Recap #37: The Snowman by R. L. Stine by Wing
Title: The Snowman by R. L. Stine
Summary: Poor little rich girl… Coveting her money, Heather’s uncle/guardian hates her and makes her life miserable. Heather sometimes cannot help wishing her uncle dead. But when Heather’s uncle really does die, her new boyfriend tells Heather that he killed her uncle… for her.
Tagline: A cold-blooded killer.
A cold-blooded killer does what? That is not a tagline!
Note: As Dove requested, I’ve updated my template, because we now apparently call the Bad Guys Muffin Man. Hey, it makes as much sense as most Point Horrors. [Dove: and as Dove requested, Wing has finally updated her bloody template.]
[Wing: Oh stop your griping, I updated it the same day you asked. You’re the one who took it upon yourself to update the ones I already had in the queue. Not my fault I’m a billion books ahead of you, slacker.]
Initial Thoughts: I do not remember reading this before, but Stine has let me down over the past few books of his I’ve read (though his short story was surprisingly great), and I hate cold weather and snow. I don’t think this is going to be fun. Alas, it is time for me to return to my Stine feud, after taking a break for a few books. Might as well knock another of his off the list.
We open with Heather talking to her Uncle James while he is on the roof. He patched a leak, and asks her to hold the ladder while he comes down. Heather keeps slipping and sliding on the snow and ice, and he is grumpy about how long she takes. Maybe mocking the person who is about to steady a ladder while you climb down in snow and ice is not the smartest plan there, Uncle James.
I beat you because I love you: 1 (+1) (Abusive relationships in any way, shape or form.)
He keeps talking about he’s freezing to death while he shouts at her, and she mutters that it would be a good idea for him to freeze to death. The wind keeps blowing hard enough to move Heather and the ladder. He tells her to repeat herself, but she won’t; he then says he heard her and she’s grounded.
He puts one foot on the top rung, and she pulls the ladder away from him with all her strength. The ladder hits the ground, but Uncle James manages to scrambled back onto the roof. Heather thinks he “looks like a big, green squirrel.” Oooooooookaaaaaaaaay.
I beat you because I love you: 2 (+1)
He starts cursing at her, she walks away, he shouts that he’ll freeze to death, and she says that is the idea.
I beat you because I love you: 3 (+1)
Except the next chapter opens with Heather think that was all wrong, far too slow, and she reimagines the scene, but this time, she waits until he’s on the third rung before she pulls the ladder away from the house. He falls and she thinks the sound of him hitting the ground is like an egg cracking. She thinks it’s a nasty fall and starts laughing.
I beat you because I love you: 4 (+1)
Except in reality, she’s making out with Ben (straight black hair, large dark eyes) while she has this fantasy. Ben stops kissing her and asks what she’s thinking of, and says that she seems a million miles away. He then teases her that she must have been thinking about dinner and fantasizing that he was a giant roast beef. That — is kind of weird, Ben. Not quite as weird as her fantasizing about killing her uncle while you’re kissing, but close.
First Heather teases him that he was the turkey, which he laughs about, but then she says she was thinking about Uncle James, and he finds that really weird, too. Though he does then ask if Uncle James kisses better than he does.
Incest is relative: 1 (+1) (Yeah, so his dad is dating my mom, but I would totally give him one.)
Heather tells him not to be disgusting, she was just thinking of different ways to kill him. Because that’s healthy, Ben and I both say in response, because somehow I am in Stine’s head. Obviously this feud has gone too far.
Ben holds Heather, and she thinks about how warm he is, how she’s always cold, and then talks to him about Aunt Belle, who she thinks must hate Uncle James as much as she does, but is too afraid of him to admit it.
I beat you because I love you: 5 (+1)
Heather starts to worry that her relationship with Ben isn’t is exciting as it used to be because she’s thinking about her uncle while they hook up. I would be worried about something, Heather, but maybe not whether the excitement has left my relationship.
She flings herself at Ben, holding him, kissing him hungrily, trying to prove to herself that the passion is still there and she still feels things for him.
Their make-out session is interrupted by someone standing outside the car, hitting the passenger window: it’s Uncle James!
Dun-Dun-DUNNNNN!: 1 (+1) (Cliffhanger endings of chapters for no reason other than to build false tension and piss me and Dove the hell off.)
Since we already know it is Uncle James, there is no reason for this to be a cliffhanger. Way to have one that might have worked and then ruin it, Stine.
Uncle James is tapping the window with the wooden handle of a snow shovel, “his narrow face … bright red with anger, his eyes nearly popping out of his head from behind the thick, metal-rimmed eyeglasses … his thin lips were pulled back, revealing the yellowed false teeth that made Heather sick every time she saw them.”
