Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Snowman, or "Happily Ever After: Cinderella Meets R. L. Stine"

Okay, Fear Street fans, I have to apologize. It’s summer out (finally). Summer comes to my part of the world for very short periods of time, and it must be enjoyed to the fullest. As such, most of my free time is spent small patches of sun, preferably with a margarita close at hand, and somehow this picture does not always include a poorly written YA horror book from the 90s. Worse yet, when I do read these books, I’m in such a summer-y blissed out haze that I often find myself enjoying these books, really getting into them and missing the whole point of this snarky exercise. How else can I explain my reaction to the unfortunately titled and unfortunately unseasonal “The Snowman”? I thought I would hate it, but I found myself liking it. What can I say, I’m full of summer love. Forgive?

Heather lives with her evil uncle and aunt, ever since her parents died in a car accident when she was three, leaving her to her guardians. She keeps a plastic Bic lighter of her father’s as a memory of him. A lighter? You stay classy, Heather. Her parents also left her a considerable trust fund, which she is unable to touch as her uncle has control over her. Poor Heather, she’s basically just like Cinderella. She’s forced to work in a greasy diner to help pay for expenses around the house, and her schooling and such. Except unlike Cinderella, Heather has an extremely bad attitude. No singing birds are going to be helping this girl sew her ballgown; she has increasingly violent fantasies involving her Uncle James, and his dying. Uncle James isn’t totally evil, he just seems like an enormous prick who enjoys embarrassing, intimidating, and all around keeping Heather under his thumb. Her Aunt Belle is kinda nice, but timid and meek after years of being married to an overbearing asshole.

Life isn’t all bad for Poor Heather, she does have a nice boyfriend, Ben. But lately she’s been getting kind of bored with him, so when a tall handsome stranger walks into the diner, she gets all perked up. He has weird long white hair, and is more poor than Heather, or at the very least “forgot his wallet.” Heather starts to slip him plates of fries on the sly, and they hit it off. Before long, “Snowman”, which is what he calls himself, has asked her out. I don’t care how weirdly handsome you are, you do not go out with someone who willingly named themselves Snowman. It sounds likes he’s a hitman in a grade B movie, which might actually be closer to the point. Heather, however, accepts, because she likes to live on the wild side every once and awhile.

Heather breaks a date with Ben, and goes out with Snowman, having a predictable wonderful time. The only snafu was he couldn’t pay for the club, which was SOO embarrassing for him, so Heather had to pay. But then they kissed passionately, so all was well. While there was no detailed description of the kiss, I’m going to guess that Snowman’s lips were cold and wet, like melting snow. That seems about right. Heather’s all happy until she runs into Ben at school, who’s all pissed off at her because she’s been two-timing him. He found out about this because Uncle James told him. Heather is furious at her uncle, but Ben is a bit, that’s not really the point. He breaks up with her. Heather then calls him to get him to take her back, which he agrees too, until, in a moment of startling honesty coming from a teenage girl, she tells him she wants to date Snowman too. Ben is not all about this, and hangs up on her, but I kinda liked her for having the balls to tell him how it really is.

Home life is getting no better, and for the first time Uncle James actually physically harms her, yanking her hard and causing her to hit a table hard. Heather’s absolute hatred of her uncle goes up a notch, as to the disturbing Death to Uncle fantasies she has. She makes another date with Snowman, who is behaving more and more mysterious. I mean, no phone number, he doesn’t seem to own a wallet, and while he said he just transferred to her school, no one has noticed a new student, let alone a gorgeous white haired student. Hmmm ... no matter, she’ll still meet him for a date in the park on a cold wintery night. They go to a clearing far in the woods, and make a snowman. Aww, how romantic. Then Snowman violently punches the head off the snowman, which is less romantic, more unstable.

Then Heather invites Snowman over to meet her uncle – reluctantly, because she doesn’t actually ever want anyone to meet her uncle. Uncle James is rude and offensive, and Snowman handles it pretty well, until he’s called a white-haired poor kid. That he doesn’t handle so well, and storms out of the house. Heather catches up to him, and he apologizes, but he’s dealing with other problems so he’s not as calm and collected as he usually is. He tells her his little brother needs an operation, and him mom can’t afford it. The operation costs two thousand dollars, and the little guy will die without it. Of course Heather offers to give him the money, but he is shocked and embarrassed and turns her down, but appreciates that she would think to do something like that. How sweet of him, he must be a really good guy. Heather trusts him completely.

But as a Cinderalla-esque trust fund baby, you gotta learn to not trust every sob story you hear. I mean, what is this mysterious operation for his brother that costs $2000? No idea. This should be sending her HUGE alarm warnings of possible scamming, but no. She trusts him. So when he shows up at her work the next day, and tells her his brother got worse, and needs the operation right away, she doesn’t blink before signing away her savings to him, with his name on the cheque. He says he’ll pay her back real soon as he puts the cheque in his pocket.

Heather is happy with the knowledge that she saved a young boy’s life with money, and is dating a nice new guy. Until approximately a few days later when Snowman shows up at her work again, delighted about something. He tells her with sparkling eyes that he dealt with her problem, and got rid of her uncle. Heather doesn’t believe him, doesn’t want to believe him. He tells her he used a soft scarf to strangle him so that no one will see the marks and think he had a heart attack. I suspect the medical factuality of that statement, but we’ll go with it. Snowman drives her to her house to see that, indeed, her uncle was dead, and the house was a mess of emergency personnel. As Heather stands by in shock, Snowman cares for her grieving aunt, all the while sending her mischievous looks. Psycho!

She gets him alone and tells him she’s calling the police on him. However, he has a plan for this. He kept the cheque she gave him, the cheque made out to him personally for $2000. Needless to say, there was no sick little brother. He tells her if she tattles, he’ll say she paid him to do it, and everyone would believe it because she always talked about how she wanted to kill her uncle. Okay, I’m not sure that a cheque can count as “evidence”, but Heather is sufficiently scared.

