Book: “The Secret” (The Fear Street Saga #2) by R.L. Stine
Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1993
Where Did I Get This Book: An eBook from the library!
Book Description: Buried Evil
What is the secret of Fear Street?
Why has its horror lasted so long?
Ezra Fier wants to find out. He searches for the answer among the rotting bones in the ghostly town of Wickham. But he find only betrayal and death.
Elizabeth and Kate are in love with the same boy. How can they know that they too are caught by the evil that will haunt this family forever?
Had I Read This Before: No
The Plot: Moving on to part 2 of “The Fear Street Saga”! We join Nora Goode again, who is writing the long, dramatic, and violent history of the Goode family and the Fear Family. We still don’t know why she knows it, or why she as a Goode has the Fear amulet, or her back story with the now presumably deceased Daniel Fear.
BUT, before we go into that, we go back in time to Wickham Village in the Massachusetts Colony in 1737! And we catch back up with Ezra Fier, the son of that dunderheaded narc Edward, who let his girlfriend Susannah Goode burn at the stake by orders of his father. Ezra has been nursing his grudge towards the Goodes since Willaim, Susannah’s father, took his revenge which led to the deaths of Ezra’s grandfather, great aunt and uncle, mother, and aunt. His dunderheaded father died too, but probably from idiocy. Ezra has been tracking George, William’s son, for most of his adult life, and has dragged his family around the colonies on his hunt. His son Jonathan thinks that this is a ridiculous situation to be in, but wife Jane goes with it and daughters Abigail and Rachel are too young to be put off. Ezra is convinced that he’s tracked George down to this town, but as their wagon approaches they see a stopped carriage, with two dead horses next to it. When they look in the carriage, there are bloated and decaying dead people. And when they get to town, it’s more of the same. FILLED with dead people! Ezra isn’t swayed, and makes Jonathan go with him to explore, and tells him the whole background of his family. Ezra says they should go to the inn, as innkeepers will know the tea, but they TOO are dead. He tells Jonathan to go to the magistrate’s office to ask HIM what’s up, so it hasn’t really gotten through his dumb skull that EVERYONE IN TOWN IS DEAD, DUDE! Poor Jonathan goes, and once again finds a corpse. Ezra finally takes this for what it is, and they return to the wagon to tell Jane and the girls what they found. Ezra drives the wagon to a farmhouse, and while he doesn’t tell his family why they are there, he says that he wants to see their dead and rotting corpses, so we can assume this is where he decided the Goodes lived. But they aren’t there! Ezra throws a fit, and when Jane says that she doesn’t want their children living in a town full of bodies he pulls the ‘wives should be obedient’ card and says they are staying there for the foreseeable future, and that he’s going to find The Goodes.
The Fier family settles in okay, though Ezra is still a Ahab-esque tyrant. A few weeks after moving in, Ezra says to Jonathan that they are going to visit some farms a few miles away. But instead of exchanging pleasantries, Ezra immediately asks if they know about the Goodes. The first family just tells him to leave, and the second family threatens to cut his throat. Ezra says that this is proof of how evil the Goodes are because EVERYONE hates them, and to me I would say it’s a good sign to just let it the hell go. Ezra thinks these neighbors have to be hiding something.
The next day Abigail tells Jonathan she wants to go to the village. Jonathan says that they aren’t supposed to wander too far (doesn’t bring up the fact that it’s filled with rotting bodies), but Abigail says that he’s chicken. Given that being teased by his little sister will not stand, he agrees and they go. Yep, still filled with a bunch of bodies, but Abigail takes it upon herself to find bodies of animals and give them a proper burial. Super Goth there, Abigail. She keeps insisting that they go back so she can do this, and one day while they’re in town she wants to go so far as to bury the body of a girl. Jonathan says that they’d need a coffin for a person, and instead of being swayed Abigail says that they should look for a box. This girl is giving me Mayhem’s lead singer Dead vibes what with her strange fascination with death and decay. Jonathan inexplicably agrees and goes into the tavern to find a box, and when he returns Abigail is gone. He goes to find her, and then sees her playing with another little girl. When he approaches them the girl runs off, and Abigail says that her name is Hester. He asks where this girl lives, thinking that maybe there are people still alive in town, but Abigail says she doesn’t know. They go back to their house, and Jonathan doesn’t seem at all worried.
