Title: The Curse of the Ruby Necklace
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.”]
Dramatic opening: Elizabeth shouts for Jessica to look out behind her. Jessica, of course, ignores this, because fuck Elizabeth, that’s why. Also of course, Elizabeth was right and a huge wave crashes over Jessica. She was distracted from the ocean by the titular necklace which is buried in the sand. Never turn your back on the ocean.
Jessica won’t let Elizabeth see it when she asks and, in fact, snaps at her when she keeps pushing. On the one hand, no means no, Elizabeth, and it’s rare to say that to you instead of your sister, so you can’t get mad when she snaps at you. On the other hand, since they’re supposed to be these perfect BFFs, this is clearly supposed to make us wonder if the necklace is exerting some sort of power over Jessica. (Hey, we had a real ghost back in the amazing The Carnival Ghost, I’m hoping for an actually cursed necklace.) [Raven: This book starts quick. Jessica goes Full Gollum by page four.]
Elizabeth wants to go home because there’s a storm blowing in off the ocean, but Jessica refuses because she still has something very important to do. We don’t get to hear what, though, at least not before the requisite Identical But Different: Elizabeth is serious, Jessica funloving, Elizabeth follows creepy child ghosts to her death, Jessica picks up cursed jewelry and ends up drowning, etc.
Jessica really wants to go to the Keller mansion, which is the only thing at the end of the beach; she tries to be chill and subtle about it, which fails miserably because: Jessica? Subtle? HAHAHAHAHAHA.
Apparently, Jessica wants to go to the mansion because she learned that a movie is going to be made there and, rumour has it, they’ll be hiring people to work as extras. I’m sure this is probably just a standard bid for attention, but I am 100% here for it being actual continuity throwing back to how much Jessica loved acting that one time.
…Elizabeth does not know what an extra means. I — I don’t buy that for a second, not as much as she reads. [Dove: I can totally buy that. I can see Elizabeth considering herself smart for knowing about what she deems as “interesting”. I can see her wallowing in her ignorance of subjects outside of that because they are beneath her. She’s kind of a hipster. “Oh, I’m sorry I wouldn’t know about that, because I’m way too smart to bother with it.”]
Once she learns what it is, she has no interest in becoming one and thinks that Ned and Alice probably aren’t going to be too excited about Jessica’s new plan. Why the hell not? They’ve been pretty supportive of all the other hobbies you and your siblings get up to. Not to mention, this gets one or both of you out of the house more. Can’t go wrong there.
Jessica convinces Elizabeth to go with her by waving a Sixers article in front of her (figuratively); of course it would be a great coup for Elizabeth to write about the movie being made in Sweet Valley (100% typed Sunnydale first and then Stoneybrook; I’m honestly surprised that Sweet Valley made into the third slot). [Dove: Santa Carla?] [Raven: Did Elizabeth write about any of the stuff that Mr Dennis filmed in Sweet Valley, like that thing with Kent Kellerman?]
Jessica doesn’t know what the movie is about, just that the title is Dead Little Rich Girl. You … you can’t figure out what it might be about based on that title? Really? JESSICA THE SLEUTH I EXPECTED MORE OF YOU.
Keller mansion: used to be fenced off from trespassers with all the windows boarded up, but now workmen are painting it, removing the boards, installing new glass, just really cleaning it up.
At first Jessica is disappointed that she doesn’t see any stars (they wouldn’t be there yet, would they, if the location is still being repaired), but then they see Shawn Brockaway’s trailer. Shawn was the girl who starred in Castaway Kids (a “really stupid TV show” per Elizabeth, which means it was probably awesome). [Dove: There used to be an after-school “reality” show called Castaway over here. They put 12 teens on an island and waited for it to go Lord of the Flies. It was amazing. Even in a 4pm time slot.]
Jessica dismisses a man and woman walking around with a bunch of papers because they’re wearing shorts and t-shirts and Jessica believes that movie people are always fashionable. I find this both endearing and realistic; Jessica is in love with the glitz and glamour that is sold around Hollywood, not any sort of reality. (A little bit I think she wouldn’t be quite this ridiculous about it, because she knows how much work stage acting is, but maybe she thinks of movies as different from that hard work.) [Raven: As she’s now friends with Maria, I find it hard to believe that particular bubble hasn’t been burst over multiple conversations in the school canteen.]
The man and woman notice them but instead of kicking them off the set, they come up because, of course, they need identical twins of just about that age. How very convenient of them to read the book outline and help the plot along.
The woman is Becka Silver, and she’s the director of the movie. Jessia is doubtful over the truth of this, and Becka shoots that sexism the fuck down (though I actually think in Jessica’s case it’s less about her assuming the director is a man and more about the fact that Becka isn’t nearly fashionable enough in her mind; of course, the book is likely to contradict this immediately, but I’m going to try to live in this world). Becka has previous directed A Fine, Drizzly Dawn and Grandpa’s Ghost. Elizabeth says that the first one is wonderful; I’m too busy rolling my eyes over this terrible titles (though I guess I shouldn’t be surprised considering the title of this movie).
Becka explains they want to work with identical twins as much as possible because a kid actor can only work a certain number of hours a day and they can work the twins separately to cover more time, even when they’re just extras. Which is something I’ve heard about casting too (and there are examples, like the character of Michelle in Full House). [Dove: And yet twins are often acted by one person doing double roles. I know there’s a reason for this and it makes sense, but it still makes me smirk.] [Raven: I really hope that the movie people film both Jessica and Elizabeth as one character, only to view what they’ve filmed and declare “well, they both look identical, but they really are very different. One obviously likes reading and schoolwork, while the other likes boys and the mall.”]
They accept the offer to be extras, though Elizabeth also “negotiates” the right to an interview for the Sixers. Becka immediately gives into this. On the one hand, believable because who cares about it. On the other, why are you already bending over backward to keep them happy?
Once they’re alone again, Jessica is distracted from her joy by the necklace and the small balcony that juts out over the rocky shore. She can’t stop thinking about how far a drop it is down to the rocks. Subtle, necklace. Subtle.
They try to race home to beat the storm, but they don’t, mostly because Jessica keeps slowing down to clean the necklace more, because she really wants to see it.
She drops it into a wave when a crash of thunder scares her and throws herself into the water trying to get it back; she’s very nearly sucked away into the undertow to drown in the storm, but she manages to get the necklace and get back to shore. Elizabeth freaks out at her over this, understandably, and Jessica can’t explain why she felt compelled to get it back.
At home, Jessica ignores the rest of her family while she carefully cleans off the necklace, removing all the encrusted dirt and salt. The rest of the Wakefields at first write it off as her daydreaming about limos and Hollywood now that she’s going to be “a bit movie star,” at least up until Elizabeth tells them that Jessica nearly drowned trying to rescue it from the ocean the second time.