Uncle James drags her out of the car and shouts at her about what the neighbors think of her, parking in front of the house with her boyfriend. Not the smartest place to park when you hate your uncle, I have to admit. Heather thinks he looks like a pencil with a red eraser in the bright yellow down ski jacket over his flannel shirt and baggy brown corduroys. Then he calls her a tramp, because that’s a healthy relationship and not slut shaming at all.
I beat you because I love you: 10 (+5)
Uncle James then tells Heather it’s time for her to go to work and that if she can tear herself away from her lover boy, maybe she’ll be on time for once. Heather mutters that she’s never late for her job, which is working as a waitress at the Cook’s Kitchen Coffee Shop in the Twin Valley Shopping Mall. What clever names, and not at all descriptive.
[Dove: At this point, I was just hoping that a Heather in a shopping mall would be epic…
… I was very disappointed.]
[Wing: Yet another missed opportunity from a book that probably pre-dates Silent Hill 3 anyway.]
Heather hates her job and that it takes up so much of her time and makes it hard for her to manage her schoolwork; she doesn’t understand why she has to have a job in the first place, because her parents left her with a trust fund, but Uncle James won’t let her touch it. He thinks a job will teach her hard work, responsibility, and self-discipline. He is not wrong, really, though I do think in an ideal world, high school students wouldn’t have to work and could just focus on their studies.
(I worked, starting as young as 11, baby-sitting, and then steadier jobs, and then 50+ hours a week during undergrad.)
(Her parents died thirteen years ago, when she was three, in a car crash, and she’s spent the last thirteen years hating Uncle James, being embarrassed by him, and being afraid of him.)
When Ben leaves, Heather notices that Uncle James has a strange smile on his face, and thinks that he’s celebrating a victory because he interrupted them and embarrassed her. She squeezes the plastic lighter she keeps in her pocket; it was her father’s, and she carries it not so much as a good luck charm (she’s not had much good luck) but as a piece of comfort to keep her father close.
She shouts at Uncle James that she hates him, and he tells her she’s a very disturbed young lady. (He has a “scratchy, high-pitched, almost womanly” voice.)
The coffee shop is a long, narrow restaurant with a white Formica counter that has 32 red vinyl stools lined up along it, eight red vinyl booths with tables, each big enough to hold six people, and a waitress named Marjorie working the counter (who can’t chew gum and talk at the same time, according to Heather). Waitresses wear black and white uniforms and white aprons. Mel Heatter is the cook and manager, and he is not happy that she is ten minutes late. Didn’t you just tell us that you are never late for work, Heather?
- how Mel looks at his watch every time she arrives,
- the course and ugly uniform that makes her look and feel forty years old,
- how Marjorie calls her “kid”,
- the smell of grease in her hair,
- customers who are always in a hurry,
- customers who are always unhappy with their food,
- customers who tip with greasy quarters, and mainly
- how the job takes up so much of her time.
Heather, you are starting to remind me of book Bella Swan, who hates pretty much everything except sparkly vampires. Heather sort of waits on a family, and then sees her friend, Kim Slater, standing at the counter. Kim is “short and a little chunky, and the three long, bulky sweaters she had chosen to wear, one on top of the other, made her look nearly round.” Per Stine’s usual, something terrible will either happen to or because of Kim, since Stine hates fatties. Fuck off, Stine. (She also has a hoarse, funny voice.)
Heather talks about wanting to quit her job, and how she has $3000 in her checking account, but Uncle James won’t let her spend it on anything fun. Now, I’m hoping that is money she saved up from her job and not the aforementioned trust fund, because otherwise, Heather is a complete idiot, and I am, for some reason, still holding out a little hope for her. Kim encourages her to quit and come hang out. Kim is kind of a terrible friend.
(Oh, good, we quickly learn that her trust fund has more than enough to pay for college, and that Heather is loaded. Very modest, Heather. But Uncle James is in charge of it until she’s eighteen and wants her to build character. Based on what I’ve seen of you so far, Uncle James is right.)
Heather thinks he’s stealing from her trust fund, though she has no idea how to prove it.
[Dove: OMG, why do I always have to rant about this. Trust funds, wills and concussions! In theory there should be someone in charge of a trust fund who could not benefit from it. There usually needs to be more than one trustee, but one will suffice if they get a professional to deal to avoid situations just like this. Money can only be taken out when a sensible reason for it is given. For example, one trust I dealt with, the beneficiary requested £12,000 for a top of the line TV and surround system when she moved into her own place with a new boyfriend aged 16. In order to stretch out her money longer, the trustees researched what a reasonable price was for TVs and she was granted £600 instead.
