This book doesn’t open with a narration from a murderer, either, so maybe I was wrong to expect it to be a standard for these books. This one is told in first person, but it hops back and forth between Mark and Cara.
It’s shortly after the school year started, and Mark and Cara Burroughs are new students. As near as I can tell, no one’s ever a senior (unless they’re in the Fear Street Seniors spin-off). The two new kids took advantage of their parents being out late to have an impromptu party, and even though they live on Fear Street, a number of kids show up. This included Lisa and Corey, who are still together. I’m done telling Lisa to run. She’ll probably be dead in a future book, but it’s too late to save her.
Corey is still terrible, and Mark spent the whole time making out loudly and aggressively with his girlfriend, Gena. Really, everyone is terrible, but I’m torn about whether it’s bad writing or just an accurate representation of teenagers. They get a visit from a police captain who’s investigating a burglary in the neighborhood.
The next morning, Mark and Cara’s parents still haven’t gotten home, and their cousin Roger, who was boarding with them, was acting suspicious. They discovered the car waiting in the garage, and later found their parent’s bed unmade, which was very out of character. They also found a carved monkey skull.
They call the police captain who stopped by their house and go about investigating the disappearance themselves. More carved monkey skulls appear, and instead of threatening phone calls, the phone line keeps getting cut off. The kids have trouble finding food in the house–they end up eating cereal with soda instead of milk–so their parents don’t really seem like they were all that on the ball before they disappeared. They spot their cousin getting into a shady van, and keep seeing the van and the man inside. Their parents’ employer denies they ever worked there, and things are all generally mysterious.
If you care about spoilers for a 24 year old teen thriller, then go ahead and skip the rest of this review.
In the ‘twist,’ we learn that the parents are FBI agents. So are the cousin and the stranger in the van. They’re investigating a cult, because of course there’s a cult that meets in the Fear Street Woods with goals of running the whole world. They kept it from their kids because of course they did. Despite arresting a whole lot of adults from Shadyside, I bet it never gets mentioned that half the kids in town are suddenly missing one or both parents while they await federal charges.
And the carnage? As graphic as it’s been so far.
Shadyside death count: 13 total: one fake cousin murdered by arrow in the attic and discovered by the kids and one shady van driver/FBI agent shot to death by one fake police captain, again, right in front of the kids.
Additional carnage: The worst guard dog ever. If a dog were trained to silently sneak up on people, then leapt onto someone from behind, knocking them into a pit trap, the person, especially a teenage boy, shouldn’t be able to wrestle with the dog and snap its neck without any serious injury.
Spoiler-laden point at which this all could have been avoided: I’m putting this on the parents instead of the kids this time. They made their fair share of terrible decisions (cereal with soda? Really?), but they really did as well as you could expect out of a couple of kids whose parents vanished without a trace. They even called the police, or at least thought they did. However, if you’re in the FBI and you’re going to drag your kids around while you go under cover, you should really have some sort of contingency plan in case you get kidnapped for ritual sacrifice by the cult you’re investigating.
(To keep up with a year of reading and reviewing Fear Street books, visit The Shadyside Review.)