Monday, August 22, 2016

Ghosts of Fear Street #13: How to Be a Vampire (R.L. Stine)

Andrew is that annoying little brother that you either had or never wanted. When he and his sister Emily hang out one day, he keeps telling her that he wants to wait around until he sees a real vampire. A dark shadow comes out of nowhere, grabs Emily by the neck, and starts taunting her until she screams. It's really just Andrew's best friend TJ who plays pranks with him all the time.

The next morning, Andrew finds a leather bound book under his bed. Though it originally looks blank, writing suddenly appears on it and lets him know that it's a book called How to Be a Vampire. Writing magically appears on the pages too and informs him that he is officially a vampire in training because he got bit. He finds bite marks on his neck but convinces himself that TJ made up the whole thing. Since the book is super cold, Andrew thinks TJ put it in the freezer.

TJ naturally has no idea where the book came from but seems pretty happy and willing to believe that his best friend is about to become a vampire. Andrew starts feeling pulled to red foods like strawberry jelly and spaghetti sauce. The only problem is that when he eats a piece of garlic bread, he freaks out and feels like his mouth is on fire. TJ eats the bread to show him that the bread is fine and that the problem is with him.

Cut to them heading home on the school bus. The bus stops working when it reaches a bridge and won't move until TJ grabs him and drags him off. TJ reminds him that vampires can't move across running water before the bus starts up and races off. He also finds himself stalked by a scary looking dog that follows him almost all the way home and keeps growling.

TJ then convinces him that he needs to sleep in a coffin or something like a coffin with dirt from his native land, which is really just his own backyard. Since he can't afford a coffin, he settles on a cardboard refrigerator box in the basement and actually gets the best night's sleep he had in days. The only odd thing is that his mom finds him hanging upside down from the rod in his closet the next morning. She thinks he's weird, and Emily thinks he's crazy for even thinking he might be a vampire.

The book magically shows more information but just keeps telling him things after he goes through them. While on the way to school, he suddenly feels really drained and shaky. It turns out that he's becoming more of a vampire. By the time he runs into TJ, his skin is bright red from being out in the sun. TJ helps him cover up with some clothes and sunglasses from the lost and found to better protect his skin. That gives him enough energy that he starts taunting his sister and acting like an asshat. Later that night, he hears someone calling his name from outside his room and opens the door to see a real vampire standing there.

Count Humphrey Ved is the vampire who changed him and shows up to give him some lessons. Ved is less than happy that Andrew is on the small side and doesn't yet have his fangs. He does take him out, changes him into a bat, and encourages him to hunt. Since he doesn't have fangs, Ved says they can hunt bunnies. When Andrew can't do it, Ved assumes that it's because he has such intense cravings for human blood and takes him home before making plans to see him the next day.

Andrew wakes up in the morning to discover that his fans finally came in and runs to tell Emily. Though she first thinks he's wearing fake fangs or that he glued fake teeth on, she later believes him and agrees to help him find a remedy. Emily, Andrew, and TJ spend all day in the library before finally finding out how to kill a vampire. Everything I learned from Buffy was apparently wrong because you can only kill a vampire by cutting off its head, shoving a stake in its heart, and then filling its mouth full of garlic.

When Humphrey shows up the next day, Andrew tries to waste time until they can pull off their plan at the old abandoned Cameron Mansion. Since vampires can apparently control the weather, he convinces the vampire to make it snow and then create a major thunderstorm. Humphrey then causes a mist to come out of nowhere and brags about how they can transform into wolves, mists, and other things to travel. When enough time passes, they head off to the mansion.

Andrew lies and says that he wants his first victim to be a bully from school and arranges for TJ to be waiting at the mansion. They play fight before Andrew drags him inside, but when he asks TJ for the stake, it turns out that the vampire hypnotized him. Once Andrew sees his veins pulsating, he nearly feeds on his friend but forces himself to remember all the fun they had together. When Emily rushes out to help, the vampire hypnotizes her and TJ and decides to kill all of them.

This leads to Andrew making some rude comments and a chase through the house. Just as it looks like the vampire might catch up to him, Andrew tricks him into going outside and into the sun, which causes him to burst into flames and die. He then goes back, checks on his friends, and gets everyone out of the house.

On the way home, he hesitates before crossing the bridge, turns to them, and reveals long fangs. Emily basically runs away screaming before he starts laughing, takes out the fangs, and tells TJ that it's all that is left of Humphrey. TJ then points out that sunlight will kill a vampire but not break the curse, which leads to Andrew showing him his own fangs and turning on his friend. As TJ gets excited and starts asking questions about what it's like to be a vampire, Andrew laughs and says to himself that TJ will soon have answers to all his questions and that he can't wait to hunt with his best friend.

*Andrew assumes that TJ used some type of new ink or a computer chip to make the words show up in the book. I wish I could find a computer chip like that, I'd be rich!

*Emily is so prissy that she wears pleated skirts with pearls every a junior high student. I think she needs to stop blaming her brother for her not being popular and start looking in her closet.

*Andrew settles on the refrigerator box because they call a funeral home and find out that a real coffin would cost $1,200. I guess Shadyside doesn't have pine boxes?

*Humphrey points out that since he eats hamburgers, he eats meat and can't eat humans. I'm not sure that's how that works...


  1. I always assumed Shadyside sold coffins like toothpicks given all the murders that happen in that town. 1200 a coffin? That's a lot of money.