Wednesday, August 19, 2009

One Last Kiss, or “Another Generic Vampire Love Story Have We Not Have Enough Of These Yet”

Let’s take a look to analyze this cover, shall we? I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume this book is about VAMPIRES. I’m comfortable with this assumption. What I can’t get over is what is going on with this girl’s teeth? Girl is probably Eleanor Rawlin, who (according to backflap) just wants an ordinary life but is pulled into a life of vengeance against all vampires. Has Eleanor been eating dirt? Why are her teeth all grey and nasty. She makes me kinda queasy, and her necklace does not go with her dress. I don’t like her.

Shadow Glen, Colony of Virginia, 1730

Poor Eleanor, life is very hard for her. Her mother was murdered by vampires when she was very young, she doesn’t even remember her. Now her and her father flee vampires, moving often, never long enough for Eleanor to make a friend. And her father makes her wear a necklace of garlic, to boot. To top it all off, Eleanor doesn’t even believe in vampires – she thinks her father was driven mad with grief after his wife’s murder, and now thinks monsters were behind it.

Shadow Glen is where Eleanor was born and her mother was killed. Eleanor has made a friend, Annie, and has been invited to a ball at the Fier Manor, so she’s pretty unhappy when her father forbids her to go, and tells her they have to move once again. Poor Cinderella, cries herself to sleep because she can’t go to the ball.

She is woken by a carriage pulling up to their house, and a strange man slipping into their garden. She sneaks into her father’s study to eavesdrop. The man tells her father he’s not safe, there’s no way he can take on the vampires. Eleanor is shocked this man believes in vampires and seems to hate them more than her father. The man sees Eleanor and their eyes lock. The handsome young stranger decides Eleanor is too pretty, the vampires will be after her for sure.

Eleanor scoffs at him, until strange man is introduced as Trevor Fier. Eleanor then hopes her invitation to his ball won’t be taken away. But, he thinks she’s cute, and they (obviously) fall in love. After Trevor leaves, her father warns her to stay the hell away from Trevor.

Eleanor intrigued that someone other than her father believes in vampires, so she reads the journal Trevor left behind, supposedly containing everything he knows about vampires in it – The Journal of Richard Fier, an ancestor of Trevor’s.

Wickham Village, Massachusetts Colony, 1624

Richard Fier has just become a vampire, and is writing about the experience. He met a beautiful woman last night, and she ate him up. It’s an age old story.

Eleanor wakes up, having fallen asleep over the journal. Her father comes in, shouts a bit, then tells her he’s inviting Trevor over for dinner. So Eleanor pops into town to pick up a turkey, where she runs into her friend Annie, an indentured servant from Ireland. Annie tells her she believes in vampires, and Eleanor does some more scoffing. Until she’s walking home at dusk, and the wind starts whispering her name. Actually, the “wind” calls out: Eleanor Rawlins, you cannot escape us. So, probs not the wind, Eleanor, just a heads up. Once again that night she sneaks into her father’s study to read more of Richard Fier’s journal:

Wickham Village, Massachusetts Colony, 1625

Richard finally gives in and feeds on another man. His beautiful vampire lady friend, Gwendolyn, serves up a terrified miller for him to snack on. But Richard refuses to take his life, and runs for it. He comes upon a wild board and drinks that instead. He cries at his fate, even if vampires have no tears to shed. Wah wah wah, whiny vampire.

Eleanor falls for it, feels she is falling in love with the sensitive vampire who refuses to eat humans. Swoon, how romantic … wait, have I read this somewhere else? Hmmm. Also, isn’t in convenient that she is falling in love with the man who wrote the journal, an immortal, while also feeling naughty feelings for this immortal’s “descendant” of 100 years later?

Trevor Fier comes to dinner and asks her to invite him in. Yup, Trevor is totally the vampire. Also, he won’t eat the dinner she prepared. Because he wants to snack at her neck, I’m gonna guess. Trevor and Eleanor’s father get to business about vampires. Dad wants to know how to kill them. He realizes his daughter is miserable, and just wants the vampires dead and be done with it so they can lead normal lives. Trevor says there is no way, that Eleanor will die if she stays in Shadow Glen, just like her mother, then storms out of the house.

