Again back to Nightmare Hall bc I enjoy them a lot!
This cover opens to find the scared looking girl (our main character, Molly) surrounded by people holding candles with menacing looks on their faces! Spooky!
Let's begin, I'm keen!
Roll call! (every time I write 'roll call' all I think of is this:)
|"Call me Big Red!"|
Molly - our protagonist. Considers herself average, but her writing talent is soon discovered and explored.
Phoebe - best friend who everyone loves except Norman, who she can't stand either.
Norman - leader of The Others and Molly's first friend at Salem.
Hank - managing editor of the magazine.
Dana, Tommie, Ava, Ken and Donovan - staff members of the magazine who are all jealous of Molly.
Tony, Stacey, And Boomer - potential victims of the Others
Ok so the book ends with a prologue that is so pointless bc halfway through chapter one we literally finish the rest of what is going on in the prologue, which is the titular initiation to join The Others, at their second meeting.
Molly is there bc she didn't want to be rude when Norman invited her, but she has no intention of joining so zones out and doesn't repeat the words Norman says in order to be initiated. Nobody realises over everyone else's voice, and the oncoming storm.
Before this however, he tells everyone the point of the group.
Which is basically for people who's talents aren't recognised, to judge for themselves whether a student who is recognised and praised for their talent is worthy of that praise and recognition, and take action against it if deemed unworthy.
Sounds sinister. So basically Norman is just a massive wanker with jealousy issues bc he doesn't get enough praise. Cool.
New friend Phoebe, who only went to the first meeting before deciding "no thanks!" reckons Norman is super weird and that they should call him Norman Bates! I love Phoebe.
A few days later, Molly's English professor Dr. Theodore has put Molly's name forth to be the freshman who will be allowed to start out as a writer for the Odyssey, the university's magazine, due to a paper she wrote about about adapting from high school to college, where she apparently took inspiration from The Others' formation, but we don't know to what extent.
Anyway she bumps into Norman on her way to her meeting with the Odyssey's managers that Dr. Theodore has set up for her, and tells him all about it. To her surprised he's super angry and tries to belittle her into not doing it, but Molly ACTUALLY STANDS UP FOR HERSELF (wtf???? Who does she think she is?) and tells him she didn't even join his group bc she didn't repeat whatever he was saying at the meeting!
He calms down and says that if everything goes sour The Others will always be there for her and now we know that Molly will definitely be a victim of their judgement. Yay!
Probably along with Phoebe who is a super talented piano player, and a few randoms who are mentioned like Stacey, a dancer, Boomer, an athlete, and Tony, an artist, as they pass buy and ignore the pair, bc as Norman puts it, Molly is a nobody and isn't like them.
Yes because we're all nobodies when random people who are good at something don't acknowledge us when they don't even know us. Norman is so right I want to join The Others right now!
Anyway so she goes to the meeting where she's met by fellow student and managing editor Hank, introduced to the other staff members (including Tony, the super good artist who is also a cartoonist for the paper), and told to have an expanded rewrite of her paper ready in three days bc the second issue of the magazine is almost ready to print!
She realises that she needs to meet phoebe in 15 minutes so they can go to the mall and find a dress for her to wear at her super big piano recital, and Hank offers to walk her to her car, where phoebe is suppose to meet her.
Do I smell a love interest? I hope so.
Some of the lights in the car park are blown, as well as the ceiling light inside Molly's car, so Hank is hesitant to leave Molly alone since Phoebe isn't there yet. But he convinces him otherwise and says she'll wait inside the car. So he leaves, and she sits in the car on a a great big patch of river mud.
So specific! Not just any old mud for Molly, it's gotta be river mud!
It turns out her whole car is covered with the stuff on the inside, and luckily for her Hank is close enough to hear her cries for help!
And then Phoebe turns up too! Yay. Phoebe says they'll both help clean it with her, but Hank literally runs away without saying anything.
But that's ok bc he comes back with buckets of water and other cleaning stuff, as well as Donovan and Ava, who also work at the school magazine, but as a copy boy and a typist respectively.
And now I'm having my very own flashback to when Molly mentioned that it was too dark at the meetings of The Others to recognise anyone else's faces, and I know deep down inside that Donovan and/or Ava are members of the Others!
While cleaning, she feels like he's being watched, and Ava mentions feeling like that too. Spooky!
Molly also knows that this was no prank or joke, someone means serious business. And the only person she can think of who might have been angry enough to do this was of course, Norman!
But he apologised for being snappy at her, so surely he didn't do this right? Probably wrong, Molly but we'll see!
A few hours later all the mud is gone, but it'll take a few days for the seats to dry. Heaps of others from the school magazine had come to help throughout the night, including Tony (the artist), and some other talented staff members, and they all decide to head to Vinnie's, the local pizza place, for dinner. Yum!
