May 31, 2023 | Fear Street

Fear Street #15:
The Prom Queen

© 1992 by Parachute Press. Cover Art by Bill Schmidt.



Spoiler-Free Review

The Prom Queen was an exceptionally fun and bloody romp through Shadyside. It pulled off having a large cast of characters much better than many of its Fear Street predecessors, at least so far as the five prom queen candidates went. I can’t say the same for the boy characters; they all kinda blended together aside from being suspects. There are also some great examples in this book of how you don’t have to be a killer to be a total fucking creep. It was kinda funny how the students and parents were all anxious about the recent murders in Shadyside, as though murders don’t happen there all the time. It was also pretty ridiculous that the school would put on a play and do the prom on the same weekend. I mean, Shadyside is hardly a normal town, but maybe this was a tradition in some high schools. I can’t say for sure. It sounds like a logistical nightmare to me. In fact, I would say my biggest issues with the book were the baffling decisions made by the minor adult characters. I was pleasantly surprised by the twist at the end. That alone elevates this book for me. The plot may have followed a familiar Fear Street formula, but I felt like The Prom Queen was one of the best-executed books to use it.

Score: 4


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Observations & Spoilers

All of the girls at Shadyside High are upset about the recent murders of two local girls. Everyone is talking about it, even though murders happen to Shadyside High students on a very regular basis. Maybe the alarm was due to it being more murders than usual? I’m not sure how the math plays out on that, but I’m pretty sure RL Stine doesn’t know or care one way or the other. Moving on. News of the murders doesn’t stop the school from nominating five girls for Prom Queen! Lizzie is surprised when she is included alongside her friends Dawn, Rachel, Simone, and Elena. The girls celebrate by going out for a slice at Pete’s Pizza where they do mocking speeches as one another. Things get mean and awkward really fast. Prom season is about to be messy!


First things first: we have a large cast so it’s important you know who is who. I’ll start off with the prom queen candidates. Lizzie is our main character. She is the prop master in the school’s upcoming production of The Sound of Music. Dawn is her best friend, even though Dawn really sucks. Dawn is very arrogant and self-centered; she’s all but convinced she will win Prom Queen. Rachel is Lizzie’s other good friend. Rachel’s defining characteristics are that she is poor, insecure, and nervous about the murders. She is dating Giddeon. Simone is the theater musical star of the school. You all know the type; every high school had one. She is playing the lead role in The Sound of Music. Simone s dating Justin. Lastly, there is Elena. Elena is very rich and tends to get whatever she wants. I hope you’re ready for these ladies to deliver you some drama and murder!


The week after the awkward night at Pets’s Pizza, Simone misses play rehearsal. This is very unlike our aspiring Broadway star. Lizzie goes to check on her and finds her room torn apart. She sees a man in a maroon coat fleeing into the woods near Simone’s house. The police show up and question all of the kids at the same time in one big group, including the boyfriends. This strikes me as a very silly choice by the cops. Almost as silly as the decision to put on a play the same weekend as prom. As I already mentioned, the adults in this book make several illogical decisions. This will be a recurring theme. It’s almost as though they are reacting to a different set of circumstances than what is actually happening.


First, I introduced the prom queen candidates. Now, it’s time for me to introduce the boys because there are about to be some suspects. First, we have Justin. Justin is Simone’s current boyfriend. He is also on the baseball team. The baseball team wears maroon jackets like the one Lizzie saw. Justin says he was with Elana that night studying. Next up we have Lucas, Simone’s ex. Lucas is incredibly tone-deaf and also on the baseball team. Lucas shows up late to the cop interview and tries to make jokes about the situation. That’s the kind of person he is. No one seems to like him, and he is either completely unaware or doesn’t give a shit. Then there is Gideon, Rachel’s boyfriend, and Robbie, the easily agitated director of the school play. Finally, there is Kevin. He is Lizzie’s boyfriend who moved to Alabama earlier in the year and is trying to come back for prom. I thought I had picked out who it was but I turned out to be very wrong.


That weekend Lizzie, Rachel, and Dawn go dress shopping. Dawn is a complete asshole and snags the awesome dress that Lizzie finds. Then Dawn is attacked in the movie theater afterward, but it’s kinda hard to feel too bad for her. Her attacker gets away without being seen. Then the killer of the two murdered girls is captured. It’s all over the news. People are relieved, but Simone still remains missing. All should be good now, right? WRONG. Lizzie gets a frantic phone call from Rachel, and then the line cuts out partway through. She drives to Rachel’s house through a huge thunderstorm. She is frantic and fears the worst. Will Rachel’s lifestyle determine her deathstyle? Am I trying too hard to force a Metallica joke here? I’ll let you decide.


When Lizzie arrives she finds that Rachel is fine, but Giddeon dumped her. The storm knocked out her phone before she could say it. Gideon is now going out with Elana, and Rachel is a wreck. Lizzie goes home after consoling her friend but is woken up by a phone call in the middle of the night. Rachel was murdered and Lizzie was the last person to see her alive. Lizzie and Dawn talk about how they think someone is deliberately killing off the prom queen candidates. They think the prize money may be the motivation, but that wouldn’t motivate the already rich Elana. Lizzie doesn’t say it but she definitely thinks it could be Dawn. I mean, Dawn has even taken over Simone’s leading role in The Sound of Music. Giddeon, Lucas, and Justin also can’t be ruled out.