Eleanor rushes out after Trevor, only to immediately get lost in mist. So, Eleanor is fairly useless. Someone grabs her, but it is only Trevor. He is all brooding and lonely, then starts making out with her, then runs away. Sigh, how romantic. No, wait, actually who would want a boyfriend like that? Eleanor goes home all hot and bothered, only to find her father had been staked and lies bleeding to death on the floor. His last word is “Trevor…”

Trevor runs into the room, and Eleanor assumes he killed her father – no more of this vampire crap. Somehow, within a page, Trevor convinces her vampires are real, they killed her father, that they had been after her since her mother died, and were waiting for her to grow up. Basically, she’s screwed. That’s a lot to take in in one page, but Eleanor does remarkably well. It only helps that Trevor spends the night to protect her (ooh la la!).

She’s woken the next day by the Reverend – Trevor took care of all the funeral arrangements for that afternoon. Only her friend Annie shows up for the funeral, and most of the town makes it clear they’re happy the crazy man is gone, suggesting it would be better for her if she were to disappear too. Pretty callous bunch in Shadow Glen. Also of note: Trevor does not show up for the daytime funeral he arranged.

That night a devastatingly beautiful woman breaks into Eleanor’s house. She’s Priscilla Fier, the hostess of the Fier ball. Priscilla brought Eleanor some food stuff to help her get by. In the middle of the night, like a normal person. Priscilla is very sweet, and insists that Eleanor, little pauper that she is, move to Fier Manor. Ooh, nothing’s going to go wrong THERE.

Eleanor moves in that night, to the palatial manor that is more like a prison. There’s tons of servants around, and Eleanor’s poor head is turned by all the luxury. Once settled in her room, she feels safe for the first time in the long time. She doesn’t wake up until mid-afternoon. Trevor is shut up in his study and can’t be disturbed until dusk. “Study” totes means “coffin.” She is given breakfast at dinnertime, which is really the best dinner ever anyways. Mmm, breakfast for dinner. She passes the time reading Richard’s diary.

Wickham Village, Massachusetts Colony, 1627

Richard is needing more and more blood, as Gwendolyn brings over more people to the darker side of night. Richard continues to kill only animals, although he is mocked for it. Richard tries to kill himself by staying out in the morning sunlight, but is too much of a pussy for that. So instead he gets up in the middle of the day and stakes Gwendolyn. Oops, I totally thought Gwendolyn was Priscilla now, guess I was wrong about that. Anyways, Richard is all torn up about murdering someone, vampire or not.

Eleanor is saddened by what she reads and runs to find Trevor in his study. She finds the room dark and empty, but she also finds a mysterious secret passageway behind the bookshelves. So cool, I’ve always wanted one of those. The hallway is narrow, dark, and covered with slime and foul odours. It leads underground the manor, to a small chamber with one coffin in it. Guesses as to who’s in it?

Poor little Eleanor is shocked, shocked, when Trevor wakes up in his coffin and pronounces he is actually Richard Fier. But we already knew that, so no surprises for the reader. Eleanor’s candle goes out, and she’s left in the darkness with a monstrous (but hot) vampire. Richard/Trevor gets all sexy with Eleanor’s neck, and asks her if she wants to join him … in immortality.

She freaks, and he jumps away, lighting a candle. He tells her he only got all sexy with her to prove he could hurt her – but never would. Oh, swoon. Who doesn’t want a potentially abusive boyfriend? Eleanor, walk the hell away. Of course Eleanor doesn’t walk away, but tells him he’s so sensitive and wonderful. I wonder if he sparkles? Eleanor then tells him she’s going to find her father’s murderer and kill them. Trevor lunges for her and starts shaking the hit out of her. Then he proclaims his love for her. Jesus, it didn’t take long for that abusive behaviour to start, did it? He tells her he didn’t kill her parents, and they make out for awhile.

They get back up to the study eventually, and Priscilla interrupts them. She realizes Trevor is in love with Eleanor, so they must marry immediately. Priscilla decides to throw them an engagement party. Eleanor’s kind of like – wait, what? I’m marrying a vampire? Oh, but I luuurve him, and he’s sooo wonderful, this will be fine!

