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.