Recap #34 – Gallows Hill by Lois Duncan

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This isn’t the cover I have, but it’s the one I remember.

Title: Gallows Hill

Author: Lois Duncan

Published: 1997

Tagline: They don’t burn witches anymore. Do they?

Description: Sarah can see people’s secrets in an ordinary crystal paperweight. Too bad they still believe in witches in Pine Crest. And they don’t like them at all. Sarah’s about to relive a horrible ordeal that happened hundreds of years ago – unless someone can undo a terrible wrong.

Nostalgia Time!

I remember checking this out of the library when it was brand new. I mentioned this briefly in my Killing Mr. Griffin recap, but I read this book shortly before the TV movie aired. The movie was kind of a huge disappointment, but I remember liking the book a lot. I don’t remember the book very well, because the movie overrode my memory of the book a bit, and they changed, uh, pretty much everything from book to movie. Anyway, I tend to prefer LoDunc when she does supernatural, and Gallows Hill has reincarnation, witchcraft, fortune-telling . . . the LoDunc I enjoy the most!

Although, I do recall something about our main girl, Sarah, dressing as a “gypsy” to do her fortune-telling, which is . . . not great. Both that LoDunc uses that word, which we now recognize as a slur, and that we’re using Romani culture as a costume. Maybe this isn’t as egregious as I remember, but then again, maybe it’s worse. 1990s books were full of stuff that makes us cringe these days, so this is pretty much par for the course.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to revisiting this one. Even if I don’t like it as much as I remember, it can’t be as bad as the last one – Jo Gibson’s The Seance, which had me rage-caps-locking and cursing like it was going out of style.

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Recap #28 – Deadly Detention by Eric Weiner

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Title: Deadly Detention

Author: Eric Weiner

Published: June 1994

Tagline: Just pray you’re not kept after school . . .

Description: When it comes to punishment, no one dishes it out the way Harrison High’s Mr. Crowley does. But there’s something even weirder than usual going on today. No one knows that better than the six juniors and seniors who are being kept after school. The doors are padlocked. All the windows are covered with wire mesh. And the phone wires have been cut. No one can get in – or out.

And somewhere along the dark and deserted hallways of Harrison High, a sadistic madman lurks . . . waiting to administer his special brand of discipline.

The fatal kind . . .

Nostalgia Time!


It’s still sort of back to school time, so how about a book about teenagers in detention getting killed off one-by-one?

This book came out right before I turned thirteen. I remember reading it when I was about 13 or 14, so that tracks. I’ve been wanting to do this one for a while, because I remember really liking it. That’s not to say it’s good. It’s probably not. If I remember correctly, the motive for murder is incredibly stupid. There’s a very stereotypical fat character, along with plenty of fat-shaming. Hell, the back-of-book description is telling us all about a madman – crazy for crazy’s sake, apparently. So, you know, mental health done well.

Still, I apparently liked this book enough at some point to read it several times – the spine of my book is nearly destroyed. So, let’s revisit this one, shall we?

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Recap #24 – Twin Sisters by Janice Harrell

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Title: Twin Sisters

Author: Janice Harrell

Published: 1995

Tagline: No one can tell them apart . . . no one

Description: And then there was one . . .

I took over my sister’s life after she died, slipped into her place without missing a beat. I wore her favorite fuzzy sweater, kissed her boyfriend, inherited her friends . . . and her enemies.

Elizabeth and Isabel hadn’t seen each other since their parents divorced when they were three. Isabel stayed with her father, a brilliant and reclusive author. Elizabeth ended up with her mother, a jet-setting socialite who hopscotched her young daughter all over the world. Then Isabel is murdered – and her twin wants to find out why. Because she was out of town when it happened, Isabel’s friends don’t know she’s gone. And if Elizabeth has her way, they’ll never find out. Only Elizabeth will know – and the killer.

Nostalgia Time!


So, I must have been around 14 when I read this for the first time. I don’t know why I trusted Janice Harrell after reading her beyond-awful The Murder Game, but I did, and this one is actually pretty good. Completely contrived, but at least it’s entertaining and I don’t immediately recall anything that makes me want to kill it with fire. So, this is the first of two books (I’m loathe to use the term “duology” for reasons I can’t quite explain), and after I read this one (which ends with a cliffhanger – nothing is resolved at all), I immediately went back to the bookstore to try to find the second book. They didn’t have it, or it wasn’t out yet. Okay. Cool. I waited a while, looked again, no second book. For a while I checked back with the bookstores regularly, no joy. The time between checking the stores got longer and longer, until it no longer occupied my thoughts. At some point I figured maybe Ms. Harrell hadn’t written a second book, and I was doomed to never know how the saga of Iz and Liz ended. Then I discovered the second book did in fact exist, but I still couldn’t find it anywhere.

