Sweet Valley Twins #3: The Haunted House

The Moral of the Story: If your grandfather is weird and scary, he’d better also be famous or else nobody will want to be your friend.

The Big Deal: Halloween party at Lila’s


All the kids in Sweet Valley are afraid of the Mercandy mansion. They’re all convinced a witch lives there and keeps her crazy husband locked in the attic. The twins get themselves all worked up when they see a girl their age being dropped off at the mansion with a couple of suitcases. A few days later, the girl starts going to Sweet Valley Middle School, and Elizabeth volunteers to show her around. Nora Mercandy has a horrible first day because kids are jackasses.

Liz is out sick on Nora’s second day at school, so the poor girl is on her own. Nora has to play tennis with Lila in gym class, and Lila wants to make things interesting. She bets her expensive cloisonné pen, and then has to hand it over when Nora wins. She gets all bent out of shape about losing and makes it her mission to destroy Nora. First she gets Nora in trouble with the principal by claiming Nora stole the pen, and then she switches her sucky math test with Nora’s passing one.

Nora asks Liz why everyone hates her so much, and Liz explains that everyone thinks her grandparents are weird because they never leave their house. Nora thinks if she gets the Unicorns to meet her grandparents, they’ll see there’s nothing to be afraid of. Liz and Amy help her get the backyard ready for the gathering, and as soon as all the Unicorns arrive, an old man comes shambling out the back door, saying, “Nor…Nor…Nor…” over and over again. Clearly, this man is a zombie, so all the Unicorns run away.

The Unicorns think Nora must have invited them over just to scare them. To get back at her, they cook up a horrible scheme that involves Bruce Patman, that hunka hunka burning seventh-grader. The Unicorns start being really nice to Nora and Lila invites her to her Halloween party. Nora accepts because she’s apparently an idiot who thinks people are suddenly warming up to her.

When Nora gets to Lila’s house, Bruce leaves with Charlie Cashman and Jerry McAllister. Nora overhears someone saying the boys are on their way to the Mercandy mansion to fuck things up with spray paint, toilet paper and rotten eggs. Nora finally loses her temper and yells at everyone, and then she runs out the door. Liz follows her to make sure she’s okay, and Jessica follows Liz to make sure she’s okay, and pretty soon the entire party has migrated to the Mercandy house, where Nora yells at Bruce and then runs inside. Once again, Liz follows her and Jessica follows Liz.

Everyone else follows Jessica into the house and up into the attic, where Nora is crying and Liz is trying to comfort her. Somebody notices that the walls are covered in posters which depict a magician named Marvelous Marvin. Everyone has heard of him, because ancient magicians are so totally popular with sixth-graders, and Nora says Marvin is her grandfather. Suddenly Mrs. Mercandy is there, talking about how her husband used to work with Houdini. Well, now everyone’s excited and they want to meet him. While Mrs. Mercandy goes to get him, Nora tells everyone that her grandfather had a stroke ten years ago and is partially paralyzed and can’t speak very well. It’s all good, nobody’s afraid of him now that they know he’s a magician and not a zombie. Nora puts on a magic act, pretending to saw Liz in half, and everyone wants to be friends with her, hooray!

The Cover: It’s kind of mean of the twins to be talking about Nora while she’s standing right there, but Nora’s off in her own little world anyway, I guess. Maybe she’s thinking about getting a haircut. I hope so.


  • Fran March 2, 2011 at 9:06 am

    This is one of the only Sweet Valley books where I couldn’t stand Lila. She was SO mean in this one.


  • Heather March 2, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    No quotes from the book, Shannon? That’s my favorite part of your recaps!


  • Erin March 3, 2011 at 12:19 am

    This was the first SVT book I ever read, all the way back in elementary school. Ahhh, it brings back fond memories of what assholes these kids truly are. I mean, seriously, the poor man had a stroke and they think he’s some sort of zombie?? WTF??