At her engagement party, everyone comes dresses as a vampire, because they are “all the rage in Paris.” Priscilla claims she doesn’t believe in actual vampires, despite living with one. It’s all just a masque. The punch is blood-flavoured, which is nasty. Maybe that’s how her teeth got all stained and gross on the front cover. Eleanor is creeped out by everyone there, sensible girl. She goes outside to find Trevor, who confesses his eternal love, then goes to hunt. Eleanor goes into the hall, and stumbles over the body of a heartless man. As in, someone has removed his heart.

Trevor and Priscilla get really mad, demanding their vampire-obsessed guests to leave. I mean, don’t they know how rude it is to gore up the help? Trevor picks Eleanor up, claiming he’ll do anything to protect her, although admits it looks like the Fier Manor might have some security issues. She gets a little freaked by him, but he assures her he didn’t kill the man, and she would have to trust him. So she does, la la la. He brings her into the kitchen and leaves her again. Eleanor finds the heart roasting in the coals of the oven.

She finally flees the manor in the daylight to find her friend Annie. Unfortunately, she finds Annie under a bridge, frozen in the river, as a storm blows up. Trevor finds Eleanor as night falls, and gets them, and the corpse, to shelter, then heads out into the winter storm to get help – leaving Eleanor alone with Annie’s corpse. Not for long, though. Annie wakes up.

Annie the vampire tried to drink Eleanor’s blood, claiming immortality is awesome. Eleanor pushes her into the sunlight, and Annie finds immortality to be very quick indeed. The Fier’s driver comes to rescue Eleanor. She realizes she must see Trevor again, and goes down to his coffin room to visit his corpse. Only, the coffin is empty! Priscilla finds her there, and is all – what the fuck is this place? Getting over that pretty quick, Priscilla asks Eleanor to help fix the hem of her dress, but when they go to the mirror, Eleanor sees only her reflection.

Priscilla the vampire gets all seductive, and tries to turn Eleanor. She runs away, only to be grabbed by a massive bird who takes her to the roof. Only the bird is actually Trevor. Eleanor gets all mad at Trevor for bringing her close to another vampire, but then she learns the truth … Priscilla is her mother! Priscilla loved being a vampire, and was in charge of this whole operation. She had been waiting for her little girl to grow up to turn her. Trevor was the lucky vampire with the mission to turn her, but he fell in love with her instead. Priscilla is more powerful than him, and she joins them on the roof. She goes to drink Eleanor’s blood, but Eleanor fights her off and pushes her off the roof – to be staked on an iron stake. That just makes her kind of mad, and slows her down some.

Trevor wakes up, but is weak. He tells her to kill Priscilla, and takes her to her mother. His last message to her is: I have always hated what I became and I will always love you. They try to force Priscilla into the sunlight, but she manages to stake Trevor. Eleanor goes into mad rage and tackles her vampire mother, who tries to drink her blood again. Trevor gets up enough strength to take down Priscilla, as they both burn up in the morning sun. As Trevor’s flesh is burned away, he pulls Eleanor in for one last kiss. Hot.

Kind of a gag-worthy romance, wasn’t it? Eternal love, blah blah, I’ll die for you, blah blah. I kind of love that Priscilla was Eleanor’s mother, and was a bad ass vampire the whole time. And it was good that Trevor died in the end, big heroic sacrifice, these eternal love stories are always better with poignant endings, dontcha think? 10 flesh-decayed kisses out of 14.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Babysitter IV or "Who Hates Sweaty Kids? R.L. Hates Sweaty Kids."

The Babysitter IV. Thank god it’s the last in this series! For those who need a refresher, I wrote about the Babysitter III allll the way back in November. For those of you too lazy to read the old recap I’ll give away the surprise ending: Jenny snapped. She went nuts and stole a baby. That’s about all that happened.