As I write this, I still have not read the second book, Twin Terror.

But! Thanks to modern times, I found it online and bought it. It sits two feet away from me as I type these words. I still have not read it. I don’t plan to read it until I finish the recap of this first book, Twin Sisters. See, I want to be able to speculate about who the killer is and what the fuck is going on during this recap, and I won’t be able to do that organically if I read the second book and know all those spoilers before finishing this recap. Does . . . does that make me a method recapper? Ah, well. Let’s do this thing, because I’ve been waiting over twenty damn years to find out how this ends!

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Recap #17 – Broken Hearts by R.L. Stine

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Title: Broken Hearts

Author: R.L. Stine

Published: Feb. 1993

Tagline: Valentine’s Day can be a killer

Description: Roses are red, corpses are blue. On Valentine’s Day, you’ll die too!

There’s someone out there, someone who kills on Valentine’s Day. Josie and Melissa are scared—especially when they receive threatening valentines. Then the murders begin. Who is sending these horrible valentines to the girls of Shadyside High? And who will be the next to die?

Nostalgia Time!


I wanted to recap Valentine’s books for February, and I caught this one for sale cheap on Kindle, so I thought to myself, perfect! The cover and description were familiar, so I knew I’d read it back in the day (I was eleven when it was published, so probably sometime around then), but I couldn’t for the life of me remember anything about this book . . . until I read the first couple of pages. Then it all came flooding back and I remembered who the killer was and why, although there was one surprise that I didn’t remember at all. Having said that, it’s never a good sign when I’m three pages into a book and suddenly remember, Oh, yeah, this book sucks. I’m pretty sure I thought it sucked the first time I read it, although I have no memory of the first time I read it. Hey, one of these days, this section might actually contain fond memories of actually reading the damn book I’m recapping on my nostalgia recap site, right?

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Recap #15 – Mother’s Helper by A. Bates

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Title: Mother’s Helper

Author: A. Bates (Auline Bates)

Published: August 1991

Tagline: Rock-a-bye-bye-baby . . .

Description: Her dream job is about to turn into a nightmare.

Becky can hardly believe it. Spending the summer as a mother’s helper on a romantic island, earning money for college and working on her tan at the same time – what a lucky break!

Too bad . . . Becky’s luck is about to change.

Soon the accidents will start happening – and the phone calls. Suddenly Becky’s island paradise will seem more like a prison. Becky will be plenty scared then. Mother’s helper is going to need all the help she can get.

Nostalgia Time!


That description is bullshit. There are no accidents, and the phone calls are literally just the phone ringing over and over – Becky never answers the phone. Nothing fucking happens in this book until the end.

Wait, that’s not how I usually start these recaps, is it? K. Sorry. Let’s try this again.

Ahem.

This book was released the month I turned ten. I probably didn’t read it that early, I’d say it was probably a couple years after that, although I do seem to be able to picture myself reading this in the house I lived in when I was ten, so it’s anyone’s guess. I didn’t remember this one very well, or else I probably wouldn’t have bothered rereading it. I think I’ve been putting off writing this recap, not only because I’ve been sick (which I have – goddamn respiratory flu won’t let go of me) but also because I know I’m not going to have fun writing the recap of this damn book. It’s not even fun-bad; it’s just fucking boring.

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Recap #14 – The Evil Child by M.C. Sumner

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Title: The Evil Child (Baby-sitter’s Nightmares #2)

Author: M.C. Sumner

Published: June 1995

Tagline: He’s watching you . . .

Description: A kid who likes games . . . deadly games.

William is different from the other kids Toni’s had to baby-sit for. He’s smart – too smart. And he can build things – deadly things. And if Toni isn’t careful, William may test his wicked inventions on her.

Nostalgia Time!


