Thursday, July 17, 2008

One Evil Summer

*All apologies for the poor quality of this picture.*

Book Description:

Summer at the beach and Amanda Conklin's stuck in summer school. Well, at least she doesn't have to take care of her little brother and sister. That's Chrissy's job. Chrissy seems like the perfect babysitter - so kind and trustworthy. But Amanda soon discovers Chrissy's terrible secret. Babysitting is Chrissy's job - but killing is what she does best!

My Description:

In the first chapter, we find our main character, Amanda Conklin, in Maplewood Juvenile Detention Center. She climbs out of bed and gets in line with the other psychologically disturbed offenders for the bathroom (don't drop the soap! Well, these are all chicks so I guess that warning doesn't mean much...unless they violate each other with loofahs or something). Inside the bathroom, Amanda stares at herself in the mirror, disgusted by her appearance: dark circles under her eyes, yellowish skin, and drooping, floppy perm. A big fat butch-y guard named Ms. Macbain barks at Amanda to hurry up because Amanda has an appointment to see her psychiatrist. Amanda uses this moment to think about what got her here in the first place: CHRISSY. And now we segue back to the beginning (yes, this book is basically one giant flashback).

Amanda and her family are headed for Seahaven, a small seaside town where they've rented a house for the summer. Amanda's little brother Kyle (age eight) and little sister Merry (age three; that name is adorable) complain a little about the air conditioner ("I can't feel it!") but overall they're pretty well behaved considering this is a long car drive and little kids get bored and cranky easily. Anyway, Dad is a public defender and Mom is a journalist who can't leave her work behind so she works on an article the entire time. The family pets are also along for the ride: two canaries named Salt and Pepper for their black/white markings and an orange tabby cat named Mr. Jinx. Merry takes one of the birds out of it's cage and Amanda takes Jinx out of his cage. How is this a good idea? I hope Merry doesn't cry too hard if the bird gets it's head ripped off. Amanda starts thinking about the fact that she'll be spending a few weeks in summer school at Seahaven High due to her crappy algebra scores. How is she allowed to attend summer school at a school that isn't her own? Or does it matter? Oh well. Since Amanda won't be available some of the time, Mom has put an ad in the Seahaven Daily for a mother's helper, a decision that will later bite them all in the ass.

When they arrive at their rental home, everyone stops to admire the place which happens to be "a modern but rustic structure with a peaked roof and gray wood shingles." Amanda says "It's cool!" I'm glad to see a kid so enthusiastic about architecture, but I don't think gray shingles are all that. After dragging all their crap into the house, Mom and Dad realize they don't have much food so they decide to head into town for provisions before the kids start whining about the lack of mac-n-cheese and Ovaltine. Merry and Kyle go with them which leaves Amanda alone to unpack and play with the cat. A few minutes after the fam leaves, Amanda hears a knock on the door. In the name of all that is holy, lady, HIDE! Do not pass go, do not collect $200, do not answer the damn door! Amanda answers the door because she can't hear my fervent pleas and even if she could, she'd answer the door anyway because the chick on the other side is the very picture of wide-eyed innocence. Blue eyes, blond hair ("reminded Amanda of the silk on the inside of fresh corn on the cob"), and a lovely smile. Just your average all-American Barbie...nothing too interesting here. The girl tells Amanda that she's here about the ad for mother's helper and introduces herself as Chrissy Minor. Amanda informs her that the parents aren't home, but she can try to call them at the Beachside Inn. Uh, why would they be there? Inns don't sell groceries...unless your parents swung by there for a quick shot of Jack to dull the pain caused by their crazy kids. The PAIN! Anyway, Jinx enters the room then and hisses at Chrissy as if he can detect evil. Animals are supposed to be good with shit like that. Or something. Amanda picks up the cat and goes to call the Inn. Of course her parents are there and Mom tells her that they'll be there soon to interview Chrissy. When she goes to tell Chrissy this news, she sees Jinx standing before Chrissy hissing his little kitty heart out. To Amanda's shock and my amusement, Chrissy hisses right back. Lunatic. Amanda recovers and tells Chrissy that the parentals will be back soon. When they arrive, they interview Chrissy in the living room while Amanda makes lunch for Kyle and Merry. Amanda catches snippets of Chrissy's conversation. Through this eavesdropping, we learn that Chrissy is 17, she lives on the outskirts of town with her aunt, and she's been a mother's helper for the past two summer and the kids didn't die or anything! She gives them a sheet of paper with a few references on it and Mom goes into another room to call. Amanda tells her about the hissing incident, but Mom just laughs and says she appreciates a good sense of humor. Psychos don't mean to be funny. Neither of the references are home, conveniently enough. But that's cool, man, because Chrissy seems so awesome that Mom is gonna hire her anyway. Mom goes to tell Chrissy the good news. Chrissy is predictably elated and she automatically wins Merry and Kyle over which practically makes Amanda toss her cookies.