Alice takes the necklace even though Jessica snaps at her. Alice waves off the question as to whether the red stone’s actually a ruby; that would make it worth a fortune, so of course it must be costume jewelry.
So this is when we learn Alice knows nothing about fine jewelry, right? [Dove: It’s hard to appraise jewellery when your daughter will stab you if you touch it and you’re off your tits on gin. Also, I bet she’s tired after a busy part-time day at work.] [Raven: Also, at this point, the necklace has crabs.]
Whether or not it’s real or costume, Alice gets super wistful over how beautiful it is, and Jessica lashes out that it is her necklace, and not just at Alice but at all of them. This level of possessiveness is a little much even for Jessica, and Elizabeth notices that it’s weird.
Before bed, Jessica cleans off the second stone, which looks like a diamond. She sleeps with the necklace under her pillow and dreams about falling through a storm and running up staircases and falling and running and falling and — you see where I’m going with this. (I don’t usually like dream sequences in stories, but this one is pretty entertaining.)
Jessica takes the necklace with her to school, but hidden in her backpack because if she wears it and people see it, then they will want it. That’s a type of logic, I guess. She does wear sunglasses to school since she’s now such a big movie star.
Lila (LILA! HI LILA!) gives her grief over them; Jessica lets us know that she thinks Mr Fowler spoils Lila rotten. You’re one to talk, Wakefield. While Lila’s trying to get into her locker, Ellen also asks about the sunglasses. She helps Lila get into her locker because Ellen knows Lila’s locker combination. Why does she know it? Because everyone knows it and they all use her mousse when they run out.
OH MY GOD #UNICORNSFOREVER. I love that this is a thing.
Lila squawks over this even as Ellen points out that she’s rich, she can afford to share. Which is true, but this is still theft, but also it is hilarious and perfectly Unicorn. I hope they’re a big part of this book, because the super editions/chillers/magnas go so much better when they’re all around.
Jessica tries to tell them about her big news, but Lila keeps shouting at them for using her stuff, at least until Janet turns up warning Lila that people are starting to stare. Also: Janet super casually drops that she also uses Lila’s mousse. Dying.
Janet beats Jessica to the punch when it comes to telling the others about the movie being filmed at the Keller mansion: she heard it from Belinda who heard it from Mandy who heard it from Caroline. Wow, for once Caroline actually got at least some of the details correct. Unusual!
(Great game of telephone, btw.) [Dove: I still maintain that Caroline is being deliberately bad with gossip. She makes “fetch” happen on a monthly basis. I swear she’s a genius who’s just messing with their heads with all this wrong information. Every so often she lets a nugget of truth out, just to keep people listening.]
Janet’s also heard about them looking for extras and the Unicorns immediately want to get in on that; they’re so excited they keep talking over Jessica who is still trying to explain that she is an extra.
The bell rings and they scatter because none of them want to get detention for being late one more time. I have my doubts about that; normally they’d all stick around for gossip whether or not they were going to get in trouble for it and this feels like a fake way to drag out Jessica’s news.
Jessica can’t be late, either, but when she accidentally touches the necklace while putting away her sunglasses, she’s distracted enough that she ducks into the bathroom to take a look at it. There’s at least one more stone beneath the hard sediment, but she can’t tell what color this one is. (…if it turns out to be blue, I’m going to be annoyed.)
Picking away at the necklace is taking too long, so she takes a nail file to it. This works far better than I expected it to; she must have a pretty sturdy nail file. She’s just started to uncover the third jewel (which is also clear and sparkling) when Ms Mendez, the new assistant principal, busts her in the bathroom. Dove, have we heard of her before? You have an amazing memory for characters; mine fails me all the time. [Dove: Nope. When I read this line, my reaction was, “Who the fuck are you?” I don’t think we’ll ever hear from her again after this scene. But let’s put her in the character tags, just in case. Note for the readers: Wing tags everyone in existence. Dove prunes heavily. Today they have swapped roles.]
Turns out, first period is half over. Jessica’s had one hell of distraction. Ms Mendez lets her get away with it, though, because she isn’t in the mood to write up a detention slip. I can’t decide if this is her not wanting to be interrupted while she uses the bathroom or if it’s laziness from the staff. Normally I’d think it was a chill way for her to give Jessica a talking to without actually putting something in her record, but since this is SVMS, I rarely want to give the adults the benefit of the doubt. [Raven: This is pure laziness. This fucking school.]
Wednesday afternoon, Jessica and nearly 100 other kids have lined up in front of the Keller mansion. Jessica wants to take Elizabeth to the front of the line because they’ve already been hired; Lila demands to know what the hell she’s talking about. I want to know what the hell is going on with the timeline here. I thought that Jessica and Elizabeth were hired on the weekend, but there is no way Jessica let that news sit this long even if the Unicorns were interrupting her all the time. But if they were hired on Tuesday, the talk of their adventure didn’t feel like an after-school sort of adventure. Ah well. I really shouldn’t expect things to make sense to me at this point.
Oh, wait, then Jessica flat out says that she and Elizabeth were hired on Monday afternoon. UMM. I stand by my earlier after school adventure statement, but also HOW THE FUCK DID JESSICA SIT ON THAT NEWS FOR NEARLY 48 HOURS?
Oooh, Maria’s there! Maria with her acting experience talks about twins being a good fit for acting.
(Meanwhile, Janet’s grumpy that Jessica didn’t tell them sooner. Best be careful, both of you. Jessica, if Janet has it in for you, you’ll be fighting with the Unicorns again in no time. Janet, you’ll end up in the Mercandy backyard. You have waaaaay more to lose here than Jessica does.) [Dove: But at least your parents can just hop the fence to visit your (unmarked) grave. The Howells live next door to the Mercandys. When the zombie apocalypse comes, Janet and her family will be the first to go. And hopefully Steven, because he’ll be at Joe’s house. Not that I’ve thought about this, or briefly outlined a few ideas.]
Lila puts her foot in her mouth with Becka, complimenting her on the work she did as an actor on a show where she played the “dweeb” whose friend always said something that made Lila laugh. Unfortunately, Becka hated that other actor (a fact we learn from Maria who has all the tea on Hollywood, it appears) and believes she was the funny one; Becka ends up saying they can’t use Lila, and of course, Jessica teases her that it’s because she opened her big mouth.
Becka’s entertained, though, and explained that Lila has too much of a “modern face,” too contemporary a look to fit into the 1940s when the movie is set. I know this is a thing, but I am curious as to the sort of vision of the past this sort of casting builds for people. We have a certain image of people and things in previous decades, but a lot of that stems from what sort of media survives: who was photographed, which photographs still exist, who was considered worthy enough of articles or movies or whatever. It’s all very twisted and staged in a lot of ways, and then this sort of casting perpetuates the cycle. She can’t cast Lila because audiences expect to see someone who looks a certain way; audiences expect to see someone look a certain way because that’s what they’ve been shown. [Dove: Even though it’s not the right timeline (1940s), my brain thinks they want the kids to look like Hayley Mills, circa The Parent Trap (1961), which makes sense to me, because the twins on the High covers look like a middle-aged Hayley Mills.]
