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Recap #157: Ghosts of Fear Street #23: Why I’m Not Afraid Of Ghosts by Nina Kiriki Hoffman

Title: Ghosts of Fear Street #23 – “Why I’m Not Afraid Of Ghosts,” A.K.A. “Let’s Scare Oliver To Death!”

Author: Nina Kiriki Hoffman

Cover Artist: Broeck Steadman

Tagline: Boo Who?

Summary: The Ghosts With The Most!

Robbie and Dora are the spookiest ghosts on Fear Street. At least, they think they are.

Until Oliver Bowen moves into their house.

Oliver can’t be scared! The kid has an explanation for everything. The sheet rising off a chair all by itself? Only the wind. The howls and moans at midnight? His sister having a nightmare. The horrible face in the attic window? Just a weird reflection.

But Robbie and Dora have a plan. A plan to scare Oliver out of his socks – and out of their house for good!

Initial Thoughts

I’ve had a recap in mind for this one since last year but I had trouble fitting it into the schedule. I managed to purchase this book back when there were a handful of “Ghosts of Fear Street” volumes still in-stock at Barnes & Noble. I remember ordering this one because it’s the only one that seemed interesting.

It truly is one of the best in the series because it’s one of the few books told from the point of view of the villains, even though Robbie and Dora aren’t really that bad. There’s a whole set of rules established for what they can and can’t do as ghosts that’s not really explored in the other books.

Nina Kiriki Hoffman is believed to have also ghostwritten two entries in the Goosebumps franchise, specifically “Return of the Mummy” and “Deep Trouble II,” even though Stine claims he wrote all of the books himself. I haven’t found any info that denies or confirms that info, but I do know she also wrote “I Was A Sixth Grade Zombie,” a later entry in this series which I also love and will be recapping in September.

Fair warning Wing, Oliver has a pet tarantula, but it doesn’t feature too heavily into the plot.

[Wing: Did Stine have a pet tarantula or something? They keep showing up in his books.]

Recap

Oliver Bowen is excited by the possibilities of his new attic bedroom. He’s just moved into an old house on Fear Street with his parents, his obnoxious little sister Nell and her cat Thunder, his pet Doberman Spooky and his pet tarantula. While Oliver is currently sleeping in one of the downstairs bedrooms, he’s got his eyes on putting all his stuff in the attic and turning it into his permanent bedroom. Oliver likes old, creepy stuff and he’s intrigued by all the hidden secrets you can find in big, old rooms. See, Oliver’s family has had to move around a lot due to Mr. Bowen’s job as a government consultant.

His new best friend, Shawn Wood, isn’t so sure. Oliver really likes Shawn and wishes they were both going to school together (Oliver’s going to Shadyside Middle School, Shawn goes to private school), but Shawn had this one unfortunate habit. He won’t shut up about ghosts! Shawn has been telling Oliver all about the ghosts that haunt Shadyside, especially Fear Street. Such as Pete, the ghost who haunts Fear Street Woods and once a year can possess a kid during a game of hide and seek (which was the plot of “Hide and Shriek” and its sequel book).  [Wing: I like the continuity!] Shawn warns Oliver lots of kids have had run-ins with ghosts, and he wouldn’t be surprised if this creepy old house has got a ghost in it. The ghost might even be in the room with them now! Oliver insists the only spook infesting this house is his sister Nell, loudly declaring she better not be eavesdropping and she better stay out of this room. Nell answers back she’s not eavesdropping.

Oliver has to tell Shawn yet again there’s no such thing as ghosts, and even if there were, they wouldn’t scare him. Shawn warns Oliver not to laugh, so he makes a point of standing in the middle of the room letting out several big “HA’s” to whatever ghosts there might be. At that moment, Shawn watches in horror as a sheet draped over a chair near the open attic window starts to float in the air!

Oliver tells Shawn to calm down since it’s most likely Spooky hiding under the sheet… but yanks it away and finds nothing. Oliver shrugs and figures it was the wind, but Shawn insists it was a ghost. Oliver reasons a ghost wouldn’t do something as dumb as a levitating sheet trick. Oliver decides to show Shawn something cool in his current bedroom, declaring Nell better not have touched anything in there as they leave.