A few minutes later, Mom shows Chrissy to her room. Why does she have to LIVE there? She doesn't live that far away from their house....she could pedal over on her Schwinn in no time flat! Amanda and Chrissy are left alone in Chrissy's room. Chrissy opens her suitcase and Amanda spots a bunch of newspaper clippings. When she asks what they are, Chrissy turns hostile and says "Nothing" but totally contradicts herself a second later by handing Amanda one of the articles. Amanda reads silently: "Lilith Minor, 15, remains in a coma after her admittance to St. Andrews Hospital last week. Doctors at St. Andrews hold out little hope for her recovery. According to doctors, the teenager, who inhaled a nearly lethal dose of carbon monoxide, may have incurred brain damage. If she comes out of her coma, doctors say she might suffer from any number of possible brain disorders." Chrissy says that Lilith is her twin sister and that article is from two years ago, but her sister is still in a coma. Amanda expresses her sympathy and that pisses Chrissy right off: "Don't be sorry for her. Lilith is evil!" Said the psycho!

On Monday, Amanda grabs a bike out of the shed and prepares to head out for her first day of summer school. There are only eight or nine other kids in the class with her and the teacher, Ms. Taylor, is cool. Amanda ends up sitting next to a really cute boy named Dave Malone. When Ms. Taylor tells the class to pair up, Dave scoots his desk next to Amanda's. He doesn't have to ask if she wants to be partners. He saw her checking him out like she wants to drink his bathwater. Dave helps Amanda out, peppering every sentence with a cute little grin. *BARF* Amanda asks him if he knows anyone named Chrissy Minor or Lorraine Minor (Chrissy's aunt) but Dave has never even heard of them. After class is over, Dave walks Amanda to her bike and she rides home with Dave's face in her thoughts. Hawt.

When she gets home, the house is empty. She looks out the window and sees Merry floating in the pool. "Merry can't swim!" Oh noes! Of course Merry is fine. Amanda runs outside and dives into the pool. Chrissy pops up from her place underwater where she was holding Merry up and asks Amanda what the hell the problem is. Mom comes outside to see what the commotion is and tells Amanda to come inside to have a little chat. Amanda confesses that she has a really bad feeling about Chrissy, but Mom doesn't listen because Chrissy comes across as an angel. I'd like to take time out for a bit of logic here. Amanda is only at school for an hour or two in the mornings. Couldn't the parents watch Merry and Kyle until Amanda got home? There was really no reason whatsoever to hire Chrissy. Yeah, yeah, I realize there wouldn't be a story if they hadn't hired her. I just wish Stine could have come up with a better reason. End logic; back to the freakshow! Amanda goes upstairs to change her wet clothes and try to get some answers out of her cat ("I need you to tell me why Chrissy makes you so stressed.") but he isn't talking. He'll take his secrets to the grave, dammit! Amanda puts on her Pearl Jam shirt (remember "Last Kiss"?) and shorts and goes to the kitchen to eat some Oreos. Amanda lets Mr. Jinx out which proves to be a huge mistake. The cat reaches the driveway just as a silver car does. The car plows right over Jinx! NOOOOOOO! Another pet death!!! Oh cruel fates, have you no mercy?! My heart hurts *sigh* I guess it wouldn't be a Fear Street novel without a senseless animal slaughter. The car crashes into the family's car before coming to a stop. The asshole driver gets out and says he has no idea what happened, the wheel just went crazy. More like his blood alcohol level went crazy. Stinkin' liar! JINX! *sob* Amanda bends down, pets Jinx, and starts to cry. She picks him up and digs a small hole between two boulders in the backyard. Who cares why they have boulders in their yard. It doesn't matter when a cat just died! Oh, did I mention that the car almost ran over Merry and Kyle, but Chrissy shoved them out of the way just in time? Oh Jinx!

