Monday, 26 January 2009

The Bride - D. E. Athkins

What can I say? D.E.Athkins more than lived up to her name, The Bride is a jaw-droppingly fabulous piece of art. It was more like reading an episode of a trashy 90s soap opera than a Point Horror, and for that, D.E.Athkins, I salute you.

Jamie is our lead character, and there really isn’t much to say about her past the fact that she lives in a small town (Point Harbour. Which is kind of distracting to keep reading, give how similar it sounds to Point Horror) and her cousin is Blaine Harrod, hell raising ex-wild child supermodel extraordinaire. Already this book rocks so hard it hurts. The opening scene is Blaine stabbing a fellow supermodel (Alison) through the hand with a letter opener. On a photo shoot. And the photographer is all , “this is fabulous, darlings, we'll sell millions. Millions I tell you! Bwa ha hah ha.” Maybe I’ll send Tyra a copy of this book, I think ANTM could really benefit from a bit more bloodshed, a sprinkling of Battle Royale if you will.

Anyway, Blaine is getting married to Pres Alden, upper crust playboy socialite, in the wedding of the year and Jamie is gonna be a bridesmaid. The wedding’s being held in this big posh hotel just outside of Point Harbour and Jamie gets there a couple of days early so she can p.a.r.t.y. The other bridesmaids include Alison (the supermodel who Blaine stabbed in the opening scene, and who she supposedly has a feud with), Kelly (another supermodel), Pres’s bitchy (but in a fun way) little rich girl sister whose name I forget, and Patricia, Pres’s ice queen ex-fiancee and first cousin (ick) who hates hates hates Blaine with a passion for stealing her man. Ummm, what the fuck. By my counting, Blaine has at least two people she hates acting as bridesmaids for her. I guess that’s just how supermodels roll.

The other characters of note are Clara, who’s Blaine’s PA, and Drew, Kelly’s little brother who’s a totally buff hunk and is Jamie’s love interest. Although Jamie also has the hots for Pres, even though he’s this gross sleazy old man. She’s always like admonishing herself for being a pervert because whenever she sees Pres she starts imaging him naked and stuff. Hands off Jamie, he’s Blaine’s! Here’s a little example of the kind of prose that made me fall in love so deeply with this book. Blaine notices Jamie and Pres flirting and she gives them a supermodel death stare: “At that moment, Blaine had never looked more beautiful. Or more deadly.” Be still, my beating heart.

Later, in her hotel room, Jamie sees…a mirror ghost! Any book that includes a mirror ghost gets an instant thumbs up from me. This mirror ghost is a weeping BRIDE ghost, holding a bunch of roses, and she starts climbing out the mirror. Aaaaarrrghhh! Oh, and the roses kind of glow, and the ghost drops these glowing roses out of the mirror! I’ll repeat: this book includes glowing ghost roses. Now that's what I call classy.

Naturally, Jamie freaks out and runs out of her room, and ends up in Alison and Kelly’s room. Alison is totally a bitch, but in a fun kind of snidey way and you can just tell that she actually has a heart of gold beating beneath her beautiful supermodel exterior.

Kelly tells the story of the ghost bride – years ago, when the hotel was a house, the owner’s daughter fell in love with a gardener in charge of the rose gardens. When her mum found out she paid the gardener to leave and arranged for her daughter to marry some other dude. The daughter died of a broken heart, and was found still wearing her wedding dress. Oh, and the daughter’s name was ROSE (overkill much on the rose thing.) Alison is more sceptical, and she convinces Jamie that she was probably just dreaming.

Kelly and Alison take pity on Jamie and lend her a super swish outfit so she’ll fit in at the glamorous party that evening: “velvet pants and a cropped cashmere top woven with sparkling thread.” Oh, and “an elastic rhinestone bracelet.” What the fuck?

Before the party, they have to get through a boring old wedding rehearsal. Which is livened up considerably when a bunch of dead doves rain start raining down on everyone from a canopy above (they had planned to release live doves as part of the super glamorous supermodel ceremony, natch.)