Becka asks if the twins have any acting experience because there are about two lines of dialogue; Jessica says no. What? WHAT? What the fuck about all that work you put into stage acting with a goddamn famous actor? DAMN IT GHOSTWRITER GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER. [Dove: That really annoyed me. How many times is Jessica going to act “for the first time”? It’s just like her first kiss. (No lie, I typed “first kill”, which also wouldn’t be wrong.)] [Raven: I also thought this, then cut it some slack as it’s the first time she’s done any movie acting. Then I remembered The Slime That Ate Sweet Valley, so fuck that noise.]
Becka tells Jessica a little about the movie: it’s about two girls around 12 or so. One girl dies. The other girl kills her. That’s kind of delightful! I’m looking forward to more of this.
Another dream. Jessica is very aware that it is a dream, though, in huge part because she wouldn’t be caught dead wearing the old-fashioned black leather shoes she’s wearing. Not very dream-like here. Anyway, it’s similar to before: she sees someone digging into a box of jewels, the hand is odd and frightening, she runs and falls, falls and runs.
She wakes up at 3:36 a.m.; this time she doesn’t wake the rest of the family with her shouting. She holds the necklace for awhile, calming down. It’s nearly clean now; pretty much all that’s left is the clasp so she can put it on. The large red stone is clean and so are the six smaller stones. Damn, this necklace is fancy as fuck. [Dove: It’s never fully described, but I just assume Titanic necklace, only in red.]
Thursday, Elizabeth is bored in Mrs Arnette’s class, even though social studies is one of her favourite classes. They’re only two days away from spring break, and she thinks that might be why she’s having such a hard time concentrating while Mrs Arnette explains how a bill goes through Congress in the USA. Her voice drones like a fly buzzing back and forth across the room.
Guess what, Mrs Arnette. I have a much better way for you to teach this process:
Jessica is also struggling to stay awake; Elizabeth feels sorry for her because not only is this kind of boring (look, being politically aware and involved is important, but there is no way Mrs Arnette could make anything interesting) but Jessica’s been sleeping badly due to her nightmares.
Elizabeth wonders if that’s why she’s been so weird all week. She’s not excited about the movie or spring break; all she does is walk around in a sleepy haze and work on cleaning the necklace.
Amy points out that Jessica is falling asleep again and is highly entertained that she’ll be out cold any minute. Jessica’s too far away for Elizabeth to do anything to wake her up, so she tries to get Lila to do it, but Lila does nothing. She’s apparently not taking it well that Jessica (and Elizabeth) got cast in the movie and she didn’t. Shocking, I know.
Jessica does fall asleep and she has a horrible nightmare. She wakes up screaming, absolutely terrified, and gets the attention of the entire class, of course. Elizabeth rushes over to comfort her; Mrs Arnette isn’t mad, just worried, and sends her to the nurse’s office, which is actually a kinder response than I expected!
Jessica accidentally leaves her backpack at her desk; when she tries to go back for it, Mrs Arnette won’t let her and Elizabeth promises to take care of it. Jessica’s gone by the time class ends; the nurse, Ms Walsh, sent her home.
Elizabeth goes to the library to do some research on the Keller mansion between classes — um, is this lunch or something? otherwise you don’t have enough time for that, Wakefield; she spends 20 fucking minutes before she even finds an interesting article in The Sweet Valley Tribune from March 1939 – the headline is KELLER HEIRESS DIES TRAGICALLY. (She uses microfilm. I am charmed and a little nostalgic [though I certainly know libraries who still have old periodicals on microfilm].)
When she goes to grab a pencil from her backpack so she can take notes, she reaches into Jessica’s instead and finds the necklace. She decides it’s safer in her pocket than in Jessica’s backpack, so of course that’s what she does. I am loving this thread of the Wakefield women being unable to let it go once they touch it.
The article talks about Lillian Keller who died only minutes after celebrating her 12th birthday. Everyone believes she fell from a balcony at the Keller mansion; her body washed quite far out to sea but was recovered. No one suspects foul play, but Lillian did argue with Hilda Tomlinson, another 12-year-old, right before her death. Hilda is an orphaned cousin of the Kellers who was taken in by the family about a year earlier.
Super dramatic and gothic. I love it.
Elizabeth now thinks the movie will have something to do with Lillian’s death based on what Becka said the day before. Really? You just think that? You have a “strong feeling” about it?
LOOK AT THE GODDAMN TITLE OF THE MOVIE. WHAT THE FUCK, WAKEFIELD. [Dove: She’s smart!]
When Elizabeth gets home, she finds Jessica talking to herself about cake and a party, and, of course, doesn’t figure out that she’s running lines, because Elizabeth is an idiot. Elizabeth is excited to see the script that Becka messengered over, but turns out all she sent was one page. I mean, who wouldn’t trust an entire script to two new extras? Obviously they don’t know they’re keeping things from a Wakefield or two.
Elizabeth points out that Jessica suddenly seems excited about the movie when she’s been acting pretty flat about it before, but Jessica doesn’t know what she means, because this is the greatest thing that’s ever happened to her in her whole life. Awww, Jessica, I love you when you get all excited like this.
Elizabeth decides to wave this off as her being exhausted due to the nightmares. Things get a little weird when Elizabeth talks about the necklace and goes to give it back. Jessica’s tentative about it at first and then flat out says she doesn’t want it anymore; Elizabeth, meanwhile, is having a hard time telling her about it much less handing it over.
Wait. Wait. Wait. Do we have to do the rest of this book with Elizabeth as the driving force of the mystery plot? God, I hope not! [Raven: That was my worry too. It seemed arbitrary that they gave the necklace to Elizabeth. But then all became clear, and it was fine.]
Elizabeth takes the script upstairs to study it; sure enough, it’s about Lillian and Hilda. I’m surprised. Are you surprised? I’m sure you are.
Oh god, next up is Elizabeth having one of the dreams. She’s shouting that her mother gave something to her, not to the other girl. As they fight, someone else calls for them not to run off because there’s ice cream. Gee, I wonder if that’s going to come into play within the script dialogue later.
Elizabeth, too, sees someone rummaging in the jewelry box — someone with only four fingers on the hand (I’m guessing, all she says is that there are only four).
Then she runs and she falls, because of course.
Elizabeth wakes up from the nightmare screaming, too, but doesn’t wake her family; she decides the dream happened because she’s been reading articles about murder right before she went to sleep. UMMM. No, that was hours ago, wasn’t it?
Here’s the script page that the Wakefields have:
LILLIAN: My mother would never give me something that didn’t rightly belong to her.
