One Evil Summer

One Evil SummerHalfway through! And this is the one that almost broke me. Seriously, I’ve gotten behind on writing reviews, but I stayed on top of reading the books clear up until this one. As of this writing, I haven’t finished reading the next one. I’m also 3 more behind after that.

I shall persevere. And I really, really hope this isn’t the start of a severe drop-off in quality.

I actually remember reading this one when it was first out. I could recall far more of the plot than I’d like to admit, but you know what I didn’t remember? That it was a Fear Street book. I thought it was one of the other books RL Stine wrote outside of the series. It’s yet another of those books where the main character lives on Fear Street, but everyone happens well outside of Shadyside.

The whole thing starts with Amanda Conklin waking up in juvenile detention, where she’s been detained for murder.

As soon as that’s established, we jump back in time to when Amanda and her family were on their way out to summer vacation in Seahaven, where they’ve rented a house on the cliffs above the ocean. Amanda has both a brother and a sister, making theirs the biggest family in Shadyside so far. Both parents are also present. Amanda’s father is a lawyer and her mother is a journalist, and they’re planning on a working vacation. Of course, since Amanda failed algebra, she’s got to take summer school and so isn’t available to babysit her brother and sister.

There’s also a cat and two parakeets. If you’re sensitive to animal deaths, that’s pretty much the sign that it’s time to put this book down and find another.

Amanda’s parents cheerfully hire the first person who shows up at the door to answer their ad for a nanny for the summer, and they don’t seem very concerned that no one’s answering at her references. Chrissy gets along fine with the kids, but not so well with Amanda.

The cat is immediately run over by a car directly in front of the entire family. The parakeets are later both killed, because of course they are. I won’t even get into all the gory details. This book doesn’t deserve a complete recap because in the end, it turns out Chrissy’s father committed arson. Amanda’s father (whose name is John–so far a few fathers in Shadyside have gotten names, but no mothers) defended a homeless man who was arrested for the crime, and was ultimately responsible for Chrissy’s father’s arrest. Rather than facing up to what he’d done, Chrissy’s father committed a murder/suicide, killing himself, his wife, and one of his daughters with carbon monoxide by leaving a car running in the garage.

Chrissy, for no particular reason, is able to use all of her mind instead of the 10% everyone else uses, so she goes all Carrie on Amanda. The beach house even gets burned down. And with that stupid bit of pseudoscience, RL Stine lost me. Had that been debunked by the mid-90s? Should I forgive him? I’m not sure and I feel like enough of my time is lost on reading that book and writing the review.

So, the carnage? Actually, really bad. There are reasons so much of this book stuck with me all these years.

Shadyside death count: Unchanged from 37. There was a lot of death here, but as near as I can tell, none of it happened in or to people from Shadyside.

Additional carnage: Well, there’s the cat that was run over by a car. There’s the pair of parakeets that were cut open and left dead in their cage. There’s Chrissy’s parents and sister, along with the two other families Chrissy killed. One of Amanda’s friends back in Shadyside gets a long-distance attack from Chrissy and ends up in the hospital, but it’s not mentioned if she recovered or not. Finally, there’s Amanda’s boyfriend, who dies gruesomely right beside Amanda, and eventually Chrissy herself.

Spoiler-laden point at which this all could have been avoided: This probably goes back to Chrissy’s father and his decision to commit arson. Or to try to get away from all of it by way of murder/suicide. Otherwise, maybe checking Chrissy’s references and not hiring her when they don’t check out?

The Thrill Club

The Thrill ClubIt took 24 books, but Shadyside finally has its first black character.

Naturally, she dies in the first chapter.

Except, psych! It was just a story written by a member of the Thrill Club! Talia Blanton is super pleased with herself, especially since her boyfriend wrote it and she’s now passing it off as her own. Her boyfriend, Seth, is also part of the Thrill Club, as is Shandel, who is far less entertained by a story where she gets her throat cut than anyone else. Talia takes Shandel’s unhappiness so personally that she stabs her right in the middle of their meeting.

Except, psych! It’s a fake knife! And for some reason, Shandel still isn’t on board with the humor here. It’s hard to blame a girl.

In addition to writing Talia’s stories for her, Seth is also responsible for her math homework. Despite that, Talia is really unhappy with him because he’s just stopped being fun since his father just died.

