Tagline: Who’s afraid of Elizabeth Wakefield? [Dove: Somehow, everyone and no one.]
Summary: Everyone thinks of Elizabeth Wakefield as the nice twin. That’s why she loves her Halloween mask – it’s so scary that no one can believe Elizabeth is behind it.
But her appearance isn’t the only thing that changes when Elizabeth puts on the mask – little by little it makes Elizabeth act evil… only Elizabeth doesn’t know it. It’s up to her twin sister, Jessica, to destroy the mask… before Elizabeth does something she’ll regret forever.
OMG, we’re here. WE’RE HERE! WE’RE FINALLY AT EVIL ELIZABETH.
THE TITLE LITERALLY EXPLAINS WHO SHE REALLY IS!
I’ve been looking forward to this one for awhile now, although I’m now coming at it from the point of view of someone who’s feeling less hateful to Elizabeth. I still think she’s beige fucking paint, and has no hope of a career as a fiction writer, but of late her parents have both put pressure on her to be a grownup, and treated her like a kid. Her boyfriend turned into a massive himbo over Valentine’s day, and a week or so later, he nearly dated her cousin – thanks to her identical twin ruining her life.
So… I do honestly wonder if this will impact how I feel about Elizabeth and this book overall.
But for now, have a cover. Sometimes the simplest things are the best. I basically copied that very famous meme.
The summer holidays are here, and Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield and their friends have just arrived at sleep-away camp! On a hike through a dark, eerie cave, Elizabeth finds something incredible—a glowing pen! She can’t wait to use it to write an article for the camp newspaper.
But as she writes, Elizabeth is astonished to find herself composing a mystery full of scary twists and turns. And to her horror, little by little the mystery seems to be coming true! This isn’t just an ordinary pen. Could it be haunted?
On the one hand, I love some of the Super Chillers and enjoy the ideas behind almost all of them. On the other hand, Elizabeth. Unless a ghost is around to try to kill her, I’m not really feeling a book about her right now.
On the other other hand, the weather turned again, and I am once more cold enough that a story set in the summer is a pleasure.
Also, I don’t hate the USA cover, but damn, that other one is terrible.
[Note from the future: Y’ALL. THIS BOOK.]
[Dove: I saw no need for me to make a cover, since we have the USA one. Which is good, because my ideas were absent. The first time I read this, it immediately slipped out of my brain – I blame The Carnival Ghost, it just set the bar damned high – but this time around I enjoyed it a bit more. I do love the summer camp trope, and I’d completely forgotten that was the setting for this book.]
[Raven: Ooooh, a magic pen. Spooky! How very Stephen King…
Summary: The Unicorn Club is throwing the best Halloween party Sweet Valley Middle School has ever seen! Lila Fowler’s dad has lent the girls a rundown shack in the woods—a perfectly spooky place for the party.
But as the Unicorns are fixing the shack, strange and scary things happen: Ellen Riteman discovers a human skull, Jessica Wakefield gets lost in a cave full of bats, and a mysterious girl appears out of nowhere to relay ghostly warnings.
Then the twins hear that the shack was built over an ancient Native American burial ground. Could the shack really be haunted? Or are the Unicorns the victims of a terrifying Halloween trick?
Jesus fucking christ, that cover. That title. That summary. I know I went into The Unicorns Go Hawaiian expecting the worst and was pleasantly surprised, but the haunted burial ground trope is even worse, and even if it turns out to be a terrifying Halloween trick (and, no lie, I expect it to be about 50/50 as to whether it is supernatural or mundane when it comes to the Super Chillers), the stereotypes are likely to be horrific and offensive.
From Schmieding’s piece (Schmieding is a Lakota writer):
All I know, from the point of view of one Lakota Native who enjoyed The Shining as much as you did but with one eyebrow raised, is that the only “ghost stories” I’ve ever heard from my own people are that of ancestors who carry wisdom, who aim to protect, who are considered sacred and powerful, and whose manifestations as malevolent only occur when they’re not talked about. When their story isn’t told. There’s a moral here that I hope you’re grasping. When someone tells you that their house is built on an Indian Burial Ground and it makes the hair stand up on your arms, ask yourself, “What am I really afraid of? Am I afraid of Indigenous people because of pop culture’s portrayal of them as unholy, spurned beasts of the underworld? Or am I afraid of my own willful ignorance of settler colonialism and modern Native issues? Am I afraid that Natives’ stories haven’t actually been told?” I’ll go ahead and assume that it’s a mix of all. But until Native filmmakers and television writers get a chance to scare the shit out of mainstream audiences with our own stories, we’re all stuck with supernatural microaggressions and embarrassingly coded displays of white guilt.
With all that in mind, here we go.
[Dove: My brain says that the Super Chillers went downhill after the covers changed, but in all honesty, maybe Christmas and Carnival Ghosts just set the bar and everything since has been hopelessly flailing at that bar ever since.
