October 6, 2015

SVT Super Chiller #2, The Ghost in the Graveyard: Psychic Twins Network

Posted in books tagged , at 6:13 pm by Jenn

Is your part wide enough, Elizabeth?

Is your part wide enough, Elizabeth?

Summary: It’s spring break in Sweet Valley, but the kids at SVMS aren’t as excited about that as they are about Caroline Pearce’s big news: A new family is moving in, and they have a boy in the sixth grade. The twins go meet him as soon as the family arrives, and learn that Sam Sloane was born in Sweet Valley and originally named Sam Burroughs, but he was adopted when he was nine months old, after his birth parents died. The twins invite him to some boat trip the SVMS students are taking.

Sam goes exploring by himself and finds it weird that so many things in town are familiar to him. There’s even an abandoned house on McClarendon Street that seems to draw him in. That night he has a long-recurring dream about an old man trying to reach him in the ocean. I’m sure Sam is thrilled to spend the day on a boat after having a nightmare about the water. He finds the marina familiar, and tells Elizabeth. She tells him to let it go, basically. Then Sam encounters a fisherman who recognizes him and says to tell his father hello. Sam is justifiably freaked out.

Even though Elizabeth and her friends are nice to Sam, he feels lonely, since he doesn’t know anyone (and only girls are talking to him). It doesn’t help that Lila’s rude to him, so he’s not exactly on the good side of SVMS’s popular crowd. Jessica is surprisingly nice, standing up for Sam and putting forth an (ultimately fruitless) effort to show him that not all of the Unicorns are jerks. Lila mocks Sam later, and Jess is so mad that she decides to get revenge on her best friend. More on that later. Also, Jessica then immediately goes back to her normal ways, ditching Elizabeth when they’re supposed to cook dinner together.

The twins throw a pool party, and Sam reluctantly comes, even though he still doesn’t feel comfortable hanging out with strangers. I feel you, Sam. Though he acts like no one likes him, which isn’t true, since Elizabeth keeps reaching out to him. The kids start talking about reincarnation, since there was a movie about it on the night before, and Sam announces that he thinks that explains his familiarity with Sweet Valley. The idea inadvertently leads to Sam making a good impression on everyone – he says he thinks he was in the circus in a past life, then wows everyone with his juggling skills.

The next day, the twins go to McClarendon Street with Sam, who wants to figure out why it’s so familiar. Elizabeth wonders if it’s where Sam’s family lived before his parents died. Sam thinks he sees someone in an upstairs window, but it’s only there briefly. The kids learn from a neighbor that he house belonged to a mean rich guy named Jeremiah Seever, not someone in Sam’s family.

Sam decides to check out a cemetery and see if he can find his birth parents’ graves. He finds a whole mess of Burroughses, including a 12-year-old boy named Michael who had the same birthday as Sam. Sam sees someone in the cemetery and gets spooked…because the person has his face. If I were Sam, I would go straight home and tell my parents that we had to move immediately, no matter what. And even if they thought I was having a breakdown and sent me to a psychiatric facility, I would be okay with it, because at least I would be away from this creepy town.

Sam, however, goes to the library, where he runs into Elizabeth and tells her what happened. He thinks the person he saw in the cemetery was a ghost. He convinces her to go the cemetery with him the next day. Liz tells Jessica everything at home and gets her to tag along. The “ghost” appears again, but obviously it’s not really a ghost, just a kid who looks exactly like Sam.

He’s David Barton, he’s Sam’s exact age, and he was adopted as a baby. Yep, Sam and David are identical twins who were separated and never knew about each other. It’s like The Parent Trap, only slightly less disturbing (the parents hated each other so much that they never told their kids about each other and gave up a kid each to never have to see each other again! That’s messed up!). Sam thinks David is the reason he finds Sweet Valley so familiar. I guess David’s been giving off psychic vibes or something.

The boys go to Sam’s house, where they learn that Sam’s adoptive parents had no idea that he had a twin. David’s parents, however, did – they were just unable to adopt both boys. After their parents died, the boys were supposed to live with a great-aunt, their only remaining family. But the aunt realized she was too old to care for both boys, so she gave Sam up. Wow. Did she flip a coin to decide which one to ditch? Then she broke her hip and realized she couldn’t take care of David either, so she gave him up, too. David’s parents knew about Sam, but by then he’d already been adopted, so they couldn’t take him as well, though they wanted to. It doesn’t explain why they never told David about his brother, though.

Sam and David are immediate BFFs, realizing they have a ton in common. Since their birthday is coming up, they decide to have a party together. They spend the night together at David’s, both having Sam’s recurring dream, which David has had for years, too. They find a picture of their parents outside the house on McClarendon Street…and there’s a face in the window.

Both sets of twins go to the house and find an old man tending the garden. The boys recognize him as the man trying to reach them in their dreams. He introduces himself as P.J. and reveals that the Burroughs family did own the house. It was owned by the boys’ great-grandfather, Peter, who was buddies with Jeremiah Seever. The two went into business together but had a falling out when each thought the other was cheating him. They ended their partnership, and Seever lied his way into getting ownership of the house. He even kicked out Peter’s widow and children. What a lovely man. The boys ask P.J. about Michael Burroughs, but this turns out to be a bad move. P.J. gets mad and splits, seemingly vanishing.

