Thursday, March 27, 2014

Focusing On Fear Street - The Stepsister


Book #9 in the Fear Street Series
Published: November 1990
Cover Art by Bill Schmidt

First of all I apologize for the quality of the cover art that I found being so bright and fuzzy, my copy of the book looks so much better. The girl with the chestnut hair is our main character, Emily Casey, looking in the diary of her titular stepsister, Jessie Wallner. Jessie is the pissed off blonde in the dressing mirror. This scene of Jessie catching Emily in the act of snooping on her does not happen but the cover gives us the feeling of suspense throughout the book. The cover is not one of my favorites but again it is nicely drawn. This was another of those 2005 reprints with updated covers:

It's a very simple cover but I like how you aren't really sure which girl it is on the cover - is it Emily or Jessie? The only problem I have is the girl obviously has a little piercing in her nose to I guess "modernize" her to the new millennium crowd. Trying too hard there, new cover artist? The only other thing I like about this cover is that the orange gives off the impression of fire and well yes a fire does indeed happen in this book so props for getting that right at least. There are not too many versions of The Stepsister cover art that I could find but of course I found the cover in German markets! It was actually reprinted there so there are two German covers but one is very spoiler filled if you have not read the book in English so here is the cover I like the best anyway:
Very dark, foreboding, creepy house, shadowy figure in the window - simple yet effective. This is how you do a good cover right - intrigued to read it but not so busy or too flashy.

Taglines: On the front we have "When she moved into Emily's room, the terror began..." it's okay and to the point but that wouldn't be enough to grab me without nice cover art. On the back "Just how dangerous is Jessie?" combine this with the blurb on the back and I would be intrigued. I like how on the German cover this is the main tagline (yes I can read a little German but I am not fluent in all printed words of the language) and this would be enough to make me want to read The Stepsister.

The First Line: "I hate my hair!"

Well with that I'm not sure whether I should continue because it seems like Emily is going to be one of those whiny girls who is pretty and looks gorgeous but thinks they look fat and ugly. Maybe Emily is just a high strung person in general or maybe she is just nervous to meet her new stepbrother and stepsister. Her older sister Nancy seems to be doing just fine reading a copy of Sassy magazine so I guess Emily is going to probably get on my nerves - a character you should be rooting for but end up hating. So Em and Nance's mom remarried a man named Hugh who has a daughter Emily's age named Jessie and a thirteen-year old son named Rich who loves to read Stephen King and is kind of shy (sounds like a male me) and of course Jessie is blonde and looks like an angel.

Jessie is moving into Emily's room to share it with her new stepsister and things of course start out bad. In private, Jessie shows her true bitchy colors first complaining about the smallness of the room, saying things about Emily's mom, taking Emily's bed, shoving her little terrier Tiger and then accidentally( or is it?) ripping the head off Emily's childhood teddy bear! If you thought you would hate Emily for her whiny personality Jessie has her beat! Maybe it's the stress of moving into a new home with a bunch of new people but that's no excuse for supreme bitch overload.

It doesn't seem to be nerves because Jessie just continues to be nasty wearing Emily's clothes without asking but then things seem to go a little too far almost...malicious. Emily's big school report ends up getting erased, someone puts peroxide in her shampoo, and then her dog is murdered with its corpse stuffed into Emily's book bag for her to find at school! It seems this game of sibling rivalry is turning deadly especially when Emily learns that Jessie may be responsible for the death of a girl at her old school causing her to visit a psychiatrist. Is Jessie crazy and doing all of these horrible things to Emily? Could she really be capable of murder?

I'd have to say that this is the shortest blog post about any of the Fear Street books I've read so far going in chronological order. I will tell you the plot has a good premise and the actual twist of an ending surprised me when I first read it but other than that it is mostly a lot of Emily whining and Jessie whining and even her brother Rich whining at different times. I don't think there is a character in The Stepsister that I actually like except for maybe Emily and Nancy's mom except for her judgement in men as her new husband Hugh is kind of a sexist pig and has a tendency to not think before he speaks. Also another reason this is so short is well because *sighs* there's a Stepsister 2 we'll get to eventually...

Body Count: Poor little Tiger :( I love cats and dogs and if you do to I have to warn you this isn't the last time a cherished pet dies in this universe on Fear Street. To make you feel better just focus on this cute little dog and tell yourself it's just fiction:

Cameo Time!: Emily literally bumps into Ricky Schorr from Halloween Party and Lisa Blume from The New Girl is mentioned to share a math class with Emily's best friend Kathy.

We learn that Emily's new stepbrother Rich loves to read Stephen King! The book he is mentioned to be reading is Pet Sematary, one of King's most terrifying books and a creepy movie too!

I'm guessing being such a fan of Mr. King Rich might be interested in going to see the movie adaptation of Misery which came out around this time:

I don't know about you but after everything that happens in this book I think the Wallner family should maybe go see a more light-hearted film. There's the blockbuster Home Alone or maybe the highly underrated Disney classic The Rescuers Down Under would be better?

NEXT TIME: The Prom Queen ... what more do I need to say?

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