Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Sleepwalker, or “Who Knew Professional Magicians Got So Much"


One of the first Fear Streets ever written, or ‘classic Fear Street’, as I like to call it. And it’s about witches, which is a topic I think not explored often enough by R. L. Witchcraft can be creepy … roll with it.

The cover is good. It’s exactly as I’d imagine Mayra, our lovely redheaded heroines, as she walks in her sleep into the water, surrounded by dreamlike fog – well done cover artist. Also, while the nightshirt is totally ugly and shapeless, it also looks really comfy and I may want it. Tagline: “She isn’t safe – even in her dreams!” Meh. I think a much better tagline would be: “Sleeping can be MURDER!” Or something that makes LESS sense, but has MORE death.

Mayra is starting her summer job looking after a Mrs. Cottler, an old lady who lives on Fear Street and likes to go for slow walks and be read to. Mayra’s mom, a nurse, treated Mrs. Cottler, and the old lady kept accusing her of trying to kill her. Sounds … not at all like a pleasant day job, but Mayra is poor, so she has to. Her other hobbies can be summed up as mooning over her boyfriend Walker, who is dreamy and has been gone for two whole weeks, which is approximately as long as any high school relationship normally lasts. Walker is very into magic and wants to be a professional magician and hypnotist. We all have to have goals, you know?

Life is a little more complicated for Mayra, because her old boyfriend Link still hangs around her all the time. She did only dump him a month ago, apparently for Walker. Actually, the more I think about it, Mayra’s a bit of a hussy – she’s constantly surrounded by guys who want her, and keeps on lamenting the fact that Walker is so shy when she wants to go much further than just kisses. Slow down there, Mayra, this isn’t Melrose Place! Anyways, Link still wants her, and she keeps on coldly blowing him off. Link is kinda grabby and needy, so you know Mayra probably secretly still wants him.

Things start to get creepy at Fear Street, as Mrs. Cottler turns out to be more than she seems. Do all kindly old ladies keep a stash of chicken feet and black candles around the house? Or have creepy black cats with intelligent eyes popping up all over the place? Mayra can’t get over how Mrs. C’s skin is so smooth and unlined – the blood of virgins, perhaps? Maybe Mayra should be all over Walker, it might be in her best interest. Also, Mrs. C’s neighbour yells at her, so she steals his handkerchief and goes into a trance with it. Next day, shouty neighbour breaks his hip. So ya, she’s a witch.

The creepiness doesn’t end there. Soon after her job with Mrs. C starts and dreamy Walker returns from holidays, Mayra starts sleepwalking. She dreams about a cold dark lake … and wakes up outside her house in the middle of the night in her (super comfy) nightgown. I would FREAK OUT if that happened to me. Sleepwalking should be comedic, not scary.

To up the creep factor in Mayra’s life, a giant blond man sees her on the street and chases her down, causing Mayra to escape to the mall. Where she sees Walker. Eating a pizza. With Suki Thomas! Oh man, this is my favorite storyline! Walker’s all, nothing’s going on, but the suspicion is there. Well, it is for me. Mayra believes him, but c’mon. Suki’s a big slut! I mean: “Her platinum hair was spiked punk-style with about a ton or two of gel. She wore a purple T-shirt and matching purple tights under jean cutoffs.” Good girls don’t dress like that, Suki.

The next day Mayra runs into Stephanie, Link’s sister, and Mayra’s friend, although they hadn’t spoken since the tragic dumping. They get into a fight and Stephanie steals Mayra’s scarf. That’ll learn her! I just need to recap how many people have issues with Mayra at this point: There’s Link, the jilted ex, and his sister who have both been really aggressive to her; her employer, a witch who may or may not hate her mother; a random scary blond man on the street; and a boyfriend who may or may not be cheating. We’ll leave Suki off the list because I know she’d remain neutral in this. It seems like not a lot of people are fans of Mayra.

That night, Mayra sleepwalks all the way to Fear Street, and is found by a cop. No jokes anymore, people are pretty freaked out. Walker rushes to her the next morning before she goes to work, and won’t let her leave. Mayra thinks she likes it when Walker is forceful, it doesn’t happen enough. Yup, she’s a Shadyside girl. Her theory is that Mrs. C put a sleepwalking spell on her to get back at her mother, but is too poor to quit the job. She is happy to hear Mrs. C is going away for a few days, so she’ll only have to housesit.