The next day Jonathan is in town digging a grave for a baby (this is also thrown out there with the nonchalance of him digging a grave for a hamster or a goldfish, by the way), and he realizes that Abigail hasn’t returned from fetching a grave marker. He eventually finds her and Hester playing in a cemetery. And then Hester grabs Abigail and pulls her into an open grave! Jonathan runs there and sees Abigail pop out of the coffin, and that’s enough death metal shenanigans for one day, and he grabs her by the arm and says they’re going home much to her protestations. The next day Jane says that they aren’t allowed to leave the property because they have to watch Rachel. But Ezra pretty much derails that when he asks Abigail to go for a walk with him, and says that Jonathan can handle it on his own and that he likes Abigail’s company. As Jonathan watches them walk away through the window, he sees Hester meet them in the road. Not trusting this weird coffin hopping kid, Jonathan rushes outside. Hester asks Ezra if Abigail can come to her house, and when Jonathan tells his Dad not to let her go, Ezra blows him off and says that Abigail can go. Jonathan begs him to let him go with, but Ezra says that SOMEONE has to watch Rachel (though gee, Ezra, up until this point you were just going for a meandering walk, maybe YOU could watch your own damn kid!). Jonathan obeys. Big surprise, Abigail isn’t home by suppertime. Ezra insists that she’s fine, but we all know better, don’t we? Ezra goes to look for her, and Jonathan comes too. They hear the sounds of girls’ laughter on the wind, and eventually follow it to a grave… And the headstone says Hester Goode!! And uh oh, next to the grave there is a new grave, with a headstone that says ABIGAIL FIER!! Ezra freaks and uses his hands to dig up the dirt, and there is Abigail, super dead.
Jump forward six years, and Ezra is putting Rachel to bed with the bedtime story of the time he and Jonathan found Abigail in a shallow grave. Wholesome bedtime storytelling at it’s finest. They’ve moved away from plague town and somehow they got richer in that time as Ezra has just kind of resold whatever supplies they’ve had extra of. This is their newest home and they’re just settling in. There’s a knocking at the door, and Jonathan goes to answer it. A pretty girl is on the stoop, and she says her name is Delilah Wilson and she lives down the road. She brought a pie to welcome the new neighbors. Jonathan takes her to the parlor (DAMN, they did do well for themselves), and tells his mother about Delilah. He goes to tell Ezra, but Ezra is too busy obsessing in his office and pawing at his amulet (you know the one). Rachel sneaks out of bed to go meet Delilah too, and when Jane sees her she has a momentary grief spell where she thinks Rachel is Abigail. After being gently corrected, she goes to prepare the pie. Jonathan and Rachel talk with Delilah, and Delilah asks why they’ve moved so much. Rachel, not one to play it cool, says it’s because of the family curse and tells her all about it. Rachel is all in on the Goode hate train, but Jonathan blames Ezra for Abigail’s death.
A few days later Jonathan is in town and he sees Delilah. She says she’s come from her father’s church and is on the way home, and he offers to escort her. He apologizes for his family’s behavior, especially Rachel’s, but Delilah says that she loved outlandish stories when she was a little girl too. Jonathan is very smitten, and that night he’s thinking about her as he’s falling asleep. He thinks he hears someone calling for help outside and a strange noise, but when he runs to his window he sees nothing out there. He thinks he’s imagining things, but can’t sleep the rest of the night.
The next day Jan asks Jonathan to go get kindling and asks Rachel to go get water from the well. As he’s gathering wood he hears Rachel screaming, and runs to the well to see what’s going on, Jane and Ezra leaving the house. Rachel points at the bucket, and it’s filled with blood. Ezra says that it’s the curse, and when Jonathan says that that isn’t real Ezra calls him foolish, and that there have to be Goodes nearby. Jonathan, sick of his family’s histrionics, goes to call on Delilah. He meets her father, Reverend Wilson, and then he and Delilah go for a walk. He confides in her about the noise and the bucket of blood, and she says that there has to be a rational explanation. But now Jonathan isn’t so sure, but he likes how sensible Delilah is.
