting with each other. Victoria confesses to Tyler that she did stuff like poison sausage and set curtains on fire, but only to protect Savannah. Victoria has a knife on Tyler, so Savannah attacks her, accidentally stabbing her in the side, killing her. Tyler demands Savannah marry him immediately, because fraternicide is sexy. (Is it sororitide?)

They get married after the funeral. (What?) Lucy tries to get Savannah to promise to never have children, so as to not pass the curse on to them. Lucy then has a tantrum when Savannah and Tyler try to go to bed together, insisting Tyler should have married her instead. Once she’d been sent off to bed, Tyler reveals Lucy killed her parents by burning them to death, and now Tyler is worried Savannah is in danger. A little late for THAT, now, isn’t it Tyler?

Lucy wakes her up a few nights later, saying she knows the truth, and runs away. Savannah runs after her in the dark, only to trip over her warm body. In the candlelight, she sees Lucy is missing a hand. She goes to find Tyler, and ends up in a mad-scientist-type lab, with potions bubbling around Lucy’s severed hand. It was Tyler all along!

He killed Lucy, Mrs. Mooreland, even Zachariah. He lunges after Savannah, and she stabs him with a convenient pitchfork. Tyler starts laughing because HE IS ALREADY DEAD. Zach killed him on the battlefield by stabbing him in the gut. This book is about a civil war zombie. That’s awesome. Tyler is a master in the black arts and returns to life from his fatal wound, invincible.

Well, not entirely invincible. Savannah knocks over his mad scientist bubbling vials, which fall onto Lucy’s creepy dead girl hand. Apparently that ruined his zombie master mojo, and he tries to kill Savannah. But she thinks about how much she wants to go home, and this defeats him. Like the Wizard of Oz, a bit? Tyler turns into a rotting corpse, then a skeleton.

So, the old lady is Savannah. She sat on the veranda at Blackrose Manor for years, next to the skeleton of her evil husband. That’s commitment. Maybe a little romantic, in an uber-sick way? I wasn’t sold on this entirely, until it turns out the evil mastermind was a Yankee zombie, and everything was right in the world. 18 severed hands out of 18!