After dinner, Amanda sits in her room thinking about Jinx and listening to the sounds of laughter coming from the living room. Everyone is playing charades even though they should be in mourning. If not for the animal than for the fact that Chrissy is going to fuck up everything they've ever held near and dear reaaaaaallll soon. Amanda eventually turns out the light and goes to bed. She wakes at a little after midnight. She gets out of bed to get a drink. When she passes Chrissy's room, she peeks in and sees Chrissy standing in the middle of the room laughing manically. Such a villain. And she's also levitating a foot off the ground. Amanda faints at the sight and wakes minutes later to her entire family standing around her. Amanda stupidly tells her family that she saw Chrissy floating and Chrissy comes out of her room at this very moment, playing innocent. Amanda snaps and screams "Liar!" while trying to choke Chrissy. Yawn. Dad pulls them apart and tells Chrissy to go back to bed. He and Amanda go downstairs to talk. Daddy just blames it on shock at witnessing Jinx's death. Whatever, old man, that chick floated! Help your daughter send her back to hell! Amanda goes back to bed and wakes at 2:15 a.m. She hears someone *cough*Chrissy*cough* moving around and gets out of bed to investigate. Quit meddling, Nancy Drew! Chrissy has powers beyond your feeble imagination yet you seem insistent on pissing her off. She goes downstairs and is relieved to see Chrissy simply eating cookies in the kitchen. She goes back upstairs, but can't resist snooping in Chrissy's room. She spots the newspaper clippings lying on the bed. As soon as she picks one up, Chrissy enters the room and she is furious. Amanda runs out and Chrissy slams the door in her face. But wait! Miracle of all miracles! Amanda managed to sneak an article out! It's two years old also and tells of a terrible tragedy: Chrissy's parents (Mr. and Mrs. Anton Minor) were found dead in their home, victims of carbon monoxide poisoning. Her sister, Lilith, was also found except she lived of course. Oddly enough, the article never mentions Chrissy. Amanda suddenly remembers that Chrissy told her mom and dad that her parents died in a car accident. She's too tired to think about it anymore and decides to try and get her hands on the other articles tomorrow. She steps over to the dresser to hide the article when suddenly the bit of paper bursts into flame. She throws it to the floor and beats out the fire with a pillow. She hears low laughter coming from Chrissy's room. How could anyone sleep down the hall from a demonic hottie? Amanda manages...eventually.

In the morning, before anyone else wakes up, Amanda calls her BFF Suze who lives on Fear Street. Suzi is a little ticked because Amanda woke her up and she was having a really great dream that undoubtedly involved a Fabio look-a-like (that seems like someone that R.L. Stine would think that teenage girls lust after). Amanda asks Suzi to go to the Shadyside library and search for articles that pertain to the Minor family. Does Seahaven not have a library? Why would the Minors be in a Shadyside newspaper? So many questions. Turns out Seahaven DOES have a library, but it's really tiny and Amanda doesn't think it will have what she needs. Suzi agrees and before she hangs up, she tells Amanda that a blond girl had been looking for the Conklins just after they left; she said she was Amanda's "cousin". Ooooo. Suddenly the phone starts to melt in Amanda's hand and she hears Chrissy's laughter coming from the receiver and "You'd better get to school, Amanda." Crazy biotch. Amanda throws the phone down and searches for her parents, but they're gone (one can assume they're already at the inn for their daily spirits). She takes another look at the phone and finds it in perfect condition as if it never melted into a steaming puddle.

