By Richie Tankersley Cusick.
Kate arrives at a writers’ retreat with her teacher, eager to take classes with famed horror writer, William Drewe. Her disappointment upon learning William is missing (presumed drunk) is short-lived when his classes are taken over by his younger brother, Gideon Drewe, who is not only handsome, but also enthusiastic about Kate’s writing. But the special attention Kate receives from Gideon sparks resentment in someone, who makes her the target of increasingly sinister pranks. Aided by two new friends, Denzil and Tawney, who are employees at the camp and aspiring writers, Kate tries to solve the mystery of what has happened to William Drewe, whilst identifying her tormentor.
Richie Tankersley Cusick packs a lot into the 214 pages of Teacher’s Pet. Best friendships are made overnight; Kate juggles the affections of three different men who have seemingly fallen in love with her at first sight; there are two hospitalisations and Kate is almost constantly terrified. Whilst this all makes for an exciting, page-turning read, there is an onus on the reader to concentrate more intently than your typical Point Horror demands. There are also so many red herrings that almost every character with a name is a suspect. This would usually be the making of a great whodunit. However, whilst the finale provides some great scares, the ‘big reveal’ of the perpetrator’s identity is a confusing disappointment.
Whilst Teacher’s Pet might not satisfy all fans of the whodunit, there’s a lot of scary imagery which nevertheless makes it a worthwhile entry in the Point Horror franchise. From the blood-spattered bathroom, to the mysterious Rowena in her black dress and veil and the eyes peering through Kate’s window at night… all are designed to tingle the spine – and they often succeed. The problem lies in its ambitious attempt to fit into too many genres. The romantic plotlines interfere with, rather than enhance, the story. We wonder how old Gideon Drewe is meant to be. Too old to be romantically pursuing a high school student, even if his home life is messed up. The addition of Pearce, the caretaker, as a romantic interest adds a further complication, and the ‘love triangle’ which develops seems to exist only to add exposition, rather than having any other value. It is these distractions which hold Teacher’s Pet back from being a more entertaining read.
Teacher’s Pet is at its best when it behaves like a horror story rather than a mystery or teen romance. And there are plenty of spooky moments which are well-designed for horror fans. The finale, with its creepy setting and twists and turns, is particularly scary, earning Teacher’s Pet a fear factor rating of…