This installment of the Babysitter series is a little more random. As in, supernatural. Jenny gets out of the hospital after spending a full year there. (Shouldn’t she be like 20 by now? This is the fourth summer that crazy crap has happened to her!) Anyhoo, her new next door neighbour is a single mom with three kids and no shame in asking Jenny to babysit all the time with no advanced warning. I’d be telling this mom to EFF off, especially about babysitting. She babysits for the twins Sean and Seth and their younger sister Meredith. The kids are pretty cute, but soon mysterious stuff starts happening around the house. Some highlights: when trying to cut cake, Jenny’s hand with the knife tries to stab her heart out; when trying to wash dishes, Jenny’s hand tries to shove itself down the garburator! (recycling ideas much, R.L.?) Luckily, she has enough common sense to turn off the garburator with her non-Idle hand. She keeps being woken up in the middle of the night by howls (caused by dogs, you idiot) but she also sees a young girls face in the attic window of her neighbours house. Is the girl howling? Answer: no. When she tells anyone about her fears, and the fact she’s hearing voices inside the house, they all think she’s back to being nutters. To be fair, I would too. And then we find out that Ms. Next Door only has two kids! Jenny has made up one of the twins in her mind! Except the other kids interacted with him, sooo that can’t be right. Either way, Jenny’s mom is having her re-committed ASAP. Jenny knows something is up, and goes to investigate after Ms. Next Door takes her two real children away for the night. She finds Seth is still hanging out there, and that he’s a ghost. She goes to find out about the girl in the attic, and Seth tells her that she’s a ghost too, but she’s locked in the attic because she killed Seth while babysitting him! Jenny is all “Maybe, but I want to hear her admit it” and releases this other ghost girl. Long story short, Seth is the true evil ghost, and after wrestling with the babysitter ghost for a few minutes, they both go off to where ever the hell ghosts disappear too. I can only assume purgatory. Jenny is found amid the wreckage of the house by her mom and is all “It’s okay now Mom, I’m totally not crazy anymore!” and her mom agrees. WTF Mom? That’s just poor parenting. COMMIT YOUR KID.

Babysitter IV gets a little bit higher marks for a) being about ghost which is super cool and b) having another haunted GARBURATOR scene! So I’ll give it 13 hideous children out of 22. (This will make more sense in a minute)

Let’s talk awesome descriptions. Unfortunately, this book didn’t have as many sweet 90s references or denim nightmares. But it still had some pretty good character descriptions.

1. Meredith. This poor child. Let’s read exactly what R.L. wrote about her:

“She was five or six, plump, with a round face like her mother’s. She had curly, light brown hair tied back in a loose ponytail and tiny dark eyes close together around a pudgy stub of a nose.
Meredith wore a sleeveless yellow T-shirt and matching yellow shorts. Her sneakers were yellow, too.
She’s not very pretty, Jenny thought. Meredith had a red scratch across one chubby knee. She had a small Band-Aid on her chin. Beads of sweat glistened above her upper lip.”

Yikes! What else do you want to add in there, R.L.? She’s chubby, sweaty, pig-like. Does she also have sideburns? How about a rash somewhere, huh? Like, why does he have such a hate on for this poor character??

2. We find out that Jenny wears pink mid-drift tops and shorty-short cutoffs to hang around her house. Is she trying to turn tricks in her kitchen?
3. Apparently shorty-short cutoffs were all the rage back in 1995: Clair wears hers with an oversized white tee-shirt over a blue sleeveless T-shirt. R.L. would like you to know that the shorts emphasis her long, lean legs. Of course he does. Perv.

And those were the only good outfit descriptions! (Although, every time Jenny’s BF Cal is mention, it talks about how much he smells like gasoline.) Lame, I know. But you get to read about how much R.L. hates sweaty children. Yay!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Blind Date or "FISTS OF STEEL"

Here’s another Point Horror that I think you all will enjoy. Because it was totally ridiculous.

The book starts with our main character Kerry breaking another boy’s leg during football practice. He didn’t mean to, but that fact doesn’t stop his teammates from going crazy on him, accusing him of hurting their star player, Sal Murdoch. Even the coach gets in on the whole dumping all over Kerry party, and actually kicks him off the team because the other players are mad at him. What? Isn’t it kinda expected that people would get hurt during football? Isn’t that kinda the point of the game? Things get worse when good ol’ Sal goes into a coma. From a broken leg? Sure, why not.

Later when Kerry is moping around his room, we get a little more insight into his life. Apparently, he looks just like Ralph Macchio: The Karate Kid! I’m a little ashamed to say that I’ve never actually seen the Karate Kid, so I had to go look this kid up on Google.

So The Karate Kid is about a small child’s love affair with a much older Asian man? It seems weird that so many people enjoyed that movie…

Kerry also hates it when anyone talks about his older brother Donald. You see, there was a “tragedy” that happened last year, but Kerry can’t remember it. And his doctors think it’s a good idea that no one else tell him ‘til he remembers it on his own. Blind Date is the male version of The Face! Where did these doctors go to school?? Anyways, Kerry can’t remember anything from the previous year, and since he only has one friend, I guess it’s not a big deal to keep that year a secret.