After class, Amanda chats with that hunk of burning love Dave. She tells him all about the weird things that have been happening and instead of cursing her nuttiness and getting the hell out of dodge, Dave gives her a big hug and says "You're fucking crazy, but you have a nice ass so I'll give you another chance." Just kidding--he actually says "You don't seem nuts to me." Define 'nuts', Dave. Anyone else would have had this chick committed already. Amanda tells Dave where Chrissy's aunt lives (Three Sea Road) and Dave says that's impossible: "That old house has been empty for years. They say a bunch of people were murdered there." Classic. Amanda puts her bike in the back of Dave's '78 Mustang and they drive up to the "haunted house" in question. Then they go to Channing's Bluff where Dave's brothers once painted caricatures of school faculty on the rocks below. "Boats out on the ocean can see them." Ok then. They go to the place where Dave's brother Mike works and snag a wave-runner. Dave takes Amanda to his "secret hideout" which happens to be a little shed that hunters once used to skin their game which explains the blood stains all over the floor. That's his story and he's sticking to it! Dave pulls a large knife out of a trunk and tells Amanda she can use it. No, not for murder. She can plant it in Chrissy's room and somehow get her parents to find it, making Chrissy look like a homicidal maniac thus eliminating her as mother's helper for good! Yay! Yeah right. As if that will ever work. Dave tells her that everything will work out, they stare into one another's eyes like a dog staring at a juicy bone, and the next thing you know, they're kissing. It cracks me up how characters in these books always find time to make no matter WHAT is happening. Dave drives Amanda home and walks her to the door. Chrissy comes to the door and immediately gets hot just by looking at Dave. "Amanda, you didn't tell me you had such a good looking friend." Spare us. Amanda mentions the abandoned house and Chrissy says that her aunt just bought it and hasn't yet moved into it. Then she immediately changes the subject, admiring Dave's car. She asks him to show it to her (you just saw it, stupid. What's there to show?) and Amanda stares daggers at the back of her head as she walks away with Dave. Cat fight!

While Chrissy is distracted by Dave, Amanda uses the opportunity to plant the knife in Chrissy's room. Unfortunately, when she reaches Chrissy's room, blood begins spraying out of the tip of the knife. It drenches Amanda and many of Chrissy's belongings including her perfect white clothes. Amanda runs downstairs into the kitchen and searches for her parents. She spots Salt and Pepper lying dead in the bottom of their cage. It's one shitstorm after the next! Amanda has no time to mourn the birds (don't worry, Amanda, I'll mourn enough for the both of us. Salt! Pepper! WHHHYYY?!?!) The birds' throats are cut and Amanda is covered in blood so when her parents enter the room, they automatically assume that she did it. I've never personally killed a bird, but I doubt that there is that much blood inside a tiny birdie body. I mean, Amanda is DRENCHED. Chrissy bursts in then, screaming about her bloody room. Go play in traffic, Chrissy. Amanda blames Chrissy, but Chrissy of course denies it completely. Amanda ain't looking too good right about now.

The next morning, Mom and Dad take Amanda to a psychiatrist. The doctor is really no help at all. He doesn't believe anything Amanda says (which is understandable because it's pretty outlandish) and tells her that she needs to relax. Relax? That's it? I hope Mom and Dad didn't pay this guy much. Who am I kidding? They probably paid out the ass for "RELAX". One would think that since Amanda is so upset about Chrissy's presence that the parents would just let Chrissy go. Logic dictates that things would probably calm down. But no. They refuse. Mom even says "It's better to let Chrissy stay and have Amanda work through her feelings right now." Whatever! Way to look out for number one, Mom. Hopefully Chrissy torches your ass later. Did I say that aloud? Oops.