That night, Jonathan is awakened by footsteps in the hallway. When he opens his door he sees Jane, crying out for Abigail. She insists that she heard Abigail calling to her. Jonathan says that she has to have been dreaming, and leads her back to bed. The same thing happens the next night, though Ezra is the one to take care of Jane that time. It happens again and again, and Rachel says that she wants to do something for Jane to cheer her up. They start to plant some roses, and Delilah pays them a visit. They all sit in the shade, and tell Delilah what has been going on with their mother, how she keeps saying she sees Abigail in the backyard. Rachel thinks it’s a ghost, and Jonathan thinks it’s hallucinations. Delilah suggests that it could be dream, meeting in the middle of two extremes. But that night, Jonathan hears Abigail, and Rachel says that she saw her outside her window, warning her, though she doesn’t know of what.
The next day Jonathan goes to visit Delilah. Jane sends sweet rolls with him, and when Jonathan gets to Delilah’s house her father asks how Jane is doing. Jonathan says not well, and when he and Delilah go for a walk he tells her that now he has heard Abigail and Rachel saw her. Delilah starts to cry, and when he asks what’s wrong says that she would never wish harm upon his family. He’s confused, and she tells him that she and her father are leaving town soon, and that it’s for the best. When he begs her to stay, she says that he has to go, even though she obviously doesn’t want him to do so. Jonathan leaves with a broken and confused heart.
Shortly before dawn the next morning Jonathan is awakened by a terrible scream. He looks out the window and sees nothing, but when Ezra and Rachel come downstairs Ezra says that Jane is gone. They search high and low and can’t find her, and after hours of looking Jonathan goes to the well to get some water… but the bucket is VERY heavy. He calls to Ezra to help him pull up the bucket, and when they do Jane’s body is sitting in it, drowned.
Jonathan is all in on the curse business now. And it suddenly occurs to him that Delilah’s sadness and insistence on leaving might have something to do with all of this. He and Rachel rush to her house, and he confronts her. Delilah tells him that she is, in fact, a Goode. She says that she and her father changed their name after they were run out of Wickham after they were blamed for the plague. She said that she hadn’t believed in the curse and that when he hadn’t either she thought that it really couldn’t be true, but now she thinks that it is. She tells him that there’s only one way to end it: a Goode and a Fier have to get married. Jonathan says that he’s in love with her so that’s not a problem, and even Rachel, who has been indoctrinated by Ezra her whole life, is on board! Delilah says she’s worried the curse will try and stop their wedding, but Jonathan says they can just get married today! WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG!?
So Jonathan and Delilah rush to the church and Reverend Wilson is going to marry them, but before they can finish the ceremony Ezra bursts in with his rifle. Rachel, carrying the “Fier Narc Trait” says that she told him because he MADE her, and girl? How hard is it to make up some LIE?! Ezra says that all Goodes must die, and raises his rifle. Jonathan lunges at him, and they fight over it, but it goes off, and it shoots Delilah! Ezra then points the rifle at Reverend Wilson, and repeats that ‘all Goodes must die’, but then Wilson drops a huge bombshells: THEY AREN’T ACTUALLY GOODES. He told Delilah to lie to Jonathan because the curse is infamous and they are poor while the Fiers are rich. He convinced her to lure Jane out of the house at night to make her think it was Abigail, but they never intended for her to fall in the well. Delilah felt awful about everything. Jonathan said he’d marry her anyway, whether she was a Goode or not. Ezra starts to have a nervous breakdown, and runs out of the church in a frenzy, and is promptly trampled by a horse. Before he dies he gives Jonathan the amulet and tells him to avenge his death… But Jonathan swears that he is stopping the feud now. When he eventually buries Ezra’s body, he buries the pendant with him.