And that’s when the ghosts DO appear!

Sibling specters Robbie and Dora appear in a whirlwind of dust, a trick Robbie hates because it leaves him feeling dry and thirsty even though he’s dead. The two of them were dressed in the same clothes they had on when they died, Robbie a wimpy sailor uniform, Dora a yellow dress with puffy sleeves and her hair done in two braids with ribbons. Robbie’s always hated being unable to change his clothes thinking no one could ever be scared of a 10-year-old in a sailor uniform, which is why he sticks with doing sound effect scares.

Robbie criticizes his sister’s attempt to scare Oliver with the sheet; she brushes it off saying some scares work better than others, but Robbie’s awful face could scare anyone. Robbie responds by sticking his tongue out and letting the skin melt off his face. Dora quips it’s an improvement.

“You want to see scary?

Her skin slowly peeled off her whole body, evaporating into the air. She threw her skull back and waved her white bone hands in the air. Then she danced around the attic as a clattering skeleton. Her yellow dress hung from her dry bones.

Robbie had to admit she looked gruesome. It was a really cool trick.

Plus she made her shoes stay on! They were button-up boots. How does she do that? Robbie wondered. Why don’t her bones slip right out of them?

Dora danced over to the big dusty mirror in the corner and floated up so she could see herself in her bones. She curtsied to her skeleton reflection, clacking her jawbone.

Robbie shuddered. He hated that noise. Except when he did it.

[Wing: Okay, these two are adorable.]

After Dora’s finished with her bone dancing, she discusses what they should do about Oliver Bowen. Dora doesn’t want him in their attic, but Robbie secretly likes Oliver. He wouldn’t admit to liking a Lifer, of course, because that would make him a traitor to ghosts everywhere.

Robbie does agree it would be best to get Oliver out of the attic, since it’s easier for them to recharge their ghostly energies in a room no one is using. Dora’s especially peeved by Oliver’s “No such thing as ghosts” attitude, and is giddy to scare him out of the attic. Better than that, she wants to scare him so bad he’ll cry to mommy and daddy and then they’ll move out of the house! Robbie wishes Dora would stop doing that. Every time someone moves into this house she wants to scare them away, which leaves them with nothing to do. Ghosts can only haunt people who live in their house, or they can haunt people connected to people who live in their house. If there’s no one living in the house, there’s nothing for Robbie and Dora to do.

Robbie admits it’ll be fun scaring Oliver, and soon the siblings are proposing a contest. They’ll take turns scaring Oliver, and whoever scares him the worst wins. Dora’s sure she’ll be the one to win, but Robbie insists he go first since Dora already tried that sheet trick. At the moment, Robbie is horrified by something coming into the attic!

It’s Nell, Oliver’s little sister. But wait, she’s looking right at Robbie and Dora! The ghosts worry Nell has the Sight, meaning she’s got the power to see ghosts no matter how they try to hide themselves. Thankfully, Nell’s not looking at THEM, she’s looking for her cat Thunder. Robbie floats over to his old rolltop desk as Nell seemingly looks for the cat, until he realizes she’s just snooping around Oliver’s room. Robbie jumps out of the way as Nell searches through the desk, pocketing Oliver’s magnifying glass. Robbie hopes she doesn’t find his secret drawer, containing some mementos of his former life, and is ready to scare Nell when Dora scares them both. As Nell runs out of the attic, Robbie orders his sister not to try anything as he checks out Oliver’s current room for scaring inspiration. If she does, Dora gets disqualified.

Robbie finds Oliver strumming an electrical guitar while Shawn’s reading a comic book. Robbie’s seen guitars like that on TV on the occasions he was able to watch some stuff in the past. Another reason why he wished Dora would stop scaring people out of the house was because TV was the only place he could be given glimpses of how much the world changed since he died. Robbie realizes he’s sympathizing with a Lifer again and goes back to investigating. He sees Oliver’s computer, his school books, his pet tarantula (which grosses Robbie out) when Oliver suddenly asks Shawn if he plays any instruments. Shawn mentions his mom made him take piano lessons when he was young but he hated them. Oliver talks about wanting to start a band, causing Robbie to wistfully recall the old piano they used to have in the house and how he’d like to learn some new songs before he stops. God this Oliver kid really needs to stop being so likable!

