Recap #67 – The Cheerleader by Caroline B. Cooney

cheerleader

Title: The Cheerleader (Vampire’s Promise trilogy, Book 1)

Author: Caroline B. Cooney

Published: June 1991

Tagline: She would do anything to be popular.

Description: She wants it all. But he wants more.

The cheerleader. The beautiful, popular girl who sparkles with energy and excitement. The girl everyone looks at with envy. The girl Althea longs to be.

Althea is a nobody. Invisible. She gets no phone calls, shares no laughter, has no friends.

Until she meets him.

“Suppose,” he says with an evil smile, “that I could make you popular.” All Althea has to do is agree to a simple bargain. An evil bargain. And she becomes a cheerleader.

But Althea wants more.

And she’ll do whatever she has to do to get it.

Nostalgia Time!


Boy, you wouldn’t think a book called “The Cheerleader” would turn out to be about a vampire, would you? Or, a . . . wishpire? Djinnpire? Vamdjinn? Vajinn? . . . Vagina? . . . I’ll stop now. It’s a goddamn vampire who grants wishes, okay?

This book would have come out around the time I was turning 10, but I’m pretty sure I read the second one in the trilogy first. So I was probably 11 or 12 when I read this series. I used to love this trilogy, and wish for my own wishpire to grant me friends and popularity (and when we get to the second book, add “beauty, brains, and athleticism” to the list). Look, I was a sad kid, okay? Fifth grade was awful, the beginning of sixth was going okay until some girl who hated me started turning my new best friend against me, then we moved from California back to Kansas and I basically just stopped going to school; fell into the throes of debilitating social anxiety and depression . . . it was a dark time in my life, especially from ages 11-14ish. That’s one of the reasons these old books meant so much to me – they were my escape.

As a kid, I read this and wanted some magical being to come fix my life, too. I probably would have done some morally shady shit to be liked, just like the girl in this book. I’ve mostly moved on from that mindset, but that sad, angry tween is still floating around somewhere in the back of my head, popping up every now and then to be angry and sad at me. I remember the wish-fulfillment present in reading this as that kid, but I no longer feel it present in reading this as an adult.

Also, a note on Cooney – her writing style is one of the more challenging ones to get through among the Point Horror authors. Not because it’s an advanced writing style or anything, but because it’s so dreamy-feeling. Some people have described it as “whimsical,” but I describe it as “gauzy.” It’s like reading everything through a warm haze. Like gauzy curtains blowing around you on a hot summer day. This can be either comforting or cloying, depending on your mood, and the particular story. I don’t think this is a thing I noticed as a kid, but as an adult it slaps you in the face. Gauzy curtains whipping around in the hot wind, slapping the living shit out of your grown-ass face.

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Recap #60 – April Fools by Richie Tankersley Cusick

aprilfools

Title: April Fools

Author: Richie Tankersley Cusick

Published: April 1990

Tagline: It’s no joke . . . it’s murder

Description: You can fool some of the people some of the time . . .

On the night of April 1st, Belinda, Frank, and Hildy are driving home from a party when they get involved in a gruesome car accident. The people in the other car never could have survived the wreck, so Frank insists they take off. After all, what happened wasn’t really their fault.

Two weeks later, Belinda is the only one who still feels guilty about the accident. Then the “pranks” begin. Someone sends her a bloody doll’s head. A car nearly runs her off the road.

Obviously someone witnessed . . . or survived that car accident. And they’re going to make her pay . . . slowly . . . for what happened.

April Fools’ Day is over. But these jokes are for real.

Nostalgia Time!


I’ve been a little hesitant to tackle RTC again, since her previous two books didn’t live up to my memory when I recapped them. I remember this one pretty well, helped along by several other recappers writing/podcasting about it. I remember Frank and Hildy being absolute assholes, but Belinda being a pretty good protagonist.

For some reason, I think I always found this book a little boring when I was younger, but I clearly read it multiple times – the spine on my old copy is pretty well-worn. And clearly my memory of Cusick’s books isn’t reliable, considering how much eight-or-nine-year-old me loved The Lifeguard. (I’m still cringing over that.)

Anyway, maybe third time’s the charm?

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Recap #59 – Identity Theft by Anna Davies

identitytheft

Title: Identity Theft

Author: Anna Davies

Published: May 2013

Tagline: ☠ HAYLEY has a friend request she can’t ignore

Description: Privacy settings can’t hide the skeletons in your closet.