Unless Stine doesn’t actually mean it’s an official trust, and the benefits of her parents’ estate were held in his account until she reaches the age of majority. Which is stupid, and no law firm in the world would have done this while processing the estate — and if Heather can afford any college, in theory her parents should have a good will to protect their assets from inheritance tax, which means they should have set up the trust at the same time, or that the trust would kick in on death. So, long story short, this means: (a) Heather’s parents are trusting idiots who didn’t make good wills, and just moronically passed the money to James to handle; (b) Heather’s parents’ lawyers are useless who thought passing it to James was fine; (c) Heather’s parents’ lawyers were slack enough to miss the hard sell that to truly protect Heather, they should administer the trust.]
[Wing: (d) Stine doesn’t give a fuck about research. (e) Whether or not Stine did his research, the uncle is not stealing from the trust fund, but Heather is a paranoid asshole. Either could be true.]
Kim takes off, and Heather is headed over to help new customers when a boy grabs her arm. Uncool, dude. Uncool.
Dun-Dun-DUNNNNN!: 2 (+1)
He has “the most amazing hair. It was pure white. Not blond. Not silver. Pure white. It was parted in the middle and fell in waves down to his collar. It was even more startling because the boy’s features were dark. His skin was ruddy, almost tanned. His eyes were dark brown. He had the most adorable cleft in his chin.”
Heather thinks he’s the most handsome boy she’s ever seen and that he looks good enough to be in movies or on tv. He apologizes for scaring her (but not for grabbing her), but before they can talk, Heather has to go help some other customers. The restaurant is starting to fill up.
When she goes to take the boy’s order, she thinks “coffee, tea, or me?” and then wonders where that thought came from. Oh, Heather, if you don’t understand how attraction works, you and Ben are doing something very wrong.
The boy orders burger, fries, and a Coke, and then tells Heather that he just moved to Twin Valley a couple weeks ago. He goes to the high school, but she’s never seen him. He can’t remember his homeroom teacher’s name, but says he’s the really tall one. Heather provides the name Mr Louper. Heather points out that’s a sophomore homeroom, and he laughs it off that he thought everyone looked really young.
Now, on the one hand, it is possible he wouldn’t yet know his teachers’ names and that the school could make a mistake like that. On the other hand, this feels like a con artist at work, saying just enough to get Heather to fill in the blanks and give him the information he needs to make it sound real.
He flirts, telling her she looks like a Heather, all blonde and pretty, and she does find this a little weird. Even weirder is his answer when she asks his name: people call him Snowman not because of his hair (Heather asks) but because he’s cold as ice. He keeps staring at her after he says it, and she feels like she can see a plea in his eyes, and he’s asking her for something.
She tries to brush that off, saying that she thinks of snowmen as very round and soft, and he jokes that he’s exactly that.
Heather finally has to get back to work because it is very busy for a Thursday night, and so she can’t spend any more time talking to Snowman. She does realize that she’s drawn to him, and tries to convince herself that it’s not just because he’s a regulation hottie, it’s because he seems like a really nice guy.
Really? When, exactly, did he seem like a nice guy? When he was grabbing you? When he refused to give you his real name? When he stared creepily at you?
(Heather does think it was weird for him to say she looks like a Heather, but she knows she’s pretty, with “her gold hair, which she usually swept straight back into an off centered ponytail [so it’s not actually swept straight back then, is it?], her creamy, pale skin and high cheekbones, and her dark blue, almost-violet eyes.” OY. PURPLE MAGIC EYES OVER HERE.
She thinks she would be really popular if she wasn’t so shy, didn’t have to work so much, and didn’t have to live under Uncle James’ rules. And maybe if you weren’t such an asshole who hates everything.)
Heather goes up to Snowman (I am rolling my eyes so hard over the fact we still don’t have a real name) planning to flirt, but chickens out and instead asks if he’s ready for his check. He is, and starts to pull out his wallet, then asks whose homeroom she is in. (Mr Reedy, room 304.) He says he’ll look for her, and then, SHOCK, he “realizes” he’s forgotten his wallet. Heather thinks he’s really cute when he blushes, and that he looks like a ten year old. UM. HEATHER. IF HE LOOKS LIKE A TEN-YEAR-OLD BOY, HE SHOULD NOT BE “CUTE”.
Heather says she can cover it, and he offers to pay her back in the morning, but then asks if he can pay her back on Saturday night when they go dancing or something. Heather is super into this, but says that she usually doesn’t go out with the customers. Heather … Heather, isn’t that because you have a boyfriend?
There’s more awkward flirting, then he leaves and Heather finishes her shift. It snowed while she was working, and then she has to track down her car in the parking lot. She thinks the snow is pretty. (She is wrong. Snow is terrible.) [Dove: Terrible things can be pretty.] [Wing: But not snow.] She’s parked all the way down by the movie theater, so she heads into the wind and starts walking. The lights in all the stores seem to be going out just as she walks past them, which would be super creepy. (But is also awfully convenient timing.)