Robbie reads over Shawn’s shoulder, amazed at how comics have changed since he was alive when Shawn slams the book shut. Frustrated, Robbie’s not happy when Dora appears and asks if he’s got any good ideas. So far, Robbie hasn’t found anything he can really use on Oliver when Spooky the dog starts barking at him! Robbie is startled and doesn’t have the chance to react when Spooky runs through Robbie! As Spooky runs into the hallway after Thunder the cat, Robbie’s doubled over in pain. Whenever people or animals pass through ghosts it can get their energies mixed up; it’s the equivalent of nausea. Dora “praises” her brother’s smooth moves when he tells her the dog surprised him. Dora laughs and says she’s floating down next to him so she doesn’t “surprise” him. Dora teases Robbie so much he gets up and runs through her, mixing up both of their energies and making themselves equally sick. It was worth it. [Wing: That’s some interesting worldbuilding!]

After the two ghosts have reconstituted themselves in the attic, Robbie goes over his plan to scare Oliver. He’s going to wait for Oliver to fall asleep and will unleash his most frightening howls and moans. Dora thinks Robbie’s moans sound like a sick cow and she starts trying to out-moan him. It turns into a mini moaning competition between the two ghosts, and soon they start having fun rather than trying to one up each other. By the time they’re done, Robbie’s super revved for tonight.

The ghosts catch Oliver and Shawn watching old horror movies in the living room. Shawn’s confused that Oliver likes horror flicks so much even though he doesn’t believe in ghosts; Oliver simply thinks they’re cool. Shawn does a super creepy impersonation of the monster, and Robbie can’t help but be impressed by the kid’s skills. Robbie is a bit scared by a movie about a giant eye, which earns him some mocking from Dora, while Oliver and Shawn provide MST3K esque commentary on the film.

That night, once Oliver goes to sleep, Robbie carries out his scare. Carefully tuning his voice so living people can hear him, Robbie lets out several disgusting and terrifying howls of different varieties. Yet while Oliver tosses and turns a lot in his bed, he doesn’t wake up. Robbie gets annoyed by how this kid could sleep through a train wreck when Oliver suddenly jolts up out of bed. His eyes wide open, Oliver runs down the hallway to his parents’ room. Robbie is super excited he scared Oliver, and struts down the hallway behind Oliver while flexing his arms like a muscleman. Unfortunately, Robbie’s bubble is burst pretty quickly when Oliver tells his parents that Nell is moaning in her sleep. Robbie can’t believe Oliver thought all those awful sounds he made were from his little sister. Mr. and Mrs. Bowen think Nell’s having a nightmare and go to check in on her. Nell groggily mentions she doesn’t remember having a nightmare, but there were lots of moans in her dream.

All the way up to the attic Robbie is mocked by Dora over how badly his scare failed. Dora boasts her plan will be MUCH better but refuses to divulge the details. Robbie briefly considers sabotaging Dora’s scare, but is disgusted he would ever think such a thing. See, ghosts are supposed to haunt houses TOGETHER, and while the siblings may get on each other’s nerves, they’re not allowed to interfere with the other’s scares. Still, Robbie is hoping Oliver’s not scared by whatever Dora’s got cooking, because she’ll be completely insufferable.

The next day, Oliver is walking home from school with Mike Bowen, and Mike’s got ghosts on the brain as much as Shawn does. Of course, that makes sense since Mike had his own ghostly encounters in “Fright Knight.” Oliver doesn’t believe Mike any more than he does Shawn, but Mike ominously promises Oliver will be feeling differently pretty soon.

Reaching his house, Oliver notices for the first time his new home looks a little similar to the house from “The Munsters” when he sees Shawn waiting for him on the porch. Oliver got along pretty well with the kids at his school, but already decided on Shawn for a best friend since they had so much in common. Oliver wishes Shawn would stop obsessing about ghosts, though. As the boys toss a Frisbee back and forth, Shawn has to race around the house to catch it when he cries out in alarm. Oliver finds Shawn pointing towards the attic window, claiming he saw someone, a girl, looking down at him. Oliver’s sure it was only Nell before Shawn asks if Oliver was 100% serious about not believing in ghosts. Before Shawn can explain why he’s asking, the boys hear Nell running down the sidewalk. But wait, if Nell just got home, then… who was the girl Shawn saw in the attic?

