Recap #47 – The Listeners by Bebe Faas Rice

listeners

Title: The Listeners

Author: Bebe Faas Rice

Published: March 1996

Tagline: Kathy’s new house hides old secrets that could frighten her to death

Description: Too good to be true.

When the Colby family moved to a suburb of Washington, DC, they found a huge old mansion in a great part of town. But when sixteen-year-old Kathy was alone in the house, she had the strangest feeling that someone was there, listening. Soon she learned that the perfect house had a disturbing past. Ten years before, a family had been murdered there. Although they never caught the killer, the police knew who it was. That killer was supposed to be dead, but Kathy didn’t like the creepy character who hung around the neighborhood doing odd jobs. Kathy didn’t like him at all, but nobody was listening to her.

Nostalgia Time!


First off, whew, that description pretty much gives the whole story away, doesn’t it? Or does it? It’s been so long since I’ve read this, I don’t remember a lot about the story. Still, that description seems like it tells you pretty much everything that happens, huh?

So, I remember lying on the couch in my living room to read this book when I was fourteen. I was enchanted and somewhat obsessed with the snippet of poem that starts us off on the title page – it’s The Listeners by Walter de la Mare, and the snippet goes like this: . . . But only a host of phantom listeners/That dwelt in the lone house then/Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight/To that voice from the world of men

I loved that bit. (The full poem can be found here. I don’t love it in its entirety as much as I loved that one excerpt, though.) I remember finding this book spooky and beautiful; eerie like that bit of poem. I think there were real ghosts, and I fucking love this cover art. But, then again, I said the same exact things about Rice’s Music From the Dead, and that turned out to be a total shitshow on my revisit. With that in mind, I can’t quite work up the enthusiasm my memory is insisting this book deserves. But the only way to find out is to get to it, right?

Here we go!

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Recap #44 – The Yearbook by Peter Lerangis

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Title: The Yearbook

Author: Peter Lerangis

Published: 1994

Tagline: Most likely . . . to DIE!

Description: According to his IQ test, David Kallas is a genius, even if his teachers think he’s a slacker. His sole extracurricular activity is the yearbook, and he only became editor as an excuse to get close to Ariana Maas. On his way to the printer’s to check on the book, he takes a shortcut to spy on Ariana and her boyfriend—the impossibly perfect Stephen Taylor—and ends up finding something even nastier than two students making out: a butchered corpse floating in the creek. The body leads David to a disturbing secret about his school’s past. When members of the senior class start dying, David is determined to solve the mystery and save the school—even if he has to destroy himself to do it.

Nostalgia Time!


Well, it had to happen. After a short run recapping things I actually enjoyed, we had to get back to a book that makes me rage. I might be biased from reading the book, but that description absolutely makes David sound like an incel Nice Guy™ asshole, right? Because he is. Which I unfortunately didn’t remember before buying the Kindle version of this. This character is the fucking worst.

Anyway, I remember owning this book; I didn’t remember the overall story, though. I remembered exactly two oddly specific things – the first was the lead female character tying a cherry stem in a knot with her tongue. The second was the same character talking about Pepsi dissolving a tooth left in it overnight. I remember this leading me to test this out with one of my baby teeth (this book came out when I was 13, so I shouldn’t have still been losing baby teeth, so I’m a little confused where the tooth came from), and finding out it’s bullshit. I’m sure Pepsi will dissolve teeth eventually, but it takes longer than overnight.

Anyway, after reading and refreshing my memory, I have no idea why this book is called The Yearbook, or why that cover up there exists. The yearbook is only a peripheral part of the story, really. I guess it would have been too on the nose to title it “Lovecraftian Monsters in the School Basement.” However, there is a second cover (I suspect it’s the UK cover) that gets to the point much quicker than the US cover.

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Spoilers!

Much more honest. Also much more WTF. They really don’t bury the lede on the UK covers, do they?

Anyway, this book is weird. We have time jumps, secret cults, eldritch horrors, and a protagonist that I want to set on fire. I think the scariest part of this book is the fact that we’re supposed to be on David’s side. Like, he’s the hero. We’re supposed to root for him. We’re, I think, supposed to be rooting for him to get together with the girl he’s stalking and girlfriend-zoning (basically friendzoning, but from the uninterested girl’s perspective). It’s gross and I hate it. Prepare to read 10,000 words of me raging. [Note from Future Me: 10,000 words was way too conservative an estimate.]