On another note, I don’t know if I’ve ever made it clear publicly, but god knows poor Wing has to patiently listen to me bitching about “the new covers” and “the geocities covers” like they’re the worst thing in the world. Every week. Every time we skype, I bring it up. So, in an attempt to put my money where my mouth is, I will be creating badge-style covers for the books from now on. Well, after this we have Amy’s Secret Sister, but after that we are officially switched over to the new covers. So, without further ado, here’s my first cover creation.
I’ve done much better covers after this – this was a bitch to render and I kind of screamed and gave up at some point. Elizabeth’s hair kept pushing through her face (don’t ask), and my computer kept falling over under the weight of the background. So, while it’s not the greatest cover, stick with me, I fully intend to get much better.]
[Wing: A billion times better than the actual cover for so many reasons.]
Title: The Curse of the Golden Heart (or Curse Stories 2: Electric Boogaloo)
Tagline: Pirate treasure!
Summary: A broken heart…
It’s spring, and identical twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield are taking a scuba diving course at Pirates Cove. On their first dive the twins discover the remains of an old pirate ship, and half a golden heart buried in the sand. [Wing: LIES. They’re only snorkeling at that point.]
Soon the twins receive spooky chain letters demanding that what was taken from the sea be returned. Jessica continues the chain; Elizabeth doesn’t. Suddenly terrible things start happening to Elizabeth. She finds threatening notes in her room and a live scorpion in her lunch bag.
Can Elizabeth discover the secret of the golden heart before the curse destroys her?
Please, ghostie, please don’t resort to pirate speak in this book. Please. I beg of you.
[Wing: Note from the future. Positive: no pirate speak. Negative: we’re rehashing old stories all over the place.]
Tagline: A mysterious death in a spooky old house… [Wing: I first read this as “in a spooky old lighthouse” and now I’ve made myself sad it isn’t true.]
Summary: A necklace, a movie, and a murder…
Identical twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are thrilled when they land small parts in a movie being made in Sweet Valley. The film is based on the true story of the mysterious death of twelve-year-old Lillian Keller, and it’s being filmed at the creepy old Keller mansion.
One stormy afternoon, Jessica finds an old necklace on the beach near the mansion. She puts it on, and that very night she has a terrible nightmare about a girl falling to her death. She becomes convinced that someone—or something—is trying to tell her that the mystery of Lillian Keller’s death is far from solved. But can a necklace really hold the secret to a murder?
Despite my little lighthouse wish when reading the tagline, I am excited as hell to recap this one. I’m hoping for Jessica the Sleuth, fun murder mysteries, and creepiness galore. Also, now that I’ve finished the book, that cover is kind of ridiculous; (a) that’s not storm clothing even on the beach and (b) they looked like that when Becka hired them?
(Also: Happy New Year! I wrote this at the end of 2018 and it posts at the beginning of 2019, which delights me to no end. Here’s to another year of these ridiculous books. Spoiler: For once, this is a great thing.)
[Dove: Is it just me or does Jessica have zombie face on the cover? “Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.”]
Title: Super Chiller #4: The Ghost in the Bell Tower
Summary: Midsummer nightmare…
When the Wakefield kids are invited to their aunt Helen’s country inn, Steven and Jessica are determined to use the eerie old mansion to scare their sister, Elizabeth, into believing in ghosts. But no matter what Steven and Jessica do, logical Elizabeth always works out their tricks.
Then things start happening that even Elizabeth can’t explain, and all the Wakefield kids are afraid that the inn really is haunted. Will they make it through the summer sharing their holiday with an unfriendly ghost?
Tagline: A holiday in a haunted house!
I’m not sure if I knew that Aunt Helen had a country inn, but I do love creepy old mansions and ghost stories and siblings teasing each other. HOWEVER. If the goal is to get Elizabeth into believing in ghosts I’M PRETTY SURE THAT THE CARNIVAL GHOST DID THAT FOR YOU ALREADY.
Oh, wait, that would suggest continuity. Never mind.
[Dove: Well, so far, so good. I was under the impression that Wing would either love or loathe this. So far she’s not mentioning fire. I’ll take that as a good sign. Me? I didn’t own this back in the day. Back then, I thought the only Super Chillers were the first three. Possibly I’d have more attachment to it if I had read it back then.]
A travelling carnival is on its way to Sweet Valley and Jessica and Elizabeth can’t wait to ride on the roller coaster, have their fortunes told, and try their luck at the games. But when they get there some odd things happen to the twins. A fortune-teller warns Jessica to stay away from the carnival. And a mysterious girl named Claire seems to appear out of nowhere and suddenly becomes best friends with Elizabeth.
Elizabeth is strangely drawn to Claire. She begins to ignore her friends, her chores, and even her sister to spend time with her new friend. It’s as if she’s under an evil spell… a spell no one, not even Jessica, can break. And if her twin is in danger, how can Jessica help her?