Apparently, the poor little birdies were all smothered. Is it an accident?? Or is somebody after Blaine??!! Shhrriiiieeek. Hey, Blaine – maybe you shouldn’t have let any of your mortal enemies be your bridesmaids. Just an idea.

Later, at the party in the ballroom, Patricia acts like a total tool and makes all these digs about Blaine just marrying Pres for his money. Poor deluded Patricia is blates still in love with Pres and would take him back in a heartbeat. Let it go honey, he’s a total dog!

Drew ends up taking Jamie to a secret hidden alcove overlooking the ballroom. They kiss, obviously. And then a fire starts. They decide to wait the fire out in their alcove rather than bothering to escape. Nice move guys. And THEN suddenly the ghost bride appears, hovering over another balcony: “a shimmering figure high above the crowd, hovering there like a flaming angel.” Everyone’s like 'aaaaahhh a ghost bride!' And suddenly the fire goes away or something.

Jamie hangs out in Alison and Kelly’s room later. Jamie is surprised to see Allison wearing “plaid flannel pj’s and fuzzy scuffs.” Anyone know what fuzzy scuffs are? I’m pretty curious here. Kelly decides that the ghost bride has definitely come back to haunt Blaine’s wedding. I’ll be pretty happy if there’s some elaborate Scooby Doo style explanation for this ghost. I’m thinking there must be, since nobody seems that nervous about being haunted.

Jamie lists through all the suspects who may want to sabotage the wedding(basically all the bridesmaids) all you need to know is, they all sorta have reasons for maybe wanting to get revenge on Blaine. Jamie even considers the possibility of Blaine staging all this stuff herself in order to get more publicity.

Jamie sneaks into the ballroom in the middle of the night to do some ghostbustin’ . She goes to the top level of the ballroom and finds the box that the ghost appeared to be floating in, inside the box is… Drew. He also wanted to catch a ghost and had fallen asleep, without finding any clues.

At breakfast, Patricia arrives, bringing with her her usual bitchily cool demeanour and a newspaper bearing the headline "Hot, Haunted Wedding.” Weird headline huh. But the point is that the wedding’s getting loads of publicity.

Oh, and bbs, you just have to know what Patricia’s wearing: “a skin-tight silver unitard, over which she'd pulled a pair of navy compression shorts with silver stripes down the side. Over it all she was wearing a silver and navy supplex jacket. Compression shorts?? Supplex?? Fuzzy scuffs??? Oh baby, I love it when you talk nonsense to me.

Jamie visits the hotel gym and finds a hot tub on a terrace and is all relaxed when Pres creeps up and asks to join her. He’s really flirty and gross, I did a little sick on this page of the book and now it stinks of vomit. So Jamie removes herself to the sauna and Pres follows her. Jeez, give it a rest old man, she’s not interested ok. The sauna door gets stuck and they get trapped in there together. Arrrrrgghhhhh! They both start sweating even more and panicking loads, like aarrrrgghhh we’re going to die!!!! Jamie starts acting all loopy, and I think we're meant to think that’s she’s in mortal danger and Pres is all like noooooo, I wont die this way! Anything but death by sauna! So undignified.

Luckily, Blaine finds them in the nick of time. Blaine’s all angry and she says that when she got there, the door opened easily and wasn’t stuck at all.

Later, Jamie gets a call on the hotel phone. Its Blaine and she’s like "come meet me at the hotel entrance and don’t tell anyone." Blaine drives up, nearly running Jamie over in the process, and she’s all, get in the car. Which is a gleaming black Porsche, naturally. This is the 90s, baby! And we’re jiving with supermodels!

Jamie can tell that Blaine is in the mood for trouble, but she’s kinda excited by that. Me too! Blaine drives them back to Point Harbour and they go to a deserted pier. A Mercedes turns up at the pier. Inside it is Patricia, Pres and Alison, they followed Blaine because they were kind of worried about where she was going. Patricia wasn’t worried about Blaine, she just loves following Pres around. Good move, guys love it when you follow them everywhere like some kind of demented psychopath, trust me, I know what I’m talking about here.

Pres gets all angry with Blaine for running out of the party. Blaine starts yelling at Pres, all this nonsense about life and death and truth and lies and not going through with the wedding, blah blah, Jamie thinks it looks like Blaine is trying to pick a fight with him. They make up,and end up all driving back in the Mercedes together, with Alison alone in the Porsche.

