This is a Fear Street book that breaks the mold by not starting with a first person narration by a murderer and also doesn’t ever feature any menacing phone calls. There is a prologue featuring our main character sleepwalking, in case you weren’t sure why the book was called that. It’s also got cover art by an artist who may have read the book, or at least part of it.
(I’m going to pause to say I adore the covers on this series. The last book in the original run–and the last one I’ll be reading this year–was republished as the beginning of the new series, and I’m a little heartbroken that the copy I found has the new cover instead of the classic cover.)
Mayra Barnes is getting ready to start a summer job with Mrs. Cottler, who may or may not be a witch, but whose home may or may not be based on the home of a number of neopagans I’ve known (or may or may not be based on mine). She appears very young for her age, and her hair is still black instead of grey, which is suspicious because no one in Shadyside has heard of hair dye. She also has a black cat, a huge library, and lives on Fear Street. The job seems to mostly consist of making lunch, going on walks by Fear Lake, and reading out loud to Mrs. Cottler. I want that job.
Mayra lives with her mother, a nurse who previously had the privilege of having Mrs. Cottler as a patient who filed a complaint against her. Her parents divorced and her father disappeared, and I’d like to assume that’s because he’s been arrested on federal charges for being part of that cult from Missing. She also has a little sister who appears exactly twice and does nothing for the story or plot. She’s also recently broken up with Link, who’s a creepy stalker, in favor of Walker, who’s dating the girl with a reputation behind her back (who you know is trouble because she wears band t-shirts, spikes her hair, and has too much jewelry), Suki (who appeared in The Overnight. Of all the characters who’ve appeared in Shadyside so far, I think I’d be most interested in getting a story from her).
Even if he weren’t cheating on her, Walker would still be pretty awful. He constantly seems unhappy to be around Mayra, who is blissfully oblivious because she has even worse taste in boys than Lisa, who finally doesn’t appear in this book. I’ve given up on a Fear Street timeline, but I’m pretty sure Lisa and Corey should have graduated at the beginning of this summer. I also can’t tell if the boys in these books are the worst or if teenage boys in general are the worst. I was really only ever a teenager on technicality and didn’t get them back then, either.
Mayra’s sleepwalking starts shortly after she starts working for Mrs. Cottler, and she entertains the idea that her employer may be a witch or that her ex-boyfriend’s sister, who used to be a good friend of hers, might be one. She starts getting chased around by an angry man who also lives on Fear Street, and when her best friend borrows her mother’s car, she’s run off the road because there weren’t any menacing phone calls, so the inevitable high speed chase had to up the game a bit. Donna gets badly hurt–broken leg, broken arm, broken ribs. Mayra proves she not only has terrible taste in men, but is just the worst friend when she goes to visit and makes every one all about her and her sleepwalking. The narration even mentions how disappointed Donna is when Mayra spends a whole visit on her sleepwalking, then cuts it short.
She sleepwalking keeps escalating, taking her further and further from home, until she walks right out in to Fear Lake and almost drowns. Her mother sends her to talk to a psychiatrist, which seems like a good call, and at one point a police officer picks her up and brings her home. It really is a pity no one around Shadyside seems to want to let the cops do their jobs. They actually seem pretty good at it.
So, the carnage? As light as it’s ever been.
Shadyside death count: 15 total. This time, the death happened before the book opened and is only revealed at the very end.
Additional carnage: No dead animals this time around. Considering how badly Donna was hurt in the car accident, though, it deserves mention here.
Spoiler-laden point at which this all could have been avoided: I’m having a hard time pin-pointing an exact moment. In this case, Mayra really needs better taste in men. And to not get in cars she doesn’t recognize. This book does deserve credit for being one a little like The Surprise Party. The mistakes made were fairly understandable (except accusing everyone of being a witch), and even the consequences were somewhat realistic, up until the big plot device that lead to the sleepwalking. Unlike The Surprise Party, that plot device was kind of stupid, but this is still one of my favorites so far.
(To keep up with a year of reading and reviewing Fear Street books, visit The Shadyside Review.)