Don't Stand So CloseDon’t Stand So Close
Eric Red

Short Scary Tales Publications
July 1, 2012 | $14.47
Review by Darkeva

Most teenage boys dream of getting it on with attractive, young female teachers for many reasons including the appeal of an older (and more experienced) woman, the bragging factor with the “rite” of shedding male virginity, the “forbidden” element, someone who listens to them and “gets” them — heck, Van Halen devoted an entire song on the matter with “Hot for Teacher” that sparked the imaginations of many a young boy when it came out. In this male fantasy, which is the subject of many illicit videos, it’s a dream come true to be asked to stay after school with the sexy, attractive teacher. But the reality of the matter is it’s a felony for any teacher to have underage relations with a student, and one need only think of the most famous case, that of Mary Kay Letourneau, who notoriously served jail time for an affair with a male student who she has since married and had two children with.

But things don’t quite turn out so peachy for Matt Poe, a handsome and impressionable seventeen year-old newly transplanted to rural Iowa from California because of his single mother’s teaching job. While Mrs. Poe is busy being the new math teacher, Matt falls for his English teacher, Ms. Linda Hayden. At first, it seems like an erotic dream come true — the teacher with a porn star’s body wants him all the time and is great at keeping their little secret, but soon enough, the cracks start to appear in the shell of perfection she has built around herself, and it emerges that she has an obsession with him. Things get even worse when Matt starts to build an attraction and a friendship to one of his classmates, Grace.

The manipulation and lies only grow as the novel goes on, and the body count starts to rise as Linda’s past and present collide, and she will do anything to survive. She’s always one step ahead of the people who find out the sickening truth about her and try to warn Matt, which makes her an easy villain to hate. She’s a seasoned pro at what she does, despite her occasional slip-ups, which I was hoping would do her in. Although the author denies us of that satisfaction with a cliffhanger ending, it’s still a darkly compelling read. Eric Red’s background as a filmmaker and screenwriter make this a powerful reading experience that definitely packs a huge punch.

The epilogue as well as some hints in the main narrative point to the reason behind Linda’s actions, including the tortured high school past she hasn’t been able to shake and that has become a darkness rooted so deeply in her that it can never be fixed. Matt and the rest of the rural Iowa community involved in this scandal all learn a lesson they will not soon forget. Although the graphic content makes this a Rated R read, Don’t Stand So Close is an absorbing read that both older teen and adult horror buffs alike will enjoy.

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