At the funeral, Heather contemplates her new life. She really did want her uncle dead, which is an uncharitable thought to be thinking at someone’s funeral, and her aunt has turned over the purse strings to Heather herself, so her money woes are over. She has also started to reconcile with Ben, as he forgives her and offers her his support. However, she is more than wary of Snowman, and how he’s ingratiating himself into her family, and wants him away. For good. Also, strange men in dark suits keep on asking her questions about him, and she’s worried if she gives him up, she’ll be implicated in her uncle’s death.

To make things worse, Snowman keeps on showing up every few days, demanding money to silence him. If she doesn’t pay, he’ll go to the police. If she does, he’ll go away forever. But here’s the thing – what does he really have over her? Her uncle’s death was ruled a heart attack (whatever), so there was no suspicion there. And if he goes to the police to tell them he was paid to kill a man, he’d really be turning himself in, and there’s no way Snowman’s going to do that. Heather’s just being intimidated at this point, and should really tell him where to stick that cheque. Of course she doesn’t. The first time she gives him another $2000, made out to cash.

Snowman does not go away as promised. Heather should know better than to believe a murderous scammer, but that’s her deal. He keeps on popping over for dinner, because Aunt Belle quite likes the polite young man. This next time he asks for $5000 in cash, and he’ll for real be gone and out of her life. Except, but “out of her life” he meant “renting the room over her aunt’s garage.” Heather is pretty desperate at this point, and confesses everything that happened to Ben. Ben gets all manly and tells her he’ll steal the cheque back from Snowman, essentially releasing Heather from the danger I don’t think she was ever in.

They sneak into Snowman’s room, which doesn’t go well because Ben’s head meets the business end of a tire jack. He goes down, and Snowman goes after Heather. He ties her up, puts her in his car, and drives her out to the clearing they made a snowman in that one time, then knocks her out. She wakes up unable to move, or breathe, and is horrified to discover she’s INSIDE a snowman that Snowman built around her. I have to admit, that kinda creeped me out. You would slowly suffocate, and no one would find your body until the next melt. And then slowly body parts would start to peek out, and wouldn’t it be horrifying to be the person who discovers that. But no worries. Heather has the lighter of her father’s that she’s carried in her pocket for 13 years. She gets it lit, and burns a hole in the snowman, giving her enough leverage to break the whole thing apart.

Saved! Except Snowman is still there, watching the whole thing. He comes after her with the soft scarf, but is interrupted when Heather sets his overcoat on fire. He really loses his cool then. Get it? Cool? Whatever. He goes up in flames, just as the police arrive. Ben survived his blow to the head, and directed them to the clearing. He has some confessing of his own to do ... he had followed Heather and Snowman that one time they went to the clearing before. Never has a girl been happier that her boyfriend is a stalker. The damning cheque was all burnt up in the impromptu fire, and the strange men asking questions about him were FBI, investigating him role in the death of his parents. Hint: He did it. Snowman is taken away, and all is well in the world, and Poor Heather is no longer so poor.

Is The Snowman a classic fairy tale done right? First Prince Charming turns out to be a homicidal lunatic, so Cinderella sets him on fire and ends up with Prince Charming number 2? I like it. Points to a Point Horror that has actual death in it, and for gruesome creativity with the built-inside-a-snowman death. That one gave me chills (tee hee, see what I did there?). 16 not-actually-that-damning cheques out of 21.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dance of Death or "What Do Ravens, Mirrors and Dancing Have To Do With This Book? Nothing."

L.K. and I have differing views of the Saga series. While L.K. was unsure of the historical novels, she has grown to embrace, and yes, even love her Fear Street sagas. I on the other hand, remembered the historical Fear Streets with fond memories and couldn’t wait to dive into my pile.

My, how things have changed.

It has taken me foreverrrr to finish this latest saga, “Dance of Death”. I literally tried to lose the book “accidentally-on-purpose” just so I had an excuse to put the book away and never look at it again. Now, normally I will read the book and make notes throughout when the funny/ridiculous events happen. Then when I’m writing my snark, I’ll have my notes, but I’ll also have the book out, to make sure I don’t miss any important parts. However, I only have my notes with me, and I really don’t care if I miss any events. Even if I don’t remember them, I know they weren’t important. That being said, I present to you… “Dance of Death”

Hey guess what? There’s no dancing in this book. Like, at all. Apparently, R.L. got so lazy with his writing that he didn’t even bother to think about a title, just slapped whatever popped into his mind first on the cover. Being an author is easy!

So is being a cover-artist it seems. I already mentioned that there was no dancing involved in this book, so that’s points off. Both of the main characters have the wrong hair colour. The broken mirror was no mentioned in the book either. Also, there was no killer raven drooling blood. Was this cover supposed to be for a different book?

1793 Shadowbrooke, New York
Tobias, has escaped from his enemy, who is unknown to us right now. Tobias has been stabbed in the neck with a scalpel (preeeetty good clue as to who did it…) and is desperately trying to write down the secret to killing his enemy. Who is immortal? Maybe.

1873 Shadowbrooke, New York
Madeline, the sad yet beautiful, black-haired orphan has come to live with her cousins Mark and Deborah in Shadowbrooke. (Now these two characters live together and have the same last name but I couldn’t figure out if they were brother and sister or married. I always think that if I can’t tell whether people are related or married, it’s creepy no matter what. Hence my aversion of the White Stripes.) Anyways Madeline self-monologues about how NOT crazy she is, which is a sure sign that she’s nutters. On the way to Mark and Deborah’s house, the horse gets startled by a man on the road and the driver yells to Madeline to jump out of the carriage. Which she does, and then she proceeds to get tramped by the horse. Somehow, I think that situation could have been handled better… Note also that the driver didn’t jump, so I like to think it was just a cruel joke.