Oliver figures Shawn got confused and was only looking at the curtain as Nell obnoxiously demands Oliver fix her after-school snack like their mom told him to. As Nell tries to bite her brother’s arm, Oliver tells her to get in the house if she wants her stupid cinnamon toast.

Back in the attic, Robbie can’t believe THAT was Dora’s big scare. Dora insists that wasn’t her scare; she hadn’t meant for Shawn to see her at that moment and must’ve been visible without realizing it. Robbie, for a rare change of pace, gets to lecture Dora about not wasting her energy in the build-up for a scare. Dora doesn’t wanna hear it after how Robbie’s scare failed, but Robbie promises if Dora’s attempt falls through he’ll spend a decade harping on her for letting Shawn see her by accident. Dora’s not too bothered by Robbie’s threat since he’s done a lot more embarrassing shit in the century since they died.

Robbie peeks into Oliver’s room as he begins to play a computer game, “Wild World Off-Road Super Rally,” with Shawn. Robbie’s wondering when Dora’s gonna begin her scare as he watches Oliver and Shawn race each other on a realistically detailed jungle setting. Shawn thinks the game’s a blast but Oliver’s wondering when the tough part arrives when their cars almost run down a young girl standing in the road. As Oliver and Shawn slow down their vehicles in the game, Robbie leans closer and discovers the girl is actually Dora! Oliver’s naturally confused since he never heard about anything like this in the game when Dora approaches the screen. As Dora’s face fills up the monitor, her flesh starts to melt away leaving only her bare skull!

“Hello, Oliver,” the skull said, and clacked its teeth together. “How do you like this game?”

It opened its mouth and flames roared out!

Shawn screamed.

So did Robbie.

Oliver, however, waits for a moment before he dashes out of his room into his dad’s private office. Robbie is mentally praying Oliver’s not scared as Dora crowns herself the Scream Queen Supreme. The sibling ghosts follow Oliver into his dad’s study, Robbie astounded by the weird tech Mr. Bowen owns, as Oliver tries to tell his dad something. Mr. Bowen gets his son a glass of water and asks him to calm down first. Once Oliver’s done that, he starts to tell his dad all about the game… and how STUPID it is!

Dora can’t believe what she’s hearing as Oliver recaps his cool racing game suddenly glitching out and turning into a dumb haunted house game. He explains all about how some silly girl made a lot of noises and asks if they can exchange the game for a non-defective copy. Mr. Bowen apologizes to Oliver for what happened and promises he’ll take care of it tomorrow. Dora rages about how ridiculous Oliver is being as the boy returns to his room. Oliver is surprised to see Shawn left without saying anything, figuring he must’ve been scared off by the game. Dora mutters at least Shawn’s smart enough to recognize a decent scare.

Back in the attic, Robbie is preparing for his second turn while Dora gloats he couldn’t possibly top her video game scare. Robbie quickly reminds her that scare failed too, but Dora’s so egotistical she feels even one of her failed scares can’t measure to all of his. Robbie sputters he’s got something great planned for tonight.

He just doesn’t know what.

That night, Robbie’s saved up all his energy and has waited for Oliver to go back to sleep once more. This time, Robbie’s not content with moaning and groaning. He curls his hands into claws and scratches across Oliver’s closet door. He tweaks the hinges on the door to sound nice and rusty, like the sound of something twisted and evil sneaking inside to get you. He conjures up a cavalcade of footsteps running around Oliver’s bed, a wave of whispers planning all sorts of sneaky, terrible things to do to Oliver in his sleep. Then he puts some strength to the footsteps and simulates the sound of Frankenstein’s monster stomping up to Oliver, followed by a moan and the cries of an entire pack of wolves!

To cap it off Robbie simulates the sounds of rattling chains, but chains being used to keep someone trapped. Robbie follows with the sound of each chain snapping, and the thing they were holding back coming up right to Oliver and declaring it wants to EAT HIM.

