Relics and Curiosities Square: Vinnie installed a fortune-telling machine, 'The Wizard', at the pizzeria. It grants wishes in the worst way.
When Alex first sees the new attraction at Vinnie's she's profoundly disturbed. The plaster wizard behind glass reminds her of a creepy carnival she visited when her parents were divorced. That's kind of heavy and unrelated to the rest of this novel.
We're introduced to a huge cast of friends and roommates: Julie and Jenny Pierce, twins - pretty, but different looking! - plus FOUR football players named Marty, Bennett, Gabe and Kyle, and Kiki Duff, soccer player. Bennett starts the book in crutches, but that was my only takeaway before the book gets going. Its tough to keep any characters straight except for the rude Kiki.
Despite Alex's harping about the Wizard being a waste of money (uh, it's a quarter Alex, calm down) Julie wishes for a more interesting face and Gabe wishes for a car so he doesn't have to walk. Bennett says he could use new knees so he can play football again. Kyle doesn't wish for anything. Eventually lightning crashes into the diner and strikes the Wizard with little discernible effect. Everyone decides to call it a night.
There being so, so many characters, they drive home in two separate vehicles. On the way Julie, driving, doesn't see a fallen tree in time and crashes into it. Her face is slammed, twice, into the steering wheel and Gabe's legs are crushed in the impact.
That scene was pretty great, actually, but you see what's happening. Alex realizes that Julie, who broke several bones in her face, got her wish granted in a sick way. Gabe certainly won't be walking everywhere for awhile, either. Kiki makes a wish to lose some weight and Marty doesn't want to make a big speech for class. I'm impressed when Alex refers to the cryptic cards (Marty's says 'Silence is Golden') as bromides.
Despite it being obvious that something supernatural is going on (indoor lightning?), the book spends a lot of time pointing out there's a person behind a lot of the events. It seemed...excessive, I just wanted more psycho stuff to happen. It doesn't get easier keeping the football guys straight, either.
The book hesitated to go full supernatural horror. I won't spoil the ending, but it seemed to come out of nowhere after all of the scenes of Alex quizzing her friends about football charm necklaces. It was thing. At least some characters from previous books showed up with actual speaking roles.
I'll still check more of these out someday, continuity will reel me in every time.
Next: 'The Scream Team'
Previous: 'Deadly Attraction'