HILDA: But she has. I know. I’ve seen it many times before, around her neck when she went out to parties.
LUELLA: Hey, you two. This is supposed to be a party
LILLIAN: (ignoring Luella and keeping her gaze fixed on Hilda) You’re just lying because you’re jealous. It’s mine. My mother gave it to me.
HILDA: (determined) But it belonged to my mother. My mother!
LILLIAN: (very angry) You’re being awful. I hate you! (runs away suddenly)
LUELLA: Wait! We still haven’t cut the cake!
HILDA: (in a whisper as she watches Lillian run off) I’ll never let her have it. Never, never, never.
Elizabeth is all la la la, I was right, my dream was just this scene with a few details different because it was a dream, guess the script caused it all along. Literally five seconds ago it was newspaper articles. COME THE FUCK ON, GHOSTIE.
Jessica wakes up feeling fantastic. It’s the last day of school before spring break, she’s going to be in a movie, and she’s absolutely starving for breakfast. She’s so chipper and energetic that she beats Elizabeth downstairs.
When Elizabeth finally comes downstairs, Alice tells them the exciting news that Robin is coming in from San Diego to visit over break. The way Alice phrases it, Robin’s only coming because of the movie, but whatever. Also, sure is convenient that her school is on break at the exact same time. [Dove: *sighs* Robin. yay.] [Raven: GO JAG-WAHS!!!]
Elizabeth wanders through her classes until she can ask Ms Blake, the science teacher, a question about the necklace. But she doesn’t want to tell Ms Blake about it, because she might want to keep it for herself. Instead, she says it’s an old bottle that has been in the ocean with all sorts of hard deposits and tiny shells. Ms Blake says the shells are probably barnacles and the deposits salts or minerals built up over time. There are chemicals that might help take it off, and Ms Blake offers to work with Elizabeth on it after spring break, because they have to be careful with the chemicals.
Gee, I wonder if Elizabeth is not possibly going to be able to wait that long.
SURE ENOUGH LIKE THIRTY SECONDS LATER SHE BREAKS INTO THE SCIENCE LAB. At least she’s damn proactive about cleaning the necklace. Jessica was too, in her own way, chipping at it a bit at a time, but Elizabeth wants the big guns, and I respect that about her.
Elizabeth finds the chemicals Ms Blake told her about and pours them onto the necklace; it starts to hiss at first, and she quickly rinses it with water. That’s not always the right response for chemicals, but of course nothing goes terribly wrong for her.
The chemicals have cleared away three more small, clear stones (now wait a fucking minute; last we heard from Jessica, all the stones had been cleared away and only the clasp was left, goddamn it ghostie); at first she’s pleased, but then the red stone falls out. She’s afraid that the solvent loosened the glue, but then she finds that one of the silver prongs that held it in place had broken off. She assumes that she or Jessica broke it while cleaning it. I BET THAT’S NOT TRUE.
There are initials engraved behind the red stone: J.K.T. Elizabeth wonders who that possibly could have been.
She puts back the chemicals but falls off the counter after she’s done. As she’s falling, she sees a flash of a story sky and a face darkened by shadows. She lands hard on the floor but doesn’t actually hurt herself (and doesn’t seem to hit her head, at least because there’s no talk of concussion, though that means very little). [Dove: Head injury? Walk it off! Oh, wait, wrong fandom.]
Nadia from wardrobe struggles to get Jessica’s measurements, but Jessica keeps fidgeting, because she’s Jessica goddamn Wakefield. Jessica finally tells Nadia that she and Elizabeth have the exact same measurements because they’re twins and that’s what twins do. (a) Wrong. (b) Oh god, whatever. [Dove: I really want one of them to pile on a bit of weight and to assume they’re still slender despite the fact their jeans no longer fit, based purely on the assumption that if one twin is slender, so is the other one. My interest is in broken brains and faulty Wakefield logic, not fat-shaming.] [Raven: Identical until Jessica’s boob job, obviously. Yay Nicki!]
Then Rolf, another worked, takes the twins inside the mansion to a huge ballroom that has been set up with all the lights and cable and cameras. Jessica talks about how it doesn’t seem well organised and an old man wearing overalls like the other workmen overhears and talks to them about it.
He introduces himself as Harold Brooks, a lighting technician. He explains that they put fake bricks over the real bricks in the fireplace because the lights will make the real bricks look almost purple and they want the actual colour. He warns them that you can’t tell real from fake or facts from lies in the movies.
Robin shows up on set to visit them, which seems a little weird considering they are fucking extras, but this set clearly hasn’t heard about, oh, security or anything.
They talk to Robin a little about the movie; Elizabeth is distracted and tired just the way Jessica had been recently. They argue over whether it is cake or ice cream in the lines, and Jessica flat out says that she expects Elizabeth to do Twin Magic with her so that Jessica can be the twin on set at all times. That’s actually pretty damn smart of her.
Elizabeth tells them about her research and what she learned about Lillian and Hilda.
While she’s talking about Lillian falling from the balcony, a bit of memory slips through her thoughts, but she can’t quite catch it. Something similar happens to Jessica, who eventually waves it off as a part of something she dreamed.
Oh, but no, Elizabeth and Jessica have been having the SAME DREAM SHOCK OF ALL SHOCKS.
Robin calls it a coincidence; Elizabeth tries hard to convince herself that is the truth, but it’s difficult. For one thing, Jessica had those dreams before she knew anything about the movie (really. Did she really?), so it’s not like it was inspired by the article and the script like Elizabeth keeps telling herself her dreams were inspired. [Dove: I’d give Jessica the benefit of the doubt here. Her attention was on the movie, the stars, the glitz, and not the subject of the movie.]
Since she can’t sleep and Robin is in Jessica’s room for the night, she takes the time to glue the red stone back into its setting.
On Sunday, Elizabeth sits down with Becka for an interview. Becka explains that the basic story of the movie is about Lillian’s death. Elizabeth is shocked when Becka calls it murder, but weren’t you there when she said it was about two girls, one who died and one who killed her? That … that certainly sounds like murder!
Basic backstory: Hilda’s parents were killed in a plane crash when Hilda was 11. They didn’t get on very well when Hilda moved in with the Kellers. Lillian and Hilda fought and suddenly Lillian falls off the balcony and everyone finds Hilda standing on it holding a piece of fabric torn from Lillian’s dress.
The Kellers decided to call it an accident to protect Lillian’s name and to keep Hilda out of jail; I mean, it’s certainly not like Hilda could have been frantically trying to save Lillian when her dress tore.
Hilda disappeared after she turned 18 and was never heard from again, even though she very well could still be alive based on age.
Meanwhile, Jessica is trying to give Jon, the makeup artist, instructions on how to do her makeup. His quote: Honey, I was doing makeup for movies when you were still learning to drool. [Dove: Do we have a gay character in Sweet Valley? He’s a stereotype, of course, but he’s here, so it’s like a win and a loss all at once.]