Hayley doesn’t have a Facebook account. As a finalist for a prestigious college scholarship, she can’t afford to flood the Internet with photos of her making duck faces, or write probing, existential updates like “OMG, why is oatmeal so delicious?!” So when someone claiming to be Hayley posts incriminating shots of her online, she assumes it’s the product of clever (but seriously mean-spirited) photo editing.

But then even more scandalous pics appear, including one revealing a birthmark on Hayley’s back – something she’s never shown in public. There’s no plausible explanation, until a shocking discovery reveals dark secrets in her family’s past – skeletons that refuse to stay in the closet.

Suddenly, Hayley realizes it’s not just the scholarship that’s at stake, because her tormentor doesn’t just want to ruin Hayley’s life . . . she wants it for her own.

Nostalgia Time!


Okay, look. This is the second book in the Point Horror 2013 relaunch. I was in my 30s when this was published. There is no nostalgia at work here. So let’s talk about that description. The tagline has nothing to do with the story – Hayley doesn’t receive any friend requests, because she isn’t on social media. There’s no birthmark ever mentioned anywhere in the book. Also, if anyone has ever posted the status “OMG why is oatmeal so delicious?!” please direct me to them so I can dump the bowl of said oatmeal over their head, because that status is obnoxious as fuck. Also also, privacy settings absolutely can hide the skeletons in your closet – that’s what privacy settings are for.

At least this back-of-book description doesn’t give the whole story, twist and all, away like the description for the Kindle edition does.

So, you may be able to tell from my tone that I did not enjoy this book. Not to give all my thoughts away up front, but this is bad. Really, really bad. I mean, at first I was going along all right, rolling my eyes and groaning about how willfully unlikable the protagonist is, but nothing Earth-shatteringly terrible. Then we hit the third act, and my brain melts into a fiery hellscape. So, you’ve got that to look forward to, dear reader.

Because that’s what you really come here for, isn’t it. 🙂

Continue reading “Recap #59 – Identity Theft by Anna Davies”

Recap #57 – The Stepdaughter by Carol Ellis

stepdaughter

Title: The Stepdaughter

Author: Carol Ellis

Published: April 1993

Tagline: Daddy’s little darling . . . is dead.

Description: Having a new father can be murder.

He’s kind and thoughtful. He wants them to be a happy family. He’s her stepfather.

And he may be a murderer.

From the day Livvie meets him, she knows she’s not going to like her new stepfather. But when she tells her mother and her best friend, they both think she’s crazy not to like such a wonderful man.

Then Livvie thinks she sees her stepfather’s picture on TV – wanted by the police for a murder he committed fifteen years before. The murder of his wife . . . and his stepdaughter.

Is Livvie crazy?

. . . Or is her stepfather?

Nostalgia Time!


Hoo, boy, that’s . . . a lot of “crazy”s we’re throwing around, huh? Not thrilled about that.

I remember this book pretty well. I was eleven, almost twelve when it was published, and although I didn’t realize it at the time, this book is basically the movie The Stepfather. Honestly, the book should have been titled The Stepfather, and I’m willing to bet the only reason it’s called The Stepdaughter is so that it wouldn’t be confused with that movie. But it is. It is totally The Stepfather. It also used to be one of my favorite Point Horrors. I’ve read this book multiple times. I don’t think the ableism regarding mental health is actually as bad as the back-of-book description makes it sound, but it has been a very long time since I’ve picked this one up, so I guess we’ll find out! [Note from Future Me: *stares bleakly into the abyss*]

Also, because it is titled The Stepdaughter instead of The Stepfather, I remember when I bought it assuming the stepdaughter was the murderer. (I don’t know if you can read the newspaper headline in the cover art, but it says “Police search for stepdaughter-killer” which my tween brain insisted meant the stepdaughter was the killer.) I was very surprised to discover it was actually about a girl who suspects her stepfather is a killer.

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Recap #51 – Sister Dearest by D.E. Athkins

sisterdearest

Title: Sister Dearest

Author: D.E. Athkins (aka Nola Thacker)

Published: November 1991

Tagline: Blood is thicker than water . . .

Description: The only good sister is a dead sister.

Her older sister is gorgeous. Her older brother is cool. But their baby sister Vicki is a real wild child.

The school year has just begun and Vicki already has a new guy – and some brand new enemies, including the new principal. But she doesn’t care. She just wants to have fun, fun, fun. She won’t listen to her brother. She won’t listen to her sister. She won’t even listen to her best friend.

Too bad.

Because if she keeps on pushing the limits, she’s going to go too far.

And it’s going to cost her.

Dearly.

Nostalgia Time!