In addition to his one friend Josh, Kerry has a younger brother Sean (who is 14 and has chips and beer for dinner. A Stine book with BEER in it? Almost unheard of!) and a father, who is awkward around him. Probably because of all the secret keeping. Kerry’s mother left the family soon after the “tragedy”. So that’s cold. No wonder Sean drinks BEER at 14! He’s in a non-nuclear family!

The night after he breaks ol’ Sals leg, he gets a mysterious phone call from his Blind Date. Apparently, she has the sexiest voice Kerry’s ever heard! But when you think that she’s 16 and probably still sounds like a child, that’s a lil’ creepy. She says that his friend Margo gave her his number since she’s moving to town and needs someone to show her around. So he asks her out for Saturday night (before asking for her NAME, might I add) and she says yes, rattles off her name and address and hangs up. He thinks her name might be Amanda. Real smooth.

The next night he gets another random call, but this one is a little less sexy. A pinchy, nasaly voice tells Kerry that “Sticks and stones can break YOUR bones!”, which is pretty creepy. Kerry just assumes that the prank caller is Sal’s girlfriend Sharon and shrugs it off. I guess back before there was caller ID people made a lot more prank/threatening phone calls?

On Saturday night, Kerry takes his dad’s sweet Mustang out to pick up maybe-Amanda. When he gets to her house, he’s a little surprised because its basically a hovel, and there are no lights on. It gets weirder when an old mysterious couple answers the door. When they hear that he’s there to pick up Amanda for their date, the couple freaks out and tells him that Amanda is dead. Then they seem to recognize him, and scream “Why did you come back here to torture us?!”. Well, that’s a little offputting. I would REALLY be wondering what I had been up to for the previous year that I can’t remember, but Kerry doesn’t seem that perturbed. He’s not even that annoyed when he gets home to another prank call with the disturbing children’s lyrics. Weirdo.

His blind date, Mandy, calls him on Sunday evening, asking him where he was. Turns out he mixed up both her name and address. She gives him another chance and they decide to meet at school on Monday before classes start. Kerry goes to shoot some hoops with Josh for the afternoon and ends up getting beat up by some of Sal’s friends who are pissed their friend is still in a coma. Not really an important chapter, but I’ll point out that Kerry had a fantasy about kicking their asses which included yelling “FISTS OF STEEL” while punching one of them. I REALLY want to get into a fight now, just so I can yell that while punching someone. Amazing.

Kerry has to meet up with Mandy while his face looks like garbage, which she kindly points out. She’s not what he expected: she’s all pale, blond and doll-like. Except she’s wearing dark lipstick (which in R.L.’s world = whore). They hang out and Kerry asks her to be his date for the upcoming dance. It just isn’t a 90s teen book until there’s a dance! Kerry’s feeling all good, until he opens his locker and the entire thing is covered in blood red paint. That’s kinda hard to explain to a new girl, hey?

The next day, Kerry wakes up to his Dad looking like he has some serious bad news: Donald has escaped. From where you ask? So does Kerry. You see, Kerry had forgotten what happened to his brother. “Kerry realized – for the first time – that he didn’t know where his brother was. How could that be? Had he been living in a dream-world for an entire year?” Indeed, how the EFF could that happen? Kerry thinks about Donald ALL THE TIME. I’m not writing about it, because Kerry’s dreams about his older brother make for boring blogs. But he’s always thinking about him, and he never once was like “Gee, where did that guy get to?” Ugh, R.L.

Kerry’s dad finally kinda tells him what happened. There was a car accident with Kerry, Donald and Donald’s girlfriend. Kerry and Donald were both untouched, but the girlfriend was killed. Donald snapped and had to be sent to a mental institution. Kerry asks what the girls name was, even though he kinda already knows: Amanda. Dun dun dunnn!

