Recap #8: Arcadia 1: Nightmare Inn by T. S. Rue

Arcadia 1: Nightmare Inn by T. S. Rue
Arcadia 1: Nightmare Inn by T. S. Rue

Title: Nightmare Inn by T. S. Rue (Part 1 of the Nightmare Inn/Arcadia series)

Summary: When their car breaks down on the way to a weekend camping trip, Sarah, Matt, Adam, and Jodie are forced to stay overnight in the spooky, old Arcadia Inn. When Sarah has a vivid nightmare about a gruesome murder, she tries to convince the others that it’s a warning to leave Arcadia – or else.

Tagline: You may never leave…

Note: I will use “Bad Guy” throughout my reviews to refer to the anonymous killer/prankster/whatever. Doesn’t mean it’s a guy. Also doesn’t mean it’s ever successful at killing/pranking/whatevering.

Initial Thoughts:

I borrowed this from a friend, and, despite not enjoying it, I bought the following three books and read them on a long and boring drive from Kent to Cheshire. I do not have any happy memories, other than the covers were really nice. Unfortunately, I have since lost them, and ended up buying a 3-in-1, which has a crap front cover. *sigh*

Edit 28 February 2015: I bought a copy of eBay, and scanned in the cover. It’s beautiful.


Right, so we open up with Sarah spacing out as Jodie, her BFF (hah!) is excitedly talking about the upcoming trip to… oh, who cares, Nightmare Inn is where they end up, who cares where they were trying to get? Sarah is angsty and withdrawn and it’s meant to be all mysterious, but it’s not. Sarah has clearly shagged Jodie’s boyfriend, Adam. And now she’s going on holiday with Jodie, Adam, and her own boyfriend, Matt. A world of awkward. Also, Sarah calls Jodie “Ellen” by mistake, which is weird because she doesn’t know anyone called Ellen.

Sarah’s parents are completely indifferent to her. I don’t know why this matters. Anyway, they go outside, because they heard a car honk, and there’s nobody there. Then the car rolls towards them with no-one driving.

Naturally, we have an OMGWTF??? cliffhanger. Have I mentioned how much these bug me?

Anyway, Sarah completely no-sells this hilarious prank by standing in the path of the car. At the last second her boyfriend pops out from behind the dashboard and asks how she knew. I dunno, Matt, maybe because it’s far more likely that an eighteen year old boy would find it funny to hide behind the dash after honking to get their attention than a car is randomly driving itself down the street? Fuckwit.

Well, Sarah explains it thusly:

“Matt, if it had been anyone else in the world, I wouldn’t have known,” Sarah said, walking around to the driver’s side window, where Jodie joined them. “But with you, I always know.”

Seriously, Sarah, it’s not rocket science to figure it out.

Although I would give serious props to a PH writer that pulled a genuine ghost car out by chapter 2. I’m sorry, a ghost Isuzu. Was product placement a thing in these books, because the car is referred to exclusively as an Isuzu. BTW, Matt used to date Jodie and Sarah gets prickly about being compared to her, even though she clearly bumped uglies with Adam (who is Jodie’s boyfriend and Matt’s BFF) last night, but chastises herself for this. Anyway, Matt asks Sarah where she was at around 10:30 last night when he called, she says she was at the mall, but it closes at 9:30, and then Jodie says that she couldn’t get hold of Adam around the same time. Smooth, T. S. Rue, real smooth.

[Wing: Even if she hadn’t hooked up with Adam, she has no right to be upset over the old relationship between them. They dated before she even knew either of them. What the hell?]

Sarah said nothing. The light turned green. As Matt pressed on the gas pedal, he looked at Jodie in the rearview mirror. “You don’t think they were fooling around behind our backs, do you?” he asked.

“Matt!” Sarah gasped.

“Hey, I was just kidding,” Matt said. But he didn’t smile.

