I am SO angry with this book as a final chapter. Seriously. So many dead plot lines. I am so confused by it.
Jenny is released from hospital after being institutionalised after the psychotic break in book 3. Jenny and her Mother have moved into a new house. Her mother has a boyfriend. Jenny’s friends are happy she is home, after being in the hospital for a year. Then Mrs. Warsaw moves in next door with her children. Twins and a little girl. Seth is the charming twin. Sean is the sullen one. Meredith is a “not very pretty” 5 year old.
Mrs. Warsaw asks Jenny to babysit.
Chaos ensues as Jenny begins to believe she is losing her mind again, when strange things start happening in the house. Who is tormenting her?
Read below for an in-depth look at what I thought of the book!
I have read all 4 books in a week.
I have watched Jenny get tormented by the parent of her first Babysitting job. I have seen her get tormented by the Receptionist of her Psych. I have seen her turn into her biggest fear. Then I read the last book. What the fuck?!
I really can’t express how infuriated I am right now, so I am going to go through my notes as I have done with the others and hopefully, I will be able to form a conclusion.
Okay, so the book starts… I have written, “Here we go again!” I also stated that I thought Chuck would be behind the terrorising in this one… I wish he was now.
It’s been 3 years since The Babysitter, the first book. Where Mr Hagen tormented her because he had lost his child whilst she was being watched by a babysitter. Jenny is in hospital after being institutionalised after the psychotic break in The Babysitter 3. After being admitted, Jenny has been in the hospital for a year, working through her grief, PTSD and the anger that she feels towards Mr. Hagen. [Once again, a bucket-load of ableist language. This is a theme in this book.]
Jenny is discharged from the hospital and goes to meet Claire and Rick. Who are now officially a couple. A lot of reminiscing about missing a whole year whilst being in hospital is made. You find out that Claire wrote to Jenny whilst she was in the hospital. Back in the 90’s, snail mail was perfectly acceptable as a way of contacting people. E-mail was still in it’s infancy. You find out that Rick is still working for his Uncle in the shoe shop in the Mall and is now Assistant Manager, along with 4 other colleagues. Claire is working at a food stand near the local pool. [I have written next to this, IRRELEVANT. Information to buffer the story, I imagine.]
You find out that Mrs Jeffers has a new man. Cue the sexist rhetoric that she looks younger, her hair has been dyed and she is wearing younger clothes. That happens with every woman who gets a new man… *cue eyeroll* His name is Winston or Win to his friends. He is younger than Mrs Jeffers. I am genuinely surprised there were no cougar jokes, so maybe the age-gap wasn’t that important.
Cal is still with Jenny. Their relationship is a little more intense from the year away from each other. Jenny is grateful that Cal has stuck around and that he too, wrote letters to her. R. L. Stine makes another reference to Cal’s angry and bitter side, that Jenny doesn’t know about. [It isn’t bought up again in the book. Dead page filler?] Another mention of Claire’s being supportive of her best friend in this troubling time. The support was appreciated.
Jenny and her mother get a new neighbour. Mrs. Warsaw. Really R. L. Stine. Really?! She is described as being between her 30’s and 40’s. It’s at this moment, I realise I am now in that age bracket, it’s quite depressing. So, Mrs. Warsaw hasn’t been in the house very long, hasn’t met Jenny, but is asking her mother if Jenny can babysit.. A stranger with your kids. Right, okay.
Jenny reluctantly agrees and goes to meet the children. Sean, who is about 8 or 9, has white blonde hair and is written in a way that I thought he sounded a lot like Donny from the first book. His sister Meredith, who is about 5-6 years old with curly brown hair is described, and I quote, “She’s not very pretty”. Jenny thinks this whilst looking the kids over. Then another blonde haired boy turns up and introduces himself as Seth. Apparently Seth and Sean are identical twins. Creepy twin boys, because that’s not a horror cliché. Sean is a solemn little boy, shy possibly. He and Meredith don’t get on at all. Seth is very welcoming, pleasant and seems like a ‘nice’ little boy. Jenny instantly warms to Seth and is wary of Sean. The kids mention the house is haunted.
Jenny started feeling like she is being touched by a cold hand whilst being in the house, tries not to freak out. When she is back at home that night, she sees the face of a dark haired girl in the attic of the Warsaw’s house. Jenny begins questioning what she saw. Doubting herself.
The Psychiatrist is introduced. Dr Simonson who is in her 60’s [is R. L. Stine, always vague with ages?], “small and pleasant”. Jenny doesn’t tell her about the creepy hand in case she thinks Jenny is relapsing.
Jenny goes home and Mrs Warsaw is there, asking if she can babysit again. Mrs Jeffers isn’t so sure. Mrs Warsaw starts guilt tripping Jenny into babysitting the 3 kids! Jenny decides that Sean is a sarcastic little shit. There are footsteps up in the attic, just as Jenny tries the door, Seth, the nice twin, tells her with big scared eyes, that it’s too dangerous.
Cue the scary phone call. The fact that Jenny freaks out the way she does, I would say it triggered her. It’s not Mr Hagen however, it’s Cal, with Laryngitis. He spends a little while trying to convince Jenny that he should come over. During the phone call, Jenny feels a cold hand on the back of her neck and screams. To be honest, so would I. Jenny thinks it’s Sean, the mean twin, playing tricks.