It muttered and snorted. “Tasty,” Robbie growled in his best monster voice. “Tasty boy! Nice nibbleicious fingers and toes! Nice munchy nose! Yuuuuum!” He tweaked Oliver’s nose.

But Oliver still hasn’t woken up.

Robbie’s not deterred and is so proud of his sound effects he’s starting to scare HIMSELF. Robbie brings out the moans of someone being horribly murdered screaming he’s going to die and the thing murdering him will come after Oliver next! Robbie stops to listen. Oliver’s not snoring anymore. Wait, Oliver’s not making ANY noises. Oh shit Robbie things he literally scared Oliver to death! Ghosts aren’t supposed to do that, they’re just supposed to scare people! Robbie begs and pleads for Oliver not to be dead when Oliver snorts and rolls over in his bed.

Oh thank goodness Oliver’s not dead.

Wait.

He slept through EVERYTHING Robbie threw at him, and he didn’t even wake up! All of that effort and energy on some of the best sound effects Robbie’s done, and nothing! Robbie’s so exhausted he can’t even float up to the attic and has to head up the stairs. He can’t even scare Spooky. Dora, naturally, is eager to mock Robbie for failing. Robbie reminds her they’ve done everything they usually do and nothing has scared Oliver. Dora reasons they have to start thinking outside the box, or rather, outside the house. Dora proposes they follow Oliver to school tomorrow and scare him there. Robbie’s shocked since they never leave the house, but Dora asks if he’s going to let Oliver get away with sleeping through all his best work. Robbie can’t believe his sister’s saying something NICE to him as she suggests they scare Oliver in front of other kids and humiliate him. Robbie’s giddy at the thought of such a mean plan.

During breakfast, Mrs. Bowen asks the kids if they had any more bad dreams. Oliver reports he slept fine, causing Robbie to wonder if Oliver’s too stupid to be scared when Oliver suddenly remembers something about chains. Robbie’s hopes are dashed when Oliver declares he figured out a name for his future band: The Rattling Chains. If Robbie wasn’t already dead he wishes someone would put him out of his misery. Dora assures her little brother Oliver will get his.

The ghosts have to attach themselves to Oliver and Nell’s shadows so they can leave the house. Robbie’s not happy he got stuck with Nell and is almost dragged to Shadyside Elementary School before he gets free and sticks with Dora. Robbie’s annoyed by how bossy Nell was the whole way over, making Oliver promise to wait for her after class and threatening she might get her new friends to help her spy on Oliver and Shawn. Dora reminds Robbie to keep paying attention for when her scare begins.

Robbie and Dora follow Oliver into Shadyside Middle School, but Dora doesn’t try anything right away. She waits until Oliver’s in math class, where Mr. Gerard announces they’ll be having a test to see where everyone is in math at this point on account of the new *coughcoughOlivercough* kids in class. Dora’s pleased all eyes are on Oliver, so she starts off her scare. Once the test begins, Dora goes into action. She grabs Oliver’s pencil out of his hands and drills it into the ceiling above him. Unfortunately, Dora did it too fast because Oliver assumes he dropped the pencil. Looking around, Oliver can’t find the missing pencil on the floor so he takes out another one from his binder. Robbie advises Dora to do it slower next time, but she doesn’t want to hear it from him. Dora does the trick slower, waving the pencil in front of Oliver, before jamming it in the ceiling. Oliver looks up at the two pencils…

And simply takes out another one.

Dora’s getting pissed, and tries to grab the third one out of Oliver’s hands. Oliver’s holding on pretty tightly this time, which causes him to scribble across his test paper. Once Dora lets go, Oliver simply erases the scribbles and gets back to work. Oliver might not be bothered by all this, but the kids around him have noticed and are getting pretty spooked. Robbie’s wishing Oliver would at least pretend to be scared so they can finally leave him alone, but Dora’s not giving up so easily. She throws Oliver’s textbook on the floor, catching Mr. Gerard’s attention. As Oliver apologizes and picks up his book, Dora jams the third pencil in the ceiling, much to the horror of a couple of kids. One girl asks how Oliver got the pencils in the air. Oliver looks up and simply shrugs as another kid asks him. Mr. Gerard reminds everyone to focus on their tests, but they’ve got their eyes on Oliver.

