reading: Creepover: The Ride of Your Life

Blurb: Gabby gets her fair share of frights at a country carnival in this spooky Creepover tale.
Adventurous Gabby Carter is excited to visit her best friend Sydney in Sydney’s new town in Iowa. Gabby is wondering what they’re going to do, surrounded by cornfields, when they discover an amazing carnival full of kids their age…and two very cute boys. But then strange things start happening at the fair: the Tilt-a-Whirl spins a little too quickly, and the eyes of the painted face on the funhouse follow Gabby. Gabby can’t believe she’s the one begging cautious Sydney to leave the carnival—but Sydney won’t leave! Can Gabby convince Sydney they don’t want to find out how haunted this carnival truly is?
This roller coaster of a story is rated a Level 4 on the Creep-o-Meter.

ride of your lifeThere’s not a lot I can tell you that you haven’t guessed from the blurb, although there’s a bittersweet “time passes but they never age” thread running through this. It was entertaining, but almost more melancholy than scary.

Also, although the back cover refers to “two cute boys,” its important to the plot that only Sydney is instantly smitten (and therefore doomed). Gabby doesn’t fall in insta-love with the second boy, so she manages to escape Sydney’s fate. I’d love to know how she explained things to her friend’s parents when she showed up alone, though.


watching: A Haunting: Lake Club Horror

Episode: S1E6

Summary: In 1974 Bill and Tom (Bill Carmean and Tom Blasko, according to this article) buy and renovate a former dance hall in Springfield, Illinois and open a live rock ‘n roll club. Staff complain that after hours music seems to emanate from nowhere and report pockets of cold air. One bartender claims a threatening spirit informs her that one of the owners is soon going to die. She identifies him from old photographs as a former bartender who had committed suicide on the premises.

Thoughts: The opening music of this show genuinely spooks me. I don’t know why; the majority of the episodes up to this point haven’t scared me at all.

I love the setting of this show. There’s something weird about a public place being haunted, instead of a private home. But then, when you work somewhere you’re connected to the place in a way customers never can be. You fall into routines and rhythms that outsiders don’t see, and you get to understand all the underpinnings beneath the surface. (Work retail for a while, and you’ll never again be able to shop without this odd secondary awareness of what it’s like to be on the other side of the counter.)

The actual owners, in the interview clips, look perfectly reasonable.

Ha. I also like the hippie caretaker. I wonder how much of this stuff is pure fiction, or whether tiny details like that reflect actual staffers? The heavyset former bartender is played, in the re-created bits, by a plump, pretty girl, so they matched that up properly.

It makes a kind of sense that the warning about the death of “one of the owners” would turn out to be a former owner. You know how when you talk with retired people, they’re always more interested in the employees from their own day, rather than the current ones? Of course a ghost would be concerned with people left from when he was alive.

The ghost is more sad than scary, really. That’s such a tragic way to die. As much as the narrative is trying to creep this up, by suggesting the ghost could have caused (rather than just predicted) the former owner’s death, it’s not very convincing. An elderly man dying isn’t scary, and the ghost of someone who knew him warning about it is just…sentimental. Sweet.

I'm not happy unless I can find a book.
I’m not happy unless I can find a book.

reading: The True Meaning of Smekday

On Saturday I was forced to attend a child’s birthday party. Forced by circumstance, I mean, not at gunpoint or anything; the specific circumstance being “my children were invited to a movie party, and adults stick around for those, generally.” They were watching something called “Home,” which I had never seen or heard of, and I was enchanted.

And then at the end the credits informed me that it had been based on a book called The True Meaning of Smekday, and I realized: I have that book! I don’t remember why I bought it, precisely (I think someone recommended it online), but I knew it was sitting there on my Kindle, so now I am reading it.

It is fantastic. It is still a few years too old for my own children, but definitely something I’ll hand them eventually. In the meantime, I am enthusiastically recommending it to all the adults I know.