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Recap #39 – Crash Course by Nicole Davidson

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Title: Crash Course

Author: Nicole Davidson (aka Kathryn Jensen)

Published: July 1990

Tagline: A secluded cabin on the lake was a perfect place to study . . . or to die

Description: As the water closed over his head, he imagined he felt a hand grasping his jacket – pushing him deeper . . . . He thrashed his arms and legs in the irrational hope he might break the surface, his chest tightening, burning . . . . Too soon, a paralyzing lightness overtook him and he gave up to the icy current as the spring below pulled him deeper . . . deeper . . . .

And then there were seven  . . .

The weekend had begun as a crash SAT prep course given by a strict teacher in a secluded cabin at Deep Creek Lake – four boys, four girls, cramming for college entrance. It ended with a bone-chilling scream breaking the silence of the night. For one of them, it was all over . . . forever. For the rest . . .

The terror had just begun . . .

Now, while their teacher goes for help, seven terrified teens wait, not knowing if a lunatic killer lurks in the darkness . . . or sits among them, ready to strike again.

Nostalgia Time!


Jesus Christ, look at all those ellipses. Who wrote this description, Richie Tankersley Cusick?!

Anyway, this was one of those books I remembered vividly, but couldn’t for the life of me remember the title or author. For some reason all that would come to my brain was the title “Class Trip,” which I knew it wasn’t, because that’s a book by Bebe Faas Rice that I also remember vividly, still have in the box in my basement, and definitely also plan on recapping eventually. It took me a while to figure out the title of this one, and I think I finally tracked it down by simply Googling the names of all the authors whose books I still had in my basement box to see what else they’d written. (I still owned Davidson’s book, The Stalker.) As soon as I saw the title I knew that was it, and I finally got around to ordering it on Thriftbooks a while back. I remember liking the story and reading it several times back in the day. Upon reading it as an adult . . . wow, it does not hold up at all.

Note: I was originally planning to have this ready to post around Thanksgiving since it takes place over Thanksgiving weekend, but life happened and I obviously didn’t get it done in time. Story of my life, guys.

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Recap #23 – Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn

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Title: Wait Till Helen Comes

Author: Mary Downing Hahn

Published: Nov. 1987

Description: Beware of Helen . . .

Heather is such a whiny little brat. Always getting Michael and me into trouble. But since our mother married her father, we’re stuck with her . . . our “poor stepsister” who lost her real mother in a mysterious fire.

But now something terrible has happened. Heather has found a new friend, out in the graveyard behind our home – a girl named Helen who died with her family in a mysterious fire over a hundred years ago. Now her ghost returns to lure children into the pond . . . to drown! I don’t want to believe in ghosts, but I’ve followed Heather into the graveyard and watched her talk to Helen. And I’m terrified. Not for myself, but for Heather . . .

Nostalgia Time!


This is one of my favorite books from childhood. I remember reading it when I was about eight years old and loving it. I think I owned it but lost it over the years, so when I was a young teen I decided I wanted it back, but none of the local bookstores had it in stock. I had the Walden Books in the mall special order it for me, because Amazon wasn’t a thing yet. I remember being slightly embarrassed as a teenager ordering what is essentially a children’s book, but I was so happy when it came in, and upon rereading it, it was as good as I’d remembered from when I was eight. On this reread . . . guys, it’s still good!

There’s a movie version that came out in late 2016/early 2017 starring Callum Keith Rennie (whom I adore) and Maria Bello as the parents, and I’m considering watching and recapping it as well. However, most of the reviews were lukewarm at best, and I guess it premiered on the Lifetime channel (with the title Little Girl’s Secret, which makes it sound like a whole other type of movie altogether), so I don’t have high hopes for it. It might make for a snarkier recap, though. If I can find it as a rental I have more than 24 hours with, it may end up as a companion piece to this.

Finally, I just need to talk about this cover for a second. I love it! Helen looks creepy as hell; if she or Heather have any peripheral vision at all, then they already know Molly is spying on them, and can we talk about Heather’s fabulous mullet? I. Love. It. This is the perfect 1980s cover, guys! (But also, it’s summertime, so why is everyone wearing sweatshirts . . . ?) Boyfriend saw the cover and called it the most eighties thing he’s ever seen (not wrong), and then when I told him what it’s about, he was like, Damn, that’s pretty heavy for a kids’ book. (Again, not wrong.)