Dora’s trying to grab Oliver’s test paper, and when Oliver pulls back she shoves a fourth pencil into the ceiling. One kid thinks it’s cool, but Oliver can only sigh and goes for another pencil. Realizing he’s run out, Oliver asks if anyone around him has got a spare. They do not. Oliver has no choice but to get up and try to remove one of the ceiling pencils when Mr. Gerard demands to know what he’s doing. At that moment Dora grabs hold of Oliver and starts spinning him round and around on his chair. Mr. Gerard orders Oliver to stop as Dora spins him around six times before letting go. Robbie watches as Oliver’s eyes grow big and wide and his lips begin to tremble. He’s terrified! Dora did i-

Oh no wait Oliver just sneezed, false alarm people.

Mr. Gerard wants to know what the fuck is wrong with Oliver. Oliver sheepishly explains he was reaching up to get his pencil when he felt himself getting ready to sneeze and just kind of lost control as he tried to stop it from happening. Oliver, feeling quite embarrassed, apologizes for causing such a commotion and sits back down. Dora’s beyond enraged and screams at Oliver what a fucking moron he is, being too stupid to realize he’s being haunted. Robbie is more astounded and mystified at Oliver’s behavior, and is left wondering just who or what this kid is to keep pretending he’s not being haunted. I mean, after all that, he HAS to know what’s really going on. Doesn’t he? Unfortunately for Dora, she’s used up all her energy spinning Oliver around, which means her scare’s officially over. Dora begins whining about how much she’s wasting perfectly good scaring energy on a dodo like Oliver and believes Robbie hasn’t got a prayer. Robbie counters there’s no way he could do any worse than she just did, but now he REALLY needs to try something different if he wants to scare Oliver.

The whole school’s practically talking about what Oliver supposedly did in Mr. Gerard’s class and everyone’s been asking him to divulge his secrets. Dora’s now complaining about wanting to go home as they shadowed Oliver the rest of the day. Oliver entered his science class, where Mr. Gosling explains they’re going to be working with Bunsen burners. Robbie thinks they look cool, and is envious they never got to do cool stuff like this when he was in school. Oliver’s the odd kid out when everyone is put into pairs of two, so he has to work with his Bunsen burner by himself. Robbie gets a great idea and advises his sister to watch. As Oliver works on the flame on his burner, Robbie suddenly appears within in the flame and gets to work on scaring him. Robbie lets his face melt into a skull and lets his whole body turn into bright blue flames. Robbie declares in his creepiest voice that he’s going to get Oliver, now! Oliver steps back and…

He YAWNS.

Robbie can’t believe this as he looks around and wonders if anyone else is seeing this when Oliver asks Mr. Gosling for help because the flame on his burner is too high. Robbie pretty much loses his will to scare and floats out of the flame. Dora’s so exhausted she doesn’t even tease Robbie for failing, while Robbie’s too exhausted to even move.

At the end of the day, Oliver’s left wondering if things could possibly get any weirder when he gets the sense someone is watching him. Someone who’s right behind him. As Oliver heads to his locker, he cries out in alarm when he feels icy hands grab his neck! Oliver cries out and turns around to find Shawn. Oliver tells him not to do that before asking what he’s doing in Shadyside Middle School. Shawn explains he left school and headed straight to Oliver’s to tell him about the ghosts. Oliver’s officially sick of hearing about ghosts and asks Shawn to get a life, but Shawn’s insistent on warning Oliver about something. Oliver heads to pick up Nell at her school and Shawn repeatedly tries to explain there’s a real threat before Nell demands Oliver walk her over to her friend’s house since she can’t go by herself. Oliver tells Shawn he’ll have to hear it later, and is wondering what the hell is Shawn so worried about?

At the Bowen house, Robbie watches from the attic as Oliver arrives home. It’s a miserably, rainy afternoon, which perfectly matches Robbie’s miserable attitude after the fire trick. Shawn immediately shows up on Oliver’s porch, leaving Robbie to wonder how Shawn always knows when Oliver’s home. Oliver’s glad to see Shawn and asks if he can help him move stuff into the attic. Shawn lets Oliver know he’s not feeling too strong today. Robbie notes that’s an odd thing to say. Oliver decides they can play some checkers first and chat over hot chocolate. Shawn’s up for a game but gently declines hot chocolate. Dora, having properly recharged from the math class fiasco, decides to take her next turn.

