Emily wants to like her stepsister, but it hasn’t been easy. As soon as Jessie moves in, she takes over Emily’s room, steals Emily’s clothes, and lies to everyone. Then Emily picks up Jessie’s diary and learns a horrifying secret. Is Jessie really capable of murder?
Emily tries to tell her parents, but no one believes her.
So it’s up to Emily to expose the real Jessie — if she can stay alive.
Maybe it’s a coincidence or maybe I’ve just chosen two books of R.L. Stine that I never read as a child? Either way, I have no recollection of ever reading this book and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
One thing I’ve never noticed is how Stine integrated other previous characters into his other books. Even if it was mentioning them in passing, it helps to reinforce this is a series about a small town and the mysterious circumstances the teenagers in the town wind up in. For example, The Stepsister mentions Lisa Blume and Corey Brooks, who were featured in the last book I read, The New Girl. This little detail helps reinforce how much appreciation I have for this series, even if I feel the books are clearly geared towards a younger audience.
In the beginning of this story, Emily Casey is preparing for the arrival of her step siblings, Jessie and and Rich Wallner. Despite everything, that first night doesn’t go smoothly as Jessie proves to be pushy by insisting on taking Emily’s bed and even mutilates Emily’s teddy bear. This is the beginning of strange occurrences in which Emily feels as if Jessie is out to get her From finding out someone has sabotaged her shampoo with peroxide, a deleted Social Studies report, the murder of her dog and several attempts on her life, Emily is convinced Jessie’s trying to not only ruin her life, but end it.
Perhaps it’s my experience with these types of books, but it seemed almost too convenient for Jessie to be blamed for everything. Even when the adults believe Rich may have murdered the family dog, Emily is certain it was Jessie. Of course, Jessie has a dark past, one in which she was found next to her dead friend. This helps to further cement the idea of her guilt into Emily’s head. But in reality, the threat was even closer to home as it was her sister, Nancy, not Jessie doing all these horrible things. This becomes more and more obvious as you get into the story, though I thought the motive was strictly over the fact Emily was dating Nancy’s ex, Josh. Instead, it turned out to be that Nancy blamed Emily for killing their father.
Even to this day, I like stories that play with your mind, forcing you to believe one truth, when in reality you’re missing the clues about the real culprit. For a teen book, it’s a pretty good story and definitely a worthy read. However, as an adult, I must admit the ending was too obvious and Emily’s behavior was a bit too scattered for my taste. A better twist would have been if Emily had really been doing all of this to herself.