The Prom Queen by R.L. Stine

What do you get when you mix Mean Girls and Fear Street?  The Prom Queen!

Seriously, this was about the funnest Fear Street I’ve read so far.  It starts on an eventful day.  First, everyone is talking about the dead girl that was found in the Fear Street Woods.  Then, there’s an assembly to announce the Prom Queen candidates!  There are five.  Simone, who is rich and flashy and dating the cutest boy in school.  Elana, who is the most popular girl in school.  Dawn, a tennis player who always wins.  Rachel, who has to study a lot because she doesn’t have any money.  Finally, Lizzie, the every-girl of the group who’s nice, has a long distance relationship, and works on the sets for the school play.  After school, the prom queens all go out for pizza together and make jokes at each other’s expense and then the next day Simone is kidnapped!  They find only a pool of blood in her bedroom.

It seems there is a killer slowly picking off the prom queen candidates.  But who can it be and what is the motive?  Is it the weird guy, Lucas, who used to date Simone and makes terrible jokes to Lizzie all of the time?  Or could it be Justin, Simone’s other ex who ran around on her all of the time and is suddenly acting really weird around Lizzie?  One thing is for sure:  She better figure it out soon or she’ll be next!

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The Knife by R.L. Stine

This is one of the Fear Street books that I definitely read as a child.  I’m not sure if I owned it or borrowed it from the library.  I have never been a big fan of hospital related stuff so I’m actually really surprised that I remember some of this one.  A+ for great horror and drama!

Laurie has always wanted to be a doctor but her aunt Hillary, who raised her, worried that she might get bored.  Laurie decides to spend her summer volunteering at the local hospital with her best friend, Skye.  Skye is a bit boy crazy and always has multiple dates lined up but she sure wouldn’t mind getting her hands on Laurie’s boyfriend if he were available!  It seems like a great start to the summer.  Laurie loves to volunteer, especially on the children’s floor, and soon she meets a cute med student, Rick, who is volunteering too.  But something isn’t right.  There’s a little boy whose records disappear when he leaves the hospital and while Laurie is trying to figure out why the boy seemed so sad and scared, she sees Rick follow a nurse into the new wing that’s under construction.  When she follows them, she discovers that the nurse has been stabbed but nobody will believe her!  What is wrong with the little boy and how is it tied to the murdered nurse and what is Rick up to?

I do just love these books.  I always describe them as being cheesy horror but they really aren’t.  They’re classic.

The Long Walk by Stephen King

Whew.

My quest to read every Stephen King book continues and this one was a doozy.  Originally published as a Bachman book, the intro is an essay from King about becoming Bachman.  Kind of fascinating, from a writing point of view and a reading point of view.  In the essay, King says that Bachman has a darker view of the world, something that we would see in the ending of The Long Walk and so I went into it with that and the glowing review from my husband.

What I kept hearing about The Long Walk was that it was a dystopian world where a dangerous game is played.  And, honestly, I had some problems with this.  The world was not very well formed.  There were hints about what the world was like.  Characters talked about death squads and that one could disappear if they spoke out against the Long Walk.  There was a brief mention of banned books.  Really, though, it didn’t feel like the world played much of a roll in this one.  What it really felt like was a commentary on the darkness in people.

Would you watch a game where the losers die?  I wouldn’t.  I couldn’t.  But I have a feeling that a lot of people could and would.

The Long Walk is an annual event in which 100 teenage boys walk for days without stopping.  They much maintain a pace of at least 4 miles per hour.  Each time that they fall below this pace, they are warned.  After three warnings they “get their ticket.”  Basically, a military man shoots them.  They walk until they all die except one and the winner gets whatever he wants for the rest of his life, if he survives.  There is a lot of talk about the winners dying after the walk.

I never thought that I would find this book interesting.  I mean, the whole story is about a bunch of boys walking.  For miles.  For days.  Through states.  Over rivers.  Up hills.  There still manages to be a lot of action.  Plus, it ends up being something of a very character driven book.  As Garraty, our MC, walks, he talks to other contestants.  He learns about their families and friends, about how they ended up on the walk, and they, in turn, learn about him.

The terror isn’t even necessarily in the deaths, though some of those are pretty damn gruesome.  It’s in how the mind turns.  The characters are given this task and they know that all of them but one will die and in spite of themselves they begin to make friends only to watch them die.  Eventually, they begin to lose their minds, become animals.

This was a rough one for me.  I liked it.  It was a good read.  It was just terrifying toward the end.  Yesterday I read a paragraph that completely summed up my biggest fears.  When I finished reading the last 15 pages in bed last night, I felt like a century had passed and it took me a long time to fall asleep.

A kind of physical and psychological horror that slowly takes root.  Excellent read.

The Stand by Stephen King

A few years ago, I read the original release of The Stand. I decided to do so because it was shorter and I was kind of afraid of the book.  It had grown to the heights of War and Peace in my mind but I love King and I wanted to get through it.  I loved the book but once I finished it I started to get the feeling that I had made the wrong choice.  If I was going to spend three weeks reading the book, I may as well spend those weeks reading the complete uncut edition.  I finally gave into that nagging voice and decided to read the big one.  I mean, what if I missed something?

