Confessions Of A Bookaholic: Guilty Pleasure Edition #10 – The Fear Street Saga – Where The Terror Began

This is a very special Fear Street blog – so special that this trilogy deserved its own post. This is the story of the Fear Street Saga… where the terror began. Because of the nature of these books it is next to impossible not to include spoilers. It will be the only warning I give, since the spoilers will begin in the first book and continue until the end. Read on, if you dare…

“The Betrayal”
Fear Street Scale: 5 out of 5 Fears
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: First/Second Place

Why do so many horrifying things happen on Fear Street? Nora knows. She knows how the terror began… It started with a young girl who burned at the stake and a bloody feud between two families that has lasted for over 300 years. She knows, and she wants to tell. Are you sure you want to hear it?

Every book in this trilogy begins with Nora, alone in a room, afraid time will run out before she writes the story of the Fear family curse, its victims and how to end the evil once and for all. This book is no different. The year is 1900 and takes place in Shadyside Village. Nora’s story begins in the year 1692, with the story of the poor, but hardworking Goode family. Susannah Goode and Edward Fier are in love. Edward is the son of the town magistrate Benjamin Fier. Benjamin arranges a profitable union between his son and the daughter of another wealthy man. When Benjamin pushes, Edward confesses his intentions to marry Susannah. They argue. Benjamin and his brother Matthew are known to be just men of God, burning women they claim to be witches, but they are not so just. To get Susannah out of the picture in terms of Edward, Benjamin claims that she and her mother, Martha, are witches, followers of ‘the Evil One’, and must burn for their crimes. William, Susannah’s father and Martha’s husband is beside himself and begs Matthew to make this right. Matthew agrees, but only for a very large sum of money. The next day William realizes he has been betrayed (and wiped out) as he watches his family burn. The Fiers have taken off, not only robbing William, but the village as well. William Goode swears revenge and while his family was innocent, he is not. He puts a curse on the Fier family, claiming they will end in fire.

Twenty-eight years later, hundreds of miles away, the Fiers have prospered – Edward married and has a son and Matthew went on to have a daughter. But then the curse finds them and the Fiers begin to die, horrible and gruesome deaths, or worse…

This book is superb. I love origin stories and R.L. Stine has written a doozey with this trilogy. The tale is tragic (Susannah was one of my favorite characters in all three books) and one of several betrayals. One thing that I like is the first part of this book is from the Goode perspective, but with their burnings it switches to the innocent members of the Fier family. Like any feuding tale, there is not a clear set of good guys and bad guys. Benjamin and Matthew were the original villains and they should pay, but their children and children’s children are as innocent as Susannah and her mother were, but the curse does not discriminate based on innocence. Another thing I enjoyed about this book was the elaborate and varied deaths. The body count is high, but how people die or how they are found shows much more creativity than Stine’s past Fear Street books. I still cannot decide between this book or the concluding book in this trilogy in terms of which one is better. For me, they both are equally strong, but for different reasons. This is the beginning, the true roots of the Fear family curse that spills over onto a street that gives this series its name. A truly inspired book and a truly inspired trilogy. An absolute must for any fan or Fear Street dabbler.

“The Secret”
The Fear Street Saga 2: The Secret
Fear Street Scale: 5 out of 5 Fears
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: Third Place

What is the secret of Fear Street and why has the horror lasted for so long? Ezra Fier searches for answers among the rotting bones of Wickham, the settlement long deserted, but finds only betrayal and death. Elizabeth and Kate are in love with the same man. Little do they know that they are caught by the evil that will haunt the Fier family forever…

Twenty-seven years have passed since Ezra Fier lost his family to William Goode’s evil curse, leaving him full of nothing but hatred and on a mission to avenge his fallen family. He takes his wife Jane, daughters Abigail and Rachel and son Jonathan back to Wickham Village, where the evil began. They find the town deserted and reeking of death. Ezra’s family urges him to move on, but he is desperate to find the evil Goodes and settle the score once and for all. Too bad he doesn’t understand he should be careful what he wishes for, because not all of his family will leave Wickham alive…

Seven years and several miles will not take away the pain of losing one of his children to the Fier family curse. Ezra, ever vigilant, has made a good life for his family, no longer searching for what he cannot find. Of course, as soon as you stop looking for something, it will find you. Jonathan falls in love with a local girl named Delilah. At first she seems to return his affection, but she is hiding a terrible secret. Meanwhile his family is haunted by the ghost of his dead sister, and soon those he loves begin to die in horrible accidents. When Jonathan discovers Delilah’s last name is Goode, he is overjoyed; their union can lift his family’s curse that has already wrought so much pain and death, but his father has other ideas. Poor Jonathan, if only he knew the truth, perhaps he wouldn’t have to watch everyone he loves die horrible deaths…

After Jonathan Fier lost his family to the Fier family curse he decided to bury the family’s medallion and all knowledge of his family’s feud with the Goodes. It works, at least for 100 years, until his descendents uncover the box with the family’s medallion, awakening the evil that has been lying in wait. Elizabeth and Kate Fier both fall in love with a mysterious stranger named Franklin Goode. Their brother Simon is weary and then one by one they begin to die…

This book may be the weak link in the trilogy, but it is far from weak (it is still 5 out of 5 after all). I love seeing the character of Ezra (Edward’s son) and how different he is from the boy he was in the first book – apparently family massacres will do that to a person. He is consumed with such hatred that it is hard to be on his side, but one also understands it. Like his father and Aunt Mary, he had no knowledge of the original betrayal that started the slaughter. His daughters are animated and very different from one another. It was very sad when one of them had to die and Stine shows her death in one of the creepiest and ‘whoa’ ways ever (and that is compared to the entire series, not just this trilogy). Like the first book, this book offers a high body count with truly inspired ways to die (I am sure saying such things make me sound deranged, but it doesn’t make it any less true).

