You May Now Kill the Bride by R.L. SteinYou May Now Kill the Bride by R.L. Stein YA horror book reviewsYou May Now Kill the Bride by R.L. Stine

If you’re an adult who enjoyed R.L. Stine’s GOOSEBUMPS series as a kid and/or his FEAR STREET series as a teenager, then his new RETURN TO FEAR STREET series, beginning with You May Now Kill the Bride (2018), will surely pluck some of your nostalgic heart-strings. (The distressed, much-read appearance of the cover is an obvious nod to that very appeal.) I devoured Stine’s work as a young reader, so I wondered, what would my slightly-more-mature self think of it now?

The answer is that I wasn’t blown away by the quality of Stine’s writing nor his subject matter, but You May Now Kill the Bride was fun in a melodramatic paranormal soap opera kind of way. The biggest appeal for me was the nostalgia factor, and Stine didn’t disappoint: I remember staying up late under the covers to read his earlier FEAR STREET novels by flashlight, thrilling as his teenaged protagonists fought against or embraced their demonic-lite heritage, and I would say that’s probably the best way to read his later books, too. Don’t take anything too seriously, don’t think too much about how the plot points converge, and you’ll be just fine.

This is a tale of two weddings, separated by generations: the first takes place in the early 1920s, a time which is exceedingly good for the wealthy Fear family; the second takes place “this year,” and is replete with cell phones and modern slang. The first wedding is Rebecca Fear’s, although if her younger sister Ruth-Ann has anything to say about it, it won’t be a terribly joyous occasion.Return to Fear Street

There’s a curse haunting the Fears, one that requires a member of the family to embrace the dark witchcraft flowing through their veins, and which often causes tragedies to occur over and over again. The second, but narratively more significant, wedding is Rebecca Fear’s, and the disruptive factor is her younger sister Harmony — though what Harmony does is nothing compared to what fate seems to have in store for Rebecca. If Harmony is to make things right with Rebecca, she’ll have to call on all the power at her disposal, an act with unimaginable consequences.

It’s pretty easy to figure out what’s happening within the present-day timeline, as Stine’s strong point has never been subtlety, and character motivations may as well be spelled out in neon lights. (Or LEDs, depending on your generational preference.) There are a few red herrings sprinkled hither and yon, but they’re quickly discarded. Stine goes heavy on the dramatic tension and uses multiple love-triangles to complicate the plot, and the teenagers are either annoyingly overblown or completely accurate, depending on the reader’s experience. And the ending was exactly as I expected — not for nothing do I consider Stine’s work a good starting place for younger readers who aren’t quite ready for Stephen King, who also never met a happy ending he didn’t like, no matter how much more satisfying a downturn might be.

I can’t speak to how it will appeal to its intended contemporary YA audience, but You May Now Kill the Bride was fun for me to read, and I recommend it for older readers for whom a nostalgic trip down memory lane is exactly how they want to spend a weekend afternoon.

Published in July 2018. NEW Fear Street stories with a retro look, perfect for fans of Stranger Things! Two sisters, divided by time. Each with a terrible resentment she can barely contain. Two Fear family weddings, decades apart… Each bride will find that the ancient curse that haunts the Fears LIVES ON. It feeds off the evil that courses through their blood. It takes its toll in unexpected ways, and allows dark history to repeat itself. In this all-new Fear Street story, family ties bind sisters together—till DEATH do they part.


  • Jana Nyman

    JANA NYMAN, with us since January 2015, is a freelance copy-editor who has lived all over the United States, but now makes her home in Colorado with her dog and a Wookiee. Jana was exposed to science fiction and fantasy at an early age, watching Star Wars and Star Trek movie marathons with her family and reading works by Robert Heinlein and Ray Bradbury WAY before she was old enough to understand them; thus began a lifelong fascination with what it means to be human. Jana enjoys reading all kinds of books, but her particular favorites are fairy- and folktales (old and new), fantasy involving dragons or other mythological beasties, contemporary science fiction, and superhero fiction. Some of her favorite authors are James Tiptree, Jr., Madeleine L'Engle, Ann Leckie, N.K. Jemisin, and Seanan McGuire.

    View all posts