Next up, they pick Adam up, and Sarah gets a few moments alone with him. He wants to talk about last night, but she calls him Doug and walks away. Sarah wonders why she’s calling people the wrong name today. I’m calling FASTEST PREGNANCY EVAH with EPICEST BABYBRAIN OF ALL TIME. Well, no, clearly she’s possessed, but, y’know, babybrain is a solid backup theory.

[Wing: Even faster than the Breaking Dawn pregnancy! I didn’t think that would ever happen.]

Then she dithers a bit and feels jealous of Jodie and Matt’s friendship, then she wonders what Matt would say if he knew about last night.

They drive, it starts to pour with rain. Everyone acts like this is the weirdest thing ever because the weather forecast said it would be clear. Like the weather report is never wrong. Sarah sees a tree and recognises it. Super weird now! Also, they’re lost.

[Wing: But … later Adam recognises a tree, and it’s normal? I don’t … I don’t get it.]

[Dove: It’s a fucking tree, Wing. Even I can point at some woody leafy thing and recognise that much. Beyond that, I have no idea why this is such a big deal.]

[Wing: It’s not important because they recognised it as a tree, but as a specific tree. Silence, idiot.]

Sarah falls asleep and wakes up to Matt about to drive into a old-style school bus, she shouts, but he apparently doesn’t see it. Doesn’t. See. A. Bus. With. Headlights. On. Coming. Towards. Them.

So Sarah grabs the wheel and drives them into a ditch. Sarah sees the bus pass, it’s pink with flowers and peace symbols on. Nobody else does. And now the car – sorry, Isuzu – is stuck in a ditch.


Second, the whole talk about how four-wheel drive vehicles can’t get out of muddy ditches is just WRONG. Has the author never heard of people taking such vehicles mudding? No? MISSING OUT.]

They’re going to have to walk in the rain. Nobody but Adam brought anything waterproof because they trusted the weather report. You people are idiots! Adam can offer his waterproofs to the girls and the boys will just get soaked. Sarah thinks that’s nice and Matt’s a dick because he didn’t offer his waterproofs (… you know, the ones he didn’t bring either).

They walk in the rain for a bit and…

Sarah realized she’d bumped into his back. He’d stopped for some reason. She looked up and followed the beam of the flashlight through the mist and rain to a point ahead where the road forked. A huge, scraggly, bare-limbed tree stood at the beginning of the fork.

“The Arcadia,” Sarah said.

“What?” Adam asked, staring at her.

“Uh…” Sarah didn’t know what to say. Why had she said that? What was the Arcadia? “Nothing.”

Yet again, Sarah is spewing out words that she doesn’t know. And then Adam finds a sign that has fallen down, and it reads The Arcadia Inn. Everyone’s all “OMG, how did you know that?” except Jodie, who’s all “Who cares? It’s raining, people.” And I kind of love Jodie for being pragmatic here.

They walk until they find themselves at “The New Arcadia”. And Sarah thinks she’s been there before.

They meet this Hippie Dude:

A man with long gray hair that fell past his shoulders stood before them. It was obvious that he’d hastily pulled on an old, patched denim shirt and jeans. His feet were bare, and his chin was covered with several days’ worth of gray stubble. He wore half a dozen silver and turquoise rings, and a heavy silver and turquoise bracelet on his left wrist.

He says there’s nobody around who can haul the car Isuzu out of the ditch, and is reluctant to let them stay until he claps eyes on Sarah. They ask him if he knows about the hippie bus, he says there used to be one “but that was a long, long time ago.”

Also, there is an entire exchange clarifying that the Isuzu is an Isuzu Trooper. This could well be important, given how often the car is mentioned. It is pretty much a named character. Seriously, WTF?

Hippie Dude gives shows them to two rooms, one for the boys and one for the girls. Adam and Sarah have a moment as everyone says goodnight, then she chastises herself for it. She’s aware that something weird is going on, calling her friends the wrong name, knowing the inn, and the way her feelings for Adam have suddenly intensified. Also, just need to say, kudos on this. I like that she’s not totally in love with him from one evening, it’s the supernatural intensifying her feelings.

