Welcome to the fourth review in the Fear Street reread project in celebration of R.L. Stine rebooting the series! You can read more about the project here.
She isn’t safe – even in her dreams!
Mayra Barnes has been sleepwalking ever since she started working for weird, old Mrs. Cottler. Is Mrs. Cottler…a witch?!
The cover artist for this one is Gabriel. This is currently the only cover I have by him so I can’t cross-compare. I mean it’s no Bill Schmidt, but not bad. It’s feeling a little Carrie with the red hair and taut arms held out to the side. I just wish there was a burning high school in the background, but creepy fog is still pretty good.
Well, this one was dull, and because I don’t feel like reviewing a dull book, I am doing this quick and dirty.
Here is the rundown on our protagonist Mayra Barnes:
- She’s a redhead, but not a bitchy one like so many of the Fear Street redheads (see The Secret Bedroom and Lights Out).
- Her mom is a nurse and a hardworking single mom. This is emphasized a lot.
- She just started dating Walker. Walker is into magicianry. (Wow, what a dreamboat.)
- Her ex-boyfriend Link is still hanging around. You think the awesome Zelda name would make him cool, but no he’s just being stalker-y which is an attractive quality in the Fear Street world.
- She just started working for Mrs. Cottler and Mrs. Cottler’s cat Hazel. Mrs. Cottler inexplicably hates Mayra’s mom, and she lives on Fear Street. I have decided to cast Mrs. Cottler and Hazel because they are the only characters worth casting in this book:
While Mayra is working for Mrs. Cottler, she notices some strange things like books on the occult, drawers full of black candles, and strange dolls. And bad things seem to befall Mrs. Cottler’s enemies. Add to that Hazel, Mrs. Cottler’s strangely intuitive cat, and you have all the signs of a witch. Unfortunately, we know this won’t be the case because it’s too obvious. Here’s a spoiler: Mrs. Cottler has a Ph.D., and her research is on the occult. So, Mrs. Cottler is kind of cool, and she has floor-to-ceiling bookshelves which is pretty much my dream. Hazel is still a weirdly intuitive cat who ends up helping save Mayra in the end so I still think there’s something there. In my Mrs. Cottler fanfic, it turns out Mrs. Cottler is a witch and the historian of the occult is just a front — this is a far more interesting premise than the utter defiance of good fiction writing that was A Discovery of Witches.
Anyway, some other things you should know:
- Mayra is disappointed that Walker never wants to go further than kissing. You go girl, with your horny, teenage self!
- Walker is dating the Fear Street “slut,” Suki Thomas, behind Mayra’s back. (Suki Thomas gets this treatment a lot in the Fear Street books. In my Suki Thomas fanfic, Suki is this rad punk-goth girl who sleeps with whoever she wants whenever she wants on her own terms…I don’t really have Fear Street fanfic, though if I did it would be amazing. But, Fear Street fanfic does exist.)
- Stalking is flattering. As is not accepting no for an answer:
“She liked it when he was forceful, insistent. It happened so rarely.”
Mayra, you’re just horny, okay? Go masturbate.
- Repeating phrases is a Stine-patented technique for building drama.
- The phrase “heart of hearts” was used. I hate that phrase. “Department of Redundancy Department, Stine speaking.”
- It’s moments like the following that make me appreciate Stine’s continued mockery of teenagers:
“She rushed into his arms and they kissed long and passionately, until his mother walked in to ask if they’d like a snack.”
- Stine hates pets for some reason. He manages to either kill a pet or mock them at least once in each book. Why the hate, Stiney? Were you attacked as a child?
- It’s quotes like the following that make me wonder what Stine’s beef is with his female protags being so enamored with shitty dudes:
“Maybe I just like creeps,” Mayra admitted.
Oh right, the actual plot. So Mayra’s sleepwalking is a result of a repressed memory from when she was riding in the car with Walker and he hit a guy. Mayra wants to go to the police, but Walker doesn’t. It’s all very I Know What You Did Last Summer, but without awesome scenes of angry, twirling Jennifer Love Hewitt:
Mayra forgets all this because Walker hypnotizes Mayra. But, she at least gets a little agency when she realizes this and sets up Walker to reveal his dastardly deed. She then ends up back in the arms of stalker ex-boyfriend Link because stalking is flattering.
Moral of the Story
No still means no.
Only 1. Sigh.
Creepy old lady in creepy old house with creepy cat/familiar, crazy ex-boyfriend, and crazy new boyfriend (very much a trope in Fear Street).
Walkman, Day-Glo, Tom Cruise pre-Scientology, Hard Rock Cafe t-shirt (the epitome of 90s worldliness).
Not a lick. I am so sick of the boyfriends in Fear Street. Okay, the whole blocked memory thing was kind of cool and a little different for Fear Street, but OMG-dess, these assholes! Fine, it gets a 1 out of 5 trolls earned.
I am so reviewing a better Fear Street book next.