She’s knocked out, but thankfully a doctor lives in the house next door and comes to rescue you her. Or just hold her head creepily. She comes to and meets Dr. Justin Fear, who is blond haired and blue eyed “just like angels”. (Did you know they don’t let brunettes into heaven?) Madeline immediately falls in love with the doctor even though his hands are cold and clammy, like a snake’s (or Death’s). She mentions the man on the road and the driver says there wasn’t one. Is Madeline already showing her crazy?

The doctor takes Madeline to Deborah and Marks house. This chapter was boring, so I’ll just write what my notes said instead of recapping: “Judgemental  M & D are old. Molly-maid  Fear is EVIL! An “illness” that makes his touch unpleasant.”
So apparently I think old people are judgmental (they are) and I was suspicious of Justin’s so-called “illness”.

That night Madeline gets woken up by the man she saw startle the horses. He tries to attack her then runs away, so OF COURSE Madeline follows. What else is a crazy girl with head trauma to do? She follows him into a dead end and he disappears. But don’t worry, things don’t go back to normal. Instead a REALLY crazy old woman comes wandering up, looking for TOBIAS.

This is Tobias, pre-scalpel-to-the-neck. He is Justin Fears best friend and they are working on the secret to eternal life. They live next door to each other, with a secret lab in the basements which connect to both houses. They may be in love, I’m not sure. Tobias isn’t exactly very confident since he’s terrified that his fiancĂ©, Honoria will leave him for Justin Fear, even though she outwardly says she hates him and can’t wait for them to move away from Justin. Tobias has got some self esteem issues.

After weeks of working on a manuscript, Tobias has finally discovered that the key to immortality is BLOOD. Delicious!

Deborah finds Madeline in the hallway with the nutso woman. Apparently, her name is Auntie and she came with the house. For Reals. It was in the agreement that they have to keep this old woman and let her live there. I hope they got a good deal on this house. Madeline actually thinks the same thing.

The next day, Madeline receives an invitation to visit Justin Fear at his house. Deborah gets her all dressed up in a nice white dress and sends her over. After Madeline and Justin exchanged a few passionate kisses (my word!) Justin gives her a rose. O, did I say gives her a rose? I meant, he mashes a rose into her hand so hard that the thorns cut her and she starts to bleed profusely. So, like any reasonable person, he starts to “greedily” drink her blood.

This part was also boring so I’ll just give you my notes again. I personally, think it makes for a better story. “The secret is vampire? Justin offers to share Hormonia.” It envokes images of some sort of vampiric-threeway, which really would have spiced up this story

Madeline is screaming at Justin for drinking all her blood, but he explains he “has to” because the rose was poisonous. (I’d be wondering why he gave it to her in the first place) Madeline also doesn’t like his excuse and beats it out of there. Once home, Deborah convinces Madeline that she was just flustered by the hot make-out action (Justin’s lips by the way, were “firm and demanding”). Deborah makes Madeline march right back over there and apologize.

She goes back to Fear Mansion to apologize for being mad about him sucking her blood, when she gets accosted by that darned man that keeps popping up everywhere! She notices for the first time however, that he’s floating about a foot off the ground, and is obviously a ghost. She runs away from him, but somehow falls into a giant hole. Justin again comes to rescue her. He “forgives” her for acting rudely when he was sucking her blood, and asks her to marry him.

Madeline is so excited and says yes. She tells herself that she’s sure he’s the one and that they’re not moving too fast. Even though they met yesterday and half and hour ago he drank your blood. DRANK YOUR BLOOD.

When Madeline tells Mark and Deborah the good news, they’re over the moon for her. Auntie isn’t too happy though, and warns her that Justin is a “soul thief”. Well, that’s ominous.

Tobias and Justin are fighting over Honoria. According to Justin, you can only steal the soul of very beautiful girls. Honoria’s all “Deal with this then!” and slashes a huge cut down the side of her face. Justin’s all “Noooo!” which is hilarious. Then he stabs Tobias in the throat. Tobias knows he needs to write down Justin’s weakness before it’s too late.

Justin and Madeline have an engagement party, although I have no idea who would go. Deborah and Mark? During dinner, Madeline goes upstairs to investigate her future husband. She finds a pitch black room, filled with four portraits of women, in wedding dresses, with Justin. Surprise, they’re all dead! (No polygamy here) There’s also a blank portrait with her name on it…

Madeline tells Mark and Deborah her fears at home that night. Her fear that Justin is trying to steal her soul because she’s sooooo beautiful. Mark and Deborah tell her tough titties, she’s getting married. I never really understood what they were getting out of this arrangement with Justin. Madeline is having a crisis. She knows that if she scars herself ala Honoria, she’ll be safe from Justin. But she’s just not sure it’s worth it! …Okay…
The “cousins” lock her in her room, but luckily, Madeline finds the secret passageway that leads to the shared basement from Tobias’ time.

She sees the ghost again, who was obviously the ghost of Tobias. Justin also bursts into the secret laboratory and he and Tobias wrestle. Which seems odd for a ghost to do. Finally, Justin “plunges his hands into Tobias” and Tobias disappears. Is that really how you kill a ghost? Punch it?

Justin goes to kill Madeline but bad-ass Auntie comes running out of nowhere and attacks him. Justin manages to throw off Auntie and tries to hypnotize Madeline to give him the knife. He promises that they’ll get married…! Madeline ain’t fallin’ for his shit anymore though, and proceeds to slash him across the eyes. Also bad-ass! Anyways, all the blood of his victims come pouring out and he dies. The tree roots come to life and kill Mark and Deborah. Then Auntie dies, but it’s okay because she’s reunited with Tobias. You see, Auntie was… Honoria! Didn’t see that one coming.

The book ends with Madeline starting a new life in a new town. A town called… Shadyside. Dun dun dunnnnnnn!

Yeah, I can’t stand these sagas anymore. I think, thankfully, I don’t have that many more left. I’m for sure doing a regular Fear Street for my next one. Dance of Death gets 12 un-read journals written by Tobias with a scalpel sticking out of his throat out of 43. Because, after all his effort, no one read his blood-soaked journal.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Fear Street Saga: Daughters of Silence, or “Why So Boneless?”