As Shawn and Oliver get seated in the living room for a game of checkers, Shawn’s about to start explaining what’s going on. He knows it’s not safe to talk here, but he has to warn Oliver about the…

The…

Oh shit Oliver’s mug is starting to vibrate on the coffee table.

OH SHIT THE TABLE’S FLOATING IN THE AIR.

OH SHIT OLIVER AND SHAWN ARE FLOATING IN THE AIR!

Shawn knows the ghosts are doing this and screams at them to stop as everything starts flying around in the living room. Oliver tries to grab hold of the floor but starts spinning in the air, getting dizzy before he finally lands on his ass. But looks up in time to see the coffee table’s about to fall.

ON TOP OF SHAWN!

Robbie screams in horror as the table lands flat on Shawn with a sickening crunch! Olive gets hit on the head by a table leg as he tried to roll away. Robbie is beyond terrified and starts screaming at Dora for having done something so awful. Dora babbles she hadn’t meant to hurt Shawn before Robbie asks why the fuck didn’t she drop the table BEFORE she dropped the boys. Dora’s fearful of what’ll happen now, wondering what sort of punishment she’s going to face for killing Shawn as Robbie checks on Oliver. Robbie doesn’t even have enough energy to touch Oliver as Oliver begins to stir. Robbie’s glad at least ONE of them is alive.

Oliver gets up off the floor wondering what happened as he seemingly has no recollection of the traumatic last few minutes. Oliver realizes his mug’s spilled on the floor and the checkers are scattered and… why is the coffee table upside down?

And on top of Shawn?

And wh, what is that wispy white smoke rising up from the coffee table?

Oh shit, you guys. Oh SHIT.

SHAWN’S A GHOST.

Robbie’s all “LOOK WHAT YOU DID, DORA” as he gestures to the fact that she not only fucking killed someone she turned him into a ghost. Oliver is left stammering that Shawn is a ghost. Shawn replies he’s been trying to tell Oliver that for daaaaaaaaaaaaaa-WHAT?!

SHAWN WAS A GHOST THE WHOLE FUCKING TIME.

[Wing: HOLY SHIT WHAT. I thought maybe OLIVER was really a ghost, but not Shawn!]

Actually, Shawn’s been a ghost for two years now, and doesn’t want to get into details about his gruesome death. Shawn does all sorts of tricks to make Oliver believe him, sinking into the floor, making terrifying noises, and then he appears inside the TV like Dora did with the computer. Robbie and Dora are relieved Dora didn’t murder anyone, until Robbie realizes Shawn KNEW they were there the whole time! Like when Shawn was reading that comic, he deliberately closed it because he knew Robbie was reading over his shoulder. What a fucking traitor to ghosts!

Shawn gets Oliver to admit he believes in ghosts, but now he has to warn Oliver about the real danger. He’s been trying to warn Oliver about the evil ghosts who live in his house, shocking Dora and Robbie that he believes they’re evil. Why? Because Oliver is Shawn’s friend and Shawn wants to protect him. Shawn points out the devastation the two ghosts stupidly caused, but Oliver claims he doesn’t remember any of it. The last thing he recalls before Shawn told him he’s a ghost was them about to play checkers. So even though he believes Shawn is a ghost, he doesn’t believe there are any OTHER ghosts in the vicinity.

Up in the attic, Robbie gives it to Dora for her colossal screw-up. Dora tells Robbie to shut it, but he’s not giving up his one chance to finally criticize her the way she’s been criticizing him. He tears into her over how she managed to make Oliver forget all about how she scared him. Yet Robbie’s not just angry at Dora, he’s had it with Oliver too. Robbie’s through playing games. They’ve used scare after scare on Oliver, but now the kid gloves are off and they’re gonna scare the little bastard to DEATH. They’re gonna use all their energy to unleash all their best techniques at the same time; moans, howls, screams, they’ll wrap Oliver up in his sheets and spin him around, and they’ll levitate his pets and make them fly. Unfortunately, Robbie gets stuck with the stupid tarantula. Dora adds they’ll do the scare in the attic since Oliver’s almost done moving his shit up here. The two of them are feeling pretty good about tonight.