And now we find out what happened last night. Not much. They ran into each other at the mall, shared a pizza, got talking, and after he drove her home, they snogged, initiated by Sarah.

Sarah then dreams of being in hippietopia, and wearing a mood ring (oooh, they were so big right after My Girl, I had three). As she watches, the mood ring turns black and she wakes up, heart pounding.

Axl does bad dreams better than you.
Axl does bad dreams better than you.

She goes to the bathroom and finds the same mood ring. I’m betting she puts it on but does not remember doing so. Also, we have a “cliffhanger” ending as the bathroom door slowly opens…


Stop trying to build tension with this nonsense. It’s bound to be Jodie. Even my twelve year old self (not the brightest bulb in the pack) would know that. It doesn’t help the story at all. We all know that it’s not going to kick off until the final three chapters, so making mountains out of molehills is wasting our time. Make more of the actual spooky stuff that’s happening.

So, naturally it’s Jodie. Sarah asks if the mood ring is hers and it’s not. Sarah slips it on her finger and it was “a perfect fit.”

[Wing: Aren’t most mood rings basically one size fits all?]

Everyone gathers in Sarah and Jodie’s room, and the boys report that Hippie Dude cannot be found. Adam and Jodie head off to the office to look for him again (Sarah is jealous). Sarah asks Matt for the key to her room, since it was locked before he let himself in. He says the door was unlocked. Matt and Sarah have a bit of a snap at each other. Matt makes it clear that he knows that Sarah’s not into him anymore.

Apparently Adam and Jodie fail to find Hippie Dude, because in the next scene, they’re all just lounging around watching TV. Adam says he’s going to walk to the car – wait, did we just call it a “car”? It’s a FUCKING ISUZU TROOPER, BITCHES [Wing: — I just laughed so hard I snorted.] – to check on it and asks if anyone wants to come. Sarah, again, wants to, but says nothing. Then gets jealous.

For a long moment Adam’s and Sarah’s eyes met. He wanted me to go with him, she thought. But it was too late. Adam and Jodie headed out of the room.

Sarah suddenly felt a wave of anger wash over her. Why did Jodie always get to go with Adam? Why didn’t she ever get to go?

Usually at this point I would be raging, as I did in Beach House, about emotional fuckwittery – and generally, that is where I stand – except this is the entire plot of the book, so I’ll give it a pass. Sarah is being taken over by the Arcadia, and this is new to her (it came out of nowhere – like an RKO – the night before last), unlike the idiot in Beach House who basically dry-humped Buddy or Brad in front of her boyfriend and then was shocked to death that his feelings were hurt.

Sarah’s mood ring turns green, the colour of jealousy, [Wing: Well, I did my research, and this is what I found for green: mixed emotions, restless, irritated, distressed, worried, hopeful, normal, alert, no great stress, sensitive, guarded, and finally jealous. So while one, one, meaning of green may be jealousy, LOOK AT THE RIDICULOUSNESS OF THE OTHERS.] and it won’t come off now, even though it slid on easily earlier. It gets later and later and finally she decides to look for Adam and Jodie, who are not back yet. Matt decides not to. Sarah acknowledges it’s not because she’s worried, but because she doesn’t want them alone together any longer.

Adam and Jodie have failed to find the car (Hey, Isuzu Trooper, who did you piss off to get such a massive de-push after an impressive debut?), it has mysteriously vanished, and now thick fog is rolling in, so they head back to the inn. On the way back, Adam keeps seeing flashes of red – Sarah’s hair.

Back to Sarah, she set out to find Adam and Jodie, but instead a voice inside suggested she go for a run in the woods instead, and the voice is hard to resist.

Sarah felt as though some mysterious force was pushing her. And that same force assured her there was nothing to be afraid of.

