Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Secret Bedroom

Book Description:

Lea Carson can't believe it when her family moves into the creepy, old house on Fear Street. Most creepy of all is the secret room up in the attic. The room has been locked and boarded up for at least a hundred years. A murder was committed in that room, the story goes, and it has been closed up ever since. Lea knows she should stay away. But she thinks she hears footsteps inside the secret room. And voices. Someone -- or something -- is waiting for Lea in there. Should she open the door? Can she resist?

My Description:

Lea Carson is only into her second week at Shadyside High and she's already made a fatal mistake: she trips and falls in the lunch room, spilling chili all over a red-haired girl's pristine white sweater. Ok, so that isn't really fatal. But the redhead is Marci Hendryx and apparently she's quite popular so you KNOW she'll give Lea hell in the future over this. Marci storms out of the cafeteria to clean up and a cute guy comes over to help Lea pick up the other things she dropped. He introduces himself: "I'm Don Jacobs. You've probably heard of me. I'm the guy who picks up the salad from the floor. Har har. Tee hee. He asks Lea if she's new and she tells him she and her family just moved to Fear Street. This illicits the usual reaction: HORROR! Lea explains that her mom and dad are really into renovating old places and Fear Street is full of old, crusty junk. After a couple more jokes on Don's part and some awkward small talk, Lea says she has to go get another lunch. Before Don leaves, he asks Lea if she wants to go to a movie Saturday night and Lea eagerly agrees because she's a shy kind of girl who might not get this kind of opportunity anytime soon. Lea hurries off to grab a sandwich and sits down with Deena Martinson (we were recently introduced to her in 'The Wrong Number'. There better not be any prank calls in this sucker.) Lea tells her that Don just asked her out and Deena fills her in on a few details about dear sweet Donny: he's very popular and Marci is his old lady. That two-timing bastard! Lea protests that Marci can't be his girlfriend, but it appears that she is indeed. Fate, you are so cruel.

Lea grudgingly walks home after school, hating the sight of her new home. She thinks it looks like something out of a horror movie: "The house sees me coming home to it after school and opens its eyes. And now I'm about to step into its dark, gaping mouth." Good Lord. Calm down, lady. She goes inside and has a snack (blueberry yogurt). While she's eating, she thinks about the first time she and her parents entered the house. It was a month earlier. The real estate agent, Mrs. Thomas, gave them a tour of the dump and probably hyperventilated at the thought of finally making a sale on Fear Street. Lea hates the place, but her parents were drooling over it because they're completely insane. They made their way to the attic and Lea discovered a door that was all boarded up. Mrs. Thomas told Lea and parents that it's a bedroom (a SECRET bedroom? Yes, how good of you to ask.) and it was boarded up because someone was murdered in there 100 years ago. Not impressed. The parentals say that they'll all just leave it alone (no, you won't. If you did, we wouldn't have a story.) and they all headed back downstairs. Except Lea. Lea stayed behind and pressed her head to the boarded door and heard some heavy breathing! AHHH! Oh wait. It was just HER heavy breathing because she was sooooo scared. End flashback.

