This was one of the times I was jealous of a mystery and not annoyed by it. I think it is because it isn’t really a mystery…it is just Kristy and some kids exploring some old house. I thought the BSC was so lucky for all the little adventures they have.
Kristy and Bart have a game with their joint softball team versus a team in another town (the “Krashers” previously mentioned in another Mystery). It is about 30 minutes away by car, and, for some reason, they drive to it in a van (driven by Charlie) with the nine starters (for lack of a better word) of the team. Besides Charlie, Kristy, and Bart, this includes Karen, David Michael, Jackie Rodowsky, Buddy Barrett, and a few Basher kids whose names aren’t really important.
Anyway, on the drive back to Stoneybrook. It starts to rain and Charlie gets a little lost – they end up stuck on some road between two washed out bridges, where the only house in site is this big mansion on a hill. They talk to the caretaker, Will, (who lives in a separate cottage out front), who tells the kids to spend the night in the mansion.
The kids are all a little spooked, because they are kids and in a big empty house. Then they snoop around and find out that it is the “Sawyer House,” some mansion that is rumored to be haunted. They snoop some more and find the diary of a girl named Dorothy who lived there back in the 1930s, as well as a bunch of newspaper articles. It turns out that Dorothy was planning to elope with a guy her father didn’t approve of when she disappeared during a rainstorm and was assumed dead. They also realize that Will is the guy the father didn’t approve of, and he has never really gotten over it. That is pretty much the whole story, and the next day the bridges are fixed and the head home.
However, a while later we find out that Karen stole a photo of the girl from the mansion. She tells Kristy she thinks it looks like the woman who runs a knitting/sewing shop in town. Mary Anne backs this up, so the girls all go to the store and confront this old lady. She confirms she is Dorothy and back when she disappeared, she just decided she didn’t want to go from a controlling father to a husband, so she just ran away. And apparently never felt guilty about letting her family or the man she loved think she was dead. At the end she is even all, “maybe I’ll give him a call now that I know where he lives.”
The “haunted” in the title is a bit misleading. They heard a couple weird noises while they are there, but the term really just comes from the fact that the kids had heard stories about the house. And the caretaker explains all the stories away, saying he just made the house looked lived in and people let their imaginations run away with them.
- Fun fact: Kristy is scared of lightning.
- Mixed in with the chapters of the kids in the mansion, we get to read about the concerned parents calling each other. And Watson apparently keeps calling the BSC to see if they heard from Kristy.
- Stacey outfit: “Lacy purple leggings with big floral tops, or black miniskirts with little cowboy shoes.”
- Claudia outfit: “A hand-painted silk scarf to top-off a polka-dotted jumpsuit . . . or two handmade paper-mache earrings that look like donuts, with a third that looks like a cup of coffee.”
- Nicky Pike was one of the kids riding in the van to the game, but ended up riding home with his parents. It really comes off like a plot-devise. I think it was just done so that when Mallory and Mary Anne are baby-sitting job at the Pikes, Mr. and Mrs. Pike don't look like horrible parents for going out while their kid is missing.
- In Dorothy’s diary, she mentioned how she has argued with the caretaker/boyfriend about not wanting to be just a housewife. Now, why would she plan to elope with this guy if she knew he didn’t support it? If all she wanted to do was run away, she should have just run away.
- Kristy knocks on Will’s door, and he is a little hesitant about telling them to stay. She just thinks that he should respond to her with, “Oh, you poor kids, please come in and let me take care of you.” I think most people would be a little weirded out about inviting strangers in – even if they are kids.
- As soon as I read this, I remembered it – a Claudia outfit: “White knee-length shorts, white Keds, and a tie-dyed T-shirt she’d made the weekend before…with spirals of yellow and green and purple.” Then the rain makes it all run and turn her skin purple and green.
- Janine brings a new set of clothes to Claudia when she is at the Newtons (because of the rain ruining them), and Claudia asks her to watch Lucy while she changes. And Janine gets all nervous, it is kind of cute/funny.
- So, Claudia tells Jamie Newton that the Krasher’s bus is missing and tried not to make it “too scary.” Then she lets him listen to her call hospitals to see if there was an accident.
- The kids all sleep on the floor of this mansion, and all they have are blankets. They complain about not having pillows, so Charlie tells them to put their sneakers in a blanket and use them. That seems like a really uncomfortable pillow.
- Dawn is nervous about where Kristy is, and her mom tells her to clean her room to take her mind off things. And Dawn is all, “I’m not that desperate.” But doesn’t Dawn like to clean?
- The day after the storm, Kristy and Co. have to wait for workmen to fix the bridges before they can leave. But, they are on a road where no one lives…why would the workmen be fixing a bridge like that so early? It can’t even be that the caretaker called them, since he doesn’t have a phone (which is also why Kristy and Co couldn’t call their families). I guess you could argue that people might use the road even if they don’t live on it. But, it still seems doubtful.
- Guess who made the welcome home sign? It said: “Wellcome Home, Krasherz!”
- Dawn spreads stories around school about how Kristy spent the night in a haunted house. Cokie Mason actually tells Kristy she is “awesome” for being in a house when a cold hand grabbed her a midnight. I can’t believe Cokie would believe that, let alone compliment Kristy about it.
- At a BSC sleep-over at Kristy’s, Sam pays the pizza guy a dollar to come up to Kristy’s room and tell her the pizza has anchovies all over it. I wish we got more of Sam’s point of view.
- No one, except maybe Karen, really thinks the house is haunted. They mention stories about it being haunted, and they hear a few weird noises. But they don’t seriously consider it being haunted.
- So, the stories apparently come from Will putting lights on in the house while he is cleaning it and stuff like that. I am not quite sure why he has to make the house looked lived in. No one lives there or plans to live there part time, and people know the house is empty, so it is not a security thing.
- Will gives Kristy flashlights, but it also seems like the house has electricity.
- Speaking of that….I guess it is lucky that not only did Kristy and Co. found a vacant house to crash in, but it had working electricity and water (and possibly heat). I am sure the owner pays all those utility bills for his empty house just in case something like that happens.
- Will also gives the kids a bag of apples and bread to eat. It seems little convenient that he has this food sitting around (at least enough that can at least partially feed 11 people.
- Will mentions he bought the house because he never really got over Dorothy. Is that supposed to be romantic? I probably thought it was back when I was a kid, but seeing it now makes him seem kind of pathetic.
- I still don’t even get why the kids are all in this van in the first place. The kids parents are all driving to the game, and it seems like a waste to have a select few go separate. I’m actually surprised that parents would let their kid ride with some 17-year-old they barely know.
- Kristy thinks it is cool that she is related to most people in the van….I think that is more favoritism at work than anything else.
- Dorothy really is kind of a bitch. She sneaks out of her house to elope with Will, then decides she just wants to be free to be on her own, so she just lets her parents think she is dead? And it doesn’t even occur to her over the next fifty-years to drop them a line and let them know she is okay.