There’s some extra drama because Seth is Maura’s ex, and now that Seth is such a boring, sad boyfriend, Talia starts making some moves on Rudy, Maura’s current boyfriend. Talia’s working really hard to beat out Bobby-the-Man for worst human being in Shadyside.

In order to properly set up the ridiculous plot for this book, Talia heads up to Seth’s room, where she discovers Maura lives next door to him. That means two more Shadyside High students who live on Fear Street. The real purpose of the visit, however, is so that Seth can play a tape from his father’s research. His father was studying a tribe in New Guinea, and the chanting recorded on the tape puts him in a trance and drives Talia crazy–because primitives and their magic, amiright?

Shandel scares Talia on her way home that night, as payback for killing her in the story and then fake stabbing her. When Talia’s teacher calls her out on not doing her own work, she lies to his face about not being a cheater even though Seth had done it for her while she watched TV. So it’s apparently not even like she’s buried under school work or something. She assumes Shandel tipped the teacher off in revenge, and not that he maybe noticed it wasn’t Talia’s handwriting.

Barely 50 pages in, Shadyside loses its only black teenager when Shandel dies exactly like she did in Talia’s story.

You know what? I try really hard to not get too deep on my analysis of these books, but seriously? It took more than 20 books to introduce a single black character and she’s immediately killed three times in the first third of the book? Even in the mid-90s, that was so played out as to be insulting, even without delving into the much deeper and more troubling issues.

Following the funeral, the Thrill Club decides to meet again. Talia still can’t do her own damned work, so she gets another story from Seth, featuring another member of the Thrill Club dying. The Thrill Club appears to be Shadyside’s version of the Midnight Society, only instead of taking turns telling stories, it’s all about paying attention to Talia. I guess it was still more successful than my attempts to start up a branch of the Midnight Society, at least until members started dying.

Naturally, everyone in the Thrill Club except Talia finds Rudy hanged in his basement, and moments after they discover the body, an incoherent Talia comes stumbling out from under the stairs. Talia is immediately placed in psychiatric care, where Shadyside’s second black teenager sneaks into her room and Talia immediately mistakes her for Shandel because…Gods, I just can’t even with this. I know these aren’t good books and probably aren’t worth getting so upset over, but now Shadyside has two black girls total, and one’s been murdered and the other is in a psych ward?

Talia is released from the hospital…because reasons? And…Seth has a new story waiting for her, featuring Talia herself killing other members of the Thrill Club. That’s obviously going to go over well.

So, the carnage? There’s not a high body count, but it was pretty bad.

Shadyside death count: 37. One teenager had her throat cut and another was hanged in his basement. Another’s father died of mysterious causes directly related to the plot. It wasn’t counted as murder, but it was mysterious Fear Street stuff.

Additional carnage: Through Seth’s stories, we get to see each death more than once, and some extra ones from the end. This one was way too busy with racist tropes to get around to killing off any animals or severely injuring or mutilating other teens.

Spoiler-laden point at which this all could have been avoided: I really want to put all of this on Talia because she’s a terrible human being, but she’s also ultimately a victim here. Seth was behind this because his father died and that’s the sort of thing, in Shadyside, that makes people snap and start killing people. So…better grief counseling?

Double Date

Double DateThe cover of this book promised me a free temporary tattoo, but there wasn’t one inside.

Probably because I bought the book used. And it’s 20 years old.

Seriously, these books are 20 years old. I’m also pretty sure I once belonged to some Fear Street books of the month club, and I got this one along with the temporary tattoo. Odds are high I wore it at some point. I was really into temporary tattoos clear up until I got a real one.

I’m rambling to avoid talking about this book, because instead of opening up with murder or something, it launches right into sexual harassment in the halls of Shadyside High. Bobby Newkirk is a member of a band that can’t decide on a name, and he’s very pleased with his prowess with the ladies. His best friend is only his best friend because the guy happens to be Bobby’s biggest fan. He’s apparently got a whole string of girls he’s been with once or twice, but he wants to be sure to spread himself around since everyone deserves a piece of Bobby-the-Man. Since we’re 23 books into the series and this is the first time we’ve heard of Bobby, I’m pretty sure his legend is entirely in his own mind.

I don’t want to spend too long on this book because Bobby is a miserable, conceited son of a bitch, and we spend the whole time in his head while he’s trying to simultaneously date twins without getting caught. He has to pause to admire himself every single time he catches his reflection anywhere.