I have been looking forward to this book for so, so long. Dove may have sold me on giving Sweet Valley as a whole a try because she promised me werewolves in books to come (much, much later), but she sold me on Sweet Valley Twins specifically because there are supernatural books. We’ve had a couple, and they’ve been fun, but this one is right in my sweet spot: potential ghost, travelling carnival, roller coasters, fortune tellers, mysterious new girls. I cannot wait.
And, finally, I don’t have to wait. I predict this will be a wild ride. Good or bad? We’ll see.
[Dove: First off, apologies for the tardiness of mine and Raven’s comments. Second of all: BEST SWEET VALLEY BOOK EVER. EVER. EVER.]
Title: Super Chillers 2: The Ghost in the Graveyard
Tagline: Is Sweet Valley Haunted?
Summary: Strange things have been happening to Sam Sloane ever since he moved from San Francisco to Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield’s neighborhood in Sweet Valley. He can’t work out why everything in town looks so familiar—or why he’s mysteriously drawn to a crumbling old mansion in town. When he visits a cemetery in the dead of night and sees a ghost who looks just like him, he turns to Elizabeth and Jessica for help.
At first the twins think Sam is imagining things. After all, who believes in ghosts? But the more the girls get to know their new friend, the more they feel he’s telling the truth. Something is out there. The twins are going to have to do a little ghost hunting of their own. But what happens if they do discover the ghost? Or worse, what happens if it discovers them?
Although my chosen moniker is suitably gothic, I do not have a horror pedigree.
Sure, I like horror films. They are fun, and scary. And horror books? I love me a bit of Stephen King. I’ve screamed at Freddie and Jason, cowered from Samara, laughed at Chucky and was Finally Destined to face down Fate itself.
I enjoy it… but I don’t live and breathe it.
Both Wing and Dove have a much more visceral pull into the fright genre. They devour it whole, consuming all they can in a search for more thrills and for the love of the form. It’s a long love, from childhood, and it informs their nostalgia for this very site. Go check out all the fine work on point horror dot com for proof. [Wing: Well, he’s not wrong. Even our names come from a Point Horror book.]
But me? I’m a fairweather frightmeister. If pushed, I prefer a belly laugh or a pewpewpew space epic.
The point of this confession? A mere FYI.
This Super Chiller isn’t really in my wheelhouse. So take all you read with a hefty pinch of salt.
Tagline: This year Jessica is in for a very scary Christmas
Summary: Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are looking forward to the most glorious Christmas ever. The tree is decorated, the presents are wrapped, and movie star Beau Dillon is coming to town! The actor, who’ll be in Sweet Valley to publicize his new movie, has agreed to help Elizabeth raise money for the children’s wing of the local hospital. But when the teen star arrives at the Wakefields’ house, it’s Jessica, not Elizabeth, he meets.
What’s the harm in pretending to be your twin? No harm, Jessica thinks – until strange things start happening and three ghostly visitors appear. Is Jessica’s imagination working overtime or have the spirits of Christmas past, present, and future come to teach Jessica the lesson of a lifetime?
Ok, first of all, I think if you’ve listened to the podcast you may know this, but I don’t assume that everyone does: I LOVE THE SUPER CHILLERS. Actual ghosts are here.
Before I was confident enough to ask Wing to take on this gigantic recapping project, I used the “mentionitus” method of testing the waters. While we sat on PointHorror.com, griping about how rarely the bad guy (known on that site as the “Muffin Man”) was supernatural, I would say lightly-casually-oh-I’m-not-hinting, “It’s funny, Sweet Valley Twins has a much younger audience, but they always had real ghosts in their ghost stories.” Wing would raise a scathing eyebrow and say that she’d never read Sweet Valley. Ever. And she was sort of proud of that.
Then curiosity would overcome her. “Really? Because in Babysitters’ Club, it was always the Scooby Doo villain – a human pretending to be a ghost. So you have actual ghosts?”
“Actual ghosts,” I would say. “And it’s odd, they seem to act up the most over Christmas.”
And that is the groundwork of how you get someone who clearly is going to hate something, to do it anyway. [Raven: I have such an inappropriate comment here.] Mention that one thing they like. (Also, there will be werewolves in Sweet Valley High.) [Wing: I feel like I should be more upset that my BFF so blatantly exploits my weaknesses, and yet.] [Dove: I do realise that the above is basically “how to brainwash your friends”. But I had an agenda. And here we are.]
Second of all, I adore A Christmas Carol. I know most people do, but I feel like I might go the extra mile. I feel like I’ve seen every fandom-variation of this story – heck, I’ve even written one. I adore this story.
I’ll admit The Carnival Ghost is a better story on its own merits, because it’s not fanfic of an iconic tale, but this one holds a special place in my heart.
The Cover: Why is the ghost awkwardly pointing to the left? Jessica looks great, but the ghost looks like it wasn’t happy to be modelling for the cover.
[Wing: Tis truly the season for Christmas Carol retellings. We did a few over at the Devil’s Elbow (Fright Christmas and The Fright Before Christmas), and yet somehow this has the best versions of the ghosts. I mean, come on: an angry flying unicorn? Clearly this was going to win.]