The Secret Bedroom

0671724835.01.LZZZZZZZThis is, I think, exactly what I expect out of a Fear Street book.

Or maybe a Goosebumps book, since they seem to have a lot in common in this case.

Lea and her family have just moved to Shadyside. Her parents bought a house on Fear Street, despite the fact that the attic contains a boarded up room that’s been closed off for the last hundred years because there was a murder committed inside it. That right there? That’s the Fear Street I know and love.

Lea’s not thrilled with the house, and she’s not really tearing it up at her new school, either, where she’s only made one friend. At two weeks in, she’s ahead of where I was after a couple of moves, but I still feel her pain. She finally got everyone’s attention when she tripped in the lunch room and and spilled chili on a popular girl’s white sweater. That’s…not really the kind of thing that usually goes over well, so I still feel for her. While Marci, popular redhead with a bad attitude, is off trying to wash chili out of a white sweater, Marci’s boyfriend Don introduces himself and asks Lea out.

I know that teenagers are terrible and all, but wouldn’t that still sound like a terrible idea? I’m pretty sure you aren’t required to accept every date request, especially when the guy issuing the request is currently dating. But Lea’s new, lacking both friends and sense, so she accepts.

Her only friend, by the way, is Deena, who we met back during The Wrong Number. I’m pretty sure she runs into either Lisa or Corey, too. This book was published three years after the first, and it’s clear that several school years have gone by since the original book, so I’m not sure why they’re all still at Shadyside High.

Don shockingly does not appear for their date. Lea locates his phone number and calls only to discover he’s not home. Unable to let it alone, she tracks down Marci’s phone number and calls her to ask if he’s there, because…really? And Marci cracks up because she’d put Don up to asking her out and it’s just unbelievable she fell for it. Really? Has anything like that ever happened anywhere but in a book or movie? Either way, we’ve now established that Don and Marci are both asses and Lea’s a little dumb.

Don finds her to apologize, then Marci follows to apologize, tell her she forced Don to apologize, and invite her to a sorority meeting after school on a floor that doesn’t exist. Lea starts showing a little brains when she figures out on the spot that the floor doesn’t exist, but Marci’s still thrilled with herself.

Since Lea doesn’t know what’s good for her, she can’t let go of the secret room in the attic, either. She’s sure she can hear someone moving around up there, so she makes her way up into the attic to check it out. She’s treated to a waterfall of blood over the door, which is really the kind of sign that you should get out of there already. To her credit, she does just that, then she calls the police. I know I’ve been begging the characters in these books to call the police, but really?

On Lea’s next trip to the attic (because of course she goes back into the attic), the door greets her with shooting metal spikes. Don happens to call while she’s busy freaking out about the door, and when he asks if she wants to meet at the local pizza place she accepts. Really? And then she heads straight there, where she meets Don and Marci, because why in the world wouldn’t that be another set up?

There’s a lot of verbiage put into how evil Marci is and how poor Don is just wrapped around her finger and it’s obvious he’s just such a nice guy, but you know what nice guys don’t do? Repeatedly set someone up for humiliation.

Because Lea’s not too good at learning her lessons, she heads up to the attic again, and finally meets a ghost girl who eventually introduces herself as Catharine. Catharine claims her parents hid her up in the attic for her entire life before eventually killing her. Lea decides the perfect chance to get back at Marci is to use Catharine to play Carrie. There’s no way that plan could go badly.

In order to get to Marci’s house, Catharine has to possess Lea. Once there, after enough demonstrations of telekinetic powers, Marci makes a break for her bedroom, and Catharine gives her a shove over the railing. Marci falls and dies right in front of her mother and Lea. Though she’s unhappy with Catharine, Lea wastes absolutely no time feeling any guilt about Marci’s death. She was kind of a bitch anyway, right? She and Della should probably hang out. They can go on a murder spree together.

In a twist I absolutely did not in any way see coming, it turns out that Catharine isn’t very trustworthy at all. Also, Don starts calling Lea because he really is terrible. I’d say she can do better, but as of her guilt-free murder, I’m not so sure.

So, the carnage?

Shadyside death count: 23. Maybe 26. Marci’s death by ghost, Catharine, and her parents. I’ve counted deaths in the past before, so I’ll go with 26.

Additional carnage: No dead animals, which was refreshing.

Spoiler-laden point at which this all could have been avoided: Not buying a house on Fear Street? I’m not gonna lie, though. If I had a chance to have an address on a street with a name as ridiculous as Fear Street, I wouldn’t pass it up. A boarded up room in the attic that was the scene of a murder a hundred years ago would just be extra incentive. Since the dangerous room in the house was apparently Lea’s bedroom instead of the attic, and since Lea was hallucinating all of the attic scenes, I’m going to have to just go with this: using a ghost to get revenge on a bully is a bad plan. Maybe it wouldn’t have been possible to avoid being possessed, but I’m pretty sure Marci didn’t have to die.

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