At home, Amanda apologizes to Chrissy for the way she behaved. But Amanda isn't sincere. No way. She's just pretending to be cool with Chrissy so that everyone will leave her alone. As they're talking outside, Amanda feels something brush against her leg. It's a tiny calico kitten. Awwwww, you sweet little unfortunate animal. RUN NOW! AWAY! FAR FAR AWAY! Trust me, kitty, this family's track record with animals sucks. If you want to live to see another day, you will flee! Amanda picks the kitten up before the poor thing has a chance to take my advice. It hisses at Chrissy who tells Amanda that it's probably diseased. YOU'RE diseased! Amanda puts it down and it runs into the trees. Phew. Thank heavens. After Chrissy goes back inside, Amanda walks down to the pool and sees the kitten beside the shed. It comes to Amanda and she wraps it in a beach towel and carries it to her room. Damn. See ya later, kitty. We hardly knew ye.

Amanda lies on her bed and falls asleep. Her mother wakes her hours later to tell her that she has a phone call. It's Carter Phillips of The Cheater fame! Carter informs a stunned Amanda that Suzi is in the hospital due to a strange occurance: "She was at the library yesterday looking up something. Suddenly she slumped over on the microfilm viewer, blood pouring from her mouth and nose. The doctors are totally puzzled." Of course they are. Doctors are trained to cure black magic! The girls hang up and Amanda goes to tell her mom the unfortunate news. Mommy dearest doesn't seem to give a damn and almost immediately changes the subject to the fabulous Chrissy. I think Mom has a big lesbian crush on Chrissy. She asks Amanda if she and Chrissy are getting along well and Amanda says yes. Mom informs her that she and Dad will be going to the Bakers' home later and since it's Chrissy's night off, Amanda will be watching the little ones. We all know what this means: the adults will be out so all kinds of evil shit will go down.

Later, Mom and Dad leave for an evening of debauchery. While Chrissy is tucking the kids into bed (guess she doesn't understand the concept of a night off), Amanda goes to call Chrissy's references.. She calls the Harrimans and a girl who isn't part of the Harriman family answer. Apparently the girl and her mother came over to the Harriman's home and found a sick sight although the girl doesn't specify exactly what. When Amanda says that Chrissy is in her home, the girl tells her to get out of there FAST and hangs up. Amanda, shocked, is staring at the phone in horror when Chrissy walks in and asks what's wrong. Amanda is uncomfortable with the weird way Chrissy is smiling at her and goes to check on Kyle and Merry. Kyle tells her that Chrissy was supposed to get him some milk so Amanda decides that she'll get it instead because Chrissy might try to poison it or something. I'm tempted to chide Amanda's paranoia, but I can't because it's completely justifiable. When Amanda reaches the kitchen, she peeks into the room and sees Chrissy pour some kind of powder into Kyle's milk. Not the child! NOOOO! Amanda enters the room then and distracts Chrissy with mindless chit-chat: "Why don't you go to a movie? That new scary beach movie, "Blood Surfer", is playing in town. I hear it's so bad, it's good." Ha, kind of like some of these books. Chrissy says she doesn't like horror movies and she's just gonna sit in her room and write letters. To what? She picks up the glass of tainted milk and Amanda says she'll take that to Kyle. Chrissy hands over the glass and Amanda walks out, but before she goes upstairs, the doorbell rings. It's the ever-so-wonderous Dave. He noticed Amanda wasn't in class this day so he decided to drop off her assignments. What a doll. Amanda quickly explains the possibly poisoned milk and Dave helps her out with that by knocking the glass out of her hand. The glass shatters and Chrissy comes running to see what the commotion is. "I'll just get a towel for that." Good, you do that. When she comes back, she tells Amanda that she used the last packet of CHOCOLATE MIX and wonders if Kyle will drink milk plain. Amanda mentally scolds herself for her paranoia and tells Chrissy that she'll get Kyle the milk. Chrissy uses this opportunity to shamelessly flirt with Dave. Amanda thinks "Very subtle, Chrissy! Why don't you just throw yourself at him?" Oh Amanda. I heart you. Amanda hears Dave say " "Blood Surfer" is playing in town. I asked Amanda to go, but she said she has to catch up on algebra. You wouldn't want to come, would you?" Chrissy, that lying piece of crap, says "That'd be great. I love scary movies [LIAR!] and I hear this one is so bad, it's good." Grrrrrr.