It's now Saturday night and Lea is nervous about her pseudo date with Don Jacobs so she's spouting her fears to Deena over the phone. Lea looks in the mirror and considers a makeover: "Maybe I'll wear my hair spiky, get long dangly earrings. Right! And maybe I'll grow six inches so everyone won't think I look like some sort of pixie." Aww...dream on, sister. The girls hang up a few minutes later because Jade Smith (another 'Wrong Number' alum) is coming over to fix Deena's hair. I don't think that's a good idea...Jade's the one who thought saturating her entire head with gel would make it shiny and glossy, remember? Anyway, Lea paces her room wondering where the hell Don is. I swear, if this guy stands her up...well, it might actually be a good idea if he did. After all, he already has a girlfriend and she seems like a horrible bitch who would cut Lea with her deadly talons if she found out her man was cheating. To calm her nerves, Lea tries to read a magazine, but the words blur. Then she plays with her stuffed tiger, Georgie, for a bit before her mom asks her when she's leaving. This looking bleak. Lea finally decides to call Don. His mother picks up and when Lea asks for Don, she's hit with some really shitty news: "Don's out with Marci. He left about an hour ago, dear." Poor Lea...God, that sucks! I mean, we all saw it coming, but still!! Lea hangs up and makes an incredibly stupid decision: she calls Marci. Why, Lea?! WHY? This is watching a plane crash and very painful. Marci picks up and when Lea identifies herself, Marci immediately bursts out laughing. Lea asks if Don is there and Marci says "You didn't really believe Don would go out with you, did you? It was a joke." Oh Marci, you are the worst kind of person. May you die and roast in the fiery boughs of hell for all eternity. Lea starts to get angry and Marci just keeps going, telling Lea that she dared Don to ask her out. Before she hangs up, Marci offers these parting lines: "Well, that will teach you to come on to MY boyfriend. Have a nice night." WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?! DON was the one who came on to LEA! I need a moment, kids. A moment in which to remind myself that these are simply fictional characters in a fictional world. Phew. Dammit, Marci! Lea buries her face into her pillow and entertains thoughts of running Marci over with a car. That makes me feel better, too. Upon thinking about the situation further, Lea comes to the conclusion that Don DID wanna go out with her, but Marci forced him to break the date. Oh Lea. Spare yourself further pain and forget about both of these douchebags. Later that night, Lea has trouble falling asleep. As she's thinking about Don and Marci (STOP!), she thinks she hears footsteps in the attic, but the sound gradually fades away and Lea drifts to sleep.

Monday at school, Lea is waiting for Deena so they can go to lunch together. She's all paranoid, thinking Marci probably informed the entire school of her little "joke". Then Don comes up to her. I hope he's prepared to GROVEL. He apologizes and says that Marci is really jealous. Thank you, Captain Obvious. He apologizes again just as Marci turns down the hall. Oh great. Don runs to her like the little lap dog he is and Deena finally shows up so she and Lea head to lunch. At the end of the day, Lea is standing by her locker when Marci comes up to her. She too apologizes, saying she went too far and feels really awful about as she damn well should. Then Marci tells her that she wants her to join the school sorority: "We're meeting after school tomorrow in room 409. Please come, Lea." But Lea is quick on the uptake: "This school is only three stories high! There IS no room 409!" Marci just walks away laughing. Damn her! Stupid red-headed ogre. At least Lea caught the joke before any real damage was done...the thought of her wandering around trying to find a non-existant room is just too much.

It's now Saturday night and Lea is home alone watching "Ghost": "Patrick Swayze is a real babe. He can come haunt me anytime." Hee. At 11:30, she decides to go to bed. Unfortunately, someone (something?) isn't going to allow that...Lea hears footsteps pacing back and forth in the attic as she's trying to fall asleep. Spooky. And for once, I actually mean that! She goes up to investigate and if this were a horror movie, this would be the part where everyone in the theater starts screaming "DON'T!" Lea flips on the light, but sees and hears nothing. As soon as she turns out the light, though, the footsteps begin again and Lea realizes they're coming from...THE SECRET BEDROOM! *gasp* She presses her ear to the door and says "Hello! Can you hear me?" Silence at first and then she hears a dripping sound. She glances up and sees blood gushing out of the top of the doorway. The flowing blood is too much for Lea so she screams her head off (I was gonna say she screamed bloody murder, but that's a bit much, don't you think?) She runs to call Deena (why not call the parents? They're at somebody's house...they could've left a number), but Deena seems really non-chalant about the whole thing. She does agree to come over, but she bitches about visiting Fear Street : "I had a horrible experience on Fear Street last year." Yet another 'Wrong Number' reference. They hang up and Lea goes into her room, promptly freaks out, decides she's gotta get out of the house, and changes out of her pajamas. She realizes she has nowhere to go, though, so she tries to calm down. She then decides to call the police. Seriously. No, seriously? What the hell can they do? NOTHING, that's what. She calls and explains to the sergeant on duty that there's blood all up in her attic. The sergeant says he'll send someone right over. He probably thinks she killed someone. Just as he's confirming her address, Deena knocks on the door. She finishes the conversation and runs to the door. Deena rushes in and Lea explains everything. Deena's response? "Lea, it was a dream." Of course. Just a dream...until someone dies. The girls go back and forth over the issue until Lea says she'll prove it. They go up to the attic and the blood has predictably vanished. Suddenly they hear someone banging on the front door and yelling "Police!" Oh shit. The girls run to answer it. The officer introduces himself as Officer Beard which is ironic because he's young and hairless. Beard-O takes a look around even though Lea tells him everything is ok and she's really sorry for calling, but she thought she heard something. You couldn't come up with something better, Lea? The officer heads out a few minutes later and Deena also leaves. Lea goes back to bed, but once again she can't sleep because she hears crazy noises: "The sounds, this time like fingers on a drum, grew louder." Why can't ghosts pull this shit in the daylight hours? Let a girl sleep!