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Recap #16 – Full Moon Blowout: The Blooding by Patricia Windsor

blooding

Title: The Blooding

Author: Patricia Windsor

Published: Oct. 1996

Description: Maris can’t bear her mother’s painful criticism, the constant reminders of past mistakes. So when she takes a summer job as an au pair in England and her mother insists she won’t be able to handle the responsibility, Maris knows this is her chance to prove that she can make up her own mind about things.

Barb Forrest suffers from a strange fatigue disorder and is grateful for Maris’s help with the two young children. For Maris, it feels good to be needed. Barb’s husband, Derek, may be a bit odd – unpredictable, with a wild light behind his eyes – but life with their family is peaceful, like a dream.

Then everything comes apart when Barb is found dead on the bedroom floor, killed in a disturbing manner. At first, Maris is frightened. But when she discovers the truth about Derek, the truth about his transformations and his plans for her, surprisingly, she’s no longer afraid. Because Maris is beginning to see that being blooded means she will have something that her mother can never take away.

Or, if you like a more succinct summary, there’s this:

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For a story that practically screams “WEREWOLF!” at you in all the descriptions, it takes forever to actually werewolf.

Nostalgia Time!


I remember reading this book as a teenager, and it stood out to me because it was one of a very few werewolf books I’d ever read. I was more into vampires than werewolves at the time, and werewolf books didn’t seem as common in the YA thriller genre. The book stuck in my mind, including the title, but I’d forgotten who the author was until I listened to the Teen Creeps podcast episode of Windsor’s The Christmas Killer and they named off Windsor’s other novels. So I hopped on Amazon, bought myself a used library copy, and figured I just had to recap it! I decided to do it for the full moon in January since it fit in with my theme of the month – babysitters in peril – and was a werewolf story. How perfect is that, right? Now, if you look at the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, it’s very mixed. I understand. I have such nostalgia about this book (I remember checking it out of the library, the house I lived in at the time, lying in bed reading it), but reading it as an adult was a bit of a let-down. Which I guess was my whole premise for this site? Anyway, let’s get into it, shall we?

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Recap #12 – The Best Friend by R.L. Stine

bestfriend

Title: The Best Friend

Author: R.L. Stine

Published: December 1992

Tagline: Sometimes friendship can be murder . . . [But I thought friendship was magic!]

Description: Best friends . . . to the end! [Oh. Is Honey actually Chucky? Hidey-ho! I’m your friend to the end! My name’s Honey and I like to be hugged! Ha ha ha!]

Who is Honey Perkins? She’s been telling everyone in Shadyside that she’s Becka Norwood’s best friend. But Becka’s sure she’s never met Honey before.

Honey systematically moves in on Becka’s life, copying her in every way. But when Becka presumes to have more than one “best friend,” the horrible accidents begin. [“Accidents.” Riiiiiight.]

Does Honey just want a friend? Becka wonders. Or does she want more – much more! [Like . . . lovers?]

Nostalgia Time!


Okay, full disclosure here: I fucking hate this book. Not because it’s badly written – it’s actually one of the better entries in the Fear Street series. My hatred of it is personal – it came out when I was 11 and in a very dark place, depression-wise. The gaslighting storyline in it hit a little too close to home, and still does. I have a visceral reaction to gaslighting due to someone in my life constantly pulling that kind of shit on me, albeit generally more subtly than Honey does to Becka. I’m not gonna go all out and say I’m triggered by it, but it’s definitely something that affects me on a deep level. Also, there’s a fair bit of ableism here, with Becka questioning her sanity and constantly thinking she’s going crazy, but I’m pretty inclined to give it a pass since that’s the whole point of gaslighting someone – to make them question their reality and sanity.

I remembered the end of this book, but the rest of it was refreshed by listening to the RetRead Podcast episode of it. Fun fact – apparently so many kids hated the ending of this book and wrote to Stine to tell him that, that he ran a contest giving people the chance to come up with an idea for the sequel, where Honey gets her comeuppance. I can’t remember if I read The Best Friend 2 or not. I probably did, but I have no memory of it. Maybe I’ll try to get my hands on it to recap at some point.

