On their way home from an April Fools Party (who DOESN’T have one of them every year? They’re TOTALLY a thing!), Belinda, Frank and Hildy witness/cause a fiery deathtrap of a car accident. As Belinda watches the other car’s inhabitants burn to a crisp she sees a shady figure watching her. They’ve been seen seeing. Before long, someone is sending Belinda creepy messages to let her know she’s not off the hook.
Yeah! Weird smelling dolls are left in her mailbox; calendars covered in blood; cars following her around; people watching at her bedroom window.
Who could it be?
Well, this is where it gets complicated. In a highly coincidental twist, Belinda is hired to tutor a young man who has just survived a fiery deathtrap of a car accident. Adam, hunky in a psychotic sort of way, seems to have Belinda’s number. Or how about his frosty stepmother or the mysterious British butler, Cobbs?
Belinda Swanson, while not as punchable as our last RTC heroine, Martha, is, I’m afraid TSTL. Yes TOO STUPID TO LIVE. Within about one chapter, Belinda has figured out Adam may well have been in the crash SHE CAUSED yet she keeps going back to his house of her own volition. TIP: JUST DON’T GO THERE. And yet she does, chapter after chapter, mainly to kiki with Cobbs for half an hour, go to Adam’s room for about a minute and then flee in tears. It’s exhausting.
Far more exciting is veiled Alexis Carrington-esque Mrs Thorne, Adam’s stepmother. You can count how many shits this gold digger gives on one finger. Just the one, for herself. Sadly, the best character sashays away after about three chapters.
A final word on Hildy’s SILVERY BRAIDS. I’ve tried really hard to imagine what this must look like, or what week of the 90s they might have been popular, but I’m really struggling. Even Belinda admits ‘No-one else in the world has hair like that.’ I’m literally baffled. SILVERY BRAIDS.
The Love Interest
Well Frank joins The Babysitter’s Chuck as the most repellent characters in the Point Horror world, so it’s a good job Belinda has both Adam and his half-brother Noel to lust after.
Adam is BAD BROTHER with his scars and brooding while blond Noel is GOOD BROTHER. For the first time in PHBC history, things even get a little racy…
‘His lips moved gently down her neck…his arms went around her, turning her to him, and as her body pressed against his, she could feel his heartbeat, as rapid as her own….Belinda tried to pull back, and his eyes lowered to the lace at her breast.’
BAN THIS SICK FILTH.
‘Honey, you’re a natural with sick people.’
‘Your accent of course…and you’re very stiff.’ Ooh matron! The Cobbs character is possibly the most racist depiction of a British person ever commitment to page. He might as well serve fish and chips out of his bowler hat.
‘I like to watch you. You look nice in this soft light.’ Is that a read, Noel?
‘You’re looking pretty sentimental.’ Go to a mirror and practice your best sentimental look. Not easy is it?
And a whole special category goes to the HILDY SCHOOL OF BEING A FRIEND:
‘You’re acting kind of depressed…Snap out of it will you? It’s been two weeks.’
‘You better get your act together, you’re being a real bore with all this.’
‘Forget Adam, you’re the one who’s completely crazy. Totally over the edge.’
You got a friend in her.
Body Count: 2
Did the best friend do it? No, although you will want to kill the best friend.
Some Mild Peril
There are actually some scary bits. I found the whispering figure at Belinda’s bedroom window effective and the early scenes with Adam lurking in the shadows are chilling in a Hitchcock way. Depending on your views about snakes there’s also some snake action (although why the Thorne’s have a hallway full of snakes is anyone’s guess).
Is it any good?
Following on from last month’s revelation with The Yearbook, April Fools is yet more proof that 13 year old me was after something very different to 32 year old me. April Fools is archetypal Point Horror, but reading it now really was a chore.
The problem is there’s little to like: Belinda is whiny, Noel is smarmy, Adam is cray, Frank is a dick, Hildy is a grade A bitch. I found myself praying for a scene where Cobbs trapped the lot of them in the garage and left the engine running.
The final twist was neat, but hardly surprising and by that stage you’ve stopped caring. Belinda repeatedly returning to the Thorne house (over and over again) is just too stupid to forgive and the reader’s patience has been exhausted.
I hate being mean. Perhaps Belinda wouldn’t have bothered me twenty years ago. I swear we WILL find an RTC that I love. Teacher’s Pet is in my head as one of the very best.
Over to you:
1. Why, Belinda, why?
See you next month!