On Friday night, Kerry meets Mandy in front of the school for their dance date. During a slow song, she totally pushes Kerry into a dark corner and makes out with him so hard that his lips bleed. Then she runs away. Kerry thinks this is hot, which I CANNOT believe, because bleeding lips are not sexy! (I bet his lips were dry)

While searching for his nutters date, Kerry gets chased around by the mean bullies who beat him up at the basketball court. They tell him that Sal got out of his coma, and explained to him that Kerry didn’t break his leg on purpose, so all is forgiven. No hard feelings, right? Ohhh, boys… Kerry finally finds Mandy and they decide to go home. When they get to his car, they see that all his tires have been slashed. Violently. Mandy freaks out and runs across the parking lot and hops on the first bus she sees. Which is seriously WEIRD behaviour, but Kerry’s still all smitten. The creepy death threat that he gets when he’s home doesn’t even bum him out that much! His dad does warn him to watch out for Donald though, which I thought was very cryptic.

The next day, Kerry runs into Margo, the girl that set Kerry up with Mandy. Except she’s never heard of this Mandy girl and has no idea what he’s talking about. Again, all these signs are BAD. When you start dating a new person, and death threats begin at the same time… chances are your new girlfriend is NUTS. Yet he still agrees to go on a car ride with her that night. Aw, I remember when I first got my license and we’d just go out for car rides! And now, my work commute has ruined driving for me.

Kerry gets another threatening phone call that night, but this time from Donald! He says “Be careful, I’m coming.” Which isn’t so much a threat as it is a statement. It’s all in the inflection. Anyways, Kerry freaks out and slams down the phone before he can find out whether or not it was a TRUE threat. Fool.

On their car ride, Kerry discovers that Mandy is a terrible driver, as she’s continually swerving around, almost landing them in the ditch. She’s all skittish, and confesses that she thinks DONALD is following her. Even though she just moved there. And has never met Donald. And Kerry obviously didn’t tell her about him because he can’t even remember where that kid went! But Kerry believes her and promises to protect her.

Mandy again swerves into oncoming traffic after her confession, but the headlights of the oncoming car actually jog Kerry’s memory! He sees the accident and the aftermath of dead Amanda. And he knows why Donald would be so mad at him… because Kerry was driving when Amanda was killed!

Kerry tells his dad about getting some of his memory back as well as Donald’s call. His dad lets him know that after the accident, Donald had tried to strangle Kerry to death, but was foiled when the police arrived! Ooo, that is pretty traumatic.

The next night, Kerry is hanging around his house, thinking about how his brother tried to kill him. Mandy calls him up and says that Donald is IN her house right now! She trapped him in the basement and she’s coming to Kerry’s house. (Call the police.) She gets there and they discover that Kerry’s phone cord has been cut! (Go to the police.) Instead of taking my helpful advice, the two kids decide to head out to Mandy’s hunting cabin in the secluded woods. Face palm!

Of course Mandy feeds Kerry drugged hot chocolate as soon as they get there. When he comes to, he’s tied to the chair and Mandy sings for him: “Sticks and stone will break YOUR bones” and whips out a mallet. Well, that’s potentially the scariest thing I’ve read in a R.L. book in a long time! He asks to at least know what he did wrong (because he thinks this about a bad date??) and she lets him know her secret: she’s Amanda’s sister! Their parent’s named them Amanda and Mandy? That seems … silly.

Mandy starts in on her promise of breaking all of Kerry’s bones. She smashes the toes on his right foot! To make the next mallet hit more exciting, she puts a stuffed moose head over Kerry’s face so he won’t know when the hit is coming. That’s just cruel! FYI the head is full of bugs too. Mandy is a stone cold bitch.

Luckily, who comes to rescue Kerry? Brother Donald! He subdues Mandy (Kerry doesn’t see how, but I like to think it was a FISTS OF STEEL punch) and takes the buggy moose head off. Apparently, Donald had called Kerry to warn him about nutters Mandy, who is actually named Nancy. Nancy was a fellow patient in the hospital, and Donald told the whole car accident story to her. Since she’s REALLY crazy, she took on the role of Amanda’s sister (with a poorly thought-out name) and decided to extract some revenge. She couldn’t have taken on the role of Amanda’s sister and quietly grieved? Does everything HAVE to be crazy with this girl?

The book ends with Kerry and Sal meeting on crutches and having a laugh about their bad luck. Then Josh asks Kerry if he wants to be set up with his new cousin that’s moving to town… dun dun dun!