My honest opinion:  I’m glad that I read the long one and I still love the book but you could probably get away with reading the shorter version.  There was only one thing that I actually noticed being different and its absence from the original release didn’t leave a gaping hole or anything.  I prefer the time setting of the original release, actually.  The small updates to pop culture and dates felt a little wonky to me.

I’ve heard of people who read this book again and again.  I can understand it.  It’s a great book.  The post Captain Trips world that King creates was vivid enough to seep into my dreams.  The characters feel real, even the bad guys.  They all have a real sense of humanity about them.

Repeatedly now I have tried to come up with a plot summary for you and I just can’t.  There is so much here and so many stories and characters that I feel like I would be doing the book a disservice in leaving something out.  Suffice to say that The Stand is a post-plague world that feels close enough to our own world to be scary, that he seems to really think things out down the line and around corners, if you will.  This is 100% worth the read for me.

Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Over the past couple of weeks, you may have heard me complaining about how long it’s taken me to get through this book.  Have you ever gotten into a reading slump and loved what you were reading and were extra frustrated because you wanted to know what happened and just couldn’t?  That’s kind of what happened here.

Fall is my spooky time.  Okay, all seasons are my spooky time but fall is extra so.  I wanted to read about witches and curses and I had been hearing about Hex for a couple of months.  When the library copy I requested came in, it was a short loan and I had only managed 50 pages in two weeks!  I had to give the book back and I went and purchased the ebook for the sum of $12.99, even though I usually cut my ebook costs off at $9.99.  That should be what convinces you that I liked this book.

The story starts of odd, like any other small town tale but with a dark edge to it.  Katherine van Wyler is the witch of Black Spring.  She has been a curse on the town for centuries, since she was accused of resurrecting her son.  Over the years, Black Spring has developed ways to deal with the witch.  Years ago, her eyes and mouth were sewn shut so that she couldn’t curse the village.  There is an emergency decree that outlines what can and cannot be said to the outside world.  There is a whole team in charge of making sure outsiders don’t learn about Katherine, called HEX.  But once someone lives in Black Spring, they cannot leave for long.  If they do, they are inundated with suicidal thoughts that they cannot fight off.

So, what happens when some teenagers begin to treat Katherine like a science experiment?  What happens when they want to go public with the town’s biggest secret?  It’s been years since Katherine has caused many problems but everyone is aware that they are walking a fine line.  What happens when they cross it?

When I started this book, it felt like a quirky, dark humor.  (A character throws a dish rag over the witch’s face when the witch appears in her home to make her seem less present.) It was definitely the kind of book that started dark and then got darker and then made a super dark turn.  I liked it and I only regret that I had to read it during a slump.  Great October read, though it may even be a better December read.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

I’ve really been enjoying the revival of Archie Comics.  I absolutely adore the new Archie.  I can’t wait for CW’s twisted take on Riverdale, which has been described as “dark” and “noir.”  I tried Afterlife with Archie, which fell flat because I’m not a big fan of zombies.  When I heard about the new Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, I could not wait.  Witches are totally one of my things and this was hyped as playing back to old school horror.

The hype was exactly right.  Warning, this is a comic more suited to older teens.  There is blood and witchcraft and horror.  It’s not the sunny Sabrina that I grew up with.  It is aimed at a specific kind of horror fan but definitely at a horror fan.

That being said, I ended up really enjoying this one after a slow start.  It takes place in the 1960’s and really does pull from those classic horror movies.  The first issue, learning about Sabina’s birth, could be Rosemary’s Baby.  It hit so many of the horror tropes: teen witches, succubi, funeral homes, raising the dead, and insane asylums.  It also used the history of New England and the Salem witch trials in the story line.  Sabrina is part witch and part human and she walks the line between these two worlds.  When she starts human high school, she falls for Harvery, an all-American boy.  Sabrina’s cousin offers to help her do a love spell to attract Harvey’s attention and for a while everything seems perfect.  But as her sixteenth birthday approaches, little does she know that something is being summoned in the woods that will ride into town on a wave of revenge.

The Shining by Stephen King

It’s taken me a while to get around to writing a review for this one mostly because I feel like I talked about it a lot while I was reading it.  I read it for two and a half weeks and whenever I managed a big push in the reading I had something to talk about.  Don’t let the fact that it took me so long to read discouraged you.  King always takes me forever.  I still love him.

We all know the plot of this one because it is easily in the top three well known King books.  Plus, movies.  Instead, what I want to talk about is King’s style.  I’ve been reading through the books by publication date and the last one I read was Salem’s Lot.  This is a big change from that.  While SL was all about traditional monster horror thrills and full of gore and terror and mystery, The Shining is a slow build.

I knew what was coming, either because I possibly read it in high school or because I’ve seen the movies.  I knew what to expect.  Maybe there was an element of surprise that I missed out on just because I am familiar with the story.  What surprised me was how Kind built the story.  At first it doesn’t really feel like a horror novel.  When strange things start happening they are chapters apart.  I gave myself over to the ride and let King tell me the story and suddenly I was scared.  Seriously scared.  I had to put it down and read something nice before going to bed.

This one lives up to the hype.  I have the newer version of the movie waiting patiently to be watched!