A literary chill
A back-biting mini-thriller. The Baby-Sitter by R.L. Stine keeps you in a state of anxiety as you flick the pages, subdued, as you read of the unfolding of events. They are tiny, normal happenings, but they keep you jumping.
The action starts as Jenny answers to a couple who want a baby-sitter for twice a week. Here, there are no frills, long-winded introductions and details. The author gets you quickly tucked it. There is a story, and the background is quickly mellowed into the house.
The place is out of town but she really needs the money. On the bus there, she starts feeling uncomfortable, having all sorts of anticipated feelings, ones that get stuck in your throat, but you can’t do anything about.
The house is old and decrepit, surreal in its outlook, built hundreds of years ago you wonder how the family is living there in its decrepit state. While the owners say they are renovating, they are taking their time and dragging their feet. They seem a likable couple, especially the six-year-old she is supposed to be looking after, although there is all-rounded nervousness and hints.
Right from the start, there is something worrisome about the situation continually startling Jenny and frightening her out of her wits that stays at the same level of worry throughout the book. Dread, panic, trepidation, and even horror amidst modicums of normality.
The fear-in-the stomach continues every time she visits this house, but she continues to baby-sit. She wants to quit but she can’t. Even her mother tells her to stay at her new job. She continues, we get traces of strong personality despite her fears, for Jenny is seen as a dreamy, imaginative person.
There is a prowler on the loose and in the area, waiting to bounce on baby-sitters. The father does not hide that fact, not only to make her extra careful about security, but one gets the feeling it is to make sure she stays at a heightened level of alarm. The reader understands why this is so only at the end of the book.
Jenny is alone, nobody to turn to, and she is made to feel worse by the constant pranks she is continually subjected to by the six-year-old boy she is looking after. He loves to play, but playing wired stuff you don’t expect from a boy of that age. This is weaved together through the boyfriend and his awful mask.
There is something creepy about the house and the father. She keeps getting chilling messages and phone calls.
There is a secret that has an unexpected tale, and ends with an almost crushing thunder of a climax and an anti-climax.