Posted on April 10, 2008 by alanajoli
For those of us who were geeks in high school, comparing prom to hell wasn’t much of a stretch. The same can absolutely be said of Maggie Quinn, who has no intention of getting conned into going to prom. She doesn’t have a boyfriend, so that’s not a concern, and her stalwart friends have mocked the dance as much as she has in the past. But as the dance nears, and supernatural danger strikes, all of Maggie’s plans are scattered. Welcome to Rosemary Clement-Moore’s Prom Dates from Hell.
As you’ve probably noticed from my previous reviews, I’m much happier at the “fluffy bunny” level of horror than the truly scary stuff. From the tone and the narration style, I was expecting Prom Dates from Hell to be in the neighborhood of Buffy: funny quips, general demon slaying, and a kick ass heroine. While all of those hit the mark (though the demon slaying is less the staking kind), I’m not ashamed to say that Prom Dates from Hell freaked me out, and was easily one of the scariest books I’ve reviewed for Flames Rising.
Maggie Quinn has a gift (or, depending, a curse): she has dreams that come true and she can see the supernatural. When she begins to see dark shadows immediately before “accidents”–one of which seems targeted at her–she knows she has to start working on solving the mystery before absolute disaster happens. But her best friend the skeptic (also known as D&D Lisa) might not be willing to take the leap of faith required to help, so Maggie enlists the help of good-looking college student Justin, who happens to study the occult, to get to the bottom of things. Every time Maggie seems to get ahead, however, the demon is already on the move. And worse, it can see her. From showing up in her dreams and threatening her to appearing in the steam of her bathroom window, the demon is there, lurking. It knows her name.
Though Maggie holds it together through the whole book, those moments of pure fear radiate through the text, and Clement-Moore brings the experience to the reader with such immediacy that it’s easy to slip into Maggie’s experience. Part mystery, part terror, and part snarky remarks, the story flows together beautifully, narrated by an endearing (though imperfect) narrator who is clever, daring, and willing to confront her fears when she believes that to be part of the solution to her problems. The trials and tribulations of high school run right alongside the supernatural world, and Maggie’s chemistry teacher (whom she compares to Harry Potter’s Professor Snape) gets in on the ectoplasmic action. By the end, the prom is truly the big night, and wearing the perfect dress is far less important, even for the Prom Queen, than surviving a demon invasion. Whether you loved or hated high school, Prom Dates from Hell has appeal, and Maggie is a captivating narrator through the senior-year experience.
Review by Alana Abbott
Look for more scary stories at DrivethruHorror.com.