Okay, when I first started reading the Saga series, I was just not that into them. At this point, though, I can’t even remember why. They are SHEER AWESOME. The plots are completely cracked out, the characters ridiculous, and you can’t help but love how hard the ghost writers did not try to come up with believable historical setting and backdrop. It’s like teenagers in the 90s – with dresses and maybe an accent or something. Daughters of Silence does not in any way disappoint.

Shadyside Village, 1878

Jenna and Hallie are the bestest of friends, so close they could be sisters, they always say. Hallie very sadly just moved to Shadyside Village, but it’s all good, because Jenna goes to spend the summer with Hallie’s family, the Hallidays. And I just picked up that Hallie’s name is Hallie Halliday – were her parents retarded? Anyways, the girls are excited to be together again, and on her very first night there, Jenna is taken on an adventure by Hallie. They go to the Shadyside Cemetary, where Hallie tells her some of the stories she’s heard about the infamous Fear family that live alone in the Fear mansion, particularly about the mysterious deaths of their daughters. Supposedly they died in violence, with one of them killing the other. See The Burning for an account of that. Also, the bodies were missing their bones. Now, I have read that story before, but not in The Burning. Has there ever been an actual account about why the bodies had no bones? How did that work, and why? Somebody please tell me.

Anyways, they sneak up to the scary Fear crypt and sneak in, where they immediately have the living shit scared out of them by a very insane Angelica Fear. They apologize, and try to get away, but she goes from being furious to all crafty and fake-nice once she really sees the two girls in front of her. She keeps on repeating “like sisters” under her breath. Hmmm. She invites them to come visit at the Fear mansion, which is the polite thing to do when you find someone trespassing in your crypt.

Hallie really wants to go to the Fear mansion, because she has no friends in Shadyside yet, and thinks hanging out with uber-creepy people would be an ice-breaker. She might want to rethink that plan, but let’s go with it. They go to the mansion the next day, where they meet Simon Fear, who is creepy and mean, until Angie comes around and meaningfully tells him these girls are “like sisters.” He goes all sleazy polite, and the girls are invited in and fed lots of nice food. For an added treat, the Fears show them to their dead daughter’s bedrooms, which are still done up like they’re alive. In Hannah’s room, she has a voodoo doll collection, with long silver needles stuck into places they shouldn’t be. That Hannah was always a charmer. Hallie is given a heart-shaped locket of Hannah’s, which she puts on and loves immediately. Then they go to Julia’s room, where Jenna is given a crystal bracelet of hers – but she doesn’t want to put it on, because the whole thing is really inappropriate. They make her, and she immediately feels like she’s burning up in flames. The Fears pass this off as overheating, but that doesn’t stop Jenna from taking off the bracelet as soon as they are out of sight. Hallie acts weird and out of it, and agrees to return soon to the Fear mansion.

The girls get into a fight on the way home, because Jenna rightfully points out it is weird for the grieving parents to give away their daughter’s stuff to them, but Hallie wants them to give her more presents. So, Hallie is greedy, opportunistic, and a bit of a social climber. What a lovely girl. She runs off, leaving Jenna alone in the woods. She takes a tumble, and lands in a puddle of blood on the forest floor. A tree nearby has a perfect bloody handprint on it, and a long silver voodoo needle stuck into it. Jenna screams, then screams some more when she sees a man in the woods and flees. He chases her down and tackles her. It turns out he’s just a helpful, attractive boy her age. He must be from Shadyside – they always chase down women and tackle them when they want to help. It's like how they say hi.

He tells her his name is Rob Smith, and he works for the Fears as their grounds keeper. Then he blacks out. So, he’s sketchy too. Apparently he has amnesia, has no idea where he comes from, and occasionally just passes out. What an intriguing back story. He walks her back to the Hallidays, but you know he’ll be back. Jenna wants to talk to Hallie about the voodoo needle, but Hallie suspiciously has no recollection of the voodoo dolls. As she excessively fondles her locket.

The next morning, they go to a barn raising. What fun! Except all Hallie wants to do is visit the Fears, because she is so totally under their thrall. At the barn raising, Hallie acts totally out of character by coming on STRONG to Rob, then terrifying a group of girls by bringing up her acquaintance with the Fears. Hallie then turns on Jenna, screaming and her, then cursing everything and anyone around them.

Jenna watches as a shadow steals along the frame of the barn, as the frame starts shaking uncontrollably, then collapses. The barn raising turns into a good old fashioned rescue mission, getting all the men buried under the wreckage. Jenna finds Rob, and he’s all romantic and gracious, saying he’s in her debt. One man is found impaled on a two by four, which sets Hallie off into hysterical giggles, then sobs. She wails she made it happen, then basically goes comatose.

Hallie is taken to bed, where she lies in a deep sleep. Jenna stays with her, and finds Hallie keeps on getting up and trying to leave in her sleep. She sees that Hannah’s locket has left a deep, heart-shaped bruise on Hallie’s skin, which would give me chills. Inspecting Julia’s crystal bracelet, Jenna finds her hands try to put it on her of their own accord. She tosses it away, and tries to remove the locket from Hallie. This seems to cause Hallie severe pain in her sleep, and she starts to cry tears of blood. This also gave me chills. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that this book actually freaked me out a little.

Jenna is freaked out too, so decides to go find Rob to see if he can help. She is found by Angelica instead, on the Fear property, and is invited in for tea. This time, she goes to refuse, only she’s compelled to walk inside. The Fears are unhappy that she’s not wearing Julia’s bracelet, and even less happy when they discover Jenna is friends with Rob. Jenna finally gets the willpower to stand up and leave, and both Simon and Angelica are upset by this – clearly she is not under their thrall. They call her Julia on her way out.

