I may have actually thought this plot was kind of cool. It is completely preposterous and makes no sense, but I thought it was cool, nonetheless. I actually really liked Stacey in it. I was probably actually 13 by the time it came out, and wished I had her life. (As opposed to expecting I would have the life of the BSC girls, like when I was younger).
I DO remember being bothered by the premise that the school was having the first Halloween “masquerade” dance in over twenty years, because there had been like five Halloween dances in previous BSC books. I mean, it was the PLOT of several books, right? The phantom phone call one, the one with Mary Anne and the chain letter, the one with Kristy and a secret admirer…Or are they saying a “Masquerade” is different than a regular Halloween dance where you wear costumes?
The school is having a “Masquerade” dance and it is a big deal, because they haven’t had one for a long time (again, whatever) and there are rumors something bad happened at the last one. Stacey joins the decorating committee because she wants to be more involved at school. She likes it and has a lot of good ideas and everyone except Cokie Mason likes them. Because apparently Stacey has a creative side too.
Meanwhile, a bunch of weird pranks start happening at school – funny announcements being made, things being written on the boards in classrooms, the school getting TPed, etc. It all starts the day after the new kid, Cary Retlin shows up, but no one wonders if it could be him. Cause, they are idiots, I guess. Anyway, these pranks bleed into sabotage of the decorations for the dance – posters get ripped up and someone strings up a dummy from the basketball hoop in the gym. There is also some old guy writing letters to the town paper about how the town should not spend money on school dances because of what happened in the past.
This gets the BSC to start looking into what happened at the dance 28 years ago. They find out that there was some prank that led to a black out, and a teacher had a heart attack and died in the panic that followed. But no one really knows the details of the prank, just that a girl left school after. The BSC manages to find out the name of the girl who left school and coincidentally, she lived in Charlotte Johanssen’s house. Imagine that! So, while baby-sitting, Stacey and Mary Anne manage to find an old note in the basement that this girl wrote revealing that she was in love with a guy….who has the same name is a new teacher at school, Mr. Rotham. Wow, can you believe the coincidences!
So, Stacey actually asks Rotham about it, and instead of telling her to mind her own business, the guy tells her the story. He was some football player and was playing some prank on a girl that involved asking the outcast to a dance and then laughing at her. Basically like Carrie, but without the pig’s blood. And he felt bad about it (but still did it).
No one has figured out who is sabotaging the decorations, but the dance goes on. It seems fine, and then suddenly there is this weird woman there with a cloak. Instead of seeing anything cool happen, we cut to the next day, and the BSC explaining what happened to Shannon: The woman was the person who was ‘wronged’ as a girl and had been in mental hospitals ever since. Rotham led her out of the dance and “got her help.” I don’t know how I feel about the idea that some chick went crazy because some losers made fun of her in eighth grade. I mean, they say she was “unbalanced” to begin with, but still. Oh, and Stacey figures out that Cary Retlin is behind the fun pranks at school.
- Like I said, I like Stacey’s attitude in this. She is thinking of “couples” ideas for her and Robert to wear to the dance, but then decides if Robert doesn’t want to dress up, she’ll just go as Marilyn Monroe or Wonder Woman because she wants to go in costume.
- Just because Dawn lives in California doesn’t make Mary Anne an only child….she still has stepsiblings even if they don’t live with her.
- Stacey’s ideas for the dance decorations are to use red and purple instead of orange and black and to use the Aadams family as a theme. The red and purple is kind of different, but the Aadams family theme seems a little cliché.
- Grace Blume outfit: “Thermal leggings and a blue plaid flannel shirt.” I totally had outfits like that in eighth grade.
- Stacey says it is a miracle for Claud to have made five posters and only made one mistake (spelling-wise). I pretty much agree with that.
- Oh, there is this stupid Ghostbusters theme, where all the kids are insisting on going on “ghost hunts” in their houses. It is lame, and I am not even going to bother thinking about if kids would really be into Ghostbusters in 1994ish. I don’t think so though. But anyway, this is the excuse to search Charlotte’s house.
- I call bullshit on finding a note from the last person who lived in a house. I don’t care if it is in the basement/attic/etc. Don’t people clean?
- Everyone shows their personality a little with their costumes:
- Stacey: Mortica Aadams (Robert was Gomez)
- Mary Anne: Dorothy
- Jessi: Cowgirl
- Mal: Ballerina (she and Jessi switched at the last minute)
- Abby: Lucy Riccardo
- Kristy: Amelia Earheart
- Claud: A giant twinkie (seriously!)
- The girls take a bunch of little kids trick-or-treating….I don’t know, maybe I was a dork, but I went trick-or-treating myself all through high school. My senior year we had a car and drove around to as many neighborhoods as we could.
- Stacey and Claud talk about watching the movie Carrie….Um, isn’t that rated R?
- When telling the story about this girl from the dance, they say she didn’t know her fairy princess costume was silly. But Claudia goes as a Twinkie. What sounds worse to you?
- Cokie lies to the art teacher and takes credit for Stacey’s ideas to get to work on some special project. Grace backs her up, but no one bothers to ask Rotham (the advisor) or the other five people who worked on the committee. I guess, I liked Stacey in this book up until then when she stopped sticking up for herself, just because she liked the normalness of Cokie plotting against them.
- I kind of like how the BSC doesn’t really solve this mystery. They find out what happened at the last dance, but they don’t figure out who is causing the damage, and they don’t stop the crazy woman from showing up. It is a lot more realistic than the ones where they have an impact on a police investigation.