Chrissy runs upstairs to grab a sweater and Amanda asks Dave why he made a date with her. He tells Amanda that it will give her at least a couple of hours to scour Chrissy's room for incriminating evidence (i.e. those articles). As soon as Dave and Chrissy leave, Amanda hurries up to Chrissy's room. She finds a heap of articles in a show bow in the closet. The first one she grabs has a picture of...Dad! The article explains that Dad defended a homeless guy who was convicted of arson (the building that was set aflame? The law offices of MINOR & Henry) She shuffles through more articles when suddenly she hears a car pull up. Chrissy and Dave are already back. What did they do, pull out of the driveway, drive 5 centimeters, and make a U-turn? They've only been gone for like 5 seconds! Amanda quickly stuffs the box back in the closet. She's holding a handful of articles when she hears Chrissy's footsteps coming down the hall. She dives beneath the bed to hide. Chrissy comes in and spots a lone article on the floor and after throwing it into the closet, she leaves the room and starts calling for Amanda. Amanda sees this as her chance to escape. She runs into the hall where Chrissy immediately spots her, but she ignores Chrissy's angry cries and flees outside. Dave is conveniently waiting beside his car. Amanda tells him they have to get to the Seaside Inn and find her parents. If they're as drunk as I think they are, they won't be of much help.

On the way, Amanda explains what she found out in the article she read. Her theory is is that Chrissy is pissed off because Amanda's father pressed charges against Chrissy's father and now Chrissy is seeking revenge. Mmm...vendetta. As Amanda is flipping through the articles she managed to steal, she comes upon one with a photo of Lilith Minor. "I don't believe it! Chrissy is Lilith!" Oh God, here we go... Amanda's excitement is unnecessary, though, because as we all remember, Chrissy said Lilith is her twin. *sigh* Amanda says she really needs to get to a phone so she can call her parents and inform them that she's coming so they won't leave or anything. Dave says there's a payphone on Channing's Bluff. When they get there, something eerie happens. Amanda turns to Dave to ask for a quarter, but he doesn't respond. He's staring straight ahead as if in a trance...suddenly he slams his head against the steering wheel. Amanda, worried, pulls his head off the wheel and sees that blood is flowing from his ears, nose, and mouth. She pulls change from Dave's wallet so she can call for help. But when she tries to get out of the car, none of the doors will open. She decides she'll break the window and searches for something to aid her. She discovers a screwdriver in the glove compartment and begins hacking at the glass with it. This is why I love this chick. She takes action instead of whining and crying about her problems. Thanks for the gift, Stine. It's about damn time.

