Recap #53 – Dance of Death by Jo Gibson

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Title: Dance of Death

Author: Jo Gibson (AKA Joanne Fluke)

Published: 1996

Tagline: Shoes to die for

Description: They were the most gorgeous shoes Donna Burke had ever seen. An exquisite pair of scarlet high heels. And allegedly cursed. According to the old shopkeeper, the shoes endowed their wearers with incredible talent – and horrible misfortune. But that doesn’t stop Donna’s friends from buying them. One by one, the girls are drawn to the shoes. One by one, the girls suffer grisly fates. And learn a sinister, final truth: One size kills all.

Nostalgia Time!


So, we meet again, Jo Gibson. And here I thought your only teen thrillers were the three holiday-themed ones that I already recapped. How silly of me. For since that time, I have thus discovered four more, resulting in my immediate purchase of your collection entitled Afraid, wherein are contained both this novel, and one called The Dead Girl. Did you think you could hide these tomes from me, my dastardly arch-nemesis? Muah-ha, the hubris!

Ahem.

Apologies, folks. Something about Jo always makes me a little overly dramatic. In all seriousness, I’m not quite sure if I’ve read this book before. It seems vaguely familiar, but that might just be because it’s inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen story, The Red Shoes. The Wikipedia page for that story actually has this book listed as an adaptation, which surprised me to no end. I just figured this book wasn’t the sort of thing people remembered and put on Wikipedia.

Anyway, I always tend to have fun snarking on Jo (except for the Surprise!Rape in The Seance; that killed my fun right quick), so I’m looking forward to cringing my way through this one. And since I’ve never read it before (maybe?), I thought I’d go ahead and recap as I read, so you get my more immediate reactions. I have zero predictions; since this isn’t holiday-themed (that I know of), I don’t think we’re using the same story template as Slay Bells.

Deep breath. Here we go.

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Recap #33 – The Seance by Jo Gibson

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Title: The Seance (the cover up there is from the omnibus 3-in-1 collection, as it seems it’s near-impossible to find The Seance by itself anywhere)

Author: Jo Gibson (aka Joanne Fluke)

Published: I’ve got conflicting reports here. Google Books says March 1996; the collection I have has the copyright date for The Seance as 2014. 1996 feels right, but why would a Halloween book be published in March . . . ?

Description: There’s nothing like a killer party on Halloween – especially when it’s in a secluded lodge in the woods. But when Jennifer Larkin’s friends insist on holding a seance – in spite of the warnings of a local psychic – it’s anything but a game. For the spirits are vengeful. The partiers are prisoners. And no one gets out of here alive . . .

Nostalgia Time!


Well, I’ve got nothing. I’ve never read this one before. I’m hoping it’s going to be as ridiculous as Slay Bells but less boring than My Bloody Valentine.  Since those two followed the same template, I’m going to assume this one does as well, and make some predictions based on that template. First, our protagonist will be in love with someone who “doesn’t know she exists,” but then end up with her friend’s brother. Second, there will be terrible threatening poems sent to people before they’re murdered. Third, the main girl will be painfully clueless and naive about boys, and all wide-eyed ignorance about, well, everything really. Fourth, the killer will have some completely convoluted plan that may or may not end with trying to kill the main girl to keep some other dead girl company. Fifth, the motive will probably end up being some variation of “he’s crazy, and crazy people don’t make sense lol amirite?” Which, to be fair, ends up being the driving force of most of these books.

Once again, I’m going to recap this as I read it, one chapter at a time, so I have no better idea of what’s about to happen than you do. I’m sure I’ll make some embarrassing assumptions that will be proven wrong, but I’m willing to take that bullet for y’all.

Note from Future Me: Trigger warning for rape. I won’t recap it graphically, but it’s unavoidably there. I had no idea this was where the story was going to go, since Jo has never had any sexual content in previous books I’ve recapped. This shit caught me by surprise, y’all.

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Recap #18 – My Bloody Valentine by Jo Gibson

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Title: My Bloody Valentine

Author: Jo Gibson (Joanne Fluke)

Published: Feb. 1995

Description: Be mine . . . and die. It’s Valentine’s Day at Hamilton High. [Pretty sure it’s Valentine’s Day everywhere, but okay.] Everyone’s excited about this year’s big dance, especially the six girls competing to be Queen of Hearts.

One student at Hamilton High is paying extra close attention to the contest. Because it takes a very special girl to be queen . . . and if her heart isn’t pure and good, she doesn’t deserve to win.

In fact, she doesn’t deserve to live.

Poor Amy Hunter. Five girls down . . . one to go.

Nostalgia Time!


Well, guys, once again we have a book that I didn’t remember at all. Like, nothing sparked a memory, except when a certain character showed up I was like – it’s him! He’s the killer! And he was. (Saying “he” isn’t a spoiler – we get killer POV scenes that flat-out state the killer is male.) So, I would have been about 13 and a half when this book was released, chances are I bought it around that time. Probably only read it once since it’s pretty unremarkable and I obviously remembered nothing except who the killer was. This is the same author who wrote Slay Bells, which was one of the most fun recaps I’ve ever written, so I was hoping for something similarly over-the-top bonkers, and . . . I was pretty disappointed. This book was released a couple months after Slay Bells, and it’s like Gibson kept the template from that one to write this one (the similarities are ridiculous), but forgot how to make it fun. Which is sad for me, but hopefully not for y’all. My recap will probably make the book sound more fun than it is. Don’t be fooled though. This book is solidly “meh.”

Also, it has nothing to do with the slasher film of the same name. Just throwing that out there so there’s no confusion.

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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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