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Recap #6 – Spring Break – Nick Baron

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Title: Spring Break

By: Nick Baron

Published: 1994

Description: April Mannerly and her friends wanted a spring vacation they’d never forget. And Florida’s historic Isley Inn seemed the perfect place to soak up some rays and do some serious partying. Even cooler, the bed-and-breakfast was rumored to be haunted.

But it’s more than a rumor. The first night there, somebody dies, and April is forced to become party to a secret burial. But at the Isley, bodies don’t stay buried for long. Trapped by a storm, April and her friends face a terrifying nightmare as, one by one, they fall victim to the vengeful spirits of the damned. For the unlucky kids in room 3B, there will be a charge for doom service – their lives . . .

Nostalgia Time!


Doom service? Doom service?! Did the Cryptkeeper write that description? I . . . I haven’t even started this recap and I might be done with it already.

Actually, I remember liking this one a lot and being genuinely scared by it. It was truly a horror novel, with real ghosts/demons/evil spirits, and I know I read it multiple times. (Of course, I was 13 when it was published, so make of that what you will.) And just look at that sandcastle skull on the cover! It’s a total lie, but isn’t it cool? And there’s a character in it somewhere who’s a horror writer, how meta! And lots of scary death scenes!

I might be fooling myself here about how good this book was. It has terrible reviews on Goodreads. (Future Me: . . . yeah . . . I am truly and thoroughly disillusioned with this book. If you need me, I’ll be in the corner drinking and crying.)

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Recap #3 – Music From the Dead – Bebe Faas Rice

musicfromthedead

Title: Music From the Dead

Author: Bebe Faas Rice

Published: 1997

Description: When Marnie’s father decided to rent an old summer house on the rocky coast of Maine, Marnie never imagined he’d choose Stoneycraig – a creepy-looking mansion miles from town. Her dad isn’t scheduled to arrive for a week, but there’s a housekeeper . . . who refuses to spend the night.

Marnie and her cousin Peter figure they can handle a week alone. But maybe not. Weird things begin to happen in the dead of night; they hear the chilling echoes of a woman crying and ghostly music drifting in from the piano room. Then Marnie learns of Stoneycraig’s tragic past sixteen years ago, involving a woman’s broken heart and horrifying death. Wanting to know more, Marnie and Peter move ever closer to the shattering truth, only to find a shocking secret that could kill them both.

Tagline: Marnie never believed in ghosts – until now.

Nostalgia Time!


I don’t remember this one very well, partly because in my mind it’s all mixed up with Rice’s The Listeners and Ritchie Tankersley Cusick’s Trick or Treat – all books I remember liking. I love a spooky ghost story, but I can’t remember if this one went full-on supernatural or not. (Future Me: Ghosts! We get for realsies ghosts! Ghooooooosts!) Either way, I’m really excited to reread this! A spooky isolated house with a possible haunting is right up my alley.

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Recap #1 – The Murder Game – Janice Harrell

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Title: The Murder Game by Janice Harrell

Published June 1993

Description 

It was no game.

The ad read “You’re invited to a murder . . .” It was to be a party, complete with a pretend corpse and plenty of clues. Only Meg Redding knew the host’s real motive: Dusty Ellis was determined to catch his twin sister’s killer – even though the police had ruled her death an accident.

The guests are gathered at an isolated cottage out by the reservoir where the stage is set for murder. But when the corpse is found – it’s real. Now Dusty’s a prime suspect and Meg’s out to clear his name . . . unaware that the killer is following her, step by step . . .

Tagline

Come to party and catch a killer – if you dare!

Nostalgia Time!


This was published in June of 1993, so I was probably around 12 or 13 the first time I read it. I didn’t remember too many details, but I remembered who the killer was and why. And the worst motive ever. Seriously, this motive is the weakest weaksauce to ever sauce. Even at 12 I was well aware of that. This was maybe the first time Rocky Horror Picture Show came onto my radar, and the first time I’d heard of Kewpie dolls. I also remembered the 16 or 17 year old girl and her 30-year-old “boyfriend.” Oh, boy, we’re gonna have a time with this one, folks. Not necessarily a good time, but some kind of time.

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