Jenna continues her mission to find Rob, but instead finds an empty, decrepit cottage. It is not full of helpful dwarves, or handsome men for that matter, it is full of bones. From their daughters??!! I am so curious about these bones things. She flees once more, and does manage to find Rob’s cottage. He vows to protect her, but for a moment he goes – blank – like he’s not all there. Then he starts right back up again, like nothing happened. This sets all kinds of warning bells off for Jenna – a girl’s gotta trust her intuition after all – and she’s seen so much weird shit that night, she takes off.

And is chased through the woods by a giant bird or something. I’m still not convinced a bird can chase you to the extent that it “herds” you to a place, which seems to happen an awful lot in the saga series, but when Jenna stops running, she is standing ominously in front of the Fear crypt. The stone angel turns to look at her, and the trees around her start bleeding. Ominous indeed. Jenna turns to flee once again, but she is chased by a black mist that chokes her with the smell of rot and waste. I bet it’s the same black mist that eats people from House of Whispers. A skeletal hand grabs her skirts, but Jenna manages to make it to the cemetery gate, where the mist doesn’t follow.

Safe? Of course not. Because who should be sleepwalking up the street but Hallie, who is at this point totally gone, and is just an evil puppet of the Fears. Hallie is super strong as she grapples with Jenna, and in the fight, Jenna rips the neck of Hallie’s nightgown. She is pretty horrified to see the heart shaped locket has been covered by her skin, and is glowing in her chest. Bet she’s pretty darn happy she took off that bracelet! Hallie starts to strangle Jenna to death, but Simon Fear arrives to stop her. The Fears welcome them as daughters, and then the stone angel jumps to life and surrounds them.

Jenna wakes up in the basement of the Fear mansion, with Hallie all blank and doll-like next to her. Valiant Rob comes to rescue her, as he has heard the Fear’s nefarious plan to take Jenna and Hallie’s spirits and put them into their daughter’s corpses. Just then Simon walks in, and Rob goes to hide. Jenna accuses Simon of being evil, and he’s pretty much: “Yup, for sure.” Which was kind of awesome. Rob chooses this moment to run at him with a shovel, but Simon commands him to stop. Oops, he’s enthralled too, which isn’t that much of a surprise, and is forced to put Julia’s bracelet on Jenna. The truth comes out about Rob: He’s actually some dude the Fears killed, then brought back to life as an experiment. Only it wasn’t permanent. As Simon says this, he fingers the famous Fear amulet (!!) and Rob dries up and dies in front of them.

The Fears then bring out their daughter’s skeletons. So, is this the story I was waiting for? The daughter’s bodies were found without bones, because their parents’ removed them while planning to evilly resurrect them? That’s … so very creepy, and exactly perfect for Fear Street I think. Well done, ghost writer. The black mist comes up, and surrounds the skeletons, making them get up and walk around. Julia’s skeleton goes towards Jenna, while Hannah goes after Hallie. The girls are glowing, which Jenna realizes is their spirits leaving their bodies. The skeletons get all excited, talking about how they will be alive again. Until – Julia Skeleton sees her pretty trinket on another girl’s wrist, and snatches it off, screaming that it was hers and she wanted it back. Suddenly, Jenna is free and crashes into Hallie, taking the skeletons out at the same time. So – it’s pretty ironic that their parent’s long planned resurrection of their daughters is ruined because said daughters are psychotically spoiled, hey?

Simon grabs for Jenna, but she manages to take his amulet. He orders Hallie after her, and the girls struggle on the floor for a bit, until Jenna grostesquely rips the locket out of Hallie’s chest, leaving an open gaping wound. Yikes. But it works, as Hallie comes back. The Fears throw black fire at them, but they manage to escape.

The girls run to the Halliday’s place, where Hallie’s parents are super mad at them. They think the whole “The Fears tried to remove our spirits and put them in their daughters’ skeletons which they removed in order to resurrect them” is just a line to get out of trouble for being out late. I know I’ve used that line many a time before. Then Jenna has the idea to show them the gaping wound in Hallie’s chest. Only it’s not a hole anymore, it’s a perfect heart shaped black mark over her chest. The Hallidays are horrified and hightail it out of Shadyside. I like these Hallidays, they seem like sensible people. The girls are safe, but they realize there will be others that fall victims to the Fear’s evil.

Awesome! I swear this book actually scared me. A little. Like, sometimes, I was kind of holding my breath, and had to tell my self that breathing was a good thing. Pretty sure that’s the sign of a good horror. This is why I’ve grown so found of the saga series. And can we please talk about how freaking creepy the girls on the cover are. I can almost here them saying "The dead are listening" in creepy little girl sing song voices. Chills. 18 spoiled skeletons out of 18.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Broken Date or "Mr. Magoo, Reimagined As a Teenaged Girl With Trust Issues"

Alright Fear Street fans, tonight is a very special night as both L.K. and I have books to post. After suffering from a teeny-tiny quarter life crisis, I decided to not blog for the month of May, but as L.K. has politely informed me, May, and therefore my sabbatical, is OVER. For my (un)triumphant return I present: Broken Date.

When I was buying this book off Ebay, it told me that Broken Date is a “rare” book. And who am I to debate the great Ebay? It does have a pretty awesome cover: knife with scared girl reflection? Very Fear Street. I’m not too sure what the high school ring has to do with anything, but I’m choosing to ignore it. The terrified girl on the cover should be our lovely (and dim) protagonist, Jamie, except that Jamie has long, straight dark hair. So the opposite of this mystery girl.

Anyways, Jamie is pissed off in her room because she’s been stood up. Her boyfriend Tom is more than an hour late, which has never happened before. She describes Tom as “good old, reliable, dependable Tom”. To which I say… hawt! They must have a passionate relationship. “Their life seemed so certain, so steady. They would both graduate from Cloverhill High in the spring. Then four years of college together up in Syracuse. Then they’d get married.” Seriously. Has Jamie informed Tom about her nutso plan? Because no 17 year old male would be okay with that plan.