The next morning at breakfast, Lea tells her parents about the sounds. Her father, preoccupied with keeping his cereal out of his mustache, throws out a number of possible culprits: squirrels, raccoons, the house's natural creaks. What kind of magical raccoon could make copious amounts of blood pour from behind a door? Oh, I'm sorry...guess it was those damned meddling squirrels. Shut up, Dad. Anyway, that night, Lea attempts to do homework, but it's difficult because of the thoughts of Don Jacobs floating through her head and the noises are acting up again. I'm more concerned about the fact that she's STILL thinking of Don. Forget him, Lea. I don't care if he DID apologize. He's Marci's puppet and together they will slowly destroy you if you allow them to. *sigh* Over the next few nights, Lea hears a voice coming from the attic. She also dreams that she goes up to the attic, makes her way into the secret bedroom, and spots someone coming out of the darkness towards her. It's Marci! Lea wakes up in a sweat and can't decide whether to laugh or cry. Hmm...

During her third week at Shadyside High, Lea is consumed by lonliness. Her parents are busy setting up the new house; Deena has a new boyfriend, Luke Appleman, and has been spending a lot of time with him; Jade is too popular and busy to get close to (you're not really missing anything, Lea). On Saturday night, Lea was supposed to go to the movies with Deena, but Luke had two tickets to go to a rock concert and Deena chose that instead. Way to go, Deena, you horrible human being. What really pisses me off about that situation is that Deena knows what it's like to be the shy girl (as witnessed in 'Wrong Number'. Yes, I mentioned it AGAIN.) so she should be more sensitive! Anyway, Lea goes to her room to read and starts to hear MORE sounds. She creeps up to the attic and hears a soft voice resonating from behind the door, but when she calls out, the voice stops. She pounds on the door, but there's no responding noise. She FINALLY decides to attempt to break into the secret bedroom. She tries to yank off one of the boards, but the dreadful spirit hanging out in the room takes offense at Lea's audacity and suddenly pointy iron spikes shoot out of the door. Yes, you read that correctly. Pointy. Iron. Spikes. This book has just propelled itself to greatness. Lea jumps back and the spikes retract back into the door. She flees the attic, but the weird roaring noise that began as soon as the spikes popped out hasn't stopped.

As Lea stands there in the hall, she realizes the phone is ringing. She picks up and it's Don Jacobs. Puke. He asks her to meet him at the Division Street Mall because he wants to make everything up to her. Lea tells herself that she shouldn't go (DON'T) but she desperately wants to get out of the house so she agrees. Someone hold me...I'm spiraling! Ok, enough spiraling. Lea changes clothes and runs out into the rain, quickly jumping into the car. Since her parents are incredibly neglectful and never seem to be home, Lea doesn't have to inform anyone of her whereabouts. She arrives at the mall; half of it is closed and half is open which seems quite odd. Oh well. Lea makes her way to Pete's Pizza and spots Don. He's sitting across from Marci. Crap. I had a really bad feeling about this. Don asks Lea to join them, but Marci puts a wedge in that plan, telling Lea that they'd like to be alone. Lea thinks "He's really weak." Yes, he is! Ditch his ass! Save yourself from further humiliation and leave now! Lea does leave, but she doesn't make a graceful exit, colliding with a waitress carrying a tray full of sodas. She sees Marci grinning like a fool and runs away in fury.