There are two disappointments with the trilogy that is brought up with this book. The first is that there is a 100 year gap. Obviously, R.L. Stine knew he couldn’t do 300 years in three books, but I wish he had taken the time and made this into a miniseries of five to eight books (about what it would have taken to give each generation its spotlight). The plotline of burying the medallion and the curse screams gimmick and it should because it is one, just not one that works. (And the total transparency thing doesn’t help either.) The second thing is that in each book Stine has a Fear family tree at the beginning of the book, which includes each generation covered. I appreciated this, but did not like how it was incomplete. I am not talking about including years of death because that could be a serious giveaway, but the family tree for the gap doesn’t exist. The tree just says “100-Year Break”. I want to know how Simon, Elizabeth and Kate were related to Jonathan. Are they his direct descendents or his sister’s? I don’t know why he didn’t include this, because it would not have been difficult or time consuming. I am guessing it was because he didn’t want readers to question the gap or wonder about the lives of those who lived during this gap, their lives untouched by the curse. This makes sense because R.L. Stine is not a lazy author and if anything this trilogy only proves that, but it is still disappointing.

This book reinforces that there is no longer a good side or a bad one. The Fiers were in the wrong originally, but so many innocent Fiers have died horrible deaths, even more than 100 years after the original offense. Now it is evil Fier versus evil Goode and yet the innocent Fiers and Goodes are the ones continually caught in the crossfire.

“The Burning”
Fear Street Scale: 5 out of 5 Fears
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: First/Second Place

Simon Fear thought that changing his name would stop the evil, but he was wrong. Dead wrong. After centuries of unspeakable horror, it is up to Daniel and Nora, brought together by their forbidden love, to unite the feuding families. Is their love strong enough to withstand such immense evil? Poor Nora, desperate to bury the curse – before it buries her…

Simon Fier changes his name to Simon Fear because the curse claimed his family would end in fire, rearranging the letters of his last name. He travels to New Orleans and falls in love with a girl named Angelica. He knows he cannot win Angelica on his own, when she is beautiful, wealthy and already has a line of suitors courting her, so he decides to call upon his family’s ancient power to get rid of everyone standing in his way of winning Angelica’s hand in marriage.

In 1865, the Fears have moved to Shadyside Village. Simon and Angelica have five children: Julia, Hannah, Robert, Brandon and Joseph. Life has never been better – they are rich, practically control the town through influence and intimidation and live a life of luxury. But soon Hannah realizes someone wants her dead. Can she discover who is after her before it is too late?

Thirty-five years after the horrible deaths of Simon Fear’s children, the surviving Fear children have all left Shadyside and do not keep in close contact with their parents. Daniel, Simon’s grandson returns to celebrate his grandfather’s birthday but feels uneasy as soon as he gets to town. His grandmother is not right in the head, his grandfather reclusive and everyone in town whispers about the evil surrounding his family. Daniel can’t wait to return home until he meets Nora Goode. They fall in love quickly and soon learn of the curse surrounding both of their families. They know how their families will react, but know their love is pure and elope, hoping to finally put the curse to bed as well. But when Simon Fear finds out there is a final showdown, leaving nothing but flames in his wake.

An excellent and startling conclusion to this trilogy is exactly what this book is. Like Ezra, it is interesting to see Simon so changed by what happened to his family. He is now a villain, but unlike Ezra he is driven by what he wants, not some misguided sense of honoring his family through vengeance. Simon’s courting Angelica was my least favorite part of the entire three books, but it is brief. (I wish we knew what happened to his surviving sister, but she is never brought up again). The lives of the Fear family in 1865, is fascinating, rich in details and you can’t help but fall in love with (or pity) his daughters. Nora is my favorite character since Susannah in the first book and yet it is the tale of before she was even born that is the most chilling, compelling and heart wrenching.

That being said, Nora is the main heroine of this book and she is so like her ancestor Susannah, innocent though not completely naïve, who follows her heart and believes in love above all else. It is Nora who is on the cover of each book and she is telling this horrible tale in hopes of stopping the evil once and for all. This book also inadvertently shows how Fear Street came to be and why it is affected by the curse (because it has nothing to do with the name, as Simon’s attempt of ending things by changing his name proved). Think about this title and the original prophecy of the curse…

Seriously, you have to read this trilogy if you have any interest in the series. Because it is an origin story it can be your first Fear Street venture, your last or read in order of publication, which is how I do these blog posts. It won’t affect chronology and gives the reader a sense of the truth behind the Fear family and why Fear Street is, well, Fear Street. 😉

I loved this trilogy. This is a family saga as much as it is an origin story and it pulls both off seamlessly. Now that R. L. Stine is relaunching the series in October I really hope he revisits this trilogy and takes advantage of all of the additional opportunities these books afford him. For example, I would like to see a more complete Fear family tree, both in terms of the gap and present day. Fears such as Simon Fear III, Jennifer Fear and Sarah Fear (not the evil spirit from the Cheerleaders trilogy) crop up in books that take place in the present. How are they related to the Fears in this book? I want to know! I also want a Goode family saga. They were as much victims as they were villains – where is their family tree? I want to know about Hester and Franklin and Lucy and all of the others were related to one another. I want to know their stories beyond the limited scope of these books. For a feud, this trilogy was more or less one-sided. It is time to see the other side…

Next week’s list has two Super Chillers and other awesome books to set the tone of ‘Fear Street 1.5’ because we have officially graduated from ‘Old School Fear Street’. You won’t want to miss it! 😉


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