Sam and Elizabeth decide to find out more about Michael by looking through records at City Hall. Ah, the days before the Internet. They learn that Michael died the day before his 12th birthday…which was exactly 30 years ago today. And remember, Sam and David have the same birthday as Michael. Seriously, I would be out of that town so fast.

There are no records on how Michael died, so Sam goes the library the next day to do more research. Guess how Michael died? He drowned. Guess who drowned with him? His grandfather, Peter J. Burroughs, AKA P.J. Guess who appears to be a ghost? YEAH. Also, Michael looks just like Sam and David. Sam, get the heck out now! Sam ignores me, instead calling David to give him the news. But David and his father have gone out sailing, which is a bad idea on the day before your 12th birthday when your lookalike relative drowned exactly 30 years earlier.

Sam rushes to the Wakefields’ house, because of course, and Elizabeth tries to call David and his father at the marina. Too late – they’re already out on the boat. The weather’s currently nice, but by the time Sam and the twins get to the marina, there’s a storm. David and Mr. Barton’s boat is close enough to shore that the kids see it capsize. David falls overboard, and Sam suddenly feels like he’s drowning. There’s that psychic twin power. He passes out, waking up to learn that Mr. Barton has been rescued but David’s still lost at sea.

While waiting for hours for news about his brother, Sam falls asleep and has his recurring dream. Now he knows that the man in it is definitely P.J. This version of the dream is different, though – he finds David and takes him to a beach house. When Sam wakes up, he tells everyone that David’s okay and directs them to his location. David tells them that he knows he was rescued but doesn’t really remember what happened. The only indication of who saved him is a shirt the kids recognize as P.J.’s.

The boys think that the face in the photo was P.J. trying to warn them. Sure, okay. However, the face is no longer in the picture. Instead, there’s a door that the boys think they didn’t see before because it’s now covered in ivy. Jessica and Elizabeth randomly show up, and the kids enter the door and find a room full of Seever’s things. Included are legal papers detailing how Seever and P.J.’s holdings were split up when they dissolved their business. It turns out the Burroughses’ house never legally belonged to Seever, and since Sam and David are the only living Burroughses, they now have a house to take care of. I imagine that’ll come in handy when they’re in college and want to throw huge keggers.

First, though, the boys decide to have their 12th birthday party in the house. They dress alike, wearing name tags so people can tell them apart, but Jessica and Elizabeth quickly figure out that they’ve swapped name tags just for the fun of it. I guess identical twins have some sort of twin radar about other sets of twins. The party’s a huge success, and I guess now Sam has a bunch of friends, both at SVMS and David’s school. And then we never hear about him again. I’m going to tell myself that it’s because Sam switched over to David’s school and lost touch with the twins.

The B-plot is about Jessica’s oddly complicated attempt to get revenge on Lila. She’s inspired by the talk of reincarnation and decides to pretend she’s the reincarnation of a woman named Lillian Barnes who used to live in Sweet Valley. While Lila’s spending the night, Jessica pretends to talk in her sleep about wanting to get her gold back. Elizabeth (who’s in on this) tells Lila that Jessica often has dreams about a gold mine. Lila puts the pieces together, deciding that Jessica-as-Lillian can lead them to gold that was stolen from the real Lillian.

Jessica lets Lila hypnotize her (or attempt to), supposedly cementing her claim that she’s the reincarnation of Lillian. She says she lived in the house on McClarendon Street. Then she tells Lila she had a dream where she remembered burying the gold at the house. When Lila digs it up, she finds a note telling her that Jessica played her. Lila runs off, upset, and Jessica’s stuck at the house, trapped by locked gates. There’s some psychic twin crap about Elizabeth feeling that Jess needs help, and going to rescue her, but whatever.

Jess and Lila make up, but now Elizabeth wants revenge on her sister for her constant flaking when she’s supposed to help cook dinner. She and Lila team up to scare Jessica after Sam and David’s party, though as far as revenge goes, it’s pretty weak. Then Elizabeth uses reverse psychology to get Jessica to cook dinner on her own, thinking that Liz would use the opportunity to get revenge if she cooked by herself. But Jess can’t cook, so she feeds the family cheese sandwiches. What a dumb plot.

Thoughts: Sam learned to juggle in gym class. What kind of weird school did he go to?

Sam knows his birth parents’ last name and has a picture of them, but he doesn’t know their first names. That makes no sense!

How can there be another person in the world who looks just like me? [Sam] wondered.” Dude, you’re hanging out with IDENTICAL TWINS. There’s your answer. That school you went to was worse than I thought.

1 Comment »

  1. Ramie said,

    I love that someone has the same feeling about Parent Trap as I do. Its nice to get that off the chest.

    I literally laughed every time you told Sam to get out of town. That was so funny. And yes he should have left town immediately. Hopefully, he eventually did flee that creepy town.

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