Many apologies to our Shadyside Fans! It has taken me absolutely FOREVER to read this book. Apparently October is a crazy busy time for me. Who knew? I also blame The Sitter. This book was ridiculous, three times as long as a Fear Street and with itty bitty print. I swear, it was like R.L. was punishing me for all the things I’ve said about him in the past year. I said them out of love!
So yes, this book was about ANOTHER babysitter. WTF is up with R.L. and his love of torturing babysitters? You know this didn’t sit well with anyone who came over to look after little Matthew. But The Sitter is hugely different from Fear Street books, mostly because it’s pretty much an Adult book. Or a pretty racy YA book. R.L. not only mentions sex, but ORAL sex as well as having an almost gratuitous sex scene! Yewoza. I know. You’re picturing R.L. writing a sex scene, aren’t you? You perv.
The book centers around Ellie, a troubled young woman, looking for escape. From her shitty job, from her offensive ex-boyfriend, from her mother, etc. Her best friend Teresa gives her the idea to get a job in the Hamptons for the summer. While in town on a different job interview, Ellie runs into a woman named Abby, who immediately gives her a job as a nanny. No references or anything. Well. That seems …unusual.
She meets the kids, Brandon and Heather, pretty soon and moves into the Harper household. The husband, Chip, is consistently drunk and constantly hitting on Ellie. Great work environment. Also: a few months previously, Brandon, who is four years old, became mute. He pretty much just stares and nods creepily. Ellie thinks that luckily Heather, who is two, is very cute. Yeah. Except she’s TWO and two-year olds are never cute for long. Then they’re snotty and cry-y.
Remember how I mentioned Ellie was a troubled girl? Well we find out why. When Ellie was 17, she was in a car wreck with her high school boyfriend Will. While she made it out pretty unscathed, Will was killed. Ellie has spent the last seven years blaming herself for Will’s death. Except she wasn’t driving, so that seems pretty self-involved. Or, maybe that’s just how people react, I wouldn’t know, I rarely kill people.
Unsurprisingly, creepy stuff happens around the house, mostly centered around Brandon The Mute. He shows her his pet chick, but squeezes it to death in his hands. Which, okay, has probably happened before. But most kids don’t throw their heads back and laugh manically after doing so… Also, when Brandon and Heather are playing down at the beach with a big group of kids, Brandon The Mute STABS a wounded bird. That’s certainly traumatizing.
Ellie’s day doesn’t get much better when she gets sent flowers in the mail. O I know, flowers sound so lovely! Just the thing to pick up your day! Unfortunately for Ellie, these flowers were spray painted black and were full of COCKROACHES! (Sidenote: Blerg, I have only seen one cockroach in my life and it was SO GROSS. I was in Jamaica, and my instinct reaction was to stomp on it as hard as I could. Only after did I think “Well thank GOD I’m wearing shoes right now!” Lack of foresight.) Ellie seems to think that it might be a sick joke from her obnoxious ex-boyfriend, Clay. He still calls her all the time, trying to get back together. So obviously, he thought the Flowers of Death would do the trick!
Later that week, Ellie runs into an elderly woman, Mrs. Bricker, who was the nanny before Ellie. She warns her away from the family. Mrs. Bricker also forces Ellie to have tea with her and listen to her ghost stories about the Harper place. Basically, about a 150 years ago, this crazy old sailor build the Harper guest house out of materials stolen from coffins. That’s never a wise idea. The old sailor’s wife left him, and he began sleeping with the nanny, Ann-Marie who became like a mother to the sailor’s son, Jeremiah. Then Jeremiah caught Ann-Marie having an affair with good looking Italian (who was probably not old and crazy like the sailor). Jeremiah (who was four, BTW) decided to heave a whaling harpoon at the nanny and Italian while in flagrante, only it killed the Italian instead of Ann-Marie who he was aiming for. Oh and all this happened in the guest house made of coffins. Now Mrs. Bricker thinks that Brandon is possessed by the spirit of Jeremiah. You know, usually I call shenanigans on ghost stories, but that one might actually convince me. A house of COFFINS?
We find out a lil more about our poor Ellie. She meets a handsome fella named Jackson at the bar one night, but while out with him, she sees Will (her dead ex) and takes off after him. That’s kinda hard to explain to a date, dontcha think? It turns out that when Ellie and Will were in this horrible accident, Ellie had actually grabbed the wheel before they crashed. Well, now her guilt makes sense! She is totally responsible for Will’s death. Not just self-involved! Whew.
Even the high of meeting a new guy can’t keep our poor Ellie happy for long though. The next day is her birthday and she gets a cakebox in the mail! She thinks it’s from her mom, even though her mom is totally insufferable. Except… whoops, looks like someone sent Ellie the hand of Mrs. Bricker as a present! Let’s certainly hope that’s not from her mother.
Most unfortunate events happen to the Harpers and Ellie. Brandon tries to drown Heather in a lake (isn’t that how most siblings play?) and Ellie’s ex-bf, Clay, comes to the Hamptons to win her back. And by win her back, I mean shows up belligerently drunk. And get in a fight with new guy Jackson. And then tries to run Jackson and Ellie off the road with his SUV. He IS a catch!
The day after almost get driven off the road by Clay, Ellie actually sees him in town. He’s all “Hey! Sorry I was so drunk the other night, that was embarrassing!” After getting over the shock of how PSYCHO this guy is, Ellie loses her shiz on him. She yells at him about the flowers, and fighting Jackson and running them off the road and yes, she even suggests she cut off poor Mrs. Bricker’s hand! (BTW, Mrs. Bricker survived. Pretty badass, if I may say so.) Clay looks confused about everything. He also points to how his SUV is undamaged, and wasn’t even in town during the whole Ms. Bricker-hand debacle. So Clay is pretty much in the clear. Still crazy, but not hand-cut-off crazy.