In the car, Lea questions why Don would do such a thing. How could he let Marci treat her like crap and not say a single word? Lea, there is a very simple answer: he is whipped beyond belief. Stay away from him! It's that easy. Just avoid him like the fucking plague. Please. Do it or I swear I'm going to have a heart attack. Anyway, back at home, the house is still empty (where are her f-ing parents?! Their child is depressed and lonely and really needs someone right now. God forbid they interrupt their important party schedule.) and the footsteps are heard clearly in the silence. Lea decides to find out once and for all what's going on up there. She goes up and asks the empty room "Don't you know you're supposed to be dead?" Apparently not. She presses her ear to the door and hears soft sobbing. Chills. She calls out to the ghosty thing and a girl's voice responds: "Please open the door!" Oh no you don't! You've been disturbing the entire house for days and you think you're gonna throw around orders like you own the place? Think again. The girl keeps asking Lea to open the door and Lea tells her she'll be right back. She runs downstairs and finds a claw hammer and a small sledgehammer in her dad's tool chest. She grabs them and makes her way back up to the attic to pry the boards off the door. She pries the rotten wood off easily and steps back to admire her good work. She spots a brass key in the lock and turns it, finally opening the door.

Lea enters the room and sees an old fashioned bedroom lit up by candles. In the center of the room is a canopy bed and the demanding ghost girl is sitting on the bed. Lea thinks she looks like a Victorian doll with her fancy, old-timey clothing and curly hairstyle. Lea comes out of her shock and asks the girl who she is. The girl says she lives here. Why in the world would she wanna stick around on Fear Street? Go into the light, Carol Ann! Anyway, the girl keeps telling Lea that she's lonely and wants to touch Lea's hair. This is all too freaky for Lea and she walks out, shutting and locking the door behind her. The ghost girl just won't shut up, though: "I'm so lonely. I just want to touch your hair." Touch your own hair! Even after 100 years, you still have some so enjoy it while it lasts.

Lea wakes the next morning and convinces herself that it was all a dream. Except it wasn't, my friend, and I think on some level you must know that. After Lea eats breakfast, Deena calls and asks if she wants to go to the indoor tennis club and hit a few balls. I guess this is to make up for ditching Lea the night before. Lea is grateful for the invitation and quickly gets dressed. Deena picks her up and on the drive over has the balls to carry on and on about the concert Luke took her to. Shut up already! At the club, it's quickly made obvious that Deena is the better player. Boooooo! After a while, they leave and in the car, Lea tells Deena about her "dream". Deena chalks it all up to anxiety about living in a new place, etc. She drops Lea at her house with a few parting words: "You've made a real enemy of Marci Hendryx." Obviously! Deena also says that Marci has been telling people that Lea throws herself at Don and did something similar at her old school. Such a bitch, that Marci.

For the rest of the day, Lea helps her parents fix things around the house. In the evening, Mom and Dad settle down to watch a gorilla show on PBS and Lea goes to her room to read. Zzzzzz. But the moment Lea settles into her warm, comfy bed, the thumping in the attic begins. The stupid ghost has terrible timing. Lea stumbles up to the attic and finds the room and the ghost girl just as she left them. Did her parents not hear the noise? Oh well. As if they would care anyway. Yawn. Anyway, the ghost tells Lea her name is Catherine. She also confesses that she knows she's a ghost, but it took her forever to accept that. Ok then. Catherine tells Lea a bit about her background: she was her parents' "evil little secret" because they weren't married when she was born and in those days, that was totally scandalous. Her parents, out of shame and fear that their reputations would be ruined, kept Catherine locked in her room. She tried to run away, but her parents caught and killed her. As if that wasn't bad enough, they brought her corpse back to the room instead of giving her a proper burial. Assholes. Lea says she doesn't believe any of it and she has to go. Catherine flips out and starts begging to touch her hair. What is it with her and this hairy obsession? Lea runs to her room and slams the door, but can't remember if she shut the door to the secret bedroom. Uh-oh. She goes into the hall and contemplates telling her parents, but she realizes they're completely useless and heads to the attic alone. Everything is locked up tight. In her room, she picks up the stuffed tiger, Georgie, and hugs him...until his eyes turn bright red. Catherine!