Alison drives ahead of them, super fast and risky. Of course, she drives the Porsche off a cliff and it catches on fire. Ka-BOOM! Buh Bye, Alison!

Eventually, after calling the police and everything I guess, they arrive back at the hotel. Patricia speculates to Jamie that maybe it wasn’t an accident, that Alison wanted to die – because they didn’t see the brake lights and there were no skid marks. Patricia says that Alison may have been suicidal because she loved Pres once too. Gasp!

The wedding is going ahead anyway, and Blaine gets sent a package that makes her react thusly:

“’Noo!’ sobbed Blaine. She turned, flailing like a madwoman out of control. She grabbed a lamp and hurled it against the far wall of the bedroom, She pushed over the table it was standing on.”

That’s a little example of why I fucking love this book. The whole thing's written like this, it’s amazing, it’s like a rollercoaster ride….for my brain.

The picture Blaine freaked over is the one from the photo shoot at the beginning where Blaine stabbed Alison with the letter opener, except the figure of Blaine is all singed and scorched, and someone’s written IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN YOU on it.

Clara tells them that there’s a police detective at the hotel, here to question people after the wedding because it would seem that Alison’s crash wasn’t an accident but the brakes had been tampered with. Presumably meaning that the accident was meant to happen to Blaine, since it was Blaine’s Porsche.

Kelly arrives at Jamie’s room, begging to get ready there as she can’t cope with all the memories in the room that she had been sharing with Alison. Kelly tells Jamie that Blaine and Alison were really tight knit friends, like sisters, despite the apparent feuding between them which was mainly just for publicity. Hmm, I wouldn’t be too happy if someone stabbed me through the hand just for the publicity. Although there was a real feud between them for a while when Pres started dating Blaine after breaking up with Alison, but they apparently worked it out.

There are all these insanely brilliant dramatic interludes of the main characters/suspects getting ready for the wedding and acting like psychos. I just have to give you a flavour of this. Patricia gets a bit of lipstick on her hand, and:

“She looked down at the crimson gash the lipstick had made across the back of her hand.
At the crimson gash it had made from the corner of her mouth.
‘here comes the bride” she hummed softly, and went back to work on her face.”

It totally reminds me of that bit in Cape Fear where the mum is just randomly putting make up on in the darkened room and it's super creepy.

Eventually, everyone’s ready, and Blaine’s all done up in her wedding dress , although sadly, there isn’t a description of the dress beyond the fact that “the train of her gown spread out like a lacy sea behind her.” So I assume that it’s fabulous.

The ceremony goes ahead, and then they get to the bit where the minister asks for any objections, and right at that moment a wind sweeps though the hall, the doors slam shut and candles go out. The minister’s all, chill out dudes, this has happened before. The smell of roses and fire fills the room, and Kelly’s all screaming out like, its her! It’s the ghost bride!

And the ghost bride does indeed appear at the back of the hall, all done up in her wedding gown, which also glows. As the ghost bride walks down the aisle the smell of smoke increases, and the ghost is all “I OBJECT.” Not since Rochester and Jane have I been so breathlessly excited by a wedding. The reason the ghost objects? “Pres was already married. To me.”

Pres is all freaking out and flailing around, like, nooooooo, you’re dead, it cant be! And the ghost bride goes all flamey and Pres is all, noooo, I couldn’t have survived the scandal it wasn’t my fault she died! And he’s also trying to run away from this flaming ghost that totally wants to make out with him.

Once Pres has fled, the lights suddenly come on. Blaine is all serene as she watches the burning bride. Clara does something to help the flames go out on the ghost bride, and then the ghost bride starts peeling make up off, and its actually ALISON! She’s not dead! Hurrah!

Later, Kelly, Jamie, Alison, Clara, Drew and Blaine are in Blaine’s suite together. And we get the whole story. Clara isn’t really Blaine's PA, she’s some kind of lady scientist. Clara had a younger sister who moved to New York to become a model. The sister was called Dove, and she actually lived with Blaine and Alison when they were all first starting out.