Heather starts to freak herself out because the parking lot is so dark and empty and scary. Then she hears footsteps behind her, coming up fast. And then, cliffhanger chapter ending, because of course, it is Stine.
Dun-Dun-DUNNNNN!: 3 (+1)
It is, unsurprisingly, Ben, wearing a blue down jacket and a blue wool ski cap. They bicker, and Heather admits, at least to herself, that she’s giving him a hard time because she’s feeling guilty about making a date with Snowman, and she doesn’t actually want to talk to Ben right now, she wants to daydream about Snowman. Oy, Heather.
She gives him a ride home, anyway, but wants to know why he walked all the way to the mall. He says he wanted to see her because he felt bad after their confrontation with Uncle James, and he wanted to make sure she was okay.
She complains about Uncle James for awhile, then lapses into guilty thoughts about her date with Snowman. She also drives really terribly, sliding around corners and bumpling into high curbs. Good grief.
Ben asks her out for Saturday night, because his friend Jerry’s parents are out of town and so Jerry is throwing a big party. Heather stammers, looking for an excuse, and finally spits out that she has to go visit her cousins. Heather knows it is a terrible lie that she’s not selling well, and sure enough, Ben doesn’t buy it.
Until she asks if he wants to come along, even though it will be miserable, but at least they’d be together. He points out Uncle James would hate it, and she says that it might be fun to bring him along just to make him angry. Heather is playing this part pretty well, and Ben does not call her bluff.
They make out for a bit, long, passionate kisses, and all the while she thinks about Snowman. Heather, you are a jackass.
Heather has a long dream about a perfect day of sledding in the snow, during which she kills her uncle by sending him slamming into a tree, which splits his head in two. She goes smiling down to breakfast after.
(We also learn that Uncle James slaps her face sometimes when he’s angry.)
I beat you because I love you: 20 (+10)
Heather and Kim are on the phone talking about her date with Snowman. There is only one phone in the house, in the living room, and Uncle James is listening to the conversation like a creepster.
I beat you because I love you: 21 (+1)
Heather and her uncle fight, as usual, while she gets ready for her date, and then Uncle James answers the door when Snowman arrives. He introduces himself as Bill Jeffers, and Dove has a theory that he is the grown-up Donny from The Baby-Sitter who has taken Jenny’s last name and is doing bad things. Makes as much sense as any other Point Horror connection. Dove also said that she’s not going to come up with a motive because the Point Horror authors hardly ever do, so why should she bother. I know I could have just let her comment here with all this, but it is more fun to steal her thunder. After all, I am the evil twin. [Dove: *sigh*]
Uncle James asks what kind of name is Jeffers and whether he is Hungarian. Snowman says there’s a little bit of everything in his family and he doesn’t know where he came from; Uncle James calls him a mutt. There’s lots of arguing and Uncle James giving him the third degree, and we learn that Snowman’s father is dead. They’re just about out the door when Uncle James asks what he should say if her boyfriend Ben calls, because Uncle James is kind of a troll. (He’s not really wrong here, either, but it is super trolly to handle the situation the way he does.)
As they leave, Heather and Snowman talk about how his father was even worse than Uncle James, but Snowman handled him, and he can handle Uncle James, too. Heather says he handled him just fine. I don’t think that’s the kind of “handling” he’s talking about, Heather.
(Not that kind, either. Get your mind out of the gutter, you pervs.)
They go to The Woods, which is a local dance club, flirting the entire drive. Heather daydreams about kissing him, and can’t stop thinking about how good he looks. Right up until Snowman says that he thinks they’re being followed.
Dun-Dun-DUNNNNN!: 4 (+1)
The headlights of the car behind them get brighter and fill the car. Snowman drives erratically, and Heather immediately thinks it is Ben, but then doesn’t it can’t be, because he’s not crazy. Fuck you, Heather.
Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: 1 (+1) (Essentially, “crazy” is a blanket term for a bad person with no qualms about killing anyone and everyone. Often because they are “crazy”. Because that’s how mental health works.)
The car keeps sliding, but Snowman remains “cold as ice” oh my god, Stine, stop. Eventually they lose the car behind them, and Snowman sheepishly admits maybe he’s been watching too many bad tv shows and they weren’t actually being followed.
They joke around a lot, but then Heather asks if he really thought they were being followed. He admits that whoever it was followed them really close and had their brights on, so it freaked him out.
He then notices that she’s clinging to her father’s lighter. He asks if she smokes, and she says no, she doesn’t even think it works, it’s just the last thing she has of her father’s, she doesn’t even really remember them.
Snowman talks about how he, his mom, and his brother are on a pretty tight budget, and he needs to get an after school job, he just hasn’t had time yet. But you’ve certainly had time to show up at Heather’s job twice and now take her out on a date.