Jamie ends up going down to the local mall with her best friend Ann-Marie instead of wallowing in self-pity at her home. Jamie and Ann-Marie split up (so Ann-Marie can buy pink Reeboks!) and Jamie wanders into a little jewelry store. As she’s peering veeeeery closely at all the jewelry, a man comes in and hold the place up! Jamie is shocked to look up and see that it’s TOM holding up the store! He doesn’t notice Jamie, at first. He takes all the money from the cashier, and then shoots him in the chest. After that, Jamie decides its time to bolt and runs to find Ann-Marie and hightail it out of the mall. Ann-Marie wants her to talk to the security guards (you know, because she just witnessed a murder) but Jamie won’t since that would be ratting out her boyfriend.

On the way home, Ann-Marie suddenly remembers something. Jamie wear GLASSES! But she’s not wearing them today! (How did Jamie not think of this…?) Jamie’s all “I know it was Tom. I would know his fuzzy, blurred outline anywhere.” Okay… Jamie decides to pretend nothing happened, because she’s sure Tom will have a good explanation for everything. Perhaps he was filming a dramatic movie from a class? Once Jamie gets home, she realizes that she dropped her wallet at the jewelry store. That’s probably going to create some problems.

Tom comes over that night to take Jamie to the conveniently timed dance. Jamie thinks Tom is acting really nervous, and says that he has something big to tell her. They go to a quiet spot in the school where Jamie proceeds to freak out and stab Tom in the shoulder! I know, right!?! Crazy! Actually, Jamie is going a little crazy, because it was all a hallucination and Tom is fine. She makes Ann-Marie take her home, and Tom is clearly upset about being ditched at the dance. Whatevs, Tom, you may or may not have murdered someone today. You (probably don’t) deserve it!

Jamie actually ends up walking home because Ann-Marie is all over some guy, and of course gets chased. No wonder I’m afraid to walk alone at night. I grew up reading about girls getting chased every time they stepped out their front door! Jamie gets to her house and calls out to Tom, who she assumes was chasing her. Nice boyfriend there, Jamie. She goes inside and calls his house, but there’s no answer. She does however get a creepy call a few minutes later! A muffled voice tells her that he’s sorry she saw him at the mall. Jamie is all “Tom? Why is your voice so muffled? It doesn’t sound like you…” Yeah.

Jamie has nightmares about Tom all night, and wakes up the next morning in a foul mood. Her mood is kinda lightened, kinda destroyed when she discovers that Tom left her a present this morning: solid gold earrings. She’s pumped because their sweet gold earrings, but feels like they’re cheapened since he murdered a man to get them. Hmmm, conundrum.

Jamie goes to the Y for a relaxing swim to clear her head. Unfortunately, she gets stalked while she’s in the pool by a creeper on the balcony. Ummm, that’s just what it’s like when you swim at the Y. But then she gets followed home again, although no one else saw him. Which kinda makes Jamie crazy. She finally decides to bite the bullet and ask her future husband whether or not he killed anyone to buy her some gold earrings. When she gets to Tom’s house though, he’s not there. His dad was in a bad car accident upstate, so Tom and his mother went to go be with him. Definite proof that Tom was not the person creeping on her that morning at the Y.

He left her a note too! “Dear Jamie, I guess we all act crazy sometimes. I’ll try to call you. Love Tom.” Wtf? Is that because he was crazy when he robbed the store, or because Jamie acted crazy at the dance? Jamie is confused too. Never a good sign when you’re unsure of who the “crazy” refers to.

That night, Jamie gets woken up from another terrifying nightmare about Tom by a threatening phone call. This time, NotTom tells her it’s useless to run, and that she needs to be punished for seeing him at the mall. She tells all this to Ann-Marie the next day at school. Ann-Marie is the voice of reason, telling her to go talk to the police, but Jamie will have none of it. She may think that Tom is trying to kill her, but she certainly won’t rat him out! Her teacher calls on her in class to solve a math problem, except she can’t see the board because she’s still not wearing her GLASSES. (Subtle, I know.)

After school, Jamie sees Tom across the parking lot standing next to a creeper van. The fact that he has never owned a van, and is destitute-ly poor doesn’t seem to tip her off. She runs towards him with open arms until… she sees ANOTHER Tom at the other side of the parking lot run towards her. What ever could be happening here??

Right. The guy with the van is of course not Tom. It is a man that looks like Tom, but is not him, as anyone who would wear their effing GLASSES would plainly see. But it’s too late and Jamie is thrown into the back of the van and NotTom takes off with her in it. He introduces himself as Okie (v. polite) and Jamie recognizes his name as a famous murderer from a couple of years ago. Jamie feels very disloyal for suspecting Tom. Well, YEAH, Jamie, I suggest you don’t marry Tom until you’ve worked out these TRUST issues with Tom.

Tom apparently loves Jamie a whole lot though, because when Okie pulls up to the secluded cabin where he will obviously murder Jamie, Tom leaps from the van’s roof. He totally hitched a ride! I would marry Tom, just for that. While he fights Okie, Jamie takes off for safety (leaving him there, mind you). Unfortunately, she’s soon taken down by Okie’s accomplice, a redhead named Dolly. And of course Tom lost the fight with Okie, so they both end up tied up in the cabin.

Okie takes Tom first and holds his head down in a tub of water for three minutes. Yup, that would kill someone! Jamie acts upset but I’m sure, deep down, she’s relieved that she’s not tied down anymore. Okie and Dolly start to rough her up, when suddenly… Tom leaps to his feet and knocks them out. Apparently, his swim coach makes them hold their breath underwater for 4 minutes, which seems a little bit like torture. Comes in handy though. He tells her that instead of robbing a jewelry store, he just saved up for an entire year to buy her those gold earrings…

… which he promptly asks for back, since Jamie is such a crap girlfriend for suspecting him of murder. No? That’s not how it ends? No, you’re right, but that’s how it SHOULD end. It actually ends with Tom promising never to break another date. Because, you know, this whole thing was his fault. Shut up, Jamie.