After cleaning themselves up, the big group arrives at Vinnie's, and to Molly's dismay Norman is there with 10 of his followers.
He eventually comes to their table, where Phoebe confronts him about the mud on his boots, and he simply replies that he was hiking by the river. Yeah, collecting river mud!
Norman threateningly asks Molly if she's joining the paper after all, and then welcomes her to The Others' meeting tomorrow night, much to her embarrassment since she told some of her new friends she doesn't hang out with Norman.
Phoebe changes the subject when Norman finally leaves, saving Molly from awkwardness. Phoebe is a true friend, bless her soul.
That night, she arrives at her dorm where Kayla, her roommate is waiting so they can go do their laundry.
Kayla is pretty and super popular, and Molly remembers Norman saying that Kayla isn't worthy of her popularity. So many potential victims in this story I love it!
After Molly fills her in on her terrible night with the car, Kayla kindly offers to do her laundry for her so Molly can go to sleep! So nice of you Kayla!
But later Molly wakes up to find that Kayla has returned with Molly's stuff, but it's all been ruined by ink!
Kayla's, naturally, is fine, and still in the dryer downstairs, but she bring Molly's stuff straight up here!
Apparently Kayla went to go get a snack while she waited, and bumped into Boomer, the star athlete. When she finally returned to put the clothes in the dryer, Molly's were all ruined. Including her favourite pink long sleeve top that she loved to wear with her black velvet stirrup pants (Yuck?).
Kayla is super apologetic but mistakens Molly's shocked silence for blame, and storms out of the room.
The next day Molly apologises for making Kayla think she blamed her, but Kayla is all "don't worry" and admits she's freak out if her favourite green velvet outfit was ruined like that! In my head it's a bright lime green jumpsuit and I'm not impressed with this outfit either.
As Kayla leaves, Molly remembers the mail that Kayla had brought up for her, and finds an envelope that has her name written on it and nothing else. She opens it, and finds an article from the first issue of this years Odyssey, where they interviewed a few select freshmen with a superior talent along with a photo of them: Phoebe (music), Tony (art), Stacey (dance) and Boomer (sport). Originally there should have been a 5th photo an interview, that of a talented writer, but we know that Molly was discovered too late.
But in this version of the article, a Polaroid of herself coming out of Vinnie's the previous night is stapled to the middle.
She doesn't know if this is a threat or a congratulations, and given the whole deal with the Others and the events of the previous night, I would say it's obvious.
But kind hearted Molly can't seem to wrap her head around the fact that Norman and the Others probably are behind all this, bc he APOLOGISED to her after arking up the other day. She doesn't consider this, but Norman isn't the only one with a motive. She's been told a few times that all the other freshman at the magazine will probably all hate her (even though they've all been super nice to her) bc only one freshman a year gets to write for the magazine straight away, and they're all probably jealous! So I'm thinking there'll be a twist where Norman isn't behind anything but it's the other staff members being jealous and trying to make her quit!
She decides to go have breakfast at the caf and then go work on her paper at the magazine office, where she is absolutely shocked to discover the whole office has been completely trashed.
I swear to God if she doesn't realise wtf is happening soon I'll hit her.
Dana, the girl in charge of all the cartoonists, and Donovan, have a brief argument that highlights their bitterness about their non-writing jobs at the magazine, since they were both editors of their high school's papers.
Campus police come and help clean up/look for clues or something, and Molly tells one about what's been happening to her, and even after pointing out that everything happened only AFTER she started working for the magazine, the officer doesn't see any connection....... ?????? What? Really?? Ok.
Hank wants to talk to Molly privately and she's sure that she's about to get fired, since Tommie, another staff member, thinks she's bad luck, and Dana gives her a weird look.
(Side note: There's so many characters in this book that I haven't been mentioning them until they seem to become important, sorry!)
But Hank only invites Molly to the boat party at Bottomless Lake this weekend, sponsored by one of the fraternities, and she agrees as long as she finishes her paper for the magazine!
She also confides that she was sure he was about to fire her, bc what Tommie said and Dana's look, but Hank literally reiterates what I mentioned before about the other freshmen being jealous. This includes Dana, Donovan, Ava, Tommie, and Ken, Hank's assistant, who were all writers at their high school papers and wanted to be writers here too! But Molly was the one who got the job, without even trying OR any experience.
So we have 2 different groups who could be behind everything:
The Others, or the staff members.
Or maybe the staff members have become part of the Others!
I can seriously barely keep up with all these characters though surely some will die soon?
On Friday Molly receives another letter in the mail, this time its the same article as the first she was sent, but with 2 differences. A different Polaroid of herself was in the middle, and the photo of Stacey Cotter (the dancer) had had it's legs cut off.