The next day, Lea is standing at her locker preparing to go home when she hears Marci telling nasty lies to her friends: "Well, I couldn't believe it when she called Don. But when she asked him out, it was just too much." Lea wonders why Marci is still being such a bitch even though she has obviously won. Lea, it's in her genes. She'll never quit. Luckily, you have a psychotic ghost at your disposal! Use her. By the time she gets home, she's decided she wants to really terrify Marci. She runs up to the attic and Catherine calls to her from behind the bedroom door. Lea enters the room and after she tells Catherine her name (took you long enough) Catherine immediately starts talking about HAIR. She says she loves Lea's dark hair and wishes her's looked the same, but she can make her blonde hair glow like a lightbulb so I guess that's cool. Enough about hair! Lea explains that she wants to take Catherine to Marci's house so Catherine can use some ghost tricks to scare her. As they're preparing to leave, Catherine suddenly disappears and Lea feels a cold weight pressing upon her head. Never trust ghosts! Catherine is inside Lea's body; she explains that it would take all her energy to travel to Marci's house so she'll have to use Lea's body, but no worries--she'll get out when they reach Marci's place. Riiiiight.

When they get to Marci's house, Marci behaves prediactably, telling Lea/Catherine to go away and shoving the door. But the door doesn't close because Catherine is blocking it. Ooooo! Lea comes inside the house and says "There's a reason I live on Fear Street." At that moment, the door slams shut. Marci is angry, but not scared. She tells Lea to get out and suddenly she starts to float off the floor. NOW she's scared. Catherine drops her and she runs upstairs screaming for her mom. Marci doesn't make it all the way up the stairs, though. She plunges through the wooden railing, landing with a splat on the floor below. Ouch. Lea calls 911 as Marci's mom screams and cries. The cops arrive along with an ambulance which was useless because Marci is D-E-A-D. An officer drives Lea home and she feels Catherine re-enter her body. At home, Catherine goes back to the attic and Lea attempts to eat dinner with her parents, but she really isn't in the mood so she goes up to the attic to have a little talk with Catherine. She asks Catherine directly if she pushed Marci, but Catherine only smiles. I have to say it again: never trust ghosts! Finally Catherine's smile fades and she says "It worked out very well for you. I helped you. And now it's time for you to help me." Uh-oh. Not good. Catherine wants to stay inside Lea's body FOREVER! Mwahahaha! Lea feels the weird pressure on top of her head as Catherine prepares to slip inside. But Lea concentrates really hard and manages to keep the pesky ghost out of her skull. She runs downstairs and screams for her parents which is unfortunate because you know they're not gonna believe it. They only believe in gorillas. Lea tells them the whole story and, as predicted, her father says "I don't blame you for being upset, but we have to keep a sense of reality here." He and Mom think that Lea's mind is screwed up because she saw Marci die. How did they not hear the footsteps, etc? Or did they hear it and just dismiss it as magical raccoons like Dad said earlier? On the other hand, they're hardly ever at home so they could've missed all the action. Maybe THAT'S why they stay away so much and leave their daughter alone with a crazy, murdering ghost--because they're scared! Regardless, they suck. Lea keeps yapping about Catherine and begs both of her parents to come to the attic so she can show them everything. Lo and behold, the door to the bedroom is boarded up as if it had never been touched. Catherine - 376574 Lea - 0

Mom ends up calling a doctor who apparently makes house calls. His advice? Stay in bed for a few days. He came all the way over there for THAT? The doctor leaves and Lea's parents go back downstairs so Lea can rest. Of course Catherine appears and things get seriously confusing. Lea asks how she got down here and Catherine replies "This is my room. I've been in this room all along. THIS is the secret bedroom. You were never in the room upstairs, Lea. I never left this room. I invaded your mind. I gave you visions. I made you believe you were upstairs in the secret bedroom, but you were down here the whole time." What an acid trip. When Lea asks why, Catherine tells her that the room upstairs is evil and she boarded it up herself 100 years ago (the magic number!) She tells Lea that she tried to scare her away with the blood and iron spikes and then started invading her feeble mind. Then Catherine drops another bomb: "Now we're going to share this room. And your body." Lea can't fight her this time and she moves right in.