BUT NORA TELLS US THAT IT DOESN’T STOP THERE!
It took one hundred years, but yes, there’s more.
Flash forward to 1843, still Western Massachusetts. A teenager named Elizabeth Fier is in her backyard digging up the ground for a new planting project, when she finds a rusty metal box. She digs around the dust (IT’S CREMAINS, ELIZABETH!!!) and finds a pretty silver amulet. She doesn’t know what the words ‘dominatio per malum’ mean, but perhaps her brother Simon would know. She joins her family for dinner, which includes brother Simon, sister Kate (oh gosh), father Samuel, and mother Katherine, who tells her to go wash her hands (thank GOODNESS). Elizabeth shows them all the necklace as they eat, but then she has a vision of the dining room being engulfed by flames. But since the vision stops and nothing else happens, Elizabeth plum forgets about it!
Several weeks later, there is a knock on the door around dinner time. Elizabeth answers, and sees a dirty and malnourished looking man on the stoop. He looks at her necklace, an then says that he needs help. He’s hungry, and will gladly work for food. Mr. Fier tells the man that they have plenty of food to go around, and invites him in. Generous, but not something I’d have done! You have no idea who this guy is! Eventually as he’s eating he says his name is Franklin, and after he lost his family and the farm he’s been wandering around picking up odd jobs. He says that after he eats they should give him a task, but they say that they have no work to be done but instead offer him a bath. Elizabeth watches him start to undress, and even though he’s described as skeletal and thin he somehow still has enough muscle mass in his back that they ‘ripple’. Elizabeth rushes off. When he joins them in the parlor after his bath, Elizabeth realizes that he’s SUPER cute. But little do the Fiers know that Franklin is deliberately trying to gain their confidence and trust, and then he will turn on them all and they will pay for the pain that his family had to endure at their hands. Because his name is Franklin GOODE!
The Fiers insist that he stay, and Elizabeth is totally smitten with him.
Elizabeth spends time with Franklin the next day and they go for a walk. She takes him up to a spot where she used to play with Kate and Simon when they were kids, and confides in him about a strange old woman with a cane who scared them back then. People called her Old Aggie and it was rumored that she was a witch. Franklin asks where she got her necklace, and she says she found it. He says that he hopes that it can keep her safe from harm, and she’s certain he’s in love with her just as she is with him.
At dinner that night Franklin continues to charm the Fiers. They ask him what happened to his family, and he tells them that they all died one by one, though no one could figure out why. He said that no one would take him in lest he be a carrier for a mysterious illness, and that he’s worried that the curse will strike him dead too. Elizabeth feels so bad for him, but notices that Kate, too, is looking at him with pity. Which makes her SUPER jealous. In the parlor Elizabeth asks Kate what her deal is, and Kate says that she likes Franklin like everyone else, and so what? Franklin watches the awkward exchange and is happy his plan is working.
The next day Franklin and Elizabeth go for a walk, and they sit down at the same place that she brought him to from her childhood. He tugs the ribbon out of her hair, and she is excited to see what he’s going to do. She isn’t at all suspicious when he loops it around her neck. In FACT, she’s excited to see what he’ll do next because this is clearly normal courting behavior! He’s about the strangle her, but then Old Aggie hobbles out of the woods. Elizabeth panics and jumps up, foiling Franklin’s plan and dragging him out of the woods and back towards home. She apologizes for ruining their perfect(!!!!) afternoon, and he says nothing. They go inside and find Kate cooking some soup. When she sees them (and Elizabeth’s hair rumpled and UNDONE), she runs out of the kitchen. Elizabeth thinks that’s odd, but Franklin says she’s probably fine.
A few weeks later Elizabeth is waiting for Franklin to come find her, and decides to work on her knitting to pass the time. She hears the door thinking it’s Franklin, but instead it’s Kate. And she has interesting news. She and Franklin are getting married!!! The entire family gathers in the parlor to hear the good news, but then Elizabeth starts screaming that SHE loves Franklin and he loves her, and that Kate stole him from her! Kate is confused, and Elizabeth runs out of the house determined to find Franklin. Kate follows after her. Mr. and Mrs. Fier tell Simon to follow and see what is going on. He goes into the woods and hears his sisters voices, but then hears a horrible scream. He runs to the clearing where they used to play, and finds something horrible: Kate is sprawled on one of the big rocks, and she’s dead, with a knitting needle in her heart!