Alright, these non-Fear Streets are never my faves. It wasn’t even a Point Horror! Just a rando book, with terrible morals and plotlines, as per the usual. This was like a Mr. Magoo cartoon in book form. But instead of being hilarious and about the 60s, it was full of annoying girlfriends, pathetic boyfriends and new-fangled rollerblades. 17 unworn pairs of glasses out of 30!

Dangerous Girls, or “Milfs and Pedophiles”

Dangerous Girls is not a Fear Street, or a Point Horror. This is a full out young adult novel written by R. L. Stine in 2003 (!!), so fairly recent. R. L. is totally down with the technology these days, as everyone in this group ims each other, and googles (although sadly, google was not a verb yet). Also sadly, no Facebook. I think Facebook could have a significant affect on teen horror – it certainly amps the stalking vibe you get from a lot of books. Anyways, this book is pretty darn exciting!

Destiny and Livvy are twin girls, dealing with the recent tragedy of their mother’s suicide. Not a super light note to start on, but they are working as junior counsellors at a kids camp over the summer before their senior year, trying to distract from the grief. Livvy, the fast fashionable one, does so by making it with every boy at camp, while Destiny, the down to earth, shy one, probably deals with it by writing poetry, although that never actually comes up. It is the last day of camp, the kids have left, and everyone is saying goodbye to each other by drinking beer and sneaking down to the woods together. Destiny doesn’t know what’s gotten into her, but she agrees to walk down to the lake with the mysterious head counsellor, Renz.

This is his usual hangout – apparently he takes all the girls down to the lake to get with them, and he saved Destiny for last. Dee is pretty insulted, until Renz reveals himself to be a hundreds-year old vampire named Lorenzo, and he is madly in love with Destiny because she looks exactly like his long-lost love, Laura. And he had to wait until the full moon, because a human must share blood with a vampire under the full moon in order to become a vampire herself. Just as Dee is starting to freak, he puts her under a mind spell and tells her it will only hurt for an instant, but then the pleasure will be unimaginable. I once took a fantasy fiction class in school, and we spent weeks breaking down how vampires ALWAYS symbolize sex, and R. L. is right on point here. Renz sinks his ... teeth into her, and drinks her blood.

Destiny can suddenly see his thoughts, and he shows her his life story. He was a poor young lad in Italy some vague centuries ago, and immigrated to New York to find a better life. Only he quickly found an un-life, and roamed the new world drinking blood. That is, until he sees a woman and falls instantly in love with her, named Laura, who looks exactly like Destiny. Laura dies, and Renz vows to never rest until she is back at his side again.

Renz is interrupted before he can make Destiny drink his own blood, and she leaves him all shaky and weirded out, forgetting about their little encounter, and Renz’s existence entirely. The next day, Destiny and Livvy go home with their father and brother. They are worried about how both of them are handling the loss of their mother – their father overworks himself doing research as a veterinarian, and their little brother is slowly retreating into a world of video games.

At home, they meet up with a bunch of old friends, but both the girls are feeling weird and out of sorts. While watching a vampire horror movie, Destiny starts screaming uncontrollably, which kind of breaks up the party. That night she wakes up with a craving for something, so she goes out in a nightshirt and hunts for a rabbit. Livvy joins her, and it’s around that time they have to acknowledge something is going on with them. Neither remembers Renz or what he did to them, but they see they have bite marks on their necks, and of course they think vampire.

Meanwhile, in their little town there’s been a rash of woodland animals killed and drained of blood. The official story is that it is a virus that dries out your blood. Which, by the way, is WAY more terrifying than vampires. Could you imagine if swine flu did that? Anyways, they decide not to tell their dad or brother because they’re both so messed up by the suicide, and they don’t want to freak them out any more.

So of course Destiny goes to the source of all things supernatural – her horror and fantasy obsessed friend Ari. He tells her there is a rumour that vampire hunter are in town, led by the basketball coach. He is recently bereaved after suddenly losing his wife, and he all of a sudden is heading a group of vampire hunters? Sounds suspicious. He also tells her that if a vampire drinks from you, but you don’t drink from them to complete the vampire process, you become a neophyte – a half-vampire until the next full moon. If you drink from a vampire under the next full moon, you become a vampire. If you don’t, you become some crazy zombie thing. Not awesome choices, and Destiny agrees with me.

After that pleasant conversation, Destiny and Ari go grocery shopping. Dee gets a total need to feed, but Ari mistakes her as coming on to him. He gets all excited, but she has to send him away before she attacks him. Instead, she attacks some fresh liver. Ick. She heads out quickly to find Livvy, who is at the pool with her brother and his friend. Liv is severely sunburnt after a short time out in the sun, and can’t take off her sunglasses without pain. They realize they are becoming more vampiric by the day. Then the brother’s friend falls and cuts his knee, and Liv is on him before anyone can do anything about it, lapping up the blood. Super ick. That’s pretty pedo. Destiny tries to play that one off as a new first aid technique, as she notices a handsome Italian-type man watching them from afar. Then forgets about him immediately.

Convinced they need more information on vampires, the girls decide to go talk to Coach Bauer, who may or may not be a head vampire hunter. Pretty risky for a couple of almost vampires, right? No worry, they’re going to go ask about vampires for a “friend.” No one will see through that. Instead of finding the coach, though, they find his recently dead wife – or rather, his recently undead wife. She’s all zombie gross, because she was bitten by a vampire and never drank vampire blood – so she’s what the girls will turn into at the full moon if they don’t consummate their vampire-ness with Renz. Mrs. Bauer wants to die, but her husband won’t let her go. When the repulsed girls won’t stake her through the heart, she goes to eat them, but realizes they are the same. Mrs. Bauer is effin crazy at this point, babbling away, but she tells them they need to find the Restorer to put them back to how they were if they’re to escape.

