7. When Midnight Comes… – Carol Beach York
I almost feel sorry for this book. I shouldn’t, it’s still more traditionally published and popular than my own work; the story just never went anywhere or did anything. It’s never been in love or on the tundra. It never had its fortune told. This book is a virgin that can’t drive. This book is stuck in a rut, a very short, vague rut, like Wilma, who should have been the main character.
Wilma, like many bedraggled, poor girls forced to visit their rich, pristine family members before her, is not happy. She dropped out of school. She dresses poorly – because she is poor – so clearly that reflects her mental state. Smart people always look super put together. At all times. That’s always been my experience and I’ve never noticed any other trends amongst the intelligentsia. Anyway, Wilma is dull and horrible and boring according to her aunt and her cousin Joan, and obviously to blame for the general sense of unease spreading throughout the Bridgeport’s home. Anyway, the cow that is Wilma is making little Charles ill, Mrs. Bridgeport an insomniac, Joan an anxious, slightly less bright social star, and she’s re-awakened little Emily’s fear of the dark. Or has she? If she had, this book would have been awesome, or, a lot more like Ghoulies. Possibly Carrie. I continuously thought that Wilma was meant to look like the book version of Carrie, I could tell that these characters were thinking “bovine” even if they didn’t say it. They’d never say it because they’re too busy hating her and wishing her away just because she’s not like them. Mrs. Bridgeport made her a shirt! And a dress! And Joan invited her friends over to meet her and then made no effort to include her in the giggling! They’ve done so much just by letting such a beast enter their home and infect it with her inability to be perfect and smart. It’s driven Mrs. Bridgeport to pills. Lots of pills. Well, not too many, she doesn’t want to go too far with sleeping. Also, there’s a grandfather clock that isn’t supposed to work stuck in the house and it does work – at night, sometimes.
The book is a like a field of missed opportunity. The privileged bitterness mounts and then they send Wilma away…and…nothing changes. Then the housekeeper leaves because her fortune teller friend says that the house is totally full of evil spirits and everyone should leave it. And then, scandal, Mrs. Bridgeport sees “SOON” written on the wall in red wax – but she can’t blame Wilma anymore – and, apparently they move. The next scene is one of those “now new people are moving in and charmed by this evil house they don’t know is totally evil” scenes. “Why did the previous family leave?” Well, I think they were needed at Stuffy Rich People Magazine to clutch their pearls and look down on those depraved poors. And, oh look, I’ve summarized the whole thing. Book report.
I seriously wish Wilma had been responsible for the evil spirits. I know that my sympathies were supposed to fall with the poor, put-upon Bridgeports since they took her in for a small vacation and then had a bad time, but it was impossible for me to care about nearly anyone in the family. I also think it was a total dick move on the part of the author to be so ridiculously superficial in every aspect of the story. Mount some dread, lady. Mount some dread.