Recap #72 – Birthday Recap: Zodiac Chillers #3 – In Leo’s Lair by Carol Ellis


Title: In Leo’s Lair

Series: Zodiac Chillers

Author: Carol Ellis

Published: Oct. 1995

Tagline: Best friends – buried alive!

Description: No one can hear their screams . . .

Nina and Jess . . . Sworn blood sisters – separated by a psycho. One girl is his prisoner. But one isn’t enough, so he lures the other to his lair.

Nina and Jess . . . Gemini twins – in the clutches of a Leo. Now he’s got them trapped together, and Leo’s roaring mad . . .

Nostalgia Time!

First off, that’s a terrible description. I feel like the Zodiac Chillers shot themselves in the foot with terrible descriptions for pretty good books. Also, yes, there’s a lot of calling people “psychos” in this book, unfortunately. That’s what dropped my Goodreads rating, which would have been a 4, down to a 3. Well, 3.5 if I’m being honest, but Goodreads still doesn’t allow half-star ratings, so that’s on them.

Anyway, hi guys! We’re back around to my birthday (God, it seems like only yesterday I decided to do back-to-back recaps of Fright Night and its remake for my birthday! What is time, anyway?), and this year I was able to grab a copy of yet another Leo-themed YA thriller! Spoiler alert, this one is far better than that other Zodiac-themed series by Jahnna N. Malcolm. Even though apparently in the Zodiac Chillers series, the character who possesses the titular astrological sign is always the villain?

I didn’t think I’d read this book before. Honestly, I didn’t. I had even told Boyfriend right before I started reading it that I hadn’t been aware of the Zodiac Chillers series back in the day. Then, as I was reading, things started feeling familiar, and I kept going, “Doesn’t this thing happen in this book? Doesn’t this other thing happen, too?” But it wasn’t until I had about 30 pages left that I suddenly put the book down, turned to Boyfriend, and exclaimed, “Okay, I have definitely read this before!” There were two or three . . . incidents? plot twists? . . . that I remembered vividly. So, I’m pretty sure I must have checked this out from the library at some point, because I don’t remember this book ever sitting on my own bookshelves. I was always checking out whatever teen thrillers/horror I could find at the library, lesser-known and the big names – Point Horror, Fear Street, etc. And Carol Ellis was one of the better Point Horror authors (we’ll just ignore my disillusionment with The Stepdaughter), so I’m not surprised this would be one of the books I picked up during a library visit.

I just have no memory of when or where I read this for the first time.

Anyway, this book (aside from some very annoying crazy = dangerous ableism) is pretty damn great. So far, the Zodiac Chillers series is not letting me down – I reach a certain point where all I can do is laugh hysterically while exclaiming “what?!” and scrambling for “Well, that escalated quickly” memes.

So. Here we go!

Continue reading “Recap #72 – Birthday Recap: Zodiac Chillers #3 – In Leo’s Lair by Carol Ellis”

Recap #53 – Dance of Death by Jo Gibson


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!


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.

Continue reading “Recap #53 – Dance of Death by Jo Gibson”

Recap #46 – 99 Fear Street: The Second Horror by R.L. Stine


Title: 99 Fear Street: The Second Horror

Author: R.L. Stine

Published: Sept. 1994

Description: There’s no place like this home . . .

At first, Brandt McCloy thinks moving to Shadyside is great. He has attracted the attention of three beautiful girls – Meg, Jinny, and Abbie. [The book doesn’t actually put the Oxford comma between the last two girls’ names, but fuck that mess. Also, I hate how Jinny is spelled.] But Brandt hasn’t heard the terrifying stories about his new home – 99 Fear Street. He doesn’t know about the headless bodies, the bleeding walls. [Wait, what? When did the walls bleed? The ceiling bled . . .] He doesn’t know that Cally Frasier still haunts the house and plans gruesome deaths for him and everyone close to him. Poor Brandt – what he doesn’t know will hurt him. [That . . . that’s not the expression at all.]

Note: You can find the recap for The First Horror right here. While it’s probably not absolutely necessary to read it before diving into this one, it wouldn’t be a bad idea. Anyway, it’s there if you want to check it out. I will probably refer to jokes I made in that recap, so it’s best to be prepared. Um, something something, shameless self-promotion.

Nostalgia Time!

Well, here we are, guys. Back to R.L. Stine. It had to happen sometime, huh? Fortunately, I really enjoy (or at least, remember enjoying) this trilogy, so it shouldn’t be too bad. I don’t remember this one as clearly as I did the first one, except for the twist ending. Well, one of the twists. I think there are a couple. Other than that, I remembered nothing about the story. I think this one is the weakest of the trilogy, but I wouldn’t swear to it.

Let’s find out!

Continue reading “Recap #46 – 99 Fear Street: The Second Horror by R.L. Stine”

Recap #27 – Whisper of Death by Christopher Pike


Title: Whisper of Death

Author: Christopher Pike

Published: Dec. 1991

Tagline: They returned home to a dead world . . . .

Description: All the people had vanished.

Roxanne and Pepper are a teenage couple with problems. They leave their small town for a weekend to try and solve them. They don’t really succeed, and when they return home they find their town empty.

They call other towns.

They find the whole world empty.

But eventually they discover three other kids their age who are still alive in the town. They cannot imagine why the five of them seem to be the only ones left of the entire human race. They have only one thing in common. They were each directly or indirectly involved in the death of Betty Sue – the plain, shy girl who committed suicide only a short time ago. Betty Sue – the quiet, brilliant girl who wrote short stories about each of them. Stories of hate, of revenge, of death in a dead world.

It makes them wonder who Betty Sue really was.

Or what Betty Sue was.

Nostalgia Time!

Pepper. Jesus Christ, Pike, what’s with the names? I can’t wait til I get to Road to Nowhere (and end up with the Ozzy song stuck in my head the entire time I recap it, I just know it) with its characters, Freedom Jack and Poppy Corn. Fuck me, these names.

So, I was ten years old when this book came out, and I know I didn’t read it that early. I’m not sure exactly when I did read it, though. I was probably 13 or 14, I’d guess. I’ve never known quite what to make of this story. It’s one of those books that makes me feel dumb because I can’t quite figure out its full meaning. Interestingly, the first time I read this, I was still firmly entrenched in my mother’s anti-abortion beliefs (hell, the woman dragged me to an anti-abortion protest when I was ten – getting flipped off by motorists going by on the highway was, um, an experience) and this book read as pro-choice to me then. Now that my whole ideology has pretty much flipped, this book reads more anti-abortion to me now. I’m not sure Pike himself knew where he stood, since the message of this book seems a bit . . . muddled?

I think this is also the book where I got the wild idea that Christopher Pike was really Stephen King writing under another pen name. I know better now, of course, but there really did seem to be similarities in the styles and substance.

Also, if you couldn’t tell from the above paragraphs, content warning for abortion, of both the doctor-approved kind and the more DIY kind. (One of the things I thought I vividly remembered about this book was a coat-hanger abortion. Turns out that’s not actually in here, it’s just alluded to, and that might not even technically be what’s being alluded to. Memory is weird.) Heads up for suicide and rape discussion, as well.

Continue reading “Recap #27 – Whisper of Death by Christopher Pike”