I guess RL Stine gets kudos for pulling together such an entirely loathable character. He’s even got a pair of monkey’s he’s experimenting on in the biology lab. He’s feeding one a regular diet and the other nothing but bananas. I mean, I know we’re talking about a 20 year old book, but I’m pretty sure you weren’t allowed to do that kind of crap to monkeys in high school in the mid-90s. One of the sisters has an experiment involving highly dangerous cannibal ants. I get that Bobby’s an idiot, but if they’re cannibals, wouldn’t they eat other ants instead of people?

Naturally, the twins live on Fear Street. Their family even has a cabin in the Fear Street Woods, because why wouldn’t they? Bobby decides he can tell them apart pretty quickly, but things start getting crazy (?) very quickly, what with Samantha driving all crazy and shoplifting earrings and stuff. Then Samantha tells him he can tell them apart because she has a tattoo of a butterfly on her shoulder. Soon enough, it seems the girls are switching places on him and playing mind games. When he finds out they’re really triplets and it seems their psychotic sister has arrived, Bobby is…totally thrilled he’s been dating three sisters at once. Because Bobby is the worst.

So, the carnage? None. Unless you count the monkey being malnourished in the lab. The Shadyside teachers really are the worst.

Shadyside death count: Holding steady at 34.

Additional carnage: There’s a fake-out with the monkeys, because any animals that appear in these books either die or almost die or there’s a prank involving them or something. Bobby gets kidnapped, dowsed in honey, and fed to cannibal ants, which sounds miserable, but possibly also light punishment, considering.

Spoiler-laden point at which this all could have been avoided: Bobby could have been a decent human being? This entire thing was an extended prank to teach Bobby a lesson, but unless he shows up in a future book as a changed man, I’m going to assume this was really just fun for the girls involved who were getting their revenge, but not actually useful.

Bad Dreams

Bad DreamsWe get to switch things up this time, opening from the viewpoint of a girl being murdered by her sister while sleeping in a canopy bed. She was having a nightmare because the book is called Bad Dreams.

We immediately move on to Maggie Travers, in the car with her mother and sister as they try to find their new house on Fear Street. None of them know how to get to it, despite the fact that the girls have lived in Shadyside all their lives. No knowing how long Mrs. Travers has lived there. I get that they’re moving from North Hills, the rich part of town, but am I really supposed to believe anyone in Shadyside doesn’t know how to get to Fear Street? Or that someone would buy a house in the very small town where they live and not know how to get there by moving day? Or, hell, that neither girl has a friend who lives on Fear Street? At least half of Shadyside High must live there. It’s even mixed with wealthy and poor families, in case the Travers aren’t the sorts to mix with the poors.

Her relationship with her younger sister Andrea is immediately set up as adversarial. I think we’re supposed to see Andrea as sullen, but we immediately start out with Maggie recounting all the ways poor Andrea is just a sad, lesser version of herself. I’d be kind of curious to hear this story over again from Andrea’s point of view. Well, a brief summary. I don’t know if I’m up to reading the whole thing a second time. Both of them have red hair and green eyes. Shadyside has an unusual number of redheads, along with people with green eyes. I suspect RL Stine is partial.

The family has an old golden retriever, and usually no good comes to pets in these books. There’s an immediate cheat ‘did the dog get hit by a car’ scare, but Gus actually makes it safely through the entire book.

Maggie is also dating Justin Stiles. You’d think she’d remember the part where he cheated on his girlfriend so much she went flying off the rails and murdered several other girls. The murder part is not at all his fault. The ‘cheating constantly’ part is something that you’d think would take him off the ‘potential boyfriends’ list. One of her best friends is even Dawn Rodgers, who warned her the guy has ‘a wandering eye.’ You’d think she’d also remind Maggie about the part where Dawn was assaulted and eventually stabbed over the guy. And that the victims were undoubtedly mutual friends–or at least acquaintances–of theirs.

Does Shadyside’s time warp include a certain amount of memory loss from year to year? I guess it would have to. Otherwise, everyone would notice that they’re all juniors and seniors until they end up dead due to something or other loosely connected to Fear Street.

The girls immediately head to the bedrooms they chose–so they have all been in the house before. Maggie discovers a beautiful antique canopy bed in her room, and Andrea immediately angles to get the bed because…because of course she would? I dunno, I’m mostly on Andrea’s side, or at least get her, through most of this, but not on this. Moving giant wooden antique canopy beds is an enormous pain in the ass.

