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Point Horror Summer: April Fools by Richie Tankersley Cusick

Coming home from a forbidden April Fools party, Belinda and her friends witness a horrible accident. When no one appears to have survived, the three friends vow not to admit they were there. Then the sick pranks begin, and Belinda must discover the truth to save their lives!

Spoilers Ahoy!

So. The synopsis is a bit misleading. The book starts out with Belinda having a flashback to an April Fools party that she wasn’t supposed to be at. Neither were her two friends (and I use the word ‘friends’ very, very loosely). They don’t so much witness an accident as possibly caused the accident. Pretty big distinction in my book. By the by, who throws April Fools parties?

Hildy is driving, Frank is in the passenger seat and it’s not very clear where Belinda is sitting. I assumed at first that she was sitting in the backseat but that doesn’t make sense, as you’ll see. Frank was plastered but it doesn’t sound like Hildy or Belinda were. So, a car passes them and Frank decides to be the King of Fools (and yes, that’s what he calls himself, not only is he a mega-douche but he’s also a dork – and not the good kind) and starts grabbing the wheel, causing Hildy to swerve all over and (possibly) causing the car in front of them to lose control and run off the road. He also does this on a curvy road in the middle of a heavy rainstorm. Told you he’s a dick. I loathe this character.

Belinda tried to help but they pulled her away just before the car burst into flames and/or exploded. She saw someone watching them from the road above but her friends don’t believe her.

The story proper starts two weeks after the accident. Hildy is annoyed that Belinda still feels guilty about it and Frank is still being an asshole. Did I mention these two are the worst? Seriously. I like the character of Belinda but I can’t see any fathomable reason why she is friends with them. Although, it kind of seems like she doesn’t have very many other friends. Hildy seems to like to keep her around because Belinda helps her with school and Frank seems to like the idea that Belinda has a crush on him. Or, at least had, at one point, she doesn’t seem that into him by the time the book starts.

Belinda is hired by a teen’s step-mother to tutor him to catch him up to graduate. See, he’s behind because he was just in a horrific accident that left the step-mother banged up, the father in a coma and Adam’s face stitched up and his legs almost useless. Although, the book kind of goes back and forth on how injured his legs are. There are multiple points where a character will say that he can’t do something because he can barely walk. But he can use a cane. I do think the author left enough wiggle room to leave the possibility of him being able to do stuff. So. A boy who’s been badly injured by an accident two weeks ago. HMMMM. And oh my god the step-mother is an absolute bitch of a worthless human being.

She says horrible things about her step-son and seems to have done it since she was married to the father. Which, again, is another thread that’s left a little loose. The way she talks is as though she married his father when Adam was younger but then it’s stated as three years ago. There’s also a butler named Cobbs and the step-beasts son from another marriage, Noel. The ‘good’ son. The book sets up an obvious dichotomy between the two. And, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from teen horror. The nice one is usually the killer.

After Belinda is hired Adam does his level best to scare her off. And, honestly, if he does recognize her from the night of the accident I can’t say I blame him for being a dick to Belinda. He drops some clues that he recognizes her from the accident and is not happy about it. And right after Belinda gets hired, strange things start happening. She finds the police at her home, they had been notified that she’d been in an accident. She finds a calendar page from that day on her porch. She finds a headless doll smeared with blood in her mailbox and someone calls her a murderer from outside her window. And, of course, Adam keeps hinting that he knows what she ‘did’.

Belinda strikes up a friendship with Cobbs and Noel. Well, a friendship with Cobbs and a relationship with Noel. And through all of this Hildy and Frank are being the worst friends imaginable. They don’t believe Belinda about anything and show zero remorse for being involved. In fat, they are the ones who made the phone call to the cops and the calendar. After this is revealed Belinda stalks off to find Frank but only finds his coat in the pool. Which is the catalyst for a fight between Hildy and Belinda. Belinda accuses them of pulling another stunt with the jacket. To which Hildy accuses Belinda of being jealous of her and Frank (even though Belinda is seeing Noel at this point) and how dare Belinda not say Frank is wonderful. Gag me. Belinda, you’re better off without them, believe me.