Mayra’s friend Donna comes by to borrow her car to go to the orthodontist. Things don’t go well for Donna as she’s run off the road by a maniac in a red pickup. Mayra realizes someone thought it was her in the car, that they tried to kill her. Small wonder, Mayra, you need way less frenemies in your life. Donna survives, but is in the hospital with broken bones for awhile.

Mayra and Walker snoop around Mrs. C’s house while she’s gone, under the disapproving eyes of her cat. Mayra discovers that Mrs. C is actually Link and Stephanie’s aunt. Uh-oh, they are definitely out to get her. She goes to confront Stephanie, and finds her chanting over some candles with Mayra’s scarf on her head. She’s definitely a witch too. Steph’s all: I needed to tie my hair back. And I told you she was my aunt. And, fyi, your boyfriend is screwing Suki Thomas. Poor Mayra runs out of the house and into Link, who’s just getting out of his RED PICKUP – without a scratch on it. Grabby he may be, but Link is no hit and run driver.

That night Mayra sleepwalks into the Fear Lake, and doesn’t wake until she’s fished out half drowned by a fisherman. How creepy would it be to be drowning and still not be able to wake up? Lock the girl up, Mayra makes an appointment with a psychiatrist. On her way there, she runs into the scary blond man who tries to chase her again. Coincidence? Dr. Sterne doesn’t think Mayra is crazy, but thinks she’s dealing with a trauma so large her conscious has forgotten it, and her subconscious struggles with it at night. She must figure out what this is. Mayra decides that since she’s drawn to Fear lake, she’ll go there at night while awake to see if she can retrieve any memories.

Mayra is just starting to get freaked out that she’s sitting in the middle of Fear Woods by herself at night when Link shows up. He saw her on the street and followed her to make sure she was okay. Instead of being appreciative, she acts like a total bitch. Link takes this as foreplay and tries to force himself on her. Mayra punches him in the face and jumps in the lake. Interesting tactic, but it has the desired effect she was after – she remembers.

Just after she and Walker started dating, Walker was being an ass while driving and ran a car off the road into a lake. As the car sank, Mayra tried to get to them, to help them, but Walker forced her back into the car and hypnotized her so she wouldn’t remember. Since he got back into town, Mayra’s subconscious has been working overtime to tell her this.

Mayra sets a trap. She asks Walker to go over to Mrs. C’s house, to talk. They sit out by Fear Lake and she asks him to hypnotize her, to help her relax so she might not sleepwalk again. He does so, and adds in the part where she doesn’t remember he’s a hit and run killer. She’s all: aha! I knew it, murderer. And Walker’s all: aha! Now I have to kill you. And, fyi, I’m screwing Suki Thomas. As plans go, Mayra, this one is poor. Walker starts to drown her, but he is attacked by Mrs. C’s cat. Mayra leaves Walker to fend off the cat, and runs to the house. At the house, she finds the cat there already, calmly sitting there. Mayra has a moment of … weird, then calls 911. Walker busts in and tries to kill her with a meat cleaver.

Mayra’s imminent murder is interrupted by the random blond man who keeps turning up everywhere, who comes in and attacks Walker. He’s the man who survived Walker’s hit and run incident – his brother was killed. Blond guy recognized Mayra from the scene, but has since figured out Walker was the bad guy. Mayra is saved.

You guessed how this one ends. Mayra ends up back in Link’s grabby arms. She tells him he’s a creep, he calls her a jerk, and it’s love as it should be in Shadyside. And Mrs. C? She’s a professor of the occult. Her cat? Magic. Sweet – 8 magic black cats out of 11.

7 comments:

A. M. Stine said...

Does anyone else imagine Suki Thomas as Claudia Kishi - The Teenaged Years?

Anonymous said...

Poor Suki. I swear she must have had more murderer boyfriends than anyone else.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and another potential tagline: "The deepest sleep is death..." Something corny like that.

L. K. Stine said...

That's an awesome tagline - we should write R. L. with our suggestions!
A. M., when you suggested that Suki was really Claudia Kishi all growed up, I was like - of course she is! I just had never seen it before! Blew my mind. Love Suki even more.

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Justin Duhe said...

I say Suki Thomas needs her own series.

RecallerReminder said...

Im not sure if thats who sleepwalking works. I mean, I believe she could walk sleeping but if her mother already about her problem, why didnt lock the door or something?
Still this was a great book ^^