I actually like that line. In fact, on this re-read, I’m liking the book so far. [Wing: Wait. What? You’re liking this book? WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH DOVE?!] [Dove: Dude, context is everything when reading that statement. I have recapped two R T Cusick books for this damned site, at this point, Twilight would be a step up.] [Wing: Except you’ve already mocked Twilight in this — oh, wait, you mean a step up from the other books. What, you want to recap Twilight now?] Ok, so Matt’s a bell end, but Adam and Jodie seem nice, Sarah’s emotionally confused, which I’ll give her a pass on, given the circumstances, and she repeatedly acknowledges that her emotions are amped up to eleven at the moment. She’s aware of how she should be feeling, and yet she’s feeling something else.

I don’t quite know how to explain why this is different to other PH characters, but there’s a bit more maturity in how Sarah is feeling, rather than, for example, Dove when she is being possessed by Wing in The Perfume. I’m not saying this is amazing, ground-breaking characterisation, I’m just saying it’s a welcome step up from the usual PH nonsense.

[Wing: *preens*]

Sarah runs along a stream until she finds a place where someone has dammed it up to make a pool. She automatically looks for a diving rock, then wonders how on earth she knew to look for it in the first place.

Sarah stared at the rock and then down through the clear water at the sandy bottom of the pool. As she listened to the sound of the water running down over the rocks, she imagined hearing the distant sounds of laughter and shouting, and someone strumming a guitar. Reflected on the surface of the pool, she could see a blue sky dotted with white clouds. Then there was a bare-chested boy, with beads around his neck and long blond hair falling down over his forehead in thick bangs.


A sudden rush of emotions swept through her. Love, jealousy, need…

Doug… I love you.

She gets a little freaked about this, but rationalises that she hasn’t had much sleep and she’s a bit emotional , so she heads back, except she finds herself in the hippietopia she dreamt of last night. She finds some love beads, just like one of the girls was wearing in her dream. Then someone grabs her from behind.

Obviously, it’s Adam. She makes a move to hug him, but then Jodie says something. They were chasing her for ten minutes but she ignored them.

They head back to the inn, and Adam and Jodie take off again and Sarah and Matt go for a mosey. He seems to be a bit friendlier now, and Sarah lists all the weird things (sans uber attraction to his BFF) that’ve happened thus far. He writes them off as coincidences. She says the place feels familiar to her, so Matt asks her to close her eyes and he leads her to the lobby and asks what she thinks it looks like. She describes a stained glass ceiling, but when she opens her eyes, it’s cork tiling. He suggests she gets a nap, and they have another fight because she asks for her room key again – the one he claims not to have. And clearly doesn’t, because this is a supernatural story.

Sarah dreams of murdering Mike, the hippie version of Matt. And I suspect this story will actually have a body count.

Matt heads down to the spa, and finds a hot tub. He fires it up and the text actually leads me to believe that he might be in danger. And at this point, I’m going to split Sarah into two: Not!Sarah and Real!Sarah. Not!Sarah is who everyone else sees, Real!Sarah is whose point of view I read scenes from. In this scene, Matt spots Not!Sarah, calls out to her and she ignores him, then Real!Sarah walks in. A bit of a let-down. He asks why she ignored him, and I want to know why Not!Sarah didn’t kill him.

[Wing: I often want to know why Not!Sarah hasn’t killed someone.]

Neither of us get an answer because… DUN DUN DUUUUUUUN… Adam and Jodie walk in. Blah, blah, more arguments about how nobody’s around, and eventually Hippie Dude turns up and we finally learn his name, Sebastian. He claims the car has been taken to the shop for work – I am astounded that Sebastian has not yet learned that we call it a fucking ISUZU! KEEP UP, SEB! They have to stay another night.

Sebastian is genuinely from the sixties, because he says “dude”.

They agree to have dinner with him. Adam and Jodie go to clean up, while Sarah and Matt have a chat. Sarah decides not to break up with him until the trip is over because she can’t handle a big scene. Can’t say that’s a brilliant plan, because I guarantee the tension generated by hanging out with someone – especially when you’ve just reassured them that you fancy them, only them and specifically not their BFF – who you don’t want to be around or touch, will be just as ugly as being honest and breaking up.

