Stoneybrook once again prepares to celebrate Halloween, which means that it's time for a dance. Even though we've seen dozens of dances before, this is the first time they will hold a masquerade dance in almost 30 years. Stacey decides to sign up for the decorating committee, and while most of the others are pretty nice, she also has to work with Cokie. No worries though, everyone always sides against whatever Cokie wants.
Stacey walks into class and notices a cute new guy sitting in the room. Turns out that his name is Cary Retlin and he recently moved to Connecticut from Illinois. He winks at Stacey but seems like an okay guy. At the first decorating committee meeting, they meet Mike Rothman. He's a new teacher and decides to chair the committee so he can get to know some new students.
Right away, things start going wrong. Someone switches books around in lockers, they leave drawings on classroom walls, and they smear door handles with peanut butter. Each time, they leave behind a note saying it was the Mischief Knights. At the same time, a crazy guy writes a bunch of letters to the newspaper about how the school should stop the masquerade plans to avoid another tragedy. They then discover that someone ripped apart their decorations, but the MKs didn't leave behind a note this time.
Other bad things happen too. Someone destroys the posters that Claudia made, and the same person leaves a note that says $10 on another sign. Mary Anne and Stacey sit down with Sharon and Richard, but they can't really remember hearing anything about a tragedy. They then remember that it was some kind of stampede at a dance that ended with a teacher's death. Stacey then meets with the kook who keeps writing the paper, and he reveals that the incident involved a jilted girl before running away.
They go through the old yearbooks but only learn that Mr. Rothman and the kook both attended SMS. Logan takes the entire BSC into the basement to access student records. They find that three girls left school after the dance, and Stacey learns that Mike Rothman is scared of heights. They do some more research and find out that someone turned off the lights in the dance, people flipped out, a stampede happened, and the teacher died of a heart attack.
The kids head to a new assembly about a group of teens learning how to say no to their friends. Stacey really likes one actress, who later falls and breaks her arm, claiming she was pushed. After looking at the student records, they discover that the girl's name was Elizabeth Connor and that she lived in the Johanssen's house. Stacey goes over while Mary Anne sits and they look all over the house. The only thing they find is a heart with MR and LC engraved in the center.
Stacey confronts Mr. Rothman who admits everything. He was a hot shit football player back in the day, and Liz was the girl everyone made fun of and teased. His friends bet him $10 that he wouldn't take her to the masquerade and last all night with her, and he took their bet. When he picked her up, she was wearing a child's style fairy princess costume and looked like a little kid. A friend of hers went off on him at the dance, and he flipped out. He tried to throw the money at his friends, but it landed at Liz's feet and she stormed out minutes before the blackout. He wonders what happened to her, and when they walk back in the gym, they see a similar princess costume hanging from the basketball hoop.
We finally get to the dance (thank goodness). Mr. Rothman shows up with a substitute teacher wearing a long black cloak. Partway through the dance, Stacey finds the teacher in the bathroom. She says that someone spilled onion dip on her cloak and when she took it off, the person stole it. Stacey heads back to the gym, sees someone in the cloak dancing with Rothman, and realizes that it's Liz.
The B-plot is all about how the kids in Stoneybrook went crazy about Ghostbusters. The film keeps playing on television every day, so the kids want to hunt ghosts. Pretty much everyone in town dresses up like one of the characters from the film, and they even try to hunt ghosts in their homes. It finally passes at the end of the book.
If you're hoping for some big confrontation, forget about it. The last chapter is just the BSC telling Shannon what happened. Rothman was super nice to Liz, the authorities came, and they led her away. The girls then recovered to take out a group of charges for trick or treating. It also turns out that Cary was the Mischief Knight and he wears a rook costume at the dance to reveal himself.
There's another story about how Grace Blume meets a new guy. Cokie thinks he doesn't exist, and she tells Stacey that she thinks Grace made it up. Grace stops talking to her and shows up at the dance with a cute guy. At the end of the book, the two make up again. One of the teachers asks who was in charge of the decorations because she has a new project in mind, and Grace backs up Cokie that she did it all.
*Cary makes a fake announcement that Michael Jordan is the special guest speaker of the week, and he fills a trophy with candy corn.
*I love that Rothman talks about how Liz looked like such a child because she was only 13! Then again, it's funny that he talks about how other guys "took advantage" of girls in their class. What exactly is he referring to?
*Stacey decides that MR, Mike Rothman, and Mr. Rothman are the same person because her teacher is scared of heights. That's some good detective work there Stace.
*Carolyn and Marilyn think they have a ghost in their house, and Claudia freaks out when she hears strange noises. It turns out it was just a squirrel.
*Claudia brings up Goozie, who Marilyn says was just an imaginary friend. It's funny that she admitted it because she never did before.
*She also says that Mrs. Arnold always looks really pulled together but wears too many accessories. I thought that was Jenny's mom?
*Everyone is disappointed that Stacey missed out on the assignment with the teacher because of Cokie, but it's not like she really did anything. She chose the colors, but everyone else bought the decorations.
*This book is one of the reasons why I don't like Abby, but I think it's just the way the writer made her. She comes across as one of those people who has to be the center of attention and can't handle people ignoring her. She walks into the Pike house and instantly starts talking about random facts about each kid before announcing she's an authorized ghost hunter. She pretty much takes over while Mal does nothing.
*Stacey and Robert go as Gomez and Morticia. She makes a comment in French, he starts kissing up her arm and getting all excited, and get strangely weirded out.
*Claudia wears a homemade Twinkie costume, Abby goes as Lucy, Kristy dresses as Amelia Earhart, Mary Anne goes as Dorthy, and Jessi dresses as a cowgirl and Mal dresses as a ballerina after they switch costumes.
*Why can't they at least keep Halloween the same? In some books, they have the Halloween Hop that everyone attends, and in a later book, there's separate parties for sixth and seventh graders and the eight grade. This book introduces a masquerade, which pretty much just seems like the Hop.