Monday, Heather goes looking for Snowman in his homeroom, but Liza Holloway, a girl Heather knows from chorus, is in that homeroom and says there have been no new guys in it. Heather says that he must just have been confused about his homeroom teacher’s name. I am confused that she hasn’t tried to find him during homeroom before this, or hasn’t gone looking for him during the school day, or something.
Anyway, Ben shows up and is very cold to her. (He’s wearing black, straight-legged jeans and an oversized maroon sweater, in case you were wondering about the 90s fashion.) He confronts her, and says that he knows where she was Saturday night, he knows she wasn’t visiting her cousins. She assumes it was him following them, and he says he didn’t have to follow her, because Uncle James told him she had a date with another guy. Heather immediately screams that she could kill him. For not lying for you? Why in the world did you think he would cover for you?
I beat you because I love you: 22 (+1)
Ben says that there’s nothing he can really do if she wants to date someone else (which is true), but that she didn’t need to lie to him, which is also true. He’s really hurt, too. Heather keeps focusing on the fact that Uncle James didn’t need to tell him, and Ben says that’s not the point, he doesn’t care about Uncle James, he cares about Heather, and she’s the one who lied. He then walks away, leaving Heather to stew over how Uncle James is ruining her life. Um, this one is on you, Heather.
Heather spends much of the day thinking about her date with Snowman, and how they just seemed to click, how she felt super comfortable with him and told him her entire life story, about how unhappy she was with Uncle James, the trust fund, all the rules and problems, even the fantasies about murdering him. That seems pretty heavy for a first date, but okay. Snowman also has an unhappy backstory, and the move to Twin Valley has just made everything worse, bad enough that he keeps thinking about dropping out so he can get a job.
If this didn’t all feel like one long con, I would feel sorry for him.
Heather clings to him when they kiss good-night, and he seems surprised and pleased by the power of her emotions.
She wants to talk to Kim about Snowman at lunch, but all Kim wants to talk about his Ben, who called her on Sunday to find out who the new guy was and what was going on with Heather. Why didn’t you call Heather on Sunday, Ben? And you were doing so well at being in the right.
That night at dinner, Uncle James is waiting for Heather to snap and fight with him, but she refrains, so he picks an argument over whether Snowman is sick because of his hair color. Aunt Belle talks a little about her cousin Adele who had white hair at 12, and then “mysteriously” calls her poor Adele. Stine, nothing about this is actually mysterious.
There’s a fight over Heather finishing her food, and Uncle James jerks her around; Heather falls and hits her back on the corner of the mahogany dining room buffet.
James, Aunt Belle cries, what have you done to her?
Dun-Dun-DUNNNNN!: 5 (+1)
I beat you because I love you: 23 (+1)
Nothing, apparently, because Heather can get up and storm out of the house for work. Stine, what even is the point of these cliffhanger endings anymore?
On the way to work, Heather rages about Uncle James, hopes that Snowman turns up, and then starts trying to figure out what she can do about Ben. She has to make him forgive her, because she still wants to go out with him because he’s nice, understanding, knows her well, and makes her laugh — and she really cares about him. She also wants to go out with Snowman again, because he’s so much more exciting to her.
Wanting to date two people at the same time is fine. Starting it off by lying to one of them (or really both of them, though Snowman knew pretty early on that she had a boyfriend) is not the way to do that, and is a really shitty choice.
Snowman doesn’t show up at the restaurant. When Heather gets home, she calls Ben and apologizes, which is the least she should do. She then tells him that she still wants to go out with him, which he says is fine, and then tells him that she also wants to go out with Snowman. Ben does not take this well, and Heather seems surprised that he’s upset when she’s being totally honest with him.
First of all, Heather, you should have been honest from the beginning. He has every right to be upset. Second of all, just because you want to date multiple people doesn’t mean he wants that, and he’s allowed to want something different from the relationship than you do.
Finally he tells her not to call him anymore. I’m not surprised. Uncle James gives her some grief for being on the phone too late, and that’s the end of that.
The next night, Snowman does turn up at her work. When she tells him she looked for him in homeroom, he says that he had to stay home for family issues, but won’t elaborate, and says that they have already transferred him out of that homeroom. After all, it’s a sophomore homeroom, he wasn’t supposed to be in it in the first place. He also teases her that he’s not used to such a huge school, he could get lost in it. I was not under the impression that the school was so big, but sure. Why not. When she asks him what homeroom he’s in now, one of her orders comes up before he can respond, and she’s too busy to talk to him the rest of the night. How convenient.
He leaves her a note with a snowman drawn on it that asks her to meet him at Swan Park on Saturday afternoon.
On the drive home, she’s followed by a Ford Taurus that is probably black, but may only look that way because there is so little light on the road. She thinks that Ben’s mother drives a Taurus. She tries to give it room to pass her, but it just slows down too, and she’s sure that it is following her. She tries to talk herself out of it, telling herself she’s just acting crazy like Snowman. Fuck you, Heather.
Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: 2 (+1)
She wants to know whether it is Ben or not, so she drives to his house. His mom’s Taurus isn’t in the driveway. Look, you live somewhere with lots of snow and they own a house. I’d put my damn car in the garage. She stops in the driveway, and the car following her peels away without her being able to see the driver. She rings the bell, but no one answers, and it looks like no one is home.
Saturday, there is fresh snow because it snowed all night Friday. Heather heads into Swan Park, which has a gently sloping hill that levels into a wide, sweeping plateau with woods and a small, oval-shaped lake. Snowman is waiting for her at the top of the hill.
They walk around, talk about how it all looks so picture perfect it has to be too good to be true, and talk about how terrible Uncle James is. Snowman takes her back to a “secret place,” and Heather also finds that weird (though not as weird as I do), because he’s just moved there, how does he have a secret place already?
As they walk farther into the woods, Heather starts to have some doubts, walking into the woods with a stranger. Then she scolds herself for thinking bad thoughts about Snowman and blames Uncle James for making her suspicious. Um. Heather. Being concerned about going deep into the woods with a stranger is not a bad thing.
They end up a beautiful little clearing, and they build a snowman. Everything is fun and flirty, until Heather slips and falls into the snow, and then sees someone in the trees watching them. She tries to point it out to Snowman, but when she looks again, no one is there.
They finish the snowman, make out for awhile, talk about how much they like each other and how this is now their special snowman in their special place. Then, as they’re about to leave, Snowman knocks the snowman’s head off. When Heather asks why he did it, he “shrugged his shoulders and flashed her his boyish grin.”
Do you really want to be with someone who does that to your special snowman, Heather?
Next chapter opens with Snowman coming for dinner, and then a flashback to when Snowman invited himself over. He and Heather were talking about how her uncle just bought a new car and she thinks he’s stealing her money. Snowman tells her to get a lawyer, and Heather finally tells him to stop talking about Uncle James. [Dove: No, Heather. You were bitching about a problem, he made a suggestion, stop being a dick.] Snowman asks why she never invites him over to her house, which I would think is pretty clear, Snowman. They make a bet that he won’t last the entire dinner with Uncle James, and now it is time for dinner.
At dinner, Aunt Belle is pleased with how Snowman shovels down his food. Heather thinks that when he eats is the only time he’s not careful and controlled. For awhile, Uncle James is quiet, but then he starts picking at Snowman for being so hungry, and starts to criticize his mother for not putting good home-cooked food on the table. Heather is terrified that Uncle James is about to go off on a sexist rant about how that is a woman’s job. Fuck you, Uncle James. It is not a woman’s job. Uncle James then grills Snowman on his family and background. Snowman stays calm, but Heather gets angrier and angrier.
Finally Uncle James tells Snowman that he knows what he’s up to, and he shouldn’t try to get serious with Heather, because she’s going to come into a great deal of money someday, and when she does, she’ll end up with “someone from her own class. Not some white-haired freak whose mother can’t even put dinner on the table.”
OH YOU FUCKING DID NOT, YOU SEXIST, CLASSIST BASTARD.
This is understandably what finally sets Snowman off. He leaps to his feet, and Heather thinks they might fight, but he shuts everything down until he is cool and calm, thanks them for dinner, says good-bye to Heather, and leaves.
Heather blows up at her uncle then runs after Snowman. When she finally catches up with him, he smiles a little, seeming calm and collected, and tells her she won the bet. He keeps saying that it’s no problem, but Heather is furious that her uncle insulted him. Snowman tells her he can stay calm because it’s just words. Plus he has much worse things to worry about than some jackass old man.
He tells Heather that his brother needs an operation for his kidneys and they can’t afford it. He’s still thinking about dropping out of school to find full time work so he can pay for it, but even then, he’s afraid he won’t get the money in time. They go through a bunch of different options. Heather finally says that she can lend the money to him, she has enough in the one checking account she’s actually allowed to access. Snowman doesn’t want to take it, no matter how much she tries to convince him. He says he needs to be alone, to get his head back together, and takes off.
The next week, Kim visits Heather at work, and Heather updates her about what’s going on with her uncle. She hasn’t spoken to him since the dinner.
Though Heather also hasn’t seen Snowman since that dinner, he conveniently shows up while Kim is visiting her. Kim hasn’t met him yet, and he seems a little surprised that she is there. He’s fidgety and on-edge, not his normal cool, calm self, and Heather is worried about him. She’s off in twenty minutes, so he agrees to meet her outside at her car then.
He’s jumpy enough that when another car pulls up and its headlights wash over them while they’re sitting in Heather’s car, he freaks out and nearly takes off.