This book was published when I was ten, and if I read it, it had to have been sometime around that time. I read this back in December 2018 (and live-tweeted it, because it was so ridiculous that I had to share certain bits immediately instead of waiting around to do the full recap), and I didn’t remember anything about it, although it felt vaguely familiar in that same way that most Point Horrors do. Hey, we’re back around to a Point Horror, guys! This might be the shortest Point Horror ever published, clocking in at 106 pages, but don’t worry. There’s a lot of ridiculousness packed into those 106 pages.

Before we get started, I’d just like to point out that author Nola Thacker seems to be a sucker for punny pen names. D.E. Athkins spells “Deathkins” when you run it together, and she also wrote the Graveyard School series under the name “Tom B. Stone.” I’ll let y’all put that one together yourselves.

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Recap #44 – The Yearbook by Peter Lerangis

yearbookpl

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.

yearbookpl2
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 #35 – Trick or Treat by Richie Tankersley Cusick

 

trickortreat

Title: Trick or Treat

Author: Richie Tankersley Cusick

Published: Oct. 1989

Tagline: Trick or treat, trick or treat, candy is dandy, but murder is sweet

Description: Dressed to kill. Martha knew there was something evil about the house she was moving into. It was so cold . . . and creepy. And it wasn’t just the house that was giving her a weird feeling. Martha was sure someone was following her . . . watching her every move.

Then the practical jokes began – the scarecrow with a carving knife in its head, the fire. And the phone calls: “Trick or treat, Martha . . . you’re dead.”

It was October, but these were no Halloween tricks. Someone would be coming home this year with more than just a bag of treats. And Martha was the prize.

Trick or treat.

Nostalgia Time!


Wow, October 1989? I was eight years old when this book was published. I don’t remember the first time I read it, but it had to have been when I was around 11 or 12. My copy is old and stained all to hell with soda that leaked out of take-out cups. I used to take shit care of my stuff when I was around that age.

So, let’s start with that description real quick. Are they really saying that a fire is a practical joke? A fire?! Yeah, that’s not a joke, wtf. Also, the abuse of dashes and ellipses you can clearly see in the description carries on throughout the book. Or at least throughout the first three chapters, which is as far as I’ve read as I type these words. Based on Dove and Wing’s recap at The Devil’s Elbow, I’m aware that this trend does in fact carry on the entirety of the book. Yay.

So, this is one of those books that I know I enjoyed as a teen. I remember it really well, even though it’s somehow inextricably linked in my head to Bebe Faas Rice’s The Listeners and Music from the Dead. I think there’s a similarity in stories, but it’s mostly the covers. Those three covers look very similar.

Anyway, since this is RTC, I’m already second-guessing my memory of liking this book. Remember the hell we went through with The Lifeguard? I’m gun shy on all Richie Tankersley Cusick novels now. But I swear I liked this one, guys. I swear I did . . . .

Continue reading “Recap #35 – Trick or Treat by Richie Tankersley Cusick”

Recap #32 – Funhouse by Diane Hoh

the funhouse

Title: Funhouse

Author: Diane Hoh

Published: July 1990

Tagline: You can die laughing.

Description: When The Devil’s Elbow roller coaster goes off its track and several teenagers are hurt, everyone thinks it was just an accident. So no one listens when Tess says she saw someone tampering with the track.

But one person knows it’s true. That person is playing a deadly game – and is going to make sure Tess doesn’t stand in the way. Tess soon finds she’s being terrorized, with threatening notes, menacing phone calls, slashed tires, and nasty pranks. When another “accident” occurs in the Funhouse, Tess is sure she was the intended victim. Who is committing all these horrifying acts? And why?

Tess is just beginning to realize that the Funhouse can scare you . . . to death.

Nostalgia Time!


If I remember correctly, the Diane Hoh Point Horrors were always pretty solid. The Accident is the only one I ever remember with any clarity, though. I have vague memories of maybe reading this one, but I can’t say for sure. It’s possible I checked it out of the school library in fifth grade. I seem to remember reading in the bedroom I had when I was ten, but if so, I don’t think I’ve read it since. Honestly, I always remember the cover, but not the story. That cover is amazing. The evil clown on the Funhouse? Holy shit, y’all. So good.

I love stories with carnivals and amusement parks, especially funhouses/haunted houses and Ferris wheels. The opening chapter of this book gives me serious Lost Boys vibes, but without the vampires, I guess? Just the Boardwalk and seaside town with “Santa” in the name. Which, admittedly, is a lot of Southern California.

Anyway, here’s hoping the book is as good as the cover!

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Recap #20 – Spring Break by Barbara Steiner

springbreakBS

Title: Spring Break

Author: Barbara Steiner

Published: 1996

Tagline: Sun, surf . . . murder?