I love you, Jon. Talk to her like that some more.
Jessica is acting first that day, and gets taken to the set along with Maria and Mandy who are also extras, along with some other girls who don’t deserve to be named. Aww, I love when Mandy and Maria get to do fun things.
Becka gets them all set up, makes sure they remember their spots, and warns them not to even talk to Shawn Brockaway much less ask for her autograph.
Shawn snaps at Jessica and then completely insults her because she’s just an extra. Shawn continues to be obnoxious to everyone, and fuck her, because that’s no fucking way to treat people working with you.
She is an amazing actor, though, and really turns on the charm when they run through the scene. She does it perfect and Becka decides to do an actual take. She gives instructions to the extras; they are to look at Shawn and then offstage to where Lillian’s mother is standing in the movie.
Maria explains to Jessica and Mandy that Shawn gets so much work because she’s an amazing actor who almost always gets it right on the first shot, so people put up with it even though she’s a jerk. You know, Maria, you really could have fucking prepped them for her if you already knew all this.
Jessica is disappointed that they’re done filming for the day and Maria has to explain that they film the movie out of order and why. Again, this would be the perfect place for Jessica to at least think about how different it is from stage acting, but apparently that continuity no longer exists.
Oh, look, Robin is now an extra, too, because Shawn annoyed one of the existing extras so much that she quit. Jessica is still grumpy that she won’t know what’s going to be in the movie until it airs, but Elizabeth reassures her that Becka gave Elizabeth a copy of the complete script during the interview. Why the fuck would she do that if she didn’t give one to them already?
Robin just wants to know what was in the damn box.
I’m pretty annoyed with huge parts of this story, but I am super hooked on the mystery itself, so I’m glad we’re finally going to get more of that, or at least what’s appeared in the script!
… except no. Not at all. We skip through to that night. [Raven: I quite enjoyed the mechanical stuff aboutg movies, to be fair. It was interesting.]
Elizabeth has the necklace halfway cleaned (AGAIN WASN’T IT JUST THE CLASP STILL DIRTY NOT THAT LONG AGO?! [Raven: That was Jessica clean, not Elizabeth clean.]) and she keeps sneaking off to look at it. She thinks it’s weird that Jessica hasn’t asked about it since she let Elizabeth keep it.
Robin finds her with it and wants to see it, but Elizabeth snaps at her over it. Robin calls her out on being weird lately and acting like she’s had a personality transplant.
Robin falls asleep first and Elizabeth reads some of the script. Now wait a minute, I thought you were going to read that with Jessica and Robin. God, whatever, I have to stop being frustrated by the lack of continuity.
We still don’t get to see what is in the script, because we jump straight to another dream.
Hilda and Lillian fight over the necklace; Hilda says her mother promised it to her and Lillian refuses to believe that her mother would give her something that wasn’t hers to give. Hilda basically threatens her, Lillian takes it up to her mother’s jewelry box, absolutely shaken by how badly she and Hilda are fighting.
She finds someone digging into the jewelry box, but not whom, and then she’s outside and that horrible hand reaches for her and she falls. Even as she falls, someone rips the necklace away from her neck, and the last thing she sees is the four-fingered hand holding the necklace.
Elizabeth wakes up, Robin calms her down, and then Elizabeth realises that everything turns on the necklace. She and Robin go to wake up Jessica and Elizabeth explains what’s been happening. She doesn’t want to tell them her theory, though, because they won’t believe her, though her theory is just that the necklace was dropped into the ocean after Lillian fell, which is pretty clear that at some point, the necklace ended up in the ocean. That’s not unbelievable.
Robin thinks what’s really unbelievable is it then washing up by the Keller mansion right before a movie starts filming, which is a good point.
Jessica and Elizabeth are both far more open to the idea of Lillian being the one to bring the necklace up than Robin is, which makes sense, because, as we’ve said before, THEY’VE DEALT WITH REAL ACTUAL GHOSTS. [Dove: Pity none of them bring that up. It’d be nice if the Chillers were their own continuity, even if the main series didn’t acknowledge them.] [Raven: At least they didn’t blatantly state that they “don’t think ghosts exist.”]
They decide to run an experiment and give the necklace to someone who hasn’t had it before to see if (a) Elizabeth’s nightmares stop and (b) that person gets the nightmares. Gee, who could possibly be around looking nearly like a triplet? Why Robin. (She does look nearly like a triplet, doesn’t she? Which also brings up a question about whether they really would have hired her as an extra when she looks that much like another extra.) [Dove: That was exactly my thought. I can’t remember which book that description was in, but it pissed me off because EVERY WAKEFIELD LOOKS THE SAME. Boys look like Ned, girls look like Alice, all through their family line. CTRL C, CTRL V all the way.]
Elizabeth struggles to hand it off to Robin, but manages to do so at last.
Jessica and Robin go off to makeup and Elizabeth sticks around Becka for that article. While Becka starts talking to someone, Elizabeth climbs the stairs and goes looking for Mrs Keller’s room, because she knows exactly where it is. People have already been turning it into a set, but no one is there and Elizabeth is able to slip inside and look around.
She’s started by Mr Brooks, that workman from before, who tells her it’s too dangerous for her up there because of all the equipment. He struggles to open his cigarette pack with one hand, and gee I wonder if that might be important in the long run. He claims that he’s up there to smoke because none of the Hollywood-types downstairs want to be around cigarettes. I doubt that. [Dove: Now everyone would be outside vaping. There would be great plumes of scented vapour in the air.]
That day they’re filming the scene where Jessica gets to actually speak her dialogue; Elizabeth is still hung up over it being ice cream and not cake. Becka tells her that she’s already missed Shawn’s first blowup, which was over them not having her favourite brand of diet soda. Good god. Becka’s stressed enough that she gets out a cigarette, but being there with Elizabeth makes her decide not to smoke. Gee, you mean someone downstairs was going to smoke? One of those Hollywood types?
It does strike Elizabeth odd and sure enough she sees a couple other people smoking. [Raven: Also, Elizabeth being so saintly she persuades someone to quit smoking by flashing her supercilious smirk? Get to fuck, you spaff-parrot.]
Maria talks about how she used to get cranky when she was a star and how mostly now she’s glad she’s not; she wasn’t nearly as bad as Shawn and she doesn’t ever want to get to that point.
Jessica wanders away from Mandy and Maria; she can’t leave set, but distracts herself with some of the set decorations — old books, a china tea set, and old photographs — and finds a photo of young Mrs Keller wearing a wedding dress.
Shawn comes back and is super rude to Maria. She’s already been terrible, but since I kind of adore Maria, I hope someone sends her tumbling off the balcony, too.
Elizabeth and Becka talk about the necklace Shawn is wearing and how no one knows what Lillian’s necklace really looked like, this is the design they pieced together from newspaper accounts, etc. What, there were no pictures of it ever?