Soon comes the final straw for Ellie. She had gotten her mom to send her Lucky, her childhood pet. She comes home one day, and sees the carrier on the doorstep. So excited, she opens it… and it’s only Lucky’s head. Someone decapitated the cat! (One pet murder – check!) Ellie slowly realizes the only person home that day was… Chip, the pervy father! She checks his SUV and yup, it’s all damaged, probably from attempting to run people off the road. She does some more sleuthing (which she or THE POLICE should have really done early) and notices that both the flowers, and the cakebox which had the hand were both sent to her by CHIP HARPER. So, she goes home to pack her bags right? Or just hops on the next bus outta there, right?
NOPE. First she confesses all to Abby, Chip’s wife. Abby is all “Aww, not again!” Say what?? Yeah, Chip isn’t taking his “meds”. Abby asks Ellie to stay a few more days, while she makes arraigments for Chip. You know. For the kids. Abby promises that she’ll protect Ellie. From the man that has already decapitated a cat and MAIMED A WOMAN! Of course Ellie agrees. Because she is an absolute fool.
She decides to compound her foolishness by bringing Jackson back to the GUEST HOUSE OF HORROR after a date and having sex with him there. REALLY? (FYI: this is also the oral sex scene. Bah!) Of course they get interrupted by the pitterpatter of little feet. Only then does Ellie decide it’s “creepy”. Ugh. Ellie deserves whatever is coming for her. When she goes to check on Brandon, it get’s creepier. He speaks for the first time in months. He says “I saw you.” and “Don’t call me Brandon. My name is Jeremiah” in a creepy, raspy voice. Yup, that seems about right. Oh and the next day, he doesn’t remember, or talk, but he does uncover a skeleton in the backyard! It was just a dog skeleton, but seriously, HOW is Ellie still there?? She can’t be doing it for the kids because they are UBER creepy!
That same day, Ellie is looking out the window when she sees someone who she thinks is Jackson. Then she thinks she sees Chip, running towards Jackson, and suddenly, Chip stabs Jackson! (And THAT is why you don’t hang around foolish girls). Ellie runs outside to save Jackson. Chip is already gone, and Jackson turns out to be…Clay. So while sad, not really that sad. Because Clay was still a crazy stalker.
Ellie looks around to find Chip (why) but instead finds a pretty big shock. Inside the guest house is: Will! Who survived the car accident, albeit with some pretty hideous scars and now lives in the Harper’s guest house? And carries some pretty big resentment against Ellie. I guess he blamed her for the crash too! Looks like Will and Abby are secret lovers, and Chip has no idea that Will has been living in the guest house for months. She asks if he’s been torturing her the past few months. He seems surprised, saying that he just wanted her out of his life forever. He wasn’t doing the crazy things. So that leaves…
Abby. Okay it gets confusing here. Abby comes in, taking credit for all the evil stuff that’s been happening to Ellie. Apparently, Abby and Will were high school sweethearts until Ellie came along and stole Will away from her. And to add insult to injury, Ellie didn’t even recognize Abby the whole time! So that pushed her a lil over the edge. Abby and Ellie start grappling, while Will watches, kinda confused. He said didn’t know anything about Abby’s plan, but you’d think he’d lend a hand. To either of them!
As they’re wrestling, creepy Brandon the Mute comes floating in the guest house, and picks up a whaling harpoon. Then he transforms into a creepy ginger kid (of course the evil kid is a Ging), who I’m guessing is Jeremiah. Brandon/Jeremiah heave the harpoon and spear Abby! Abby rolls off, injuried and the Ging kid turns back into Brandon. Who can suddenly talk normally and is very confused. Ellie asks Brandon to get help for his mommy, and Brandon tells Ellie that Abby isn’t his mommy, but his NANNY. WHAA?
So Chip finally comes around. (BTW, Abby stabbed Clay. So Ellie just has the WORST people recognition skills. Ever.) It comes out that he and Abby had an affair the year before and his wife Jenny caught them. Abby told him that Jenny had run off after catching them. Yeahhhh, that was a lie. Turns out, Jenny is buried right underneath that dog skeleton! So Abby’s been crazy for a while then?
Let’s recap. Abby and Will have been together since the crash. Abby becomes the Harper’s nanny, has an affair with Chip, kills his wife and convinces him to marry her. While she’s with Will. And this is ALL before she even saw Ellie. So when she saw Ellie, she immediately decided to hire and torture her. While Will lives secretly in the guest house?
Questions: Why would Abby kill Jenny the year before? She had no idea Ellie would be coming into their lives. Also: Why don’t Abby and Will just live happily ever after? I mean, I know it sucks that he has a scarred face. But people with scarred faces can have normal lives, they don’t need to live in creepy guest houses like a low-budget version of the Phantom of the Opera.
And why did R.L. feel the need to combine a good old fashioned revenge murderer plotline with a convoluted ghost plot line? I guess maybe since this was an “adult” book, he felt he needed it to be more confusing.
All in all, this book took FOREVER to read. I wasn’t a fan. And I also never want to read “And then, still holding each other, we were on the bed, and I lowered my lips down his body…” in another one of R.L.’s book again. EVER. You know where it goes from there. I give this book 12 poor decision to stick around out of 31. FAIL.