Amanda makes a huge crack in the glass and immediately after, she spots Chrissy staring at her through the window. I feel your fear, Amanda. Seriously. Chrissy is the craziest bitch I've come across in a while. She makes Nancy Casey look like a defenseless little puppy. It doesn't help matters any that she has supernatural powers. The car doors fly open and Amanda sees Chrissy floating through a heavy fog and hears her laughing maniacally. An invisible force drags Amanda out of the car and throws her to the ground. Chrissy floats to the top of the car and stands there staring down upon Amanda. Amanda asks her how she's doing these things and why. Chrissy says she can do anything with her mind and demonstrates this by floating around some more. Yeah, we've seen that already. Uproot a tree or something! Now we get the obligatory info dump in which Chrissy explains what made her do this shit in the first place: "Do you know why my father killed himself? Because of YOUR father!" Amanda protests, saying that Chrissy's father's death was an accident. But Chrissy is on a roll: "My father wasn't a man who had accidents. [He] was a great man. A genius. But your father hounded him. Had him arrested. Ruined his life. Ruined all our lives. Mom and Lilith's too. Poor Lilith. And so my father tried to spare us. He tried to spare us by ending our lives." So your father tried to kill you and you still find it in you to admire him and justify his actions? You're crazier than I thought.

When Amanda asks about the references, Chrissy says "Who? The judge and the assistant D.A.? They only got what they deserved. Now it's your family's turn." Chrissy leaps off the car and uses her powers to throw Amanda back into the car. Is Dave dead yet? Because while the girls have been chatting, Dave has been bleeding. A lot. The doors slam shut, the engine roars to life, and the car plunges over the bluff. But it doesn't fall into the ocean. It's become wedged between those big boulders (the ones that Dave's brothers painted on) but the car is shifting and Amanda knows she doesn't have much time before it falls into the rushing water. Before she opens her door, she checks to see if Dave is still alive. Sadly, he isn't so Amanda has to go on without him. *sob* She sits on one of the boulders and watches as the car plummets into the ocean. After waiting a few minutes, she slowly climbs down to the shore...and promptly passes out.

When she wakes, the sun is shining brightly. She removes her wet jeans and sneakers and begins walking along the shore in just her T-shirt and underwear (I'm surprised....yet another reason why I'm unconvinced Stine wrote this. He would never use the word 'underwear'! I doubt he even wears any. *vomits*) She finally reaches her house and stops behind the shed to put her jeans on. She creeps quietly into the kitchen and hears Chrissy talking on the phone. "Don't worry, Mrs. Conklin. I agree. I think you're smart to look for her in Shadyside. I overheard her and her friend Dave. I'm pretty sure I heard Dave say he'd drive her to Shadyside. Yes, if Amanda calls, I'll let you know right away. No. Don't worry about Merry and Kyle. I'll take good care of them until you get back." That stinking liar! Amanda is worried about the kids, trying to think of a way to get them out when the doorbell rings. She hears Chrissy talking to a police officer. Chrissy predictably behaves as if she is sooooo worried about Amanda. The officer says that car has been found, but no bodies. After the cop leaves, Chrissy heads to the bathroom for a shower and Amanda quietly makes her way to her room. That damned kitten is still in her room! When is the last time it's been fed? No-one knows it's there except Amanda. Wouldn't it be meowing like crazy, though, and possibly pooping/peeing everywhere? Oh well. Thankfully, Amanda takes the thing outside and lets it go. Then she goes inside to find something to eat. She stuffs some Cheerios in her mouth and gulps some orange juice, immediately feeling a little better. She runs to Merry's and Kyle's rooms but finds them empty. The shower shuts off then and Amanda hurries back downstairs. The front door opens so she dives behind the couch. It's Merry and Kyle. At least Chrissy didn't dismember them or something.

Chrissy comes down and tells them that it's time for breakfast. When they all go into the kitchen, Amanda sneaks out the front door. She races down to the beach and out of nowhere, Chrissy's voice fills her head: "You were here, weren't you? You're not dead after all. You must die first--then Merry and Kyle!" Amanda just stands there stunned until some guy comes over and asks if she's all right. She says she has a headache and he happens to have some aspirin and goes to fetch it for her. As payment for his kindness, Amanda steals his wave-runner. Nice. She plans to go to that ghetto shed that Dave showed her so she can hide. There are weapons (and food) there. Goody. She reaches her destination and jumps off the wave-runner. But that damn Chrissy can't stay out of her head: "Merry and Kyle are mine! Mine!" Good for you....aren't you the lucky one? Amanda goes inside the shed and eats some dehydrated banana chips. Yum? Then she takes off her pants and thinks about the kiss she and Dave shared in this shed. Please don't touch yourself in my presence, Amanda. She finds a big knife and uses it to turn her pants into shorts. Those wet pant legs were only weighing her down. She places the knife in a pouch that has leather strings attached and ties it to one of her belt loops. Then she runs back to the wave-runner and makes a beeline for her house.