Mr Brooks rushes out to fix a light, using both hands, and Elizabeth feels like she just missed something and keeps feeling uneasy about Mr Brooks. REALLY. REALLY. REALLY.
What year was this book published? Have you never watched The Princess Bride? YOU SHOULD BE ALL OVER THIS RIGHT NOW. [Dove: Elizabeth is smart. Do we need a new tag for when she’s incredibly dim, despite being the smartest person in Sweet Valley? I’m making one.] [Raven: “Hello! My name is Elizabeth Wakefield. You killed some random. Prepare to be sleuthed.”]
Jessica does fine with her first line (though she thinks her voice is too high-pitched), but screws up the second by, of course, saying “ice cream” instead of cake. I feel for her. This is awkward and I bet Shawn is about to blow up.
That night, Robin has a terrifying dream and won’t wake up for a long time even with the twins working at it. Turns out she wore the necklace to bed, because Robin is a hilarious badass.
“You wore it?” Jessica gasped.
“What was I supposed to do with it? Eat it? It’s a necklace.”
Robin wants to get the necklace as far away from her as possible, but when Elizabeth tries to take it, she doesn’t want to let it go. Elizabeth tells Robin to put down the necklace, but Robin refuses until Jessica throws a glass of water in her face which distracts her long enough that Jessica can grab the necklace and toss it onto the bed.
Once Robin is calm again, the three of them discuss the details of the dream, all of which we already know — except that the man who tore the necklace away dropped it. Oh, and it was a man, she saw him. Oh, and also, Hilda was the last person Lillian saw before she died. Lillian was hanging off the balcony by her fingertips and Hilda stood over her, staring down.
Steven comes in to get food and to ask them questions, because he walks in just in time to hear that Lillian is dead; before he leaves, he tells them that, of course, the butler killed Lillian, because that’s what always happens in the movies.
GHOSTIE, I WILL BURN SWEET VALLEY TO THE GROUND
Becka takes them to watch the rushes, which is the film they shot the day before. I did not know that; that’s pretty cool. It’s fun to read about the different camera angles and how things are in and out of focus depending on what was filmed, too.
And then Jessica notices a girl standing at the back of the group, staring straight at the camera. Staring straight at the three of them.
WE HAVE A GHOST! WE HAVE A FUCKING GHOST!
Have I mentioned lately how much I love that Sweet Valley books sometimes have actual ghosts (and other supernatural things)? BECAUSE I LOVE THE HELL OUT OF IT, OH MY GOD. [Dove: Told you it was worth it. *smug*]
As they watch, the ghost puts her hand on “Hilda’s” shoulder and then goes over to the framed picture on the mantel that Jessica looked at, the one of Lillian’s mother in a wedding dress. Then she points back at Hilda.
The screen goes white and the film rattles as the reel ends, which makes the three of them jump; Becka is pleased with what she saw, which, of course, didn’t include the ghost.
Robin wants to drop the whole thing. Robin, if you’re going to hang with the twins, you need to get a lot better about rolling with things like ghosts. She’s terrified; Elizabeth is determined; Jessica is Jessica.
(At one point while Robin keeps trying to get them to quit — god, Robin, you are a buzzkill, go back to San Diego — she says that they never deal with ghosts back home; Jessica pops off that they’re not exactly Ghost Central in Sweet Valley, which is not actually true. Sorry, Jessica.)
They do some brainstorming (that is pretty terrible, so I’ll skip it) and finally come up with the idea that maybe Lillian is trying to tell them that Hilda got married after she left the institution. Becka couldn’t find her, but maybe that was because she was looking for Hilda Tomlinson and not Hilda New Last Name.
Elizabeth calls her Lillian’s murderer, and that’s the last straw for Robin. She wants nothing to do with nightmares, ghosts, and now killers, because catching them “is a job for the police, not for sixth-graders.”
… oh god. She actually has a point, but I am so wrapped up in this story that I don’t even want to think about that real world logic (in a story that is supposed to be real world). [Robin: I love Robin for this. Totally no-sirring the whole debacle. There are no ghosts in San Diego.]
Jessica remembers how terrified she was in the dream and is determined to give Lillian some peace at last. Awww, I love this. #bestjess And actually, #bestliz too. And #boringrobin
But Robin does stick around and helps out with the research they do to track down Hilda. When we join them again, they’re looking for a wedding announcement for Hilda. Elizabeth is worried that it won’t exist. Considering what happened, there’s no way she would actually have one, but I’m sure they’re going to find one.
Sure enough, Jessica finds it. I don’t even care that it’s ridiculous; I’m super into this mystery and I want to see both Lillian and Hilda avenged. (#HILDASINNOCENT) [Dove: Netflix’s newest documentary: Making a Murderer: Sweet Valley Edition.]
Hilda Ellen Tomlinson married Lieutenant George Edgar Zalanski so at least her new name is pretty memorable.
…ten seconds after getting a Sweet Valley phone book, Elizabeth finds H. Zalanski. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME. Okay. Okay. Okay. I’ve let a lot go because I’m interested in this mystery, but this is getting fucking ridiculous, ghostie. You don’t have too many more coincidences left before I start throwing things.
Hilda lives near the Keller mansion, in fact; Elizabeth gets all smug and says that lots of criminals return to the scene of the crime, it’s a common thing. Yeaaaaaah, ooooooooor Hilda stays near a place that she loved which broke her heart when her cousin died and she couldn’t save her. Just to name another theory.
They leave a note for Alice and Ned just in case things go wrong; Elizabeth hides it between the dinner plates so they won’t find it until dinner, but does not put Hilda’s phone number or address in the note, just tells her parents to look it up. WTF, you clearly have her address since you are going there. What a weird little detail to not include. [Dove: This was actually a really good plan. Except the part Wing noted, where they make their parents do homework in order to save them.] [Raven: It only took Liz a couple of minutes to track dwon H Zalanski, it’ll take Alice ten minutes, tops, even through the fog of gin.]
Robin says she feels like they’re in a horror movie and the entire audience is yelling at them not to open the door where the monster is hiding. I AM DYING. That is such a great comparison, and I love it, but I am also shouting at you to open the goddamn door already, so.
Elizabeth says that she doesn’t think Hilda is a monster (but she does still think she’s a murderer, obviously); Jessica isn’t so sure.
Robin wants to wait outside, and Elizabeth thinks that’s a good idea just in case.
Hilda turns out to be a nice looking old woman with gray hair. She’s friendly and polite right up until Jessica blurts out asking if she’s Hilda Tomlinson. Then she gets cold and sharp, which is absolutely understandable. Especially when Elizabeth tells her that Lillian Keller sent them, BECAUSE THAT’S NOT GOING TO UPSET HER AT ALL OH MY GOD.