I’m sure you’re shocked to learn that he has come to talk to Heather because his little brother is still so sick and despite his refusal before, he absolutely needs to take her up on her offer to lend him the money. SO SHOCKED. He promises he will pay her back real soon, and that’s that.
A few days later, Ben turns up at the house to see Heather. They haven’t talked in weeks (has it only been weeks? It feels like this book has taken years), but they fall back into their same old teasing, easy friendship. He says he misses her and asks if they can go somewhere to talk (…talk, yeah right), but she is already running late for a shift at the restaurant. Ben then asks if she’s still seeing Snowman, and she says she is, though she hasn’t seen him since the night she wrote him the check, and she’s not been able to get ahold of him, because she never asked for his phone number. How can you be dating someone and not have their phone number, Heather? That makes pretty much no sense for the time, or for how teenagers work.
Ben says that means there’s no point in them talking, and Heather asks if he can meet Saturday afternoon, because she does still want to be friends with him.
That night, Snowman is waiting for her by her car after work. He’s bubbly and vivacious and excited and mysterious, and then he tells her that she did him a favor, so he did one for her in return and killed her uncle.
Well, that escalated quickly: 1000 (+1000) (Yeah, ok, so maybe the bad guy motivation isn’t quite as strong as you might hope.) [Dove: so little happens in this, I didn’t even briefly perk up when the murder happened.]
[Wing: Right? It’s so boring. So, so boring.]
It’s clearly been building there for awhile, but still, she gave him money, he killed her uncle, that’s a little bit of a leap unless he’s a contract killer.
Another car (the same car as last time, from the description, which is pretty basic black car) cruises through the parking lot, and Snowman again is tense until it pulls out of the lot. He tells her it’s not a joke and it was so easy. He tells “you always think it’s going to be hard, but it never is.” That phrasing freaks Heather out, because does that mean he’s done it before? Well, that’s certainly what he wants you to think, even if he hasn’t.
He says he strangled Uncle James with a red scarf, and because it is soft real wool, it won’t leave a mark and everyone will think he just had a heart attack. I am skeptical, but I don’t actually care enough to research it at this point, so moving on.
Snowman keeps telling her that he thought she would be happy, that she should be happy, now she doesn’t have to worry about her uncle anymore. She begs him to tell her it’s all a joke, and he says he guesses she’s from Missouri. She doesn’t get it, and of course she doesn’t, because unless you are actually in Missouri at the time, it doesn’t make any damn sense. (Missouri is the Show Me State, he means she won’t believe him unless he shows her, but this is a stretch, Stine.)
He has her drive him to her house, and when she gets there, sure enough, there’s an ambulance in the driveway, and her uncle’s body is on the porch. Her aunt is breaking down, and Snowman lets her cry on his shoulder. While he does, he looks at Heather, a triumphant, knowing expression on his face.
Sure enough, they call it cardiac arrest and mark him DOA. The paramedics won’t take his body with them, Heather’s family will have to call the funeral parlor. I would think the paramedics would call the medical examiner, but I wasn’t around the last time there was a dead body in the house, so I’m not entirely sure how that order goes. Dove? This sounds like something you would know.
[Dove: Things work differently in the UK — very rarely do our funeral parlours have their own crematorium and their morgues are generally a bit smaller, so that’s worth bearing in mind as I lay this out. Over here, they’d call the hospital, the deceased would be taken to the morgue and any paperwork would be filled out there (autopsy, if necessary; and one doctor will certify death). The family would then contact the funeral directors they have chosen, and the funeral directors will collect the body and will arrange a second certification of death if cremation is chosen. (Fun fact: get cremated, because that way two doctors make sure you’re dead before you get interred, much less chance of being buried alive.) I used to work in the funeral trade. Aged 18, I used to arrange baby funerals. My life is strange.]
Heather internally freaks out over her boyfriend being a killer, and confronts Snowman when he finally leaves. He again stresses that he did it for her because she hated him and wanted him dead, she said it all the time. She tells him she has to call the police, but instead of being afraid, like she expects, he laughs and says there’s no way she can call them, because she wrote him a check for $2000 and if she turns him in, he’ll claim that she paid him to kill her uncle. He then tells her that all the things she thinks she knows about him are lies, and the only thing true is that he has the check and they’re in it together.
Oh, Heather. You made some ridiculous choices, girl.
Also, throughout the rest of the book, there’s a bunch of Heather saying how crazy he is. I’ll just leave this here.
Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: 10002 (+10000)
Heather is surprised to see so many people show up at Uncle James’ funeral, shocked that he had so many friends. She’s also understandably distracted by that whole murder and blackmail thing. Heather is just thinking about going to talk to Ben when Snowman turns up and sits with them, still comforting her aunt like he’s part of the family.