Maggie immediately starts having bad dreams while sleeping in the canopy bed because it’s right there in the title, duh. She gets to witness the murder from the prologue, so we get to read about it over and over. Lucky us. (Lucky me?)

Both Maggie and Andrea are on the swim team, along with Dawn because Dawn is super athletic and good at everything. At least, she is up until she gets pushed down the stairs at school and breaks her arm. Dawn seriously  needs to get out of Shadyside, and not just because of the time warp. Dawn blames Maggie to start, and not long after, Maggie discovers another member of the swim team just after she’s been stabbed. Because no one ever does anything right around here, Maggie grabs the knife instead of, you know, applying pressure to the wound or going for help or something.

By then, Maggie has learned that a girl was stabbed to death in the very bed where Maggie has been sleeping. She’s convinced that Andrea is going to reenact the murder, but naturally what’s really going on is just so much stupider.

So, the carnage? Arguably light. Unless you’re Dawn Rodgers.

Shadyside death count: 34. That murder happened before the book opened, but it still counts.

Additional carnage: Considering Maggie was supposed to be our primary victim here, this really hit the members of the swim team the hardest. Dawn’s activities on the swim team and playing tennis and probably in drama and whatever else she does are going to suffer due to that broken arm. I guess since it’s Shadyside, she can always get back to it next year. It’s not like anyone’s going to graduate or anything. Additionally, another swim team member was stabbed.

Spoiler-laden point at which this all could have been avoided: I don’t even know how to approach this. Not immediately throwing out a beautiful antique bed isn’t really something I’d hold against anyone. It’s not like those are usually murder sites. I have to assume the mattress was replaced. You’d think the stains would be suspicious. As for having a crazy person living in the attic without everyone knowing? On the one hand, I want to call that super stupid, but on the other, it’s happened a few times to other people. I assume RL Stine saw one of those news stories and then this mess happened.

The Dare

0671738704We get a prologue from a murderer again. And we get a prologue that takes place weeks after the story actually opens. My favorite. Yay.

Johanna Wise is one of Shadyside’s poor kids. Her mom has been working two jobs ever since she and Johanna’s dad got divorced–with all of the single parent households in Shadyside, I have to assume the divorce happened while he was awaiting trial on federal charges. She’s envious of Dennis Arthur and his crowd–the wealthiest kids in Shadyside. With enough money, they can make any problem disappear. That’s…probably more true than I’d like to think.

Of course, money can’t make everything go away. Though Johanna’s a junior, she’s taking some senior classes, and shares a history class with Dennis. Mr. Northwood is unimpressed with money and with athletes, and he won’t allow Dennis to make up a test he’ll miss due to his family’s annual trip to the Bahamas. Johanna gets an in with Dennis when he learned Mr. Northwood is her next door neighbor (and of course they live on Fear Street. That’s another student and a teacher now).

This is a relatively slow book, as far as Fear Street stories go, so to up the gore, Johanna has ridiculous and violent fantasies. We get to see the whole fantasy play out, then she backs of and admits that nope, she didn’t do any of that.

The rich kids focus their malicious pranks on Mr. Northwood, pouring sand into his gas tank and vandalizing his car. They amuse themselves by daring each other to do all kinds of ridiculous crap. Zack comes up with a vial of skunk juice, and they pass it back and forth until they send Johanna over to break it on Mr. Northwood’s porch. They spend weeks joking about killing Mr. Northwood clear up until they find out there’s a gun in Johanna’s house. Because these are not kids who should be trusted alone with rubber band guns, it takes almost no time before Dennis tries to demonstrate a quick draw and shoots Zack in the shoulder. His genius way to deal with this isn’t to call an ambulance, but to set everyone cleaning up the mess while he hauls his friend over to Mr. Northwood’s house to try to frame their teacher.

Naturally, it doesn’t work. The Shadyside police really do seem on top of things when people call them in. The parents all try to get their kids transferred out of his class, but the school doesn’t cooperate. By the time kids are framing the guy for shooting a student, you’d really think the school would be on board with getting them in a different class, but no. Shadyside PD seems competent, but I can’t say as much for Shadyside High administration.

Rather than just trying to get through their senior year, the kids dare Johanna to kill Mr. Northwood. She’s so pleased with her new, wealthy friends and especially with Dennis, who has begun cheating on his girlfriend with her, that she takes it seriously. She picks a date and everything, and learns that students are taking bets on whether or not she’ll go through with it.

