The Bookworm: Party Summer

Party Summer by R.L. Stine. 215 pages. Pocket Books. May 1991.

She understood what Edward meant. They all did. They all understood what kind of hunting party Edward had in mind. And they all understood immediately that they were the prey. (p. 156)

After finishing Empire Falls, I turned my attention to the summer-themed Fear Street book patiently waiting in my reading queue: Party Summer.

Cari and her three friends—Jan, Eric, and Craig—leave Shadyside for the summer to work at the Howling Wolf Inn, a resort hotel secluded on its own island off Cape Cod. However, they can’t escape the horrors of Fear Street since the hotel is owned by a member of the Fear family. (Go figure.)

Expecting the hotel to be full of guests and to be able to meet new people, Cari and crew instead find the hotel closed for renovations. The only others on the island are the hotel’s owner, a cranky servant, and the owner’s depressed and reclusive brother. Despite dire warnings from the servant, who urges them to leave as soon as possible, the teenagers stay to help renovate and bask in the sun on the island’s deserted beaches. Though the renovation work wears them out, the four friends fully expect to have a “party summer!”

However, the situation at the Howling Wolf Inn deteriorates quickly. There is no communication connection to the mainland (conveniently), ghosts apparently roam the halls, and the owner’s brother becomes increasingly deranged and dangerous, making vague references to a party. (Party summer!) Things become even stranger when they discover a maze of hidden tunnels, one of the teens goes missing, and the owner is murdered. The friends soon come to the frightening realization that they’re not meant to leave the island alive.

Overall, there is not much I want to say about Party Summer. As part of the “Super Chiller” series, much like Silent Night, I expected Party Summer to be full of blood and guts, to be a tad more mature and gory than the series’ regular fare. Unfortunately, it disappointed me; it is much more of a psychological thriller than horror.

Here is something about Party Summer that interests me: Cari and her friends are able to drive to Cape Cod in a day. I have always wondered exactly where Shadyside is located because its exact location, or which state is in (I think it is safe to say it is in the United States), is never stated in the books. Though I’m unsure why, the series’ Wikipedia page says Shadyside is located in Ohio, where Stine grew up. Can one drive to Cape Cod from Ohio in one day? With time to spare before the sun goes down? Sure enough, according to Google it takes 12 hours (with no traffic, of course) to drive from Columbus, Ohio, to the Cape Cod coast in Massachusetts.

Why is it that I always expect there to be ghosts and monsters in many Fear Street books, and am therefore always disappointed when a group of meddling teenagers unmasks a greedy local developer who is sent away to “get the help he needs”? I think it’s because reading Fear Street books has rekindled my interest in the paranormal and mysterious, and I am apparently craving something more than the series offers.

I have thought a lot about writing my own Fear Street-esque stories just to get the creative juices flowing again. When I was a kid, I gleefully wrote about aliens, monsters, and all sorts of weird stuff—some of which was inspired by reading Fear Street stories. Part of the reason why I stopped writing was because I was being too serious, trying too hard to be meaningful. That is what happens when one reads too much Hemingway and falls under the spell of his legend. (One thing I want to do is visit Hemingway’s grave in Ketchum, Idaho—and pee on it.) With autumn and Halloween approaching, I think now is a great time to start writing my own scary tales, complete with ghosts and monsters and all the other things I want from the Fear Street series (like sex, drugs, and alcohol!).

Party summer!

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