A few days later, Catherine tells Lea that they have some important things to do. What now?! Lea/Catherine gets dressed and pulls a long piece of twine out of Lea's closet and says "We're going to teach Don Jacobs a little lesson." Holy shit. They walk to Don's house. He's surprised to see Lea, but he lets her in. They make awkward small talk and Don suddenly realizes he has to turn the oven off )he's cooking chicken for his mom. She's out. Do the parents in this town even REALIZE they have kids?) Lea/Catherine follows him, pulling the twine taut. Just as she's preparing to strangle him, the doorbell rings and she drops the twine. Don just runs past her to answer the door and she quickly shoves the twine in her pocket. At the door are two of Don't friends, Cory and Gary, and Don is about to leave with them so Catherine has to postpone her homicidal plans. Darn. At home, she tells Lea "Don will die and so will his stupid, grinning friends." Thanks for sharing, nutjob.

That night, Lea wakes and realizes that Catherine has left her body. She wants to keep Catherine out so she can save her ass (and Don's). She thinks that the secret to ending Catherine's reign is in the boarded bedroom. Why else would Catherine be so desperate to keep Lea out? Yeah, she said it was 'evil' but I don't buy that crap for a second. It can't be any more evil than she is. Anyway, Lea needs a hammer to pry the nails off so she hurries downstairs to get her dad's. As she's working on the boards, Catherine shows up. Noooo! Back off! Lea tells her that she can't stop her from opening the door and then she feels the pressure on top of her head. But Lea manages to keep her out and opens the secret door as Catherine screams for her to stop. As soon as Lea sees what's lurking inside the room, she starts screaming, too. The room looks the same way, but Catherine's parents are sitting on the bed. Or rather the corpsified remains are sitting there, dressed and ready to go. The horror! Catherine overtakes Lea's body just as the decayed gentleman (gentlezombie?) and lady stand and shuffle toward the door. The woman croaks "So there you are, evil child." They wrap their bony hands around Lea's throat and Catherine leaves Lea's body. Nice one. Catherine tells the parentals that they murdered her once and now they want to do it again. That really makes no sense. You can't kill what's already dead. The dusty lady says no way, Catherine killed them and threw them in that room. My brain hurts. Why don't you all get your putrid asses into the spirit world and leave people alone? Anyway, the ghouls start circling Catherine faster and faster until they're a blur. She screams for help and reaches a hand out to Lea, but one of her parents TEARS the hand off and throws it to the floor. Did I mention this book is awesome? Suddenly all three ghosts melt into a ball and disappear.

Lea wakes up a week later in the hospital (please don't tell me the awesomeness was a dream!) because she had an out-of-control fever. Her parents tell her Don has been calling incessantly to see how she's doing (NOW he cares) and Deena has all her assignments from school. Just before Lea drifts off to sleep, she says "I can't believe it was all a dream." NO! It cannot be a dream! I refuse to believe it!

When Lea returns home a few days later, she wants to go to the attic, but her parents refuse to let her leave her bed. On Saturday morning, before her parents get up, she sneaks up to the attic and finds it looking normal. The door is boarded up just as it was. Lea can't believe it was all a dream. It wasn't. It couldn't have been! *sob* She goes back to her room and looks at herself in the mirror ("I look like some kind of mangy sheepdog." Ah, that makes me giggle.) Out of the corner of her eye, she spots Catherine's black hair ribbon lying on her dresser. HA! She DID exist and it was NOT a dream! This is a sign! Lea thinks briefly of Marci and the evil Catherine and goes down to breakfast. Such a lackluster ending.

Conclusion? Iron spikes! Ghostly parents who dismember their ghostly daughter! Need I say more?

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 ...