Hilda kicks them out until Elizabeth suddenly says that the necklace did belong to her mother; the engraved initials were J.K.T. and her mother’s name was Jane Kaella Tomlinson. Hilda is struck nearly silent over this.
Hilda tears up and explains that she was too young at the time to understand that when her mother died, it was left to her aunt, who didn’t know how much it meant to Hilda and never would have meant to hurt her by giving it to Lillian.
(I have some doubts about it not going to Hilda, but maybe Dove will speak up to as the likelihood of this chain of events happening.)
[Dove: I can only speak to UK law, but in theory the chain of inheritance for people without a will is: spouse, children, parents, siblings, then through the family line, searching for the nearest blood relative, who receives everything (or split equally if they are the same relation, e.g. more than one child of the deceased). It would not go 50% to child, 50% to parent, or whatever. (Eventually, it goes to the government if no relatives are found. Keep that in mind, people. Make wills.)
If she had a will, it’s unlikely she’d have left it to her sister, if Hilda was so sure it was to be hers. Most of the time specific items are not listed individually, and will all fall into the heading of “personal chattels”, which can be left to anyone en masse. However, this necklace is worth a fortune and could have been mentioned specifically. Either way, I’d say it’s most likely it was left to Hilda, and what we have here is Lillian’s mother not listening/respecting the rules, and taking the shinies for herself and her daughter. Or, if I’m being kind, assuming that, as the carer for the beneficiary, she “owns” the things that are in her house, even though they’re Hilda’s. Or, if I’m being really kind, Hilda’s mother literally did leave it to Lillian’s mother, but didn’t tell Hilda, which sucks.
Do your probate research, writers. People like me find this “because you were a minor” thing massively eye-poking. Even if the benefiary is under the age of majority, they will still inherit, everything will sit in trust until they reach an agreed age (usually 18, 21 or 25, depending on the child’s ability to manage their finances sensibly), managed by more than one person, one of which is usually a solicitor/lawyer without any family/emotional ties to the beneficiary for the sake of fairness – and there is a legal requirement that the trust not be squandered or used to unfairly benefit any adults who care for the child.
tl;dr: It could have happened, but I’m not convinced.]
Hilda lives in a neat little cottage, but it is dark, dusty, plain, and threadbare; she clearly doesn’t have much money. They sit down for tea, and she goes on to say that it was all right for Lillian to have the necklace. Hilda was just angry because it felt like Lillian had everything, especially parents who loved her, and Hilda missed her parents a ton. They fought all the time because Hilda was jealous of Lillian’s parents being alive and Lillian was resentful that Hilda came to live with them and she had to share her parents, but they were friends, they were almost sisters. Ugh, my heart.
Hilda knows about the movie and has been afraid that they would track her down and bring back old memories; the twins apologise for bringing it up themselves, but she waves it off. She says that everyone believes she pushed Lillian off the balcony, but she did not, and she does not know who did. Only Lillian does, and the murderer.
Hilda explains that she went upstairs to apologise to Lillian; she heard some noise and found Lillian hanging on a little edge just below the balcony. Hilda tried to grab her and caught the sleeve of her dress, but it tore away, leaving only the fabric behind. TOLD YOU, ELIZABETH.
Also, Lillian kept trying to say something that started with an “h”; Hilda has always thought it was either help or Hilda’s name, but never knew for sure. She fell, and Harry ran in and started shouting for help. Harry was the family chauffeur, a young man barely 18 years old. He was handsome and terribly vain and he often told Lillian and Hilda that he would someday be rich like they were.
Sure enough, Harry cinched the case against her; he told the Kellers he’d been walking past the bedroom when he saw something odd and turned to look just in time to see Hilda push Lillian over the rail.
Hilda lived all over the world with her husband, but after his death, she came back to Sweet Valley. She was drawn back. I’m rolling my eyes over the convenience of this, but at the same time, I’m going to convince myself that Lillian drew her back.
The twins leave not too long after and catch Robin up on what they learned. They’re still not sure if they believe Hilda’s story, in part because none of them saw Hilda trying to save her in the dream only looming above her. It takes them far too long to figure out that hey, it was possibly the man with the four fingers. You know, Harry. Harry the chauffeur. (Thank fuck it’s not the butler.)
Jessica is even more determined now to find him; Elizabeth doesn’t think they’ll have to go far. Gee, did you finally catch up with that, too?
The next day, Elizabeth meets up with Will Shipley, the stunt coordinator, as he sets up for the balcony fall, testing the equipment and everything. They put a big bag beneath the balcony, which is perfectly safe, he promises, though it’s tricky to set up over the rocks because of the way the tide comes in.
There’s only two days of shooting left for the extras, so Elizabeth is feeling a lot of pressure to solve the mystery.
Whatever happened to the whole thing where they wanted twins so they could work both of them in the same day? Not only have they not had to do that, but none of the other extras seem to be twins, so … this was just an obnoxious way to get Elizabeth involved. Why not just let her be hanging around for the paper? [Raven: This actually pissed me off quite a bit.]
Elizabeth hangs around Mr Brooks, because she’s certain he’s Harry. He doesn’t show off his hand until she trips and nearly brings a big stage light down, but then it becomes clear that he does have four fingers.
The three girls sneak up to Mrs Keller’s bedroom; they hid in an unused dressing room until everyone else left for the day. Why — why is there an unused dressing room? Whatever, mystery, moving on.
They’re trying to trigger any lurking memories from their dreams. It’s not enough to stay in the room. It’s not even enough to open the balcony doors. They go out onto the balcony to see if that brings anything back. Well this is a fab idea.
Elizabeth tells the other two to hold on to her and leans over the railing. She wants to see if Hilda could possibly have reached Lillian, but she also wants them to hold on tight because she already fell to the rocks in her dreams, she doesn’t need to know how it feels in reality.
They send Jessica out into the hallway to pretend to be Lillian to see if that triggers any more memories. They figure out that Lillian stopped a few steps into the room, because she heard a rustling noise from the dressing table near the bed. (Sure is convenient that literally everything is actually the same but for the slight detail differences in the dialogue and the necklace.)
Why was Harry in the jewelry box? There’s nothing about any stolen jewels, but that’s something that people would have known about after. That’s why he grabbed the necklace; he couldn’t take the rest of the jewels because there would be too much attention due to Lillian’s death, but the necklace could have just washed away in the water.
Elizabeth then assigns Robin to be Harry so they can test Harry’s story. Elizabeth and Jessica go outside so Elizabeth can pretend to push Jessica over the side. Robin says she can’t see anything from the hall, and Harry would have had to be able to see around corners for his story to be true.
They’re interrupted then by Becka and Tony, the security guard. Becka sends him off so they’ll tell her what’s going on, and Elizabeth tells her their entire story. Becka calls it a crazy story, but also doesn’t disbelieve them. She likes to have an open mind about ghosts, and she knows something about Mr Brooks that they don’t know, which is that he was a lighting tech for 30 years and then retired, but when she got ready for the movie, he came back out of retirement, begged to work on it, and volunteered to work for free.