Destiny googles “Restorer.” Haha, I would have totally done that too. Unfortunately, Google fails, so she goes out to find Livvy at a burger joint. On their way home, they stumble over the body of Livvy’s badass friend Bree, and you bet that someone drained her blood.

Three days later, after the funeral, Destiny is having a full on freak out in the woods, thinking that her sister killed her friend, and what a horrible thought that is, when a handsome young man approaches her. She gets all fuzzy and doesn’t really know what’s going on around her, but Renz starts making out with her and calling her Laura, then drinking her blood. This guy doesn’t really do much to make her like him at all, and the whole mind control thing is getting close to sexual assault. Vampire’s a creep. Afterwards, Destiny can’t remember why her neck is bleeding, and Livvy starts to think she’s keeping secrets from her. Dee is already mad at Livvy for slutting it up with her crush, Ross, so the sisters have a big sister fight. But they come back together when Livvy eats her brother’s hamster. Things like that you just have to bond over.

They go back to see Mrs. Bauer to see if she has any more info on the Restorer. Unfortunately, that’s when the hunters come and kill Mrs. B, and the twins barely escape. They do see that the hunters consist of most of the basketball team. How’s that for an extracurricular sport?

On the first day back to school, the girls are getting worse, looking really sick and unable to take off their sunglasses. Destiny runs into the new guidance counsellor everyone is gaga over, and he introduces himself as Renz. We flash to Renz’s memories of meeting Laura, in a small village near where the girls live now. Her father was against their relationship from the start, and won’t let them be together. Renz says to hell with that, and turns Laura into a vampire. Only the father walks in on this rather private moment, and beats Lorenzo away. He flees by turning into a mouse (not the most studly thing to do ever), then goes back for her. But he’s too late. Laura was staked by her father, who was very shortly after that beheaded by Lorenzo.

He flashes forward two hundred years later, when he sees a woman who looks identical to Laura. She’s wearing a wedding band, and is calling to her two daughters, Destiny and Livvy. Gasp! Renz first went after their mother. I don’t know how I’d feel about that.

The next day at school, Renz calls Destiny into his office, and immediately starts making out with her. Whoa, wrong touching, guidance counsellor! He talks to her about blood and the moon, and Destiny is all dreamy. And apparently his mind control is slipping, because Dee remembers some of what he said, and comes to the conclusion that Renz is the Restorer, and he will make her all better. Fail! That night, two things of import happen. Courtney is a girl who starts hitting on Livvy’s boy toy, Ross, and Livvy breaks her arm. That was an overreaction. And the twin’s father comes home from a late night at the veterinarian clinic covered in blood, saying he’d been in an accident. Only his car was fine. Hmm.

Courtney turns up dead, drained of all her blood, and everyone is freaking out in town. They’ve given up the whole “drying up your blood virus”, and have moved on to the theory that there’s a serial killer, nicknamed the “Vampire Killer.” Destiny is sure Livvy did it, that she lost control of her bloodlust, and gets so upset about it that she turns into a bat. Now that’s something to be upset about. Bat-Destiny attacks an owl, but her eyes are bigger than her stomach, because in a bat vs. owl fight, owls usually win. Bat-Destiny saves herself by becoming Human-Destiny, much to the owl’s alarm. Destiny decides enough is enough, and decides to tell her father what’s going on. Unfortunately, she sees the vampire hunters out and about – led by her father! The hunters stake the town librarian, and Dee loses the will to tell him.

So she goes to see Renz, and tells him she knows he’s the Restorer. He pauses, then is like: “Yes. Yes I am.” She’s in luck. The night of the full moon is the night of the senior camping trip, and Renz will be there. To “help” her. Or ravish her and turn her into a vampire. She’s stoked and knows everything is going to be okay.

Until her friend from camp comes to visit her, and gushes about Renz. Dee is pretty confused about how the friend knows about Renz, then she remembers everything. She realizes Renz is a creep, and she’s pretty much doomed.

Renz is thinking about turning Destiny, and that makes him think about her mother, Deborah. He drank her blood under the full moon, but was interrupted before she drank from him. That seems to happen a lot to Renz. He might be a really crappy vampire. He waited the month for her, but on the night of the full moon, he came to her and found her swinging from the rafters. He vowed he would turn her daughters.

It’s the night of the senior’s camping trip. Destiny tries to pretend everything is okay, but is inside freaking out about what’s about to happen. Renz goes to her tent to get her, then leads her away. Are there no other chaperones there? I feel like guidance counsellors should not be able to do this as easily as he does. She tells him she’s ready, then shoves a wooden tent pole through his chest. Suck on that, creepy guidance counsellor! Renz dissolves into dust.

Destiny turns away, to see her father watching her. She tries to run away, because she thinks he’s going to kill her too, but instead he hugs her and tells her he would never hurt her. In fact, he was the Restorer! How convenient. So, what does a Restorer do? He gives her a shot. That seemed kind of anticlimactic. He was doing research to find a cure for vampirism, ever since his wife was bitten, but he was too late for her. He was also too late for Mrs. Bauer, who was bitten by his wife. Deborah was so horrified by what she had done, she took her own life before she could become full vampire. But happily, he now has a formula to cure vampirism before a person is fully turned. They go off in search of Livvy to save her too.

They find Livvy with her boy Ross, both of whom are feeding off a freshly killed deer. Livvy had been pretending to be a neophyte, but in fact she had let Renz go all the way with her the first night. She’s pretty happy to be a vampire, so she turned her boyfriend too. She also had killed her friends Bree and Courtney. Destiny and her dad try to grab them, to see if they could save them, but they turn into blackbirds and fly away.

A week later, Destiny is with her brother at night, when a blackbird taps at their window. It wants to come in …

The end. This book totally has a sequel, or rather is the first book in a 2 book series. I’m pretty sure that means a sequel, but whatever. Cannot wait to read it, that was awesome! So impressed by R. L.’s later work. Must know what else he’s done in the past decade … please do tell, so that I can blog them. I give this 16 underage girls out of 16!