Matt finds a knife, and guess what? It’s the exact same one as her dream.

“Could I see it?” Sarah asked

“Uh, sure.” Matt gave her the knife, handle first. The knife felt heavy in her band. The handle was made of green plastic. Sarah touched the blade lightly with her thumb. It felt very sharp. As she balanced the knife in her hand, she imagined plunging it into Matt’s chest. Suddenly it wasn’t just a wild fantasy but an urge growing stronger every second. She had to fight herself to keep from doing it.

“Wow,” Matt said, reaching again for the knife. “You’re not usually into stuff like this.”

As Sarah looked at his outstretched hand, wild thoughts raced through her head. She imagined stabbing him in the neck, or sliding the knife down and chopping off his wrist. It would be so easy. It was so tempting.

Come on, Sarah! Give in to your evil side!

Alas, she does not.


[Wing: I’m sorry, are you under the impression that we’re reading a horror novel?]

Over dinner, Seb tells us the history of the place, and it’s dull. The only high point is the hippies took over it in the sixties, and there was a murder in 1969. Oh, let’s just quote the lot:

“What happened?” Jodie asked.

“Some hippie girl went on a rampage and hacked up three of her friends with an army knife,” Sebastian said.

Suddenly Sarah realized Matt was staring at her. His lips began to move and she was sure he silently mouthed the words: “army knife.”

Sarah felt goose bumps race up her arms, and she looked away.

“Why’d she do it?” Adam asked.

“No one really knows,” Sebastian said. “Some people said she did it because her boyfriend was fooling around with another girl. Some people said it was because she wanted the other girl’s boyfriend for herself, but he wasn’t interested, and she just went berserk and killed them all. Maybe she just thought if she couldn’t have him, no one else could, either. They tried to plead insanity at her trial, arguing that all the drugs she’d taken made her go crazy. But the jury didn’t go for it.”

“So what happened?” Adam asked.

“She was executed,” Sebastian said. “It took years with all the appeals and stays of execution, but I’ve never forgotten the date. She was executed on March nineteenth, 1977.”

Sarah looked up, stunned. Once again, her eyes met Matt’s.

“The day you were born,” he said.

Finally we have a legitimate DUN DUN DUUUUUUUN chapter end.

Anyway, Seb leaves them. Matt shows off the knife, and says he’s keeping it. Matt heads back to the hot tub, Jodie goes to bed and Adam and Sarah finally get to talk.

[Wing: Should they be worried that Matt first shows off the knife and then makes a point of keeping it? Umm. That does not make me feel safe.]

And buuuuurn. He wants to just be friends. He likes her and all but he’s with Jodie… well, you get the gist, like we haven’t seen this conversation (or lived through it) ever before. Sarah pushes the issue, and confesses that she’s always had a thing for him – I don’t know if this is bad writing, or whether the Arcadia makes her think that – and Adam tells her she’s being too aggressive. She apologises, and starts thinking along the lines of “I know he loves me, he’s just scared of his feelings for me…”

Oh yes, this will end well.

So, we cut back to Matt in the hot tub and Not!Sarah appears. I actually get to use the sex sex sex omg sex! tag for the second time ever. *shockface*

Sarah didn’t answer him. She just slipped into the hot tub. Her shoulders disappeared under the foaming bubbles, then her neck, then her chin. A moment later, all Matt could see was the top of her bathing cap. Then that disappeared under the bubbles too.

Totally weird, he thought. What’s she doing? The water was growing so hot that sweat broke out on his forehead. He was starting to feel uncomfortable. Sarah must have turned the water temperature up all the way. And where was she, anyway?

The next thing Matt knew, he felt two hands on his thighs.

She then drowns him in boiling water. Thank you, Not!Sarah.

