Recap #13 – Silent Night by R.L. Stine

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Title: Silent Night

Author: R.L. Stine

Published: November 1991

Tagline: Happy holidays – you’re dead!

Description: Don’t open that present!

If only Reva Dalby had listened to that warning. [Literally no one ever warns her not to open a present, so we’re already starting with a lie.]

But beautiful, cold Reva won’t listen to anyone. Reva thinks she can have whatever – and whoever – she wants. After all, her daddy owns Dalby Department Stores.

Now, someone has some surprises instore [sic] for her. Robbery? Terror? Even murder? Someone wants to treat Reva to a holiday she’ll never forget.

Holiday cheer quickly turns to holiday chills for Reva. [Not holiday fear? C’mon, it was an easy rhyme!] Someone is stalking her, someone is trying to get to her.

Her money can’t help her. No one can.

After all, who can you turn to when murder comes gift-wrapped?

Nostalgia Time!


Wow, that description sure is dramatic, isn’t it? So, this book came out when I was ten, and I’m sure I must have read it right around that time. Possibly when we were traveling to visit family for Christmas, although it was so long ago, who’s to say for sure? Because I’m short on time with this one, I haven’t re-read it ahead of time – I’m pretty much recapping as I go, so I don’t have a lot to say beforehand, as I don’t remember it super well. I’ve had my memory jogged by various Fear Street and YA fiction podcasts who have recapped this one recently (hello, bandwagon, do you have room for one more?), but as far as my own memory of reading it . . . I got nothing. [Five Minutes in the Future Me: Except for the thing with the needle in the lipstick. I remember that shit vividly. Jesus Christ.] Except that Reva is a remarkably unlikable protagonist, but she’s so unabashedly horrible that it makes her kind of wonderful. She’s a love-to-hate-her character of the highest order. [Future Me: I’m wrong. She’s just stupid and terrible in a mundane, annoying way. I hate her, and I’m not loving it.]

Note: At the time I’m writing this, this book has been discussed on the podcasts We Know What You Did on Fear Street and RetRead Podcast, and by the time this recap goes live, I believe Nightmare on Fear Street will have their episode posted as well. They’re all worth taking a listen to!

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

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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 #11 – Slay Bells by Jo Gibson

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Title: Slay Bells

Author: Jo Gibson (aka Joanne Fluke)

Published: December 1994

Tagline: Tis the season . . . to die!

Description: Santa Claus is coming . . . to kill! The just-opened Crossroads Mall is the place to shop this Christmas season. Diana Connelly and her friends are having such a fabulous time that they don’t even mind the sudden snowstorm that traps them there.

Until the accidents start to happen.

Killing off Diana’s friends . . . one by one.

Accidents that aren’t really accidents at all. Because hiding in the shadows of the Crossroads Mall is a twisted killer with a Christmas list of his own.

He’s checking it twice . . .

To find out who’s been naughty or nice.

And Diana . . . you’ve been very naughty this year.

Nostalgia Time!


That description is, um. Not exactly right? It’s the day before the mall’s grand opening, Diana and her friends are employees of the mall, and they get trapped there when they let other people use their cars to evacuate. The description makes it sound like they’re idiot kids who want to keep shopping during a blizzard. That’s probably not important, but inaccuracy on the back cover description always bugs the hell out of me.

This book was published in December 1994, so I was thirteen when it came out, and I probably read it right around its release. I didn’t remember it very well, which was probably a good thing. This book is a weird combination of absolutely ludicrous events and plot contrivances, and also just not a lot happening. And I’d forgotten who Killer Santa was, but it wasn’t hard to figure it out from process of elimination. This author writes a series of mystery novels for adults under her real name, Joanne Fluke, and I’ve never read them, but I hope they’re more complex and interesting than this. Also, this author has a penchant for lots of exclamation marks and commas in weird places. It’s really noticeable and annoying.

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