Goddamn, Harry, learn to be subtle.
He went on to steal a copy of the script at one point to devour it, and they figure he was looking to see if there was anything that would give them away. [Dove: Uh… why wasn’t he fired for this?] [Raven: … Because he was free labour?]
The next morning, Becka arranges for them to watch the rushes from two days ago just the four of them so the girls can tell her if they see Lillian in the footage. They don’t have the necklace, though, which I think is a bad idea. Robin eventually sees her and after she points her out, the others sort of can, too, but the longer they’ve been away from the necklace, the less they can see her. Jessica can’t see anything at all at this point. [Raven: I do quite like the weird logic of this.]
All Lillian did was hold up her hand, lower one finger, and then nod at Robin. Helpful, Lillian. Real helpful. [Raven: Ahh, ghosts. Never direct. “Whooo kiiiillled meeee? Answer this riddle… My first is in BADGER, but not in CANOE…”]
Shawn is terrible during filming that afternoon (she shouts at Maria again and throws a plastic sandwich at Robin). I still hope someone pushes her off something. Once filming is done, their plan is set into motion. Becka asks Harry to adjust the lights in the ballroom to stop the glare, and while he does that work (though he complains about it), the girls sneak into the costume room so Jessica can dress as dead!Lillian. She even has to wear the necklace, which makes her worried. She’s super brave about all this, though, it’s pretty great.
Jessica reenacts the night Lillian was killed, shouting in the ballroom and running up the stairs toward Mrs Keller’s room. Everything is just as it had been in her nightmare, the open doors, the open jewelry box, and then Harry looming over her.
Harry doesn’t believe she’s Lillian, but he does believe she’s Elizabeth, the nosy girl who’s been hanging around Becka all the time. He mocks her for thinking he would confess to a murder. He holds hard to his story about Hilda doing it, but Jessica argues that she tested it, there was no way he could see around corners.
Why did no one else check this ever, you ask? People like to believe the simple stories they’re told, I guess.
Harry locks them inside the bedroom and herds her toward the balcony.
Jessica shouts her safe word (Unicorns, of course), which brings the others running, but they can’t get into the room because, you know, locked. Tony the guard tries to break in through the door while the rest of them run back to the one-way mirror that allows them to record inside the room without being seen. Unfortunately, Harry hasn’t actually confessed to anything.
Harry wants the necklace because it’s worth millions, and he’s been waiting his entire life for another chance at money like that to come along. Harry backs Jessica into the railing, tears the necklace away from her throat, and tosses her off the balcony.
She falls and falls and falls — and safely lands on the stunt pillow. Not a terrible Chekhov’s gun there, though it probably should have come earlier in the story. Jessica screams the whole way down, and Will the prop master laughs at her over it, because this was all part of the plan, too. [Raven: I really enjoyed this whole section, as Elizabeth’s plan was foiled expertly by Harry through the simple act of locking the door. Then Harry’s plan was foiled by the foreshadowed bouncy pillow. Nice!]
Upstairs, Elizabeth and Becka watch as Harry marvels over the necklace. Then he starts talking about seeing Lillian on the balcony. YES VENGEFUL GHOST BEST THING EVER.
We don’t get to hear what she says to him, but he’s ready to confess to what really happened. Lillian finally accomplished her mission, and Jessica hopes she can rest in peace.
The wax cake they had built accidentally melted and so now they have a real cake for the birthday party scene, the last scene with the extras. Shawn is furious with Becka for rewriting half the movie because of the new truth; Shawn’s mad because now Hilda is practically the star of the movie.
Shawn shouts about everyone: Maria’s a has-been, Mandy’s pathetic, Jessica’s an airhead, and Becka’s an idiot.
Jessica snaps, grabs some cake, and hurls a huge handful at Shawn. #BESTJESS #SOLVINGPROBLEMSANDTHROWINGCAKE #VENGEFULGHOSTS #ILOVEEVERYTHINGRIGHTNOW
Soon everyone else joins them, including Elizabeth. Becka doesn’t have them stop filming, either, because she’s going to be able to blackmail Shawn for the rest of her life with this footage. I’m not sure that’s true and also, this is a shitty, shitty way to treat a kid. Just don’t fucking hire her if she’s so terrible. [Raven: Pfft, she got off easy. The way the story was going, I fully expected Jessica to throw her off the fucking balcony.]
Becka’s not mad at them, either, but does make them promise that they won’t go near the cake when they come to the premiere party next year.
Hilda show up on set so they can tell her everything; Elizabeth gives her back the necklace (and that strange attraction they all felt is gone, of course); Hilda is overwhelmed by that and even moreso by Harry’s confession.
AND THEN THEY SHOW HILDA A BIT OF FILM AND LILLIAN SHOWS UP IN IT OH MY GOD MY HEART MY HEART MY HEART.
Legit just teared up a little. UGH MY HEART.
This time, Robin can’t see her at all, but Jessica and Elizabeth can a little, because they had the necklace recently. Hilda can even hear her, though, and it’s so fucking sweet. They leave Hilda alone to talk to her dead cousin through a creepy-sweet film, and Wing’s heart great like five sizes. Maybe ten. Hell, possibly twenty.
Holy shit, I love this one almost as much as The Carnival Ghost. Vengeful ghosts, murder mysteries, cursed jewels, death by the sea, righting wrongs, a ghost reconnecting with a beloved family member — MY HEART IS SO WARM AND FULL.
Despite all the little things that annoyed the hell out of me, this book is amazing and I’m so glad I got to be the one to recap it.
[Dove: Really? I mean, I’m not saying it’s a bad book, but it always takes me by surprise when Wing likes a book that isn’t precisely her cup of tea. I mean, there’s no werewolves, for starters! I liked this book just fine. I feel like all Super Chillers have to fight harder to get my attention, because Christmas and Carnival Ghosts were so good, and everything’s a bit of a step down from them. This was a huge improvement on The Ghost in the Bell Tower, though. The plot was more fun and it seemed to move faster than Bell Tower too. Nothing will touch the perfection of Carnival Ghost, but this was pretty entertaining.]
[Raven: I pretty much hated this at first, then tolerated it, then actually grew to enjoy it. The whole “let’s wander over to the movie set and see if they give us a role in the move…. OH HAI THEY DID YEY” shit was annoying, but the movie stuff was entertaining, and I actually enjoyed Robin in this one. The ghost story was hackneyed and obvious, but then I realised this is a book for pre-teens so I shouldn’t expect The Usual Suspect style twists and turns. And the denouement was pretty cool. Overall, decent, but I remained unconvinced about the Super Chillers. Horses for courses, etc. Also, it needed more Unicorns. And Wing’s enthusiasm is infectious!]