[Wing: BLOW JOB BLOW JOB BLOW — wait, murder? Well, ok.]

Real!Sarah wakes up to Adam knocking on the door, asking if she or Jodie have seen Matt. They haven’t. Adam says he’s heading down to the spa to check, Sarah assumes he wants to get her alone, so says she’ll go too. Jodie doesn’t want to be left alone. They’re getting ready when Sarah finds the knife in her backpack, together with wet clothes, and she wonders how they got there. They go to the spa, where it’s fogged up and the hot tub is bubbly, but no sign of Matt. Sarah finds a bathing cap with strands of red hair in. They assume Matt is playing a joke on them, and head back to bed.

Oh you wacky kids, with your hi-jinks and your pranks: 1

Sarah dreams of Doug (hippie Adam), Ellen (hippie Jodie) and Mike (hippie Matt). Nothing happens, other than she wants Doug.

They again look for Matt and Sarah bumps into Seb in the lobby. He’s fixing a leak in the ceiling. Naturally, the tiles are covering the stained glass that Sarah told Matt about. Also, we find out Sarah’s sixteen, which places this book in 1993. I don’t know why I care, but I do.

She moves on and a TV turns itself on, showing her the people in her dream. She changes the channel, but the picture remains the same. Her hippie self is called Sharon and she’s wearing the same outfit Sarah found in her bag this morning.

She freaks out and takes off running. Someone calls to her, but when she turns to see who is calling, she gets knocked out.

She wakes up to relive the moments before Sharon’s execution.

She then wakes up in her own room.


She apparently ran into a tree and Seb carried her here. Seb and Adam head off to find Matt (the plot point that just keeps on fucking giving), and Jodie interrogates her about why she has wet clothes and Matt’s knife in her bag, when she claims she hasn’t seen him. [Wing: Wait, was Jodie going through her things? WTF? Someone actually did something a little sneaky and yet smart when faced with fear and a potentially missing person?]Sarah says she was scared they would think she had something to do with his disappearance, and so many weird thing had happened. Jodie accepts this, but internally, Sarah’s now pretty sure she did it.

Adam returns without Seb. Sinister. Then there’s a storm. Then there’s a powercut. And if those three events didn’t tip you off that we’re on the final act, maybe you should give up books and try something a little less taxing. They decide to break into the office and try the phone, which is, naturally, dead.

They build a fire, talk about how weird everything is, and Adam heads back to the spa one more time to look for the Plot Point Matt.

Sarah and Jodie talk about their men, and Sarah starts muddling up names in her brain, while bouncing from fear and a desire to leave, and accepting that she belongs there and needing to get rid of Jodie so she can be with Adam.

Jodie finds the idiot ball and glomps it for the entire scene. Sarah asks what Jodie would do if Adam cheated, and Jodie, despite the transparency of Sarah’s questions, is convinced that Sarah is worried Matt will cheat on her with Jodie (who is his ex).

Adam returns. He finally found Matt. He was exactly where Sharon [Wing: Why did Not!Sarah become Sharon? I miss Not!Sarah.] left him, floating in the hot tub.

Sarah dreams of following Ellen down to the lake, and holding a knife.

She wakes up and Adam is gone. She hears voices and realises it’s the TV.

A moment later she stepped into the television room. The large-screen television was on. But the entire inn was dark. There was no power. How could this — Sarah caught herself. Why bother asking? Things like this just happened at the New Arcadia, that’s all.

Yup. Everything is weird here. Give up trying to explain.

The TV shows her three body bags being removed from the Arcadia, and the arrest of Sharon. At which point Adam walks in and observes that she looks just like Sarah.

Then Jodie screams. I’m betting she’s not in danger, what with Sarah being here, and is just scared of being alone. Yup, that’s how it happened.

Sarah dreams of her/Sharon’s final moments with Doug. Doug thinks Mike and Ellen just took off together. Sarah asks if they can be together now their significant others are out of the way. Doug gives her a flat no, he doesn’t feel that way about her.