Why when the twin thing is used, is there always a nice one and a mean one???
Jenny hears footsteps up in the attic again, a cold feeling sweeps over her and a disjointed voice tells her to leave or she will die. Cal who heard the scream and wasn’t convinced with Jenny telling him she had spilt soda, bombs it over to the house to check on her. It’s obvious that Jenny feels safe with Cal [so why mention that she is worried he has a scary angry side earlier in the book?] Cal eventually leaves. Jenny notices glass ornaments, why is this sounding familiar? Jenny gets another phone call…. This time it’s Mrs Warsaw saying she won’t be home for another hour.
Jenny starts thinking of her time in hospital and a girl called Becca. Of her want and need to leave the hospital because she is ‘normal’. Becca is then described as ‘not normal’. [A huge mention of being normal, which is borderline offensive. What the fuck is normal?] Jenny spends the night telling herself that the voice was a walkie talkie or a baby monitor and that she isn’t crazy. Adamant it’s the twins, Jenny goes looking for the aforementioned devices and finds nothing. I have written at this point… “Ghost?”
Jenny tells Claire that she wants to stop babysitting, a pretty ‘normal’ reaction, if you ask me. Claire, Jenny, Rick and Cal are bowling. This social scene is cute and provides light relief as Rick drops a bowling ball on his foot so he doesn’t have to go to work. Apparently, he doesn’t like being Assistant Manager. Jenny and Cal spend a little while in his car, cuddling and kissing and it’a 1am when she finally gets in.
In her room, Jenny sees the sad girls face in the attic of the Warsaw’s again. [I have written “I would have said this is the house the Hagen’s lost their daughter, but she was blonde, not brunette.” (Useful little note huh!)]
Jenny has her 1st nightmare in months. Claire’s head is the bowling ball that Cal hands to her. She is then awoken to howls. A blonde haired boy is in the backyard. Mrs Jeffers comes into Jenny’s room and mentions that there has been a prowler who has been vandalising things.
Mrs Warsaw needs an emergency babysitter, her sister is sick. Jenny reluctantly agrees to babysit. Another note… “Seth is the weird one… TOO friendly”. Jenny is in the kitchen of the Warsaw house about to cut some cake when an invisible force pushes the knife towards her stomach. The knife drops and Jenny sees Sean with a creepy grin on his face. The attic is still locked when Jenny puts the kids to bed. Back downstairs, whilst putting the dishes in the dishwasher and cleaning the sink, the invisible force pushes Jenny’s hand towards the garbage disposal.
Sean appears, is about to say something, when Seth turns up. [Sean is the victim of Seth.]
So the typical sun advice of the 90’s, whilst Claire is lathering herself in oil, Jenny says “I want to burn a little”. Jenny tells Claire about all the weird stuff that’s been happening. Claire asks if Jenny has seen the Psych recently. Jenny goes atomic and assumes Claire thinks she has lost it.
Back home, Jenny hears the howl again and laughter, she goes to the Warsaw’s to investigate. The invisible force attacks her, declaring she must die!
[SETH TOO NICE!] Jenny is babysitting again. Seth is trying to kill Jenny. He corners her in the bathroom, Jenny smashes the bathroom cabinet with a vase and cuts herself badly. Mrs Warsaw turns up. This is when you find out that she doesn’t have twins… Sean and Meredith are the only children in the house! *Cue shocked face*
After Mrs Warsaw has taken Jenny home and Mrs Jeffers has patched her up, Jenny is on the stairs listening in to a conversation they are having. Mrs Warsaw mentions that the Estate Agent told her that a child had died in that house. The babysitter had killed him.
Mrs Warsaw takes Sean and Meredith away to her sister’s house. Jenny goes back into the house to demand answers. Seth is there. Waiting for her. Jenny heads to the attic to let the girl out. Seth screams that she will kill Jenny like she killed him. Jenny opens the door and a brown haired and red eyed *eyeroll* girl leaves the attic and pins Jenny to the wall. Is Seth right, was she dangerous? The scary babysitter picks Jenny up with ease and Jenny is adamant she will die. BUT Monica, the babysitter, tells Jenny she just wanted to keep her safe. Out of the way.
Seth killed the babysitter, then fell down the stairs and died. The pair get into a ghost fight, a ball of smoke fighting on the landing, then poof. Gone. Jenny’s mother and Cal turn up. Jenny declares she will be babysitting again because it’s interesting.
Seriously though, I don’t know where I was expecting the last of the 4 books to go, but it wasn’t here. What happened to Chuck, the ex-boyfriend who screamed at Jenny that she’d pay for dumping him? He’d have been a more believable threat. Perhaps a little too convenient. Maybe that’s what R. L. Stine wanted you to believe, so that when you find out it’s a ghost, you are completely blown away by it. I don’t know. After reading all 4, the third is my favourite because you really didn’t expect to see Jenny holding the baby and screaming that she was Mr Hagen. That was a plot twist!
Overall, I give the series of books a 3.5 out of 5. Probably would have been different if I had read these as a kid. I didn’t, so was reading them from an adult perspective, 20 years after they were written.