In the parlor Elizabeth is muttering to herself that Kate was a liar and that Franklin loves her, but when her parents look at her in abject horror she is like “WHY DO YOU THINK I DID THIS?!” Well, maybe because you’re more concerned about Franklin being your boyfriend rather than your sister being found murdered with YOUR KNITTING? When she and Franklin are alone he tells her that HE believes her, and knows that Kate must have killed herself because she was obviously unstable. After all, he NEVER said that he wanted to marry her, Kate was deluded, and he and Elizabeth should elope straight away. She says that she’d love to marry him! Franklin thinks about how he killed Kate, and how this is all going according to plan.
Simon has to get away from his grieving parents and his batty younger sister, so he goes for a walk in the woods. He finds himself back at the scene of the crime, and thinks about the evil that killed his sister. He also muses that there is evil inside of him as well, he feels it, and clunky exposition much? Someone grabs his arm, and he turns around and it’s Aggie. She takes his hand and tells him that Franklin Goode killed Kate and is going to kill Elizabeth. She says that ‘fire’ is in the Fier name, and that is how they’ll all come to an end, and ALSO tells him about the curse that the Goodes cast because of the Fier’s evil deeds. She gives him a dagger with a poison tip and tells him that this will stop Franklin, but to be careful as it only works once. He says that he will be, and runs back home.
And when he gets home it’s a mess. Franklin has murdered Mr. and Mrs. Fier with an axe and he’s threatening Elizabeth! He tells Simon that he’s the last of the Goodes and he’s going to destroy the Fiers. They start to scuffle, and even though Simon does stab Franklin with the dagger it doesn’t seem to work. Franklin is about to hack Elizabeth, but then the poison DOES work after all and he falls down dead. Simon and Elizabeth hug, but instead of being like ‘whoa, that guy was totally nuts but that’s behind us’, Simon starts to think about how goodness never did anyone any good and that being evil is the way to go. Elizabeth gives him the silver amulet and says that it must have protected her, and that he should have it so that HE can have the power. HOW ARE YOU COMING TO THESE CONCLUSIONS?! WHY DO YOU THINK HE DESERVES ANY POWER MORE THAN YOU DO?! Simon vows that he won’t let his family die in flames, and that obviously to break that prophecy is to change his name. The Goodes are dead, the curse (that he JUST learned about not twenty minutes before and has no reason to think is real) has lifted, and he’s going to change his name to FEAR.
And Nora tells us that, given that she’s a Goode, the story is far from over. TO BE CONTINUED.
Body Count: 8! And along with that an entire town of people!
Romance Rating: I GUESS I’m going to give it a 5, since Delilah did love Jonathan, even if she lied to him and was complicit in his mother’s death. Until her father manipulated her they went well together.
Bonkers Rating: 7. Not as crazy as “The Betrayal”, but that murder spree at the end and murderous child ghosts showed just how over the top it could be.
Fear Street Relevance: 10 again! We’re getting all the dish on the Fear family, after all!
Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:
“I will become your sisters’ only hope. Then I will watch them die, one by one. Frank slid his queen across the board. ‘Checkmate,’ he said, grinning.”
Oh, a chess metaphor, HOW ORIGINAL.
That’s So Dated! Moments: Again, as this is historical fiction that doesn’t really apply.
“”The letters in your name – they can be rearranged to spell ‘fire’. Fier. Fire. Fier. Fire.'”
Yeah, we, uh, we get it.
Conclusion: “The Secret” was a little more haphazard than “The Betrayal”, but overall it bridged the time periods well, as the final book will no doubt cover Simon Fear and all of his bullshit. Cannot WAIT to see how that goes. Up next for our very final “Fear Street” book (for the foreseeable future) is “The Burning!