Dove met Pres and they decided to get married in secret (for some reason, Pres’s family is really weird about supermodels and I guess they wouldn’t have been happy about it. Not sure why, it’s not as if he was marrying the help.) So, they went to a remote island to do the deed, there was a car accident and Pres survived but Dove was killed. Umm, it kinda seems that it really WASN’T his fault. He didn’t report it though, he ran away and Dove’s body wasn’t discovered and identified for weeks, it must have looked pretty gnarly. Luckily, Dove kept a journal and Clara read it and found out all about Pres.

Clara needed to get revenge on Pres, she wanted him to admit what he had done, and Blaine and Alison also hated him because he’d just dumped Alison and then asked her best friend (Blaine ) out, so they were like yeah we're in, why the hell not! Umm, that doesn’t really seem like a strong enough reason for Blaine to have to actually make this guy fall in love with her. I mean, Pres and Blaine must have been together a reasonable length of time to be getting married. Presumably, she actually hates this guy but she must have done it with him and stuff. Also, why not just show the police the diary?

So basically, all of the weird stuff that happened was set up by Blaine, Clara and Alison to try to freak Pres out into admitting the truth (Kelly wasn’t in on it though, she’s all surprised because she actually thought Alison was dead. Niiice. ) The legend of the ghost of 'Rose' was a lie made up by Alison, and its apparent appearance in Jamie's mirror was just “a trick done with mirrors”. And that was a mistake anyway, the mirror ghost was meant for Pres. This explanation is soooo retarded, I actually love it, as if you’d go to the trouble of making all these elaborate plans and then not check you actually have the right room. The ghostly bride floating in the ballroom was made of “asbestos clothes and special effects”. Good old special effects. And nobody killed the doves, the were actually stuffed birds that had died ages ago. And Blaine and Alison were also the ones who locked Pres in the sauna to shake him up a bit, but they’re all like, oh sorry Jamie, we totally didn’t know you were in there too. For elaborate hoaxers, these guys sure do make a lot of mistakes. Poor Jamie.

Alison’s car crashing was, obviously, also a stunt. I’m not sure what the police would think about that. But you know what, I can’t even bothered to have to think this through anymore, I’m too blinded by my love for this book.

For some reason they all start laughing loads: “They laughed for a long time. Hard. Until their sides ached and they couldn’t breathe. Until they cried, some of them.” Come on, share the joke guys.

And then Drew and Jamie wander off together, presumably to have sex.

The end.

Wow. I feel like I’ve learned so much from this book. Number one, supermodels are not dumb okay, they’re fiendishly clever and sneaky so DO NOT MESS WITH THEM. Number two, you can achieve a hell of a lot with special effects and asbestos clothing. Number three, socialite playboys are total jerks. Numbr four, fashion can be FUN. I’m still left with a few questions though, namely what the hell are fuzzy scuffs, compression shorts and supplex?! Answers on a postcard please.

What do my fellow lovers of The Bride on Amazon think. Well, I’m in exalted company:

“at the start of the book you would realy get in to it at all time there is a bit of some thing to keep you on the edge of your set so if you get throug the first bit you are shure to fined another bit of exsitment waiting just for you and i think this book should be graded one of the best becouse i do read a lot and this one is one of the most fab books i have read as thay say do not juge a book by its cover so i did not i read it and i think it is one of the best one i have read .”

Us The Bride lovers are an eloquent bunch. And who needs full stops anyway, full stops are for the kind of losers who aren’t deeply in love with The Bride.

Oh, and this week I’m super excited because I found two old Point Horror books I didn’t realise I still had! It’s like a sign or something. Although I think the sign may be that I should really tidy my flat more often. Anyway, one of them is a Nightmare Hall book called The Wish, although it’s number 4 in the series or something so I don’t know if it would be weird to do it out of sequence? As far as I remember, it stands alone pretty nicely. I think it’s about an evil talking ventriloquist doll or something. The other one I found was Hide and Seek, which is a very very strange and unorthodox Point Horror indeed, but if I say too much I’ll totally give away the ending.


Anonymous said...