  • SarahLynn March 3, 2011 at 2:09 am

    “Bruce Patman, that hunka hunka burning seventh-grader”!!!! Love it!!!! TEAM BRUCE!!!


  • Darren March 4, 2011 at 1:50 am

    In Sweet Valley Twins Book 17, Nora is in it again as part of the flock of girls that are disgusted when a new teacher doesn’t treat them as equals! You just have to read it, that’s one of the best books as you learn don’t mess with angry 12-year old girls.
    Erin, don’t be rough on the girls. 12 years old is kind of borderline being say 5 years old in Sweet Valley Kids. Y ou’re just coming out of the kid stage going to teenaged years. It’s easy to assume the way the old man called out Nora’s name that something seemed wrong.
    The writer should’ve had the cops show up and arrest Bruce and the boys for doing what they were doing to the house.


  • MV March 4, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    This cover and their expressions make me laugh my ass off!


  • barbs March 5, 2011 at 5:40 am

    This was my first Sweet Valley book ever… I got it because I was fascinated with haunted houses. I remember being disappointed when it turned out to be some paralyzed ex-magician.

    I was always intrigued by Lila’s pen here. After this, I picked up Sweet Valley High’s “Kidnapped” ;p


  • Meredith March 7, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    I remember Lila screaming that she’ll get Nora at the end of the tennis match. One of the few scenes from this series that stands out years later. 🙂


  • brooklynn March 8, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    I have to admit, I stumbled upon your blog while googling SVH book covers for a post on my own site, and I am addicted. Thank you for bringing me back to my adolescence in such a fresh and hilarious way. I am glad I was not the only one to devour these!


    Shannon Reply:

    You’re quite welcome!


  • The World of Sweet Valley April 2, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    LOL. I know right Bruce and Lila will always be my favorites


  • The World of Sweet Valley April 2, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    The above comment was meet for @Sarah Lynn


  • Sonnie April 28, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    That girl on the cover with the dark hair is so Shannen Doherty.


  • Kristina December 18, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    Sweet valley haunted house


  • mehdisufi April 15, 2015 at 10:35 pm

    Can someone do me a favor and send the pdf files of the Sweet Valley Twins? My email is msoofloo@yahoo.com


  • KannaChan July 3, 2015 at 10:34 pm

    I thought Mary Giaccio (Wallace) was one of the nicer Unicorns, like Mandy and Grace (I read Unicorns at War before I read this one) but man, she was as bitchy as the other Unicorns in this one.


  • Steff September 10, 2015 at 5:38 pm

    I really liked Nora´s hair on the cover!! so black and straight.
    It gets confusing when you keep on reading this amazing books… ´cause in one (I think it´s “Lila´s secret valentine”) they said Lila is really good at math. But ok, maybe just had a bad day on this one..


  • Alex Kennedy July 17, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    Lila’s behaviour is so revolting in this book. You would think that she would like Nora because she is pretty. Then again, Nora probably does not wear the kind of clothing that the Unicorns would appreciate. Lila is a Mean Girl!!! Perhaps this is why her father takes so many business trips – he cannot stand the sight of his own daughter!!!


  • Ilya July 17, 2016 at 8:59 pm

    Alex Kennedy

    You know, if I was a kid in Sweet Valley, I’d probably throw that in Lila’s face, with probably an added bonus of maybe that’s why Lila’s mom left, because she was such a bratty baby that she couldn’t stand being around her. I think that would hit a weak point.


  • Alex Kennedy August 17, 2016 at 7:39 am

    Hi IIya.
    Lila was indeed horrible in this book. In SVH, I actually quite liked her snarkiness. She really annoyed me when she changed the names on the math tests. She is such a bully.


  • Alex Kennedy January 14, 2017 at 2:16 pm

    Nora’s hair is so pretty.


  • Sweet Valley Forever April 21, 2017 at 7:06 am

    I am glad that Facebook was not around during these SVT times. The Unicorns would have cyberbullied Nora.


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