Heather is trying to figure out what to do about Snowman when a black Taurus pulls into the driveway. She wonders if it is the same one that terrified her that night. Two men in nearly identical gray overcoats get out, both with wavy, brown hair, short, trimmed mustaches, and serious expressions. They tell her they are with the FBI and want to ask her questions about someone she might know. They introduce themselves as Special Agent Forbes and Special Agent Mackey, and they flash their badges too fast for Heather to read. Don’t ever let someone do that. If they claim to be law enforcement, you read the hell out of that badge.
They ask if she knows a William Jeffers with white hair, about her age. Heather is terrified to tell them the truth, so she spins a story about a boy coming in the restaurant, trying to pick her up, but she shot him down. They ask some questions, then tell her to call them if she sees him, and when she asks why they’re looking for him, they say he killed his father.
Next chapter, we are three weeks out from the funeral, and life is much better. Aunt Belle turned over control of her trust fund after she made her promise to be careful with the money [Dove: Nope.] — then promptly went out and bought a ton of new clothes and a phone for her room, plus she’s going to quit her job and she hasn’t seen Snowman since the funeral. Then Ben calls and asks her out for the next night, and she accepts.
Of course, that means Snowman turns up that night after her last shift, because of course he does. Stine believes in convenience in his plots.
Not even Heather is surprised to learn that he’s come because he wants money. She asks what it will take to make him leave and never come back. I don’t think that’s how blackmail ends up working, poor girl. He promises he’ll leave her alone if she writes him another check for $2000. After all, he can’t cash the first one, which is his insurance. That’s not exactly true, there would still be records, but whatever, too bored to care. Or to care that Heather is about to make the same mistake she did before, oh god, Heather, come on.
She tells Snowman he needs help because he doesn’t care that he killed someone, and he goes off on her, shouting and telling her stories about how his father used to beat him, and then he forces a kiss on her before he leaves.
I beat you because I love you: 24 (+1)
SHOCK OF ALL SHOCKS, Snowman shows up at dinner with Heather and Aunt Belle a week later. I AM SO SURPRISED, AREN’T YOU? [Dove: I am dead with shock. Can we end this now?] Heather certainly is, because Heather is being willfully obtuse at this point.
He is, of course, back for more money. This time he wants $5000 in cash. They make plans to meet at the old bank by the movie theater at 9 the next morning. It goes well enough, I guess, but she skips the rest of the school day, and drives around most of teh afternoon in the snow, then takes a nap in her car. She gets home around 6 that night, and learns that Belle rented the room above the garage to Snowman.
Surprise, Heather. /deadpan
That is enough to push Heather to tell Ben. He tells her she has to go to the police and tell them the whole story. Ben decides that they need to get back the uncashed check, take away his leverage, and then they can explain away the other check (and that giant cash withdrawal, REMEMBER THAT).
They break into Snowman’s room above the garage that night. He is, of course, ready for them, and hits Ben in the head with an iron tire jack. Insert Dove’s rant about the seriousness of concussions. [Dove: Again? I’m too tired, bro.]
Snowman takes off with Heather. He drives her out to their secret spot, and then knocks her out, too. When she wakes up, she is inside a snowman, because why the hell not. Snowman is still putting the finishing touches on the snowman, and Heather realizes she will run out of air soon.
She slowly works her hands free of the rope (so that was a shitty tie job, Snowman), and then manages to get her father’s lighter out of her pocket. The first couple times she tries it, there’s no flame (should have got a Zippo, Heather’s dead dad), but finally she gets it lit and then melts a small hole in the snowman until she can push her way free. [Dove: I smoked full time from 1994 to 2015, and I find it hard to believe that a thirteen year old lighter worked. My zippo has only been neglected for a year and it won’t work now. And disposable lighters are finickety beasts in the best of conditions. I want a lighter from wherever Heather’s dad bought his.]
Snowman is still there, of course, and he grabs a scarf and gets ready to strangle her with it. She, in turn, sets his old overcoat on fire. He manages to put it out eventually, but then Ben shows up with the cops. Apparently he did follow her that day she and Snowman went up there to build a snowman. Ben was being a creep and is now being reward for it. Awesome.
I beat you because I love you: 25 (+1)
Heather decides she’s allowed herself to be frozen with hate, and if she hadn’t let herself hate her uncle so much — and now she is thawing, and she and Ben can really be together.
You guys, I think I’m going to barf.
This is a terrible book. Nothing happens forever, and then everything is resolve in a huge rush. There’s only one murder and it’s like 3/4 of the way through the story? FIX YOUR FUCKING PACING, STINE. Also, everyone is terrible, and I can root for no one.
[Dove: I was so bored reading this book, it’s taken me two weeks to work up the energy to read Wing’s recap. That’s no slight on Wing. I just really hate this book. This is how I felt after reading this book.]
I beat you because I love you: 25
Incest is relative: 1
Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: 10002
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