Okay, Blind Date wasn’t terrible, but there seemed to be some gaping plot holes that were just ignored. Like Kerry not caring where his brother disappeared to. Or what happened to Donald after he saved Kerry, because I think escaping from a mental hospital is frowned upon. My most burning question: did they let him back on the team now that the bullies like him again?!

I give Blind Date 38 ½ bleeding lips out of 77. Exactly mediocre.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Fear Street Sagas: Circle of Fire, or “The Craft, circa 18-something”


Emma Fier Reade hides her secret magic evil spellbook in 1745 in her attic, then dies of unknown causes. That’s pretty much all that happens here.

Sometime Later, Presumably Like 100 Years Maybe

So, thanks ghost writer for not actually putting in any dates. I like knowing exactly when these sagas supposedly happened, not being forced to make educated guesses. Because, let’s be honest, not a whole lot of education went into that guess. If they did put the date in there somewhere, hidden by all that insightful text, and you think to yourself “L. K. was just way too lazy to actually find the date”, well, guilty as charged.

Mia Saxton is late – once again – at Miss Pemberthy’s School for Young Ladies. This school is located in an old estate, maybe where a wealthy (yet evil) family once inhabited. Her classmates go all mean-girls on Mia, sniggering about how she was born on a farm. Chief mean girl is Alicia Bainbridge, who seems to me to be a know-it-all bitch, but she is rich and back in the 19th century people used to equate popularity with wealth. Thank goodness that never happens anymore. Mia has no friends and feels awkward and overgrown and hates Miss Pemberthy’s. Even her roommate Clara, arguably even less popular than her because she’s dumb and fat, won’t speak to her. Although Clara never speaks to anyone because she’s too shy, so she hardly counts.

Until one day Mia has had enough of Alicia and stands up to her for Clara. Clara shyly asks whether she wants to be friends. Aww, how sweet. They eat lunches together, and adopt a stray cat they find. Mia is happy everything seems to be turning around for her.

One night, Mia spots a group of girls heading out to the barn at night, a group of cool girls who hold themselves aloof of Alicia and her bitchy clique. Mia’s curiosity is piqued, so she head out into the winter storm to spy on them. She discovers that they are practising magic spells. The chanting makes Mia all hot and tingly. Hmm. Magic sounds like fun. When the girls stop chanting, Mia falls over and is discovered.

There are four girls there – Phoebe, Irene, Anabel, and their leader Joanne. The girls are about to mean-girl beat Mia up, until all the candles point in her direction, and a piece of metal levitates and points at her. The girls are terrified/delighted, because they had never made actual real magic happen before. They decide the magic chose Mia, and that was good enough for them. Mia joins their little coven, and swears on evil magic she won’t tell anyone about it. They show her the spellbook they found in the attic of Miss Pemberthy’s. Mia is repulsed by it, but it also makes her hot and tingly again, so she goes with it.

As they sneak back into the estate, they find Miss Pemberthy herself waiting with snotty Alicia, who had totally tattled on them. Tell me why anyone would enjoy being around this bitch. The girls are put on kitchen duty for the next two days, which is pretty much the worst thing that could ever happen. The girls are pretty mad at Alicia, until she informs them that she can do whatever she wants because her father is the richest man in the state, and then they’re cool with her. Oh, no wait, they’re not. They vow revenge. Mia goes up to her room, where poor pathetic Clara is eagerly waiting for her. She tells Clara she can’t know where she went, or why she has a new group of friends. This puts a significant wedge in their friendship.

The next night the girls meet at the barn again, to try a spell they have chosen at random, since none of them know the language the chants are written in. They chant, Mia gets all flushed and excited again, and they make a field mouse dance for them in the middle of their weird circle. They think this is awesome, until the mouse plops down dead. Mia’s ready to call things quits, until the mouse jumps back up and scurries away, so everyone assumes no harm was done. They try another spell, near the back of the book. Mia finds she knows the chant without looking at the lines, and this one gives her the heeby-jeebies. She stops them in the nick of time, as she realized they were summoning something very dark, and very dangerous. The girls all think she’s ridiculous, as they hadn’t noticed anything happening, but when they leave the barn all the trees nearby had been gouged by some very large claws, and they are pretty thankful they didn’t get to know what caused those. Mia has concerns about continuing their little game.

