Once more, we’ve got a Fear Street book that doesn’t even take place in Shadyside. The tenuous connection is a character who lives on Fear Street. I’m tempted to go back and count how many Shadyside High students live on Fear Street so far. Too many to make the street’s reputation plausible, I think.
We open this time not with a murderer, but with a victim. Claudia Walker wakes up on the beach with her face severely burned, her eyes swollen shut, and her body buried under so much sand she can’t move. The tide is coming in and it looks like she’s doomed.
This is a completely serious question: presuming you’re able-bodied, if you’re sleeping on the beach and get buried while you’re lying down, can you really get enough sand on you that you can’t just sit up without getting smothered?
Since RL Stine is into one of my least favorite writing devices (open your story with a scene from action late in the book, the time travel to go through all the setup. It’s like a cheap version of ‘open in the middle’ without actually doing that), we’re taken back in time to learn Claudia, Sophie, and Joy are going to spend a week with their wealthy friend Marla at her family’s beach house as a reunion for bunk 12 at Camp Full Moon.
The friends are all from different towns and glad for the chance to get together again, but there’s an uncomfortable past hanging over all of them.
The week is filled with accidents–one girl is nearly electrocuted by a fence. Claudia gets buried and “forgotten.” (On a side note, I’ve gotten a really, really bad sunburn before. I got one on a shoulder once that turned brown and cracked. It was so bad I was allowed to break the ‘no sleeveless shirts’ rule in the dress code on account of holy crap, that looked painful. I suspect RL Stine has never had a really bad sunburn.) She’s luckily rescued by a cute boy who helps her up to the house and somehow knows the gate code, though Marla denies there’s anyone else who could know. Someone tampers with the rope and two of them almost drown in a water skiing accident. By then, the three guests agree someone is definitely trying to kill them, and they try to arrange an escape.
This book wasn’t by any means boring, but it wasn’t a Fear Street book. Also, it managed to pile the ridiculous so high that it nearly did me in. The coincidences were high enough when Claudia was attacked by an Irish wolfhound…that she managed to outrun, beating it into the water. It bit her ankle…and she managed to outswim it until a shark attracted by the blood attacked and killed the dog. Then she was swept out to sea and safely deposited on the beach right by the house.
Also, the dark secret from Camp Full Moon? They dared Marla’s annoying little sister into doing something dangerous after lights out, and they were almost caught so they ran away, leaving her to fall into the river and drown. Her body was never recovered. As near as I can tell, this death happened at Camp Nightwing’s rival camp either the year their first camper died or during the events of Lights Out. Three dead kids between two camps in two years? That’s an absurdly high body count.
So, the carnage?
Shadyside dead count: Still 31. There were two deaths in this book, and they were pretty gruesome. Details down in the spoilers section.
Additional carnage: An Irish wolfhound was eaten by a shark. It was ridiculous. Also contradictory to every Irish wolfhound I’ve ever met, though I’m sure one could be trained into viciousness.
Spoiler-laden point at which this all could have been avoided: I’m going to put the problem down at two different points: The first was the truth or dare game that lead to Marla’s sister’s “death.” The second is with what ridiculous world allowed Alison to wash up down river and fake amnesia for a year without anyone figuring out her identity. This happened in the 1990s, not the 1890s. Also, I don’t care how bad his vision has gotten: if a guy has been the servant to a family for the entire life of two sisters, if one disappeared for a year, then turned up and murdered her sister and took her place, that servant would probably notice.
(To keep up with a year of reading and reviewing Fear Street books, visit The Shadyside Review.)