Molly decides to hand it into the campus police along with the other one but of course they can't (or won't?) do anything.
She wonders again if Norman is behind it, but decides against calling him to confront him, her logic being that if it is him he won't admit it, and if it's not him she'll just make him angrier. Ok.
Saturday rolls around and it's time for the boat party, yay!
Stacey is to judge a dancing contest on the boat, and bc her and Molly get along so well she wants Molly to sit with her on the upper level and watch with her, much to Dana's envy.
I'm really not sure how this boat is set out but they're basically on a decking or something above where the dance floor is on the boat, with their legs dangling in the air and possibly no railing?? Idk I don't understand.
But anyway someone comes up and pushes them both off! Hahahahahaha!
Molly manages to grab a beam and Stacey manages to grab Molly's elbow, but she eventually falls before anyone can help the pair. When Molly looks down at Stacey, she sees that both her legs are bent unnaturally, and she realises the picture in the article was a warning. Uh ohhhhhhh.
Molly manages to swing towards a ladder and climbs down, and she and Stacey get taken to hospital, were super conveniently for the attacker, both of Stacey's legs are broken. Just like he wanted. Wooooow.
Molly is fine and gets discharged, and heads back to campus with everyone.
During the car ride she tells Phoebe, Kayla, Hank, Tony and Ken about the second article she'd been sent, and about being pushed, and Phoebe is all "how did the attacker know she'd break both legs?" And Phoebe is basically me.
Later Molly is visited by police, who tell her they'll get the articles from campus police and look into it.
The next day she decides to go to the Odyssey office and do some work, but Norman joins her on her walk and threatens her against writing about the Others in her paper.
But how did he know she was planning to?!?! Because someone at the Odyssey is part of the Others!!
Molly runs away (Hahahaha) and Dana isn't happy to see her since Molly was supposed to have the day off. Dana u bitch.
Donovan makes a comment about how good at dancing Phoebe was at the competition, and Molly thinks it's funny bc Phoebe is tall and thin and Donovan is the opposite. Okeh.
She brings it up to Hank, who informs her that both Donovan and Ken were pretty big deals at their high schools, both on the football team. They didn't quite make the cut here at Salem; Donovan had put on some weight over the summer and this obviously means he's not fit, and Ken just wasn't up to scratch.
Molly thinks that they'd be perfect for the Others! Everyone seems to be perfect for the Others except you Molly!!
So let's do a recap of who of the Odyssey staff is potentially a member of the Others as well:
I hope they're all members tbh and I hope they kill someone soon!
Suddenly Melanie, the other manager of the magazine, comes in looking for the copy of the new issue, which is suppose to go to print the next morning.
Hank reckons he gave it to Dana, but she doesn't have it (how convenient). The disks that everything was backed up on to are missing as well!!
Hank remembers he saw Ken reading Molly's article yesterday, and suggests maybe he had the whole thing, proofreading it and keeping it safe before it goes to print! But he's not at the office and doesn't answer the phone, so Hank takes Molly to go look for him, and Dana makes a comment which makes Molly think Dana has a crush on Hank. Yolo.
They find Ken at the water fountain, surrounded by a bunch of people watching as he fishes heaps of paper sheets out of the water.
It's the issue of Odyssey!!!!!
The trio quickly fish it out and take it back to the office, where everyone quickly gets to work on retyping it all since it's just wet and not completely ruined yet. But there's one article missing. Molly's!!!!
Dana's like "it like that's what they were after all along"
And Molly's like "who's 'they?'" And that shuts the bitch up.
She informs everyone she has a handwritten copy in her room, and Donovan offers to accompany her there.
So off they go, and Molly goes inside to get it while Donovan goes to get a drink of water.
Molly finds the article, and also another envelope at her door.
It has the same article as the first two inside, but the photo of Molly is now from this morning, and Stacey's photo is 100% intact, whole Phoebe's has its hands cut off.
Oh no! Not my dear Phoebe!
She hides the article in her pocket, vowing to take it to the campus police later that night.
Ummmmmm I'd be calling Phoebe to tell her to be careful before I did anything but that's just me I guess?
They go back to the officer, where Ava's not impressed with Molly's handwriting and tells her to stay close in case she can't read some parts.
Later Hank decides him and Molly should go eat, so they go to the caf where Norman is of course there with a few followers.
Hanks let's Molly know that Dana reckons someone was specifically after Molly's article, and Hank wants to know if Molly has any idea who.
And since she can't take her eyes of Norman, he catches on pretty quickly, encouraging her to go to the police even tho there's no evidence!
And then Normal leaves, conveniently walking by close enough so that Molly can see the front page of her article hanging out of his pocket.
She decides to go the campus police right then, without Hank, and the policeman faxes the article she was sent to the actual police since it's their case now. She doesn't mention Norman or anything tho. Okeh.
