I love haunted house
Mysteries, but this one was
Not haunted...was it???
The BSC is all abuzz about an old house that's being torn down. Stacey's a little mystified by everyone's fascination with the place, especially compared to her own news about some celebrity sighting she had in NYC. That, of course, is far more interesting to our sophisticated New Yorker that some old landmark. I think I'd be more interested in the house, but that's just me.
Later that week, Charlotte Johanssen comes to stay with the McGills for awhile while her parents are out of town (Charlotte's grandpa is having surgery). She predictably homesick and nervous about her grandpa's surgery, so Stacey takes her to see the old house to get her mind off of things. That's when the weird things begin to happen: Stacey sees a face in one of the windows, even though all the workmen had already left for the day, and she and Charlotte both hear clanking and moaning coming from inside. At the BSC meeting later, Stacey and Charlotte tell the others what they saw and heard, but no one takes them all that seriously. That changes when Kristy makes an important discovery in some old books of Watson's: Stoneybrook was built over an ancient burial ground, and the old house was built on a particularly sacred spot!
Meanwhile, Charlotte is sick. She'd been complaining of symptoms since arriving at the McGills', but Stacey and her mother had just assumed it was homesickness. Not quite: Charlotte has tonsillitis (again...apparently she gets that a lot?). When she's feeling a little better, Kristy brings over the old books so she, Stacey, and Charlotte can do some more research into the old house. They don't uncover any more clues, though. Claudia, however, does. She's at the library with the Perkins girls (yes, Claud voluntarily went to the library and voluntarily did research!), and finds out that the former owner of the house, Ronald Hennessey, is still alive and living in a nursing home in Stoneybrook.
That same day, Charlotte and Stacey make another visit to the house. Just as they're starting to think that maybe they imagined all the weird stuff, flames start shooting out of one of the windows. By the time that Stacey finds a wheelbarrow full of water to use to try and put the fire out, it's gone. There's no smoke smell, no burn marks, no sign that there was ever any fire at all. That night, both Stacey and Charlotte have nightmares about the old house, and Stacey really begins to think that it has some sort of mysterious power over them. The next day, she tells the other members of the BSC about the dreams, and Kristy decides that enough is enough; she calls an emergency meeting for that afternoon to discuss the mystery. As it turns out, Stacey and Charlotte aren't the only ones who've had odd house-related experiences. Just before the meeting, Claudia went to look at the old house. While she was standing there, she felt a hand on her arm...and no one was there. Also, Mallory and Vanessa once picked some flowers for their mother in the house's overgrown flower beds, and that night, Mal had a dream that the house (or whatever spirits lived there) wanted the flowers back. The girls decide they need to visit Mr. Ronald Hennessey to get the truth about the house, and Claudia, Stacey, Charlotte, and Kristy are the lucky ones who get to go.
Mr. Hennessey is awfully interested in what the girls have to say about the old house. He even has a few scary stories of his own about things that he and his family had supposedly seen and heard there. Stacey and the others are skeptical, but decide to heed Mr. Hennessey's warning about staying away from the house as it's being torn down (that's when the truth is supposed to come out). In the end, Stacey and Charlotte can't stay away. They, along with about half of Stoneybrook, turn up to watch whatever happens. At first, it looks like nothing much until what's left of the house goes up in flames. The only problem? Stacey seems to be the only one who can see the fire, and the old man inside calling for help. She's distracted for minute by Charlotte, and when she looks back at the house, the flames (and the old man) are gone. Stacey's left feeling that she needs to go see Mr. Hennessey, so she pawns Charlotte off on Claudia and heads to the nursing home. When she gets there, though, she gets some bad news: Mr. Hennessey died the night before. One of the workers notices Stacey and remembers her from her previous visit. As it turns out, Mr. Hennessey left Stacey a letter in which he admits that his stories weren't in any way true. Stacey's relieved but disappointed, and is glad when Kristy and Charlie arrive to pick her up. Stacey still seems to want to hold onto at least some of the mystery, so she asks Kristy how they can just explain away all the weird things they saw and heard. There are plenty of explanations, courtesy of Kristy and Charlie. The fire that Stacey and Charlotte saw was a torch being used by a workman who'd stayed behind, and I'm assuming the face Stacey saw during their first visit was a workman, too. All the clanking and moaning happened courtesy of the ancient plumbing, which the workers had to try and get out intact. So...there really wasn't much of a "Mystery of Stoneybrook," but we still don't know exactly why Stacey saw the house catch fire while it was being torn down when no one else could, and why she saw Mr. Hennessey in the flames. We also don't know why Claudia felt a hand on her arm when she was near the house. Imagination? Maybe, but I'd rather think there really was a ghost or two. :)
Rating: 4.5 (I can't believe I rated this one higher than Mary Anne and Too Many Boys. I always used to like Too Many Boys better!
Thoughts and Things
- It really isn't all that shocking that Stacey and Charlotte had dreams about the house on the same night. People tend to dream about what's been occupying their minds, and both Stacey and Charlotte had definitely been thinking about that old house.
- There's actually a reference to Kristy promising not to ask the club members if they've read the notebook (that happened in #22). Good going, Ellen Miles! Love the continuity.
- I'm not really sure about Stacey's total involvement of Charlotte in this mystery. Some pretty scary stuff happened, and Charlotte is only 8.
- What is with the Pike boys' obssession with bologna? In this book, Byron eats a bologna and jelly sandwich for dinner, and Nicky has peanut butter and bologna. In the past, they've eaten their bologna fried. I don't get it; bologna is almost as disgusting as Spam!
- During that same sitting job, the Pikes and Dawn put on a play of The Wizard of Oz. I totally used to do that with my best friend and siblings growing up. Either my best friend or I would be Dorothy, and whoever wasn't Dorothy would play both witches. My sibs would fill in the other roles as needed. Good times. :)
- When Charlotte is sick, she and Stacey play Clue quite a bit. Too bad you actually need at least three people for the game to work right.....