“But you haven’t let yourself—” she began.

“No!” Doug shook his head firmly.

He wouldn’t even give her a chance. She felt all the love inside her turn to anger as she reached down to her waist and kit the cold, plastic knife handle. On her finger, the mood ring had turned black. Well, if she couldn’t have him, no one else would either…

Still a better love story than Twilight. And 50 Shades of Grey. Combined.

[Wing: Well, that escalated quickly.]

When Sarah wakes up, she and Adam have a brief chat, and she gives him a bit of an outline about what has been happening – without the murderous bits. They then decide to go across the lake instead of down the road for help, since Sarah dreamed there are houses on the other side.

It’s foggy when they set out. They can’t find any boats, so they use jet skis. Sarah’s just getting the hang of it when hers speeds up with no input from her. She remembers the safety cord, and makes it stop. She’s waiting for Adam and Jodie to catch up with her when she hears her own voice calling for help.

Jodie sees Sarah, so goes over to her and is strangled with the safety cord for her troubles.

Unsurprisingly, Adam is not exactly ready to hear an alternate explanation, given that they’re on jet skis in the middle of the lake, so a drive-by strangling is unlikely. [Wing: It was a run-by fruiting.] He zooms off to the dock, and Sarah chases. He reaches the dock and hurts his ankle, and Sarah rugby tackles him and demands he listen.

[Wing: Pretty sure Sarah football tackles him, since this is in the USA.]

[Dove: I mean hand-egg. I don’t know what you guys call it.]

[Wing: … Hand-egg it is.]

She’s just getting to the doppelganger bit when Sharon rocks up and proves her point.

Then Sarah spends several pages pointing out all the similarities between her and Sharon, and Adam needs every single second of it explained.

Sarah acts as a human shield for Adam, knowing that Sharon can’t kill her without destroying herself.

Sharon goes transparent, then steps into Sarah’s body and disappears.

And then a railing snaps. I had no idea there was a railing, so I’m really looking forward to the next chapter, because it can explain where they are falling to.

Somehow Sarah managed to cling by her fingertips to the edge of the landing floor. Below her she heard Adam’s sickening scream and then an awful thud. She looked down and saw Adam’s body sprawled on the rocky shore.

Sarah decides she’s going to let herself fall because everyone’s dead because of her, and her parents barely care about her, and all that, but Seb heartlessly appears and saves her life.

“Why didn’t you do something?” Sarah cried. “Why didn’t you help us?”

“That’s not what happens here,” Sebastian said.

“Here?” Sarah looked around. “What happens here?”

“Things,” Sebastian said.

“What about Sharon?” Sarah asked. “How long has she been here?”

“Long, long time,” Sebastian said.

“And what about me?” Sarah gasped.

“Now you’re here too,” Sebastian replied. Then he took her by the hand and led her back to the New Arcadia.

So, that’s that. Everyone’s dead, and Sarah’s now stuck here forever.

Final Thoughts:

You know what? For all that was silly or bollocks about this, I actually enjoyed it. I have no idea why I didn’t like this as a teenager. Maybe I was just lumping it with Room 13 or The Attic, which are fucking dire. I do like The Pool though, so I will be recapping that soon.

[Wing: No, really, who are you and what have you done with Dove?]

Sarah: not a bad protagonist, and definitely more fun when her mind starts sliding towards the “he loves me, honestly he does” train of thought. Everyone else? Better than average. Bland, obviously, because look at the genre, but Matt is not your standard “joker” in this genre, his “pranks” are not cruelty made ok by people laughing, which is the case in every other PH I’ve read.

[Wing: No, Dove. No. I’m diagnosing Stockholm Syndrome.]

[Dove: One last time. I have recapped Cusick. TWICE. Context is everything.]

[Wing: I just need a tiny little drop of your blood to make sure you are you. Really, just a drop. I even have a fancy knife I borrowed from Plot Point. Wait — Dove? Dove, why are you fleeing?]