That sounds like a genius plan. You’d think she’d call the whole thing off on grounds of “I’ll obviously go to jail if I go through with this,” but despite taking senior-level classes, Johanna isn’t nearly that smart.

So, the carnage? Mostly imaginary.

Shadyside death count: Holding steady at 33. Not for lack of trying, though.

Additional carnage: One teenage boy gets shot in the shoulder, and the teacher does get shot. Additionally, we’re treated to such scenes as Johanna shoving a seashell into a girl’s face, gashing her cheek open and breaking her teeth, and opening a car door and hauling the same girl out and throwing her on the ground to steal her car and boyfriend, and shooting her teacher.

Spoiler-laden point at which this all could have been avoided: There’s probably some room to argue that if Mr. Northwood had just let Dennis take a makeup test, it all would have been fine, but I sincerely doubt that. Maybe the rich kids had some sense of proportion? Johanna backed out of shooting the teacher, but Dennis had already used the gun to shoot him to make sure Johanna would take the fall. They got caught because they spelled out their whole plan like comic book villains even though they knew the teacher recorded everything. A confession on tape is always kind of handy, and that’s just sloppy. There’s inexperience, then there’s sloppy cartoon villainy. Did movies teach them nothing?

Oh, well. Stupid, sloppy, entitled murderers are the best kind, especially when they fail to actually murder anyone before being caught.

The New Boy

otk8wwIn the first chapter of this book, we learn Deena Martinson broke up with Gary Brandt. So they’re both still in high school. I’m telling you: Shadyside time warp. No one escapes.

Janie, Faith, and Eve are all best friends. They were the head of the committee for the school dance, and they have to meet up after school to count the take and turn it over to the principal. Before they can get started, however, the mysterious new boy at school appears while clutching a bleeding wound and begging for help. Faith and Eve, who both have boyfriends, immediately rush to the rescue, leaving single Janie alone with the money.

Paul and Ian, Faith and Eve’s boyfriends, pop in while the girls are counting the money and make the kind of ‘jokes’ that involve grabbing handfuls of cash and gleefully throwing it around and stuffing it in pockets. Mr. Hernandez, the principal, steps out during the cash fight to inform everyone they’re being expelled because everyone thinks their a comedian.

The principal during The Prom Queen was Mr. Sewall. I’m just going to assume he was fired in disgrace over the multiple fires in the bathrooms and all the adults who have enrolled for the purpose of murdering students. Or maybe he went out of town and the time warp caught up with him and he aged a hundred years in a couple of weeks. Good luck to the new guy, I guess.

After the money–$1,241.65–is counted and locked in a drawer, Faith, Eve, Paul, and Ian all have an opportunity to be alone with the money. Of course it all disappears. Of course they all suspect each other.

Meanwhile, the three girls decide to bet on who can get a date with the new boy. $10 each, despite the fact that two of them already have boyfriends. Janie gets to partner with him in lab, but doesn’t work up the courage to ask for a date. Eve immediately wins the bet by walking up to him and asking for a date by way of introduction.

The next day, Eve and Ross both go missing. Ian and Janie just so happen to find Eve’s body shortly after, and when Ross reappears, it doesn’t take long for the rumors to get started about the new boy. Add in something strange that happened in his old town, and his home on Fear Street right near where Eve’s body was found, and it’s hard not to be suspicious. Janie starts dating him anyway, though she starts to worry when she stops by his house and the old lady who lives there has never heard of a Ross Gabriel. Then the poor guy tries to return the blue scarf Janie left in his car, and she confuses it for one of Eve’s and in the cafeteria with a full audience of students, she accuses him of murder.

Probably because they aren’t interested in dating her, the new girl at school didn’t make such a splash with the girls. Faith, however, spent some time talking to her about Ross Gabriel, and she has news she has to tell Janie, but she can’t possibly explain it over the phone, so Janie has to go over to her house. That’s convenient because if she’d just told Janie over the phone, she’d know what she wanted to tell her about Ross, but then Janie wouldn’t have been left in the dark and she wouldn’t have found Faith’s body after someone bludgeoned her to death with a fireplace poker.

Ross fails to appear in class and rumor says he was picked up by the police again. Jordan, who went to his school, catches Janie and tells her that Ross Gabriel wasn’t his name. He changed it when he family moved out of town after he killed his girlfriend. Of course the police questioned him and let him go, but the whole school knew the truth. And everyone knows teenagers and their rumor mills are way more reliable than the police.