In other news Noel’s mother the step-bitch is missing, Adam is skulking around making calls to the hospital for Belinda to overhear (he sounds very glad that his dad doesn’t have a whole lot of time left, and, to be fair to Adam, his dad sounded like a pretty terrible person) and checking out some family papers. Belinda has also spilled the beans to Noel about what happened. Noel says he doesn’t believe that Adam would be capable of trying to murder their parents but at the same time plants some seeds of doubt that he may have done it before to their abusive aunt and uncle. Noel was also the last one to see his mother. Double hmm.

After the pool incident Hildy stomps off to have a perfectly wonderful time with Frank (her words) even though Belinda is trying to warn her that something may have happened to Frank and Hildy or she could be next. And at this point I’m hoping Frank is dead and Hildy is next.

Belinda gets a visit from Noel who’s on his way to his step-father’s deathbed. They talk a bit about Frank and Hildy and Noel’s still missing mother. As they’re leaving to go (Belinda to Hildy’s and I can’t help but wonder for god’s sakes why and Noel to the hospital). But before they leave Belinda receives a package. Inside is one of Hildy’s distinctive silvery blond braids. Oh. Darn. Belinda, of course, panics so they check at Hildy and Frank’s house. No one’s home. Then Belinda considers that Hildy might be playing a trick on her because the last thing Hildy said to her was that she’d like to hurt her. Really hurt her. Because she’s such a great friend.

Belinda is afraid that Adam did something to them and Noel takes her to his house so she can see that Adam’s home. However, no one’s there. Cobbs has left a note about the father and Noel leaves to go to the hospital. Belinda is alone at the house with just the dog for company. Or is she??? She calls the hospital but the only one there is Cobbs. Dun dun dunn.

Surprise, it’s Noel and Adam working together to inherit the millions. And, unsurprisingly, Adam is kind of pissed that he couldn’t jump out at the right time and save himself while killing the other two. They threaten to reunite Belinda with Hildy and Frank, who are alive for the time being. Damn. I mean, good.

While driving Adam lays out the master plan in true villain fashion. He’s very gung-ho to kill Belinda and her friends but Noel seems to be having second thoughts. Hildy and Belinda reunite tearfully. The boys snatched Frank at the pool and grabbed Hildy on the way to Frank’s house. Noel, ever the gentleman, tells Belinda that he wanted to let her go. Aw, so chivalrous. They put the teens in a car to push them over a cliff but Noel changes his mind and starts a fight with Adam. Meanwhile, the car inches closer and closer to the edge.

In the nick of time big, strong arms pull Belinda out. Noel saved her. And the police are there to save the day. Cobbs was suspicious and drove home in time to see Adam and Noel taking off with Belinda.

Some time later Hildy grandly tells Belinda that she can have Frank. Why would you want him??? I probably haven’t done a very good job of explaining how cretinous this dude is, but, trust me, he is. She also does apologize for being a shitty friend. About time. They talk about Noel and Adam a bit. That they’ll be tried as adults because they’re eighteen. Which, yes, that is the adult age. As they talk Cobbs pops ’round to see how Belinda is doing. Cobbs is seriously the only character I really like. Belinda is a bit wishy washy for me. I mean, yes, he is a bit of the stereotypical English butler but he’s also very funny. He was one of the high points of the book.

Verdict

I think April Fools holds up much better than the Vampire’s Promise trilogy did. And it had been long enough that I was honestly surprised by the ending. If I can fault it it would be that Cobbs coming to work for free is a bit of a stretch but after the bit of darkness preceding, I’m willing to overlook it.

Next Week On Point Horror Summer

For next week we’ll go with The Invitation by Diane Hoh. See you then!

Published inFocus on the Frightful

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┬ęSci-Fi & Scary 2019
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