Chrissy has Merry and Kyle tied up in an "engine-powered skiff" and is driving away with them across the water. Amanda speeds up and follows them. Unfortunately, Chrissy sees her and uses her diseased brain to tilt the wave-runner back and forth so Amanda will go off track. But it doesn't work because Amanda is determined to get her siblings back. Chrissy, however, is equally determined to kill Amanda so she shoots some electricity out of her fingertips into the wave-runner. It flies out from beneath Amanda and she sinks beneath the water's surface. She manages to drag herself into the skiff next to Merry and Kyle. Chrissy grabs Merry and holds a knife to her throat while screaming "This is for my father!" This gives new meaning to the words 'daddy complex'. Amanda tackles Chrissy and Merry gets away while the girls wrestle. Chrissy creates a whirlwind that tosses Amanda into the air and flings her around a bit before slamming her back into the boat. The boat slams into a rock and Chrissy also goes flying into the air, landing hard in the boat and cracking her head against the bottom. While Chrissy is unconscious, Amanda unties the children, but she doesn't throw Chrissy overboard. WHY NOT? It's ok! She isn't human like us! The skiff starts to fill with water (when they hit the rock, a big hole formed) and is slowly sinking. Amanda thinks that she can get out and push the boat up enough so that it won't sink. Then she can swim alongside it while simultaneously holding it up. Sweetie, you are an idiot for thinking you could possibly do that. I admire you for thinking on your feet, though. Thankfully she doesn't have to even attempt this plan because when she gets out of the boat, she realizes that this area is incredibly shallow. They all get out and before the boat completely sinks, Amanda grabs Chrissy. NO! Let the captain go down with her ship!

They go back to the house and Amanda goes to call the police. But Kyle interrupts by screaming "She's awake!" Oh shit! See?! You should've dumped her when you had the chance! Fools! Merry and Kyle run out leaving Amanda to contend with Chrissy. Chrissy ends up setting the place on fire and when she starts to walk toward Amanda to finish her off, she trips over that silly little kitten. That thing is a glutton for punishment. Chrissy falls directly into the flames and Amanda runs outside. As she's standing there with Merry and Kyle, Chrissy runs outside. Her body is engulfed in flames and she collapses immediately. The evil is dead.

Now we're back in the present. Amanda is sitting with her psychiatrist, Dr. Miller, at the facility we read about in the beginning of the book. Dr. Miller tells Amanda that Kyle has finally come out of his stuporous shock and his story matches Amanda's. So Amanda is free! Oh and check this out: Chrissy's real name was *gasp* Lilith! The doc will explain: "One day she was in a deep coma. The next day she had vanished from the hospital. Lilith somehow assumed strange new powers while in the coma. And she set out to get revenge for her father and mother's death." So where did she get the name Chrissy? "According to a family photo album we found, Chrissy was the name of her cat." Of course.

The family piles into their station wagon and heads home. Merry is holding that kitten! How did it escape the fire? It must have used one of it's 9 lives. I'm sure the Conklin family will find a way to eliminate the remaining 8. As they pass the charred remains of the house, Amanda thinks she sees Chrissy. But when she looks again, the image is gone....the end.

Despite some of the convoluted elements that are common in these books, this one rocked.

Attack of the Jack-O'-Lanterns (Goosebumps #48)

PUMPKIN POWER! Nothing beats Halloween. It's Drew Brockman's favorite holiday. And this year will be awesome. Much better ...