Saturday, September 03, 2011

A Last Bit of Joy

SINISTER SCENES by P. J. Bracegirdle:
As the third and final installment of the JOY OF SPOOKING trilogy opens, Joy Wells is haunted by an inexplicable recurring nightmare. "Even if her fears about graduating were the cause, it still didn't explain the dream itself. What could plummeting into the sea possibly have to do with heading off to junior high?" Could junior high be any more terrifying than Joy's experiences in the delightfully creepy town of Spooking, which she is sure inspired famed classic horror author E. A. Peugeot? It seems likely that Joy's dream has a more disturbing source, and one closer to home.

SINISTER SCENES unfolds against the backdrop of an adaptation of an E. A. Peugeot story being filmed right in Spooking. It's a toss-up whether the disappearance of its young star or the upcoming school dance holds more horror:

"'What do you mean I have to go?' Joy demanded. 'Why?'
'Because if you don't, you'll regret it for the rest of your life,' Mrs. Wells warned gravely.
Joy looked at her mother, wearing a pensive expression. Since Joy was already hoping for an unnaturally long life, she had to weigh the possibility seriously, she decided. So she began picturing herself as a housebound old woman, bitterly wishing she had shaken her booty in a hot gymnasium with people she considered mostly bullies and bozos.
It just didn't seem likely."

Seriously, Bracegirdle cracks me up.

Joy is possibly the last child in literature I'd expect to become obsessed with being in a movie (and I mean that as a compliment), but her abiding love of Peugeot makes her excitement in accepting the lead role seem natural. She is not initially excited about the movie, since rumor has it that the movie includes vampires AND zombies "...the two monsters even Joy couldn't stand lately, mostly because every girl at Winsome had somehow come under the impression that they made good boyfriends. Pale and pensive with six-packs, they craved not blood and brains apparently, but chocolate and kisses. Joy was outraged. What was happening to the world?"

Precocious Joy is a horror fan who prefers to dress up in the clothes of her house's former occupant, adventurer Melody Huxley. As the series has progressed, she has moved from singular loathing of everything Darlington to finding its good points, even making a Darling friend, but she has remained wholly herself. She still sees ghosts and monsters everywhere (because in Spooking, they ARE everywhere), and her sometimes misguided Gothic sensibilities add to the series' dry humor, but she is undeniably becoming more complex and less of a self-imposed outcast. She relishes her movie role with enthusiasm she once reserved exclusively for the macabre. But there is plenty of the macabre to be had during filming. Rock star and mediocre actor Teddy Danger, haunted by the creepy mansion that is his home-away-from-home during filming, undergoes a radical transformation.

Will Joy finally prove that Spooking was the home of E. A. Peugeot? Will she find out the fate of Melody Huxley? Will she even survive the trilogy? Good heavens, you don't think I'd tell you any of THAT, did you? Get thee to a bookstore!

I highly recommend starting Joy's adventures at the beginning, with FIENDISH DEEDS followed by UNEARTHLY ASYLUM. Although a Spooking novice could follow SINISTER SCENES as a standalone, there is so much character development (especially with the series villains, who become satisfyingly nuanced) throughout the trilogy, that skipping the first two installments denies you an abundance of backstory.

Source disclosure: I purchased this book.

No comments: