First of all, Blizzard can fuck off. Now let's get the essay.
If you asked ten-year-old Amy what her favorite book was, she would say Fear Street Sagas #2: House of Whispers. What was it about this specific Fear Street book that appealed to me? Was it the Civil War setting? Was it the rivalry between young sisters Hannah and Julia? The presence of three boys who exist for only a short scene and are never seen again? And speaking of boys, was it the love interest with a dark secret and an eyepatch?
Or, more likely, was it the use of Tarot cards, something I collect in my adulthood, as a plot device? Could it be the gore, something novel to a young girl just discovering death? While those last two contributed to my devotion to this book, the most obvious reason for my affection is that the main character is named "Amy."
Does this book hold up? Let's explore ten-year-old Amy's (the person, not the book character) favorite book and, maybe, along the way, remind me why I got a reputation for being creepy in school.
In the fall of 1863, young Amy Pierce travels to live with her cousin, Angelica Fear, in New Orleans. That's right, folks! We're following the people who wanted to expand chattel slavery into the west! It's not discussed in this book, but it does diminish character sympathy when I know they're fine with people as property.
The carriage driver warns Amy about the Fears and fulfills his role as the "Crazy Ralph" of the book.
We meet Angelica Fear and her two daughters, Julia and Hannah. Julia is the timid one whom Amy immediately identifies with while Hannah is the more outgoing one. We also meet Nellie the Maid, who strongly resembles a slave, and it's never addressed in the book, but the implication is there.
It's eleven pages before we have our first cliffhanger! I think that's a record. Stine is exercising restraint in this one. It's a face in the mirror! But it's just Julia, who is coming into Amy's room to be cryptic.
"Amy . . ." The girl hesitated for a moment. "I . . . Do not open your bedroom door at night when everyone is asleep." Amy heard Julia's voice crack. "No matter what you hear."
"What? Why not?" Amy exclaimed.
"It is not safe." Julia wrapped her arms around herself. "It is not safe."
"I saw the shadows in the hall move," Julia said. "They whirled into a black, smoky column filled with faces. Faces without eyes, faces without skin. Faces covered with oozing sores. Faces burned until they were black."
That's a pretty creepy thing to say, Julia. Cool, but creepy.
When Julia is finished creeping everyone out and leaves, Amy hears a noise behind her door. She ignores Julia's warning ten minutes later and flings open the door.
There's nothing. Of course, there's nothing.
The next morning, Angelica invites Amy into the library and shows her guest tarot cards. When Amy picks up the cards, she shuffles madly as the cards take over her body. Angelica is super excited and says, "In every generation of Pierce women, one or two are born with a special power."
You'd think Amy's mother would have told her this if it's as consistent as "every generation."
Amy runs away because quick shuffling is too much for her. She would hate trick shuffling. In Vegas, she would just freak out and run screaming. She should do that now, but not for card-related reasons.
She goes outside to play with the children and we get to meet Angelica's three sons - Joseph, Robert, and Brandon - and that's a wrap on the boys. Let's give them a hand for their hard fifteen minutes of work - they've been real professionals.