When Oliver returns to the attic with his tarantula, Robbie’s super excited but then gets pissed when he sees Shawn. Robbie’s worried about what type of powers Shawn might have to interfere with the scare, but decides they’ll get back at him too for being a filthy traitor. Robbie and Dora work to combine their energy, waiting until Thunder and Spooky are in the attic to start messing shit up. The siblings levitate the animals around and around, causing Shawn to ask what the fuck are they doing. But Oliver still doesn’t care, and is more interested in the big mirror in the corner of the room. Robbie demands to know what’s so interesting and floats over to Oliver.

Robbie looks past Oliver’s shoulder, not surprised to see he doesn’t have a reflection since he’s a ghost. What DOES surprise him is that OLIVER DOESN’T HAVE A REFLECTION, EITHER! Robbie’s so shocked the animals fall to the floor. Oliver calmly assures Shawn the ghosts were never a problem for him, considering he’s a VAMPIRE!

[Wing: WAIT WHAT?! OKAY THIS IS AWESOME.]

Robbie and Dora are horrified as they see Oliver’s glimmering fangs, and he looks right at them! Oliver declares he’s known about them all along because he’s got the Sight, and was just waiting for them to use up all the energy so he could feed off them! Robbie and Dora scream for their afterlives and float as fast as they can out of the house, never looking back. Oliver then turns to Shawn, who asks what Oliver plans to do with him. Oliver wonders what he SHOULD do with Shawn when Mr. Bowen enters the attic and asks if everything’s good. Oliver removes his fangs and confirms for his father that things are all clear now. Mr. Bowen congratulates his son on doing a good job as they’ve now officially de-haunted this house!

[Wing: WAIT FUCKING WHAT NOW?! THIS IS LESS AWESOME.]

Shawn is more than confused as Oliver reminds him Mr. Bowen works for the government. Specifically, Oliver explains he works for the Federal Anti-Spirit Task Force. They move around getting rid of ghosts and spirits in old houses. Oliver was simply pretending not to notice the shit Robbie and Dora were pulling to annoy them into leaving. The mirror trick was done with some translucent, non-reflecting goo and angling, while the rest was guesswork and good acting. Mr. Bowen asks if Oliver’s heard anything else about Shadyside, and Oliver mentions there are apparently a LOT of haunted houses in this town. Mr. Bowen’s glad to hear they’ll have their work cut out for them.

As Oliver and Shawn look for the tarantula, Shawn thanks Oliver for not turning him in. Oliver figures that’s what friends are for, and Oliver compliments Shawn on that skull in the TV trick. Oliver comments how stupid those ghosts were though, because everyone knows there’s no such thing as vampires!

Yeah Oliver, there’s

No

Such

Thing

AS VAMPIRES.

Final Thoughts

And then you know Oliver and his family absolutely sucked at their job because of all the ghost-related murders which occurred in Shadyside after this book, especially that one senior class that was fucking picked off one by one over an entire YEAR.

I always have fun reading this book and I fucking love Robbie and Dora, yet I can’t help but wonder where they went after leaving the house.

I thought it was super clever how Hoffman made it look like Shawn was repeatedly trying to warn Oliver about Robbie and Dora, and he was, but he was also trying to tell Oliver HE is a ghost too. And it didn’t just come out of left field, either. There were all sorts of hints like Shawn always popping up at the right moment, how he never ate anything, and that creepy monster impersonation that was so good it chilled Robbie.

[Wing: I’m sad that he wasn’t really a vampire and that Robbie and Dora were driven off, because they were GREAT. I hope you find a new home, kids!]

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One Comment

  1. Jude Deluca
    Posted 23 May 2018 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    Yeah, I’ve been wondering what exactly happens to the ghosts the Bowen Family drives out of these homes. It wasn’t clear if they try to destroy them or just kick them out of the house, so they must be going SOMEWHERE.

    I’m glad the tarantula didn’t bother you too much, Wing.

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