Oh my God, y’all, this one is so good.
First published in 1991, The Secret Bedroom tells the story of Lea. Lea’s family has just bought an abandoned house on — can you guess it? — FEAR STREET! And Lea has just started school at — again, you know what’s coming — SHADYSIDE HIGH! Not surprisingly, Lea is having a hard time fitting in at her new school. (To be honest, if I was a student at Shadyside, I would automatically be suspicious of any transfer students because, as far as Fear Street and Shadyside are concerned, they always seem to bring a lot of drama and murder with them. Seriously, hasn’t that school been through enough tragedy?) Lea’s problem is that she has a crush on Don but Don is dating the school’s most popular megabitch, Marci. Lea is already in trouble for accidentally spilling chili on Marci’s sweater. When Marci sees Don talking to Lea, she decides to make Lea’s life miserable. I swear, why is it the girls always end up fighting over the same boy rather than considering why the boy was flirting with another girl to begin with? Lea directs all of her anger at Marci and Marci directs her ire toward Lea but really they should just be mad at Don. Unfortunately, this book was written years before Spice Girls taught everyone the meaning of girl power so Marci just spends her time making trouble for Lea.
However, there might be a solution to Lea’s problems. In Lea’s new house, there’s a mysterious, boarded up bedroom. The room was boarded up because, long ago, someone was murdered in that very room! However, even though no one has been in the room for years, Lea keeps thinking that she hears strange sounds coming from behind the boarded up door. Despite having been told to say out of the room, Lea enters it anyway and she discovers that there is someone in the room!
That person is Catherine, who says that she’s the ghost of the girl who died in the room. She says she wants to be Lea’s friend. She also says that if Lea allows Catherine to enter her body for just a few moments, they can totally play a prank on Marci! Lea agrees. Needless to say, the prank goes terribly wrong and it turns out that Catherine wasn’t being totally honest either….
After being slightly disappointed with the previous two Stine books that I read, I really enjoyed The Secret Bedroom. This is Stine at his most demented (and, perhaps not surprisingly, it’s also one of the earlier book in the Fear Street series). Stine crafts a tale that includes ghosts, murder, mind control, false memories, peer pressure, jerky boyfriends, and gentrification. The twists are nonstop and they’re so entertainingly weird that it doesn’t matter that they don’t always make sense. In fact, the book plays out almost like a fever dream. Anyone who has even been accused of stealing someone’s boyfriend will appreciate Lea’s growing paranoia about Marci. Anyone who has ever heard a strange sound in the middle of the night will relate to Lea’s fascination with the boarded up room. And, for those of you who love continuity, Wrong Number‘s Deena shows up at Lea’s best friend! This book is an enjoyable trip to Fear Street.