Then she goes home where Kayla tells her Norman called to tell Molly about a meeting tonight in the usual spot, and that he ha something Molly would want to see. I bet!
Molly decides to go so she can confront him, and Kayla offers to go with her. Suspicious....
Even more suspicious when Kayla insists on driving to the woods.... and even even more suspicious when Kayla disappears while they're walking along the track through the woods to the clearing!
She hears voices in the direction of the clearing and figures that surely Norman would help find Kayla, even if he does hate her! So she pushes forward, too reluctant to head back on her own.
She reaches the clearing and spots Kayla, laughing next to Norman.
Turns out she was an actress in high school, and starred in ever play! But here at Salem, she can't even get a bit role.
Poor girl! That's what Norman promised to get her big parts in every production. Uh oh!!
Norman also feeds the manuscript into the bonfire, but of course this doesn't matter anymore bc they the second Odyssey issue is ready for print again!
She runs back to campus to Phoebe's dorm, who lets her stay the night.
She continues to lie about Phoebe's mangled photo even when straight out asked! Bitch.
The next day, while Phoebe goes to practice in the old music building, which is abandoned now and mainly used for storage, Molly goes back to her room to gather clothes, knowing Kayla has class at that time. And then she sees another envelope, and inside is the usual article, except the new Polaroid of Molly which was taken as she exited the woods the previous night, has its mouth cut off!
She heads to the Odyssey offices where she discovers that the second is being printed already! Yay.
Since there's nothing urgent to do, she convinces everyone to go surprise Phoebe while she practices and have a little party. Okeh.
Dana grabs a Polaroid from Tony's desk drawer tho, prompting Molly to again suspect both of them. Tony tells her he hasn't used it in weeks tho. Okeh.
Anyway the group heads to the building, where after the boys get back from getting food and Phoebe has taken the girls and Tony on a tour of the building, Phoebe plays a wild rendition of "Shout" and the rest of them all dance. And the building literally shakes. The ceiling, floor and walls all rumble. But they continue to boogie anyway bc it's obviously so safe.
And then Molly notices the light fixture above Phoebe come loose, and manages to tackle her friend out of the way just in time!
Everyone is cut by glass, but Phoebe is knocked out bc she hit her head. Aww.
They all go to the infirmary to be checked out and they're all fine or course. Yay! Molly also tells the campus officer to check out Norman, who tells he already did after an anonymous tip, and there were no leads. Okeh.
The next day it's the recital, and Phoebe is doing super well. Norman watches from the audience but doesn't look too happy. Molly realises he would have driven here since his dorm is a bit far away and it's raining, so she ducks out to go snoop around his truck for evidence, where she finds a muddy shovel and buckets, as well as several copies of the new edition of the Odyssey.
And the Norman discovers her. Uh oh!
She tells him she saw what was in the bed of his truck, and as he's distracted by it she runs away!
But she's quickly caught and gagged, dragged back to the truck and thrown under the tarp covering the bed, hands bound together.
Then the truck is driven to the woods, and covered by the tarp, she's forced to walk to a clearing, where she's then ungagged but blindfolded instead. She doesn't seem scared for her life at all tho which is strange bc she's literally just been kidnapped and dragged to the woods!!
Norman then makes a fire and tells her she's about to take an oath. Her last one ever!!
He unties her right hand and reties the left one to her belt , and forces her to repeat "I, Molly Keene, have no talent whatsoever." Why would Norman make her say that tho? On a hunch she yanks her elbow up and connects with his face, then tears the blindfold off. Her attacker isn't Norman. It's Donovan!!!!!
He reveals that Norman did do the mud in the car and the inking of the clothes, but that's it. He's fast asleep in the truck too! Besides that, he's apparently all talk, giving his followers lectures to raise their hopes and stuff like that.
Donovan quit the group when he realised how boring it would be and decided to take matters into his own hands, punishing Stacey and Phoebe bc they didn't have to pay their dues at college like he had to. Instead of being a star football player or brilliant writer, he's a stupid copyboy!!! He reveals that he pushed Molly and Stacey, and didn't end up going to get food with the other boys on the night Phoebe was almost killed, returning to loosen the light instead.
Molly ends up hitting him with a log and runs into the forest. After a brief and boring chase, she tricks him into falling into the river. I was hoping that Norman would save her and she'd apologise for being a cunt to him but that's not happening.
And that's the end, besides a epilogue where she decides she'll write on the frailty of the human mind for her next article.
I liked this book, although there was way too many unneeded and irrelevant characters (Ava, Boomer, Ken, etc., basically everyone at the paper besides Dana and Donovan!) and not that much really happened.
Molly was a good protagonist and I loved Phoebe, so I'm giving this:
7 green velvet outfits out of 10!