Lizzie is having a tough week after Rachel’s murder (shocking, I know). She gets annoyed and leaves play rehearsal early. When she gets in her car and pulls out of the school parking lot, Lucas pops out of the back seat and asks her out. She says no and chastises him using way nicer words than he deserved. Lizzie brings him back to school, makes his ass get out of the car, and then speeds off. Lucas is very confused as to how any of what he did was wrong. Maybe if someone’s best friend just got murdered, you shouldn’t hide out in the back seat of their car to surprise them and ask them to prom. As I already said, Lucas is very tone-deaf. I predict he will grow up to become a men’s rights activist while living in his mother’s basement.


Elana and Lizzie have a good talk at lunch. They talk about their theories of someone killing off the prom queen candidates. Then Elana is murdered in the auditorium.  Lizzie finds her laying face down on the stage. It looks like Elana was thrown from the catwalk and there’s a piece of maroon fabric in her hand. Lizzie presumes Elana went up on the catwalk looking for her in the prop room. Now, one would think that a second prom queen candidate being murdered, with a third still missing, that prom might get canceled.  You might think a girl getting murdered on the high school stage might be grounds for canceling the school play, but you would be wrong. This is Shadyside, goddamnit! The show must go on!


A second prom queen candidate is dead, and a third is missing. Dawn and Lizzie are the only two candidates left, and Dawn is still preoccupied with which of them might win. Lizzie unloads on her for this. Then Justin shows up late that night at Lizzie’s house. He wants to ask her something, but he’s acting super weird about it. He even nonchalantly picks up a letter opener from the desk. Lizzie can’t help but think about Justin’s maroon coat, how he was Simone’s boyfriend, and how he is now holding a knife. Thankfully, Lizzie’s dad shows up and interrupts them. Justin leaves in a hurry. The next day, after play rehearsal, Justin stops by and explains to Lizzie that he had meant to ask her to prom. Maybe don’t hold a knife when trying to ask a girl out to prom whose two friends have just been murdered? Just a thought, Justin.


Lizzie turns Justin down because her boyfriend Kevin finally got permission to come home for prom. Then the dress rehearsal for The Sound of Music goes badly. I’m sure it has nothing to do with a girl being murdered on the stage. Dawn hangs around afterward to help Lizzie puts props away when she suddenly is attacked by someone in a maroon coat. That someone turns out to be none other than Simone! Simone stabs Dawn in the chest and comes after Lizzie. Before going in for the kill, Simone explains herself in true Fear Street fashion. Her reasoning turns out to be as unhinged and melodramatic as you might expect from a high school theater kid. She claimed that her parents didn’t care about her, her boyfriend was a cheater, and all of her friends were liars. She had (almost) zero evidence to go on. But that didn’t stop her from faking her own kidnapping, stealing Justin’s maroon coat, and camping out in the prop room tech closet for several weeks while she plotted the demise of her friends. It had nothing to do with being prom queen; it was all because she thought the girls were trying to steal HER MANS.


Lizzie takes Simone out by dropping some sandbags on her ass, then she and Dawn hold her down and tie her up. Dawn ends up being fine, she was saved by the coat she was wearing. Kevin makes it to prom, and Lizzie wears the black dress that Dawn “claimed.” No one ended up being the prom queen, which was fitting. Still, it seems like prom might have been at least postponed. Well, that’s just not how they do in Shadyside.


In the end, The Prom Queen played to a familiar formula. I’ll admit it’s not my favorite. I could easily compare this to The Halloween Party and The Surprise Party, but I think The Prom Queen did it better than both. Not to mention this holds a pretty high body count for the main Fear Street series. It also gave me some of my favorite examples of the nonchalance displayed by the residents of Shadyside when it comes to high school students being murdered. There’s a metaphor here for the disconnected nature of suburban life that I might need to write a thesis about. Maybe one of these days.


Score Card

For the scoring of each book, I decided to rate them based on five criteria worth 2 points each.
I then split that in two to give it a rating out of 5 stars. Those criteria are:
Concept: is the overall idea good? does it make sense within the story?
Execution: do the plot and mechanics of storytelling work? is it well-paced?
Character: do the characters feel real? do their choices make sense?
Intent: does it succeed in being the kind of book it wants to be?
Originality: does it feel original? does it subvert or rely on tropes?


Concept: 2/2
This was fun. It’s what you want to get out of a Fear Street book. At its core was an unhinged and very insecure girl ready to murder anyone who came near her boyfriend. That depiction hasn’t aged perfectly, but it was understated enough to have worked here.

Execution: 1/2
This was actually plotted and paced quite well.  My biggest logistical issue was how the play stayed in production after someone was murdered on stage. Then again, Shadyside is not your normal town. The show must go on, I suppose.

Character: 2/2
Five prom queen candidates and they all had distinct enough personalities that it worked. I can’t say the same for the boys, but they largely ended up being inconsequential.

Intent: 2/2
It was more of a mystery than it was scary, but it delivered some gruesome deaths and a high body count, though. Not to mention a few scenes of guys being total creeps even though they weren’t the killers. I’ll give it full credit.

Originality: 1/2
This wasn’t anything I hadn’t seen before, but it was done exceptionally well. I was surprised a few times and it kept me guessing. Most importantly, it didn’t feel weighed down by tropes the way that these books sometimes can be.


Based on GoodReads aggregate ratings, The Prom Queen is:
Ranked 55th of 79 in the overall Fear Street series,
29th of 49 the main Fear Street series.



Don’t miss the next post in the Fear Street blog series:
Fear Street #25: One Evil Summer


Also, be sure to check out the latest from my Pulp Horror blog series:
Christopher Pike’s The Eternal Enemy


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