Fear Street did see one honest to God, classic serial killer, but this time there’s something so much stupider going on.

So, the carnage? Pretty serious this time around.

Shadyside death count: 33. Both murdered girls are described in detail, too, and both are found by their best friend.

Additional carnage: No dead animals, but Ross is cracked across the head with a baseball bat.

Spoiler-laden point at which this all could have been avoided: Holy crap, there is zero reason any of this had to happen. It was all over the damned dance money. Eve stole it for Ian because his parents weren’t going to pay for his college. It was barely over $1,000. I know college was a lot cheaper in the mid-90s, but $1k still wouldn’t go that far. Eve lost her nerve and she betrayed Ian by going on a date with Ross over a bet, so he beat her to death, dumped her body, and framed Ross. Then he killed Faith because he assumed Faith knew about the money, and he tried to kill Janie because he was sure she knew, too. Out of everyone in these books so far, I feel worst for Ross and the titular stepsister from, um, The Stepsister.

Sunburn

9780613376532Once more, we’ve got a Fear Street book that doesn’t even take place in Shadyside. The tenuous connection is a character who lives on Fear Street. I’m tempted to go back and count how many Shadyside High students live on Fear Street so far. Too many to make the street’s reputation plausible, I think.

We open this time not with a murderer, but with a victim. Claudia Walker wakes up on the beach with her face severely burned, her eyes swollen shut, and her body buried under so much sand she can’t move. The tide is coming in and it looks like she’s doomed.

This is a completely serious question: presuming you’re able-bodied, if you’re sleeping on the beach and get buried while you’re lying down, can you really get enough sand on you that you can’t just sit up without getting smothered?

Since RL Stine is into one of my least favorite writing devices (open your story with a scene from action late in the book, the time travel to go through all the setup. It’s like a cheap version of ‘open in the middle’ without actually doing that), we’re taken back in time to learn Claudia, Sophie, and Joy are going to spend a week with their wealthy friend Marla at her family’s beach house as a reunion for bunk 12 at Camp Full Moon.

The friends are all from different towns and glad for the chance to get together again, but there’s an uncomfortable past hanging over all of them.

The week is filled with accidents–one girl is nearly electrocuted by a fence. Claudia gets buried and “forgotten.” (On a side note, I’ve gotten a really, really bad sunburn before. I got one on a shoulder once that turned brown and cracked. It was so bad I was allowed to break the ‘no sleeveless shirts’ rule in the dress code on account of holy crap, that looked painful. I suspect RL Stine has never had a really bad sunburn.) She’s luckily rescued by a cute boy who helps her up to the house and somehow knows the gate code, though Marla denies there’s anyone else who could know. Someone tampers with the rope and two of them almost drown in a water skiing accident. By then, the three guests agree someone is definitely trying to kill them, and they try to arrange an escape.

This book wasn’t by any means boring, but it wasn’t a Fear Street book. Also, it managed to pile the ridiculous so high that it nearly did me in. The coincidences were high enough when Claudia was attacked by an Irish wolfhound…that she managed to outrun, beating it into the water. It bit her ankle…and she managed to outswim it until a shark attracted by the blood attacked and killed the dog. Then she was swept out to sea and safely deposited on the beach right by the house.

Also, the dark secret from Camp Full Moon? They dared Marla’s annoying little sister into doing something dangerous after lights out, and they were almost caught so they ran away, leaving her to fall into the river and drown. Her body was never recovered. As near as I can tell, this death happened at Camp Nightwing’s rival camp either the year their first camper died or during the events of Lights Out. Three dead kids between two camps in two years? That’s an absurdly high body count.

So, the carnage?

Shadyside dead count: Still 31. There were two deaths in this book, and they were pretty gruesome. Details down in the spoilers section.

Additional carnage: An Irish wolfhound was eaten by a shark. It was ridiculous. Also contradictory to every Irish wolfhound I’ve ever met, though I’m sure one could be trained into viciousness.

Spoiler-laden point at which this all could have been avoided: I’m going to put the problem down at two different points: The first was the truth or dare game that lead to Marla’s sister’s “death.” The second is with what ridiculous world allowed Alison to wash up down river and fake amnesia for a year without anyone figuring out her identity. This happened in the 1990s, not the 1890s. Also, I don’t care how bad his vision has gotten: if a guy has been the servant to a family for the entire life of two sisters, if one disappeared for a year, then turned up and murdered her sister and took her place, that servant would probably notice.