Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Focusing On Fear Street - The Prom Queen


Book #15 in the Fear Street Series
Published: March 1992
Cover Art by Bill Schmidt

This was one of the first Fear Street books I ever read and owned...the cover definitely caught my attention. It's a shame that this doesn't happen in the book because this is an excellent horror cover: a prom queen looks in a mirror and sees a skull looking back at her because if you look at her reflection she still has skin on her arms. When I saw this, I thought it was going to be about you know a 1950s prom queen coming back to haunt teenagers kinda like Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night 2 until I read the blurb on the back but it still intrigued me.

I couldn't find too many covers for international versions of The Prom Queen or reprints but as always I can count on the German publications to provide me with a nice cover illustration like this one:

Again, this scene doesn't really occur in the book but it is very nice with the dead prom queen and the ominous figure in the background. There is great detail in every fold of the curtains and the girl's gown and I love the chandelier and the shadows it casts. I sure wish I could draw people as well as these talented artists...amazing!

 Taglines: On the front we have "She was drop-dead beautiful..." which is very good since it also made me think the book was going to be about an undead prom queen along with the cover illustration. On the back we have "Dance Of Death..." its in all caps so it makes it jump at you but I find it a kind of so-so tagline not as good as the front one.

The First Line: "We couldn't stop talking about the killer." 

What a way to start a book! This is one of the Fear Street novels told from the prospective of our protagonist in this case Elizabeth McVay or as she is called Lizzy (the blurb on the back spells it as Lizzie). Apparently, a killer has been going around the towns about Shadyside murdering young women and its all the buzz in the girls' locker room among Lizzy and her two friends: blonde and tan Dawn Rodgers and redhead Rachel West, the poor girl among the trio. Besides the gruesome news the other main topic is of course prom where Lizzy is hoping her military brat boyfriend Kevin can come home to take her, Rachel is going with her high school sweetheart Gideon and Dawn has yet to choose from the pool of gorgeous guys who have asked her (Dawn is a very confident almost disgusting type of person.)

The whole school is called to an assembly to not only discuss the dangers about the recent murders but also to announce the nominees for Prom Queen (and apparently no Prom King candidates...weird school Shadyside High.) So of course Lizzy, Rachel and Dawn are nominated along with drama club queen Simone Perry and popular, delicate Elana Potter. So we have one redhead (Rachel), one light blonde (Elana), one dark blonde (Dawn), one dark brunette (Simone) and one light brunette (Lizzy) nominated for Prom Queen which works out well as well as being very diverse from the rich to middle class to even the poor but beautiful girl.

Now I know I would talk about this after the plot summary but since we get most of this story from Lizzy's point of view I thought it would be interesting to go ahead and describe her fellow friends and prom queen nominees because it's almost the same way I see them. As I said before, Dawn is one of those confident, competitive people that get on your nerves that you almost wonder why you are friends with them at all. Elana is the rich girl out of the bunch and she seems very nice even though she is completely spoiled by her parents and besides Lizzy she is one of the nicer girls.

Not that Rachel isn't nice but when the principal announces that the winning prom queen will also get a $3,000 scholarship Lizzy describes her getting that dollar sign look in her eyes and I know Rachel is poor (it's stated quite a lot in the book) but that just shows you how greedy she is. Simone is self-centered and extremely possessive of her boyfriend Justin Stiles and since he is kind of flirt and very handsome she gets crazy jealous easily. This is one reason why I say Elana and Lizzy are about the nicest characters because it seems Dawn and Rachel have gone out with Justin behind Simone's back. When it comes to that whether you can consider Simone their friend or not, you don't do that with boyfriends.

So after learning this (us the audience but not Simone) you know those girls must feel real guilty when Simone turns up missing a few days later with her bedroom ransacked and even blood found on the floor! The police believe it might be connected to the murder of the previous two girls posted on the news but when the man responsible is caught and in custody the night another one of the girls gets murdered...Lizzy begins to realize that its the Prom Queens being targeted! Is it because of the money? Is it another girl jealous of not being nominated? Who is responsible and can Lizzy figure it out in time?

Okay one reason I did not go into the plot so much is because you really have to read The Prom Queen to find out what happens! It's not just because of my scruples on not diverging the plot to anything so you can find out for yourself but because when I first read it I was not expecting its twist at all! This is probably why The Prom Queen is in my Top Ten favorite Fear Street books but there is always a passage that sticks in my head is another reason it is a favorite of mine: Tell me if this doesn't give you goose pimples and if not you can see why it gave them to a younger me when I first read it:

"One by one the prom queens slowly turned to face the audience and as each girl turned, screams rang out through the auditorium. Each face was revealed, each face greeted the screams with blank and staring eyes. The flesh on the girls' faces was decaying..."

The description of all five undead prom queen hopefuls goes on for an entire page in such detail that it has all stuck with me forever. Now hearing that you think back to the cover and realize "OMG this does happen in the book!" and (spoiler!) it is a dream but still for horror fans this is a great book if you are just starting out on this particular genre. At least I got my dead prom queen like I wanted...

Body Count: Since we get more of a body count than the previous books I have talked about I'm going to be a little vague this time since it also involves major characters. Let's just say I give this book 3 out of 5 prom queens so does that mean 2 or 3 bite the dust?

Cameo Time!: Dream cameo by Lisa Blume (The New Girl) getting ready to crown one of the zombie prom queens...she sure has to deal with dead girls a lot doesn't she?


 So in the book it is mentioned that the drama club is putting on a production of The Sound of Music for their spring play. Before Simone disappears, she is playing the lead of Maria Von Trapp who in real life now just recently passed away :( With Simone gone, the lead goes to Dawn who I think frankly doesn't deserve it for being a kind of bitchy, horrible person but oh well...

It is also mentioned that the girls go to see the new Christian Slater movie where Lizzy discovers Simone's boyfriend Justin with a girl just weeks after her disappearance (nice boyfriend huh?) Anyway the only Christian Slater film  released at this time was Kuffs and it came out in January where this book was released in March. So I guess Shadyside's movie theater is one of those that plays movies months after their release?

And since we are talking about prom why not have a little playlist for the festivities because in Shadyside no matter what weird or gruesome thing has happened life goes back to normal. So here is a little mix for you early 1990 prom-goers:

NEXT TIME: We go on a First Date with terror...

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