Wait, so it's not "Deathinks," it's "Deathkins"? Wow, how unfrightening. It sounds like the name you give to your cuddly but lethal dog. Anyway, this book was nuts, and the plan frequently going wrong and just being unnecessary makes it even better. It sort of shows up how ludicrous these elaborate revenge plans are in the first place.

I might have read Hide And Seek... "Strange and unorthodox" sounds great, and I'd probably prefer Nightmare Hall in sequence. Even if it does have a chance to compare horror fiction ventriloquist's dummies.

The Babysitter said...

Duly noted....I just had a look on wikipedia to see which Nightmare Hall books I need to buy that precede The Wish, and there are a total of 29 of the little fuckers! 29! In that one mini-series alone! I'm getting heart palpitations...

Haha, yup, it is Deathkins although Deathinks is definitely more frightening. She's also written a book called Swans In The Mist, which totally wins the highly coveted Best Book Title, Like Ever! award. So evocative...

Anonymous said...

The title of Swans In The Mist is ruined for me because I keep on thinking of Gorillas In The Mist. I mention this apparently because I want to ruin it for you, too.

And what, is that the last Nightmare Hall book or something? Few series have the audacity to squeeze out as many as thirty installments. I can only presume they're rather thinly-linked. If that's the case, blogging them out of order might not be such a bad idea.

The Babysitter said...

Haha, it totally summons up images of Gorillas in the Mist. Sadly it appears to be completely unrelated.It would be amazing if it was a sequel to Gorillas in the Mist though, just imagine, every title could be more underwhelming than the last until you reach like, The Earthworms in the Mist.

It isn't a Nightmare Hall, it isn't even a Point Horror. I was just so fascinated by D.E.Athkins that I worked my Google magic on her.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that someone whose name spells out "DEATH" writes outside the Point Horror umbrella. Maybe it's his/her real name? And they're literally the Reaper in disguise? That'd be awesome, no wonder it's not true.

Anonymous said...


Do you have all of the point horror books?

Which would you rate as the best books?

R L Stine's Fear Street or Point horror.

Can't wait to see a new review. :)

The Babysitter said...

Hi Anonymous,
No sadly I don't own all the Point Horror books (although I was probably pretty close to it when I was younger)- I buy them one by one from Amazon.

I never really read Fear Street when I was younger, so I would have to say Point Horror is my personal favourite - and whereas Fear Street normally features human 'baddies', with Point Horror you have the added pleasure of never knowing whether there may be a tentacle monster lurking around the corner!

I'm halfway through the next entry now (which will be April Fools by good old RTC) - so it should be up by either later today or tomorrow. Promise!

Keeley said...

I'd read the DEAthkins story, Blood Kiss, in 13 Tales of Horror, and I thought that was the only thing I'd ever read by her. Turns out I read the Bride, too.

This blog's been a bit of a sanity-saver for me--this book, and a couple others, I remembered very vivid scenes from but COULD NOT FREAKING PLACE where they came from--like the scenes on the balcony in this one, the dead birds, the ghost who smells like roses.

So hurray for you.

Luke said...

I love that a) someone besides me has read this book and b) appreciates the complete OTT-ness of it all. My YA horror collection is now a shadow of its former self, but The Bride still resides with my main collection. I don't know if I like the US or UK cover better, but in any case, I think it's time to dig it out again.

Have you read the Ripper/the Cemetery? That's the other high point of Athkins' limited output, and it's also set in Point Harbour.

Sati said...

Hide and Seek was pretty great. Not very Point Horrory, nor very teeny, but pretty great.

None of the Nightmare Halls are related, although they do sometimes reference the first book ("The Silent Scream"). Occasionally you'll run into a name from another book, but there aren't any spoilers. The only thing they have in common is the author and the setting.

And Oh Em Gee The Cemetery scared the pants off of me. The Bride, I barely remember, except I remember being surprised that it was the same author as The Cemetery.

(My Dad bought me The Cemetery when I was staying the night with him when I was about 10. I slept alone on the top floor of his gothic Hampstead semi-mansion, right next to - you guessed it, a cemetery. I had never been so glad to be woken up at 4am by my bratty kid sisters.)