The next day Mia loses her temper at Alicia, who is picking on Clara once again. While working in the kitchen, the girls decide to try a spell on Alicia, the one to make her dance. They chant until they hear screaming coming from the classroom. Alicia is hellbent on jumping and twirling, as everyone else laughs and the teachers yell at her to stop. Alicia is clearly terrified, and Mia feels pity for her and stops the spell. She realizes that some of the symbols from the spellbook at marked on her skin, like tattoos, and that she needs to stop. However, none of the other girls are marked, but they are getting off on this new power they’ve found. They’re in no rush to stop the coven, or their spells.

Miss Pemberthy tells the girls the story of the estate they were staying in. It was built by one Jacob Reade, who had come there from Salem, Massachusetts. Some people said that his wife practiced dark magic, but that of course was ridiculous. Alicia starts to look suspicious, like she’s catching on to what’s happening, but then she sees a spider and shrieks like a little girl. Mia tells the girls she thinks Alicia might tell on their magic-practicing ways.

The coven is getting better at calling spells, although it’s always Mia that seems to make these things happen. One night they try a new spell, and Mia feels an overwhelming sense of wrongness with what they did, although they aren’t sure what actually happened. She’s compelled to walk outside, where there is a dark moving mass in the midst of the snow. Spiders, hundreds of them, roiling over a person – the body of Alicia. Mia nearly faints, as she realizes they had Alicia killed, without knowing exactly what they were doing. Ugh, death by spiders. I think I have a new worst death ever.

All the girls promise to never tell what actually happened to Alicia. As far as anyone could see, it was a random mugging by spiders. The other girls agree the Alicia really got what she deserved, so they weren’t going to feel bad about it. Mia is horrified, and tells them she will never do another spell. The mean-girls turn into mean-witches, and tell her she’ll be sorry ... and to watch out for spiders.

Alicia’s coffin is set up in the front parlour, surrounded by roses, and Mia goes to apologize to her (body). As she does so, the roses start attacking her, wrapping her up in their vines and pricking her with their thorns. The roses start to drink her blood, as she gets more and more feeble against the floral assault. She just escapes, and is found by Clara. Mia thinks Clara is so sweet, and a true friend, not at all like the girls who tried to kill her with roses.

That night Mia feels the pull of evil magic, and knows the girls are trying another spell out on her. She has to know what it is, so she creeps out to the barn to find out. Another girl has taken her place, so there are five of them again. She feels they are calling something evil. As she tries to escape, a wave of snow crashes over her, then another. She is being drowned in a sea of snow. Every time she digs herself out of her snowy grave, a fresh layer covers her. Mia gets mad, and is able to fight the snow off, and makes a dash for Miss Pemberthy’s. She thinks she’s safe once she’s inside, but she comes face to face with the girls, her former friends, all burning with hatred. She realizes the power and magic had turned them evil.

The girls start chanting, and the kitchen comes alive, with cutlery and appliances attacking Mia. This totally reminds me of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, except obviously in that movie the appliances were the good guys. Mia screams, and fire shoots from her hands, stopping everything. Magic flows through her, and she has command of everything around her. One of the girls is wrapped up by a big rug, others are pinned down by kitchen chairs. The mean girls are all of a sudden not so scary anymore. Mia takes the spell book from Joanne, and destroys it with her fire. She blacks out from the effort, but when she wakes up, Joanne has gone insane, laughing hysterically, unable to recognize anything.

The five girls are taken away from Miss Pemberthy’s by their parents. Mia is relieved the nightmare is over, and wants to start afresh. A week afterwards, though, she hears chanting in the house, coming from the attic. She must know who it is, and creeps upstairs. The wooden floor stretches and becomes a face that whispers her name, then belches graveyard rot onto her. As she tries to escape the floor liquefies beneath her, trapping her legs. Someone approaches her – Clara!

Poor, insignificant Clara. She had become magic at the same time as Mia, called by the spellbook, and had been making all the horrible things happen. The others were just little girls, playing with powers too great for them. Clara would now make Mia pay, for choosing the others over her. She calls the shadows against Mia, to kill her. Well, Mia, being magic too, fights back against the shadows with her fire. The shadows turn on Clara, wrapping her up and wringing her out, before disappearing with her.

Mia leaves Miss Pemberthy’s after that, deciding she’s had entirely enough of a young woman’s education at that place. She vows to never use the power she has again ... unless she has to.