Description: Five high school kids get their dream vacation—which soon turns into a nightmare.

Angie, her brother, and her three best friends anticipate the perfect spring break when their prayers are answered—a beach vacation without parents! The only problem is finding somewhere to stay—turns out every hotel is filled with other spring breakers. They luck out when they find a three-story beach-house rental, which happens to be run by the incredibly handsome Val. Is it too good to be true?

Soon, Angie starts hearing strange noises—footsteps, a mysterious sound of crying. Her friends say her imagination is getting the best of her, but when one by one, they go missing, she knows the danger is real . . . and this vacation could be her last.

Nostalgia Time!


Um, I got nothing, guys. I would have been about 15 when this book was published, and it’s certainly the sort of thing I would have read, but even after reading it for this recap I have no idea if I’ve ever read it before. (I bought it cheap on Kindle; it didn’t come out of my basement box of old books.) This book is so forgettable that it’s absolutely possible I read it back in the day and don’t remember it. Hell, I’m looking at the surfboard on that cover and desperately trying to remember if anyone surfs in this book. Incidentally, that’s not the cover art that came with my Kindle version. The Kindle art is boring as fuck; there’s another cover that is basically one big spoiler for what happens at the end of the book; then there’s this cover that I feel is the best one. I just can’t fucking remember if anyone surfs, so I can’t call out if this cover is a lie. [Note from Future Me: It’s a lie. Nary a surfboard to be found.] The description is a lie, though! Val is not the caretaker or landlord or whatever that description is trying to make you believe. He’s a cute guy Angie meets on the beach, who’s camping somewhere down the coast. Who writes these lying descriptions, anyway? I won’t lie to you, y’all!

Continue reading “Recap #20 – Spring Break by Barbara Steiner”

Recap #19 – The Lifeguard by Richie Tankersley Cusick

lifeguard

Title: The Lifeguard

Author: Richie Tankersley Cusick

Published: 1988

Tagline: Don’t call for help. He may just kill you.

Description: A summer of sun, sand – and murder. Kelsey’s summer should have been paradise: An invitation to rich and famous Beverly Island, complete with sun-drenched beaches and three gorgeous lifeguards on duty.

But Kelsey’s summer is the opposite of paradise. It starts with the note under her pillow from a girl who’s missing. Then there’s the crazy man in the lighthouse who won’t leave Kelsey alone. And there have been a number of suspicious drownings . . .

At least she has the lifeguards around to protect her . . .

Poor Kelsey. Someone forgot to tell her that lifeguards don’t always like to save lives.

Nostalgia Time!


Well here we finally have it, folks – a book I have actual nostalgia about on my nostalgia recap site! This is the one that kicked it all off for me, but before we get to that, can we talk about this cover for a hot minute? The lifeguard on the cover looks about thirty-five; is he supposed to be one of the boys in the book? He looks like Harry Hamlin. What the fuck.

Okay, so I’m pretty well convinced that this is the first Point Horror I ever read, at the tender age of 8 or 9 years old. I had a friend at the time who lived across the street and was three years older than me, so she had all the creepy books. I borrowed this from her and read a good portion of it before she knocked on my door and told me her mom was making her get it back from me because she thought I was too young to be reading it. Baby Me was frantic – I had to find out who the killer was! This was not fair! So I did something I haven’t done since – I flipped to the back of the book and read the end so I would know who the bad guy was. The shame still burns bright. Also, it didn’t make a lot of sense without reading all the chapters that came before the end. So, some number of years later (I’ll be damned if I can remember how many), I got hold of The Lifeguard again and read the whole thing, without any nosy friends’ moms telling me I couldn’t! Ha! I have great affection for this book, so I was thrilled to read a recap of it at The Devil’s Elbow recap site, and then listen to a Teen Creeps podcast episode on it. None of these ladies seem to have the same affection for it that I do, however, which was quite an affront to my inner 8-year-old self. (Don’t worry, I’ve gotten over it. We’re all friends here.) Clearly nostalgia is a key factor in enjoying this one. As of this very second of me typing these words you’re reading with your very own eyes, I’m exactly halfway through rereading the book, and . . . yeah, not gonna lie, it’s kinda rough. I’m sure 8-year-old me would be punching 36-year-old me in the face right now, but . . . this book is not the fine piece of literature it was in my memory. Ah, well. Onward and upward, right? (Note from Future Me: Nope. There’s nowhere to go but down, straight into the deepest reaches of Hell. Pray for me.)

Continue reading “Recap #19 – The Lifeguard by Richie Tankersley Cusick”