Full disclosure, guys – I’m a sucker for the evil child trope. I don’t know what it is, but if it’s an evil child story, sign me up! This one came out in June of 1995, meaning I would have been a couple months away from my 14th birthday, so that’s probably right around the time I would have read it. I usually grabbed all the new teen thrillers off the book shelves at Kmart and Target not too long after they were released. I didn’t remember too many specifics until I started rereading it, then it all came flooding back and I remembered the end – which is a kind of wild and ridiculous ending that I want so badly to tell y’all about right now, but I don’t want to spoil it yet. I hate spoilers. We’ll get there when we get there. Anyway, here we have a book I really enjoyed reading even now, as an adult, and it features a likable protagonist who actually makes smart decisions and doesn’t immediately jump to wild conclusions, panic, or be completely oblivious to weird things going on around her. And she’s written by a male author, too, so good on you, Mark Sumner! This is a book where not much of anything menacing happens for a good two thirds of it, then it goes 0-100 in the last 50 pages or so. The not-much-happening portion of the book lets us get to know Toni better, though, and since she’s so likable it doesn’t feel like pointless padding or wasted time.

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Recap #8 – 99 Fear Street: The First Horror – R.L. Stine

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Title: 99 Fear Street: The First Horror

By: R.L. Stine

Published: 1994

Description: Twin sisters Cally and Kody Frasier aren’t thrilled that their family has moved to Fear Street. They’ve heard the strange stories. They know about the centuries of nightmarish terror. But what they don’t know is that they’ve moved into the one house that even their neighbors on Fear Street are afraid to enter. The house that has stood mysteriously empty for the past thirty years. They moved to 99 Fear Street.

Now they must learn the secret of 99 Fear Street or they will become the next victims of the house of evil.

Nostalgia Time!


This book was released the same month as my 13th birthday, which sounds about right for when I remember reading it. So, mini-story time. My mom was (still is) super religious, and never allowed me to read any of the teen thrillers/horror that had actual supernatural stuff going on in them. She was convinced they brought a demonic presence into the house (don’t even get her started on Harry Potter!) (Future Me just remembered that by the time I was 13 I was actually allowed to watch whatever horror movies I wanted to, so I’m very confused about my mom’s inconsistency here). So if I wanted to read the actual supernatural ones, I basically had to check them out from the library and hide them, or stealth-buy them. I owned this trilogy. Now, these books have some serious haunted/possessed house, Amityville Horror-type vibes going on, and it got to me. I convinced myself that there was an evil vibe around them and got so scared of them that I wanted them out of the house. I didn’t want to get rid of them; I just didn’t want to sleep with them in the same room. So what did my 13-ish year old self do? Why, I locked them in the trunk of my mom’s car, of course! That somehow made sense to me at the time. Anyway, I’m looking forward to revisiting something that scared me so much when I was younger. That means it really must be scary, right? (Future Me: Well . . . )

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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 #4 – Goosebumps #1: Welcome to Dead House – R.L. Stine

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Title: Goosebumps #1: Welcome to Dead House

Author: R.L. Stine

Published: 1992

Description: Look alive! Amanda and Josh think the old house they have just moved into is weird. Spooky. Possibly haunted. And the town of Dark Falls is pretty strange, too.

But their parents don’t believe them. You’ll get used to it, they say. Go out and make some new friends.

So Amanda and Josh do. But these new friends are not exactly what their parents had in mind.

Because they want to be friends . . . forever.

Tagline: It will just kill you.

Note: Hey, guys! For even more opinions about Goosebumps, go check out the Nightmare on Fear Street podcast where Zack, Meg, and Ember talk about this book. They’re a ton of fun to listen to, and well worth your time!

Note Part 2: Since this is more of a kids’ book than my previous recaps, I’m going to try to keep the swearing to a minimum. (No F-bombs, at least.) I’m an easily frustrated, very sweary type of person, though, so we’ll see how this goes.

Nostalgia Time!


I started reading Goosebumps when I was already a bit over the target demographic – probably around 15 or so. I used to spend the night at my three-years-younger-than-me cousin’s house and read her Goosebumps books in the morning when everyone was still asleep and I had nothing else to do. I found this one in a box of my old books (along with a couple others that I do remember reading), so I assume I’ve read it, but I just don’t remember anything about it. At all. Even listening to the lovelies at A Nightmare on Fear Street podcast talk about it didn’t jog my memory much (at all, really?), so this is going to be an interesting one. I’m going in blind, guys!

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

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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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