Book: “The Burning” (Fear Street Saga #3) by R.L. Stine
Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1993
Where Did I Get This Book: An eBook from the library!
Book Description: The end…and the beginning
Simon Fear thought changing his name would stop the evil. He was wrong—dead wrong.
After generations of unspeakable horror, it is up to Daniel and Nora, brought together by their fateful love, to unite the feuding families. But is their forbidden love strong enough to withstand such awesome evil?
Poor Nora—desperate to tell the truth and bury the family curse…before it buries her.
Had I Read This Before: No.
The Plot: In the Village of Shadyside in 1900, Nora Goode is writing away at the history of the Goode and Fier (Now Fear) Feud. It’s implied that she is on a time crunch, but is determined to finish it in spite of the fading candlelight. So we jump to 1845 New Orleans, and our old friend Simon Fear is standing outside of a sprawling mansion, looking in at a party and planning on crashing it. He’s certain that he’s charming and handsome enough that if the daughter of the house, Angelica Pierce, knew him she’s absolutely have invited him. He goes to the front door and tells the servant that he is there for the party. When asked for his invitation, Simon does a slight of hand where he drops his hat, and when the servant goes to grab it he snags it up and gloms on to another guest. Somehow this works and he’s inside with the high society of New Orleans. He tries to impress the ladies but no one wants to talk to him or even acknowledge him. But then he notices the beautiful Angelica Pierce, and SHE is the one that he wants to bag. But before he can approach her, two servants (okay, look, given the time period and place I have a hard time believing that they are ‘servants’…) tell him he has to leave. Meanwhile, Angelica is gossiping and having a grand old time with her cousin Liza. They bad mouth other girls and note the fashions of the night, but then Angelica notices a mysterious man staring at her (clearly it’s Simon). Liza thinks he looks sad, and Angelica says that his staring is ‘scaring’ her. When the servants approach him and escort him out, Angelica changes her tune and says that he was actually interesting looking. Bad boys, am I right? Liza scolds Angelica, as she already has two men courting her as it is, James and Hamilton. She dances on and off with them the rest of the night, but isn’t sure which one she wants to marry. After the party ends she goes for a walk around the property to try and figure out which man she loves more, when suddenly Simon Fear takes her by surprise. She demands to know who he is, and when she says that he was uninvited to her party and NOW he’s sneaking around her property. And he tells her that he wants to marry her. When she asks him if he’s drunk or merely insane, he insists that he is GOING to marry her. When she says she’s going to call for help, he runs away yelling over his shoulder that he’s going to marry her, mark his words!
Simon walks through the streets of New Orleans (and it also happens to be Mardi Gras), thinking that he totally crushed tonight’s courting ritual. He eventually finds himself at the docks, and is confronted by a robber, who puts a knife to his throat and demands his money. Simon is willing to give his cash, but then the robber notices the silver pendant. Simon has ‘resisted’ it’s powers up until now, in SPITE of the fact he promised himself that he didn’t have any use for ‘goodness’ anymore. The robber says he wants that too, and Simon pretends that he’s going to give it to him, but instead hits him in the face with it. The robber comes at him with a knife, but then his face starts to heat up and blister. The man shrieks for help, and then his face pretty much melts off of his skull. Simon realizes that black magic can get him what he wants; if he kills Angelica’s suitors, she will be his!
Angelica is at the opera with Liza and James. They are in one of the exclusive opera boxes, and as Liza makes snide remarks about other womens’ fashion choices, James says that perhaps someday he and Angelica can have an opera box of their own, and Angelica wonders if that means he plans to propose. She thinks about how Simon Fear came back to her house after his creepy stalking tendencies. She had agreed to see him, and the visit had gone a bit better as they’d talked about the weather and Mardi Gras. Liza had told her that since he was a Yankee Angelica’s father would never approve, and Angelica probably saw that as a challenge. So even though she’s at the opera with James, she has Simon on the mind. And by PURE coincidence, Liza points out that Simon is right below them, staring up at their box as thought this is perfectly acceptable social etiquette. James asks her who she’s looking at, and Angelica says that it’s just some boy. Then James suddenly stands up, climbs up on the balcony ledge of the box, and jumps to his death! As Angelica and Liza scream, Simon tucks his amulet away and rushes up to the box to comfort Angelica, who is wondering why he jumped. Liza says that there’s no way that James jumped, but Angelica is comforted by Simon, who says that if she needs anything he will be there for her.
After James’s funeral, Angelica’s father makes lemonade from lemons and says that Hamilton will make a great husband. Angelica, however, confides to Liza that she has been spending a lot of time with Simon, and Liza is scandalized not because Simon has been inserting himself in her life, but because he isn’t wealthy. But wait, he IS wealthy! The Fears are a wealthy Massachusetts family, that’s been established. Regardless, Liza doesn’t trust him, and tries to make the case for Hamilton. Hamilton arrives to take Angelica out, and Simon stands outside watching everything, telling himself that Hamilton will be out of the way soon enough.
A month later Angelica, Liza, and Hamilton have gone to the pier to watch the paddlewheel boats and to see their Aunt Lavinia depart for Memphis. After they say their goodbyes, Angelica insists they go further out on the roped off part of the pier to get a better look of the boat leaving. Liza is skeptical, but they go out anyway. Liza then notices someone else in the crowd. Simon Fear! Angelica sees him futzing with a silver amulet around his neck. As the boat starts to pull away, Angelica realizes that Hamilton has disappeared… He’s fallen into the water! And then he gets sucked into one of the paddles!!! He is repeatedly crunched and crushed in the paddles (lol oh my God that’s so twisted), and Liza is in hysterics and constantly asking ‘did he fall?!’ SURE SEEMS LIKE IT, GIRL. Simon is suddenly there to comfort Angelica.
Two months later Angelica’s mourning period for Hamilton has ended, and her father wants her to take some time abroad. He also comments on the fact that Simon has been around quite a bit, but doesn’t say anything else, just excuses himself with a sour expression on his face. Angelica goes and prepares two silver goblets for a visitor, and lo and behold, who should arrive, but Simon. Before he can say anything, she tells him that she wants to marry him. He says that he’s so happy that she does, and she pours celebratory beverages into the goblets. But before he can toast, he tells her that he HAS to confess something. He loves her so much, that he killed James and Hamilton to get them out of the way! I feel like that’s a bold move. But then…. Angelica starts laughing. She laughs and laughs and calls him a fool, letting him know that HE didn’t do SHIT! SHE’S the one who killed James and Hamilton with the black magic she’s been practicing since she was a little girl!!!! She did that so she could marry Simon, and that they can combine their powers!!
She says that the only obstacle now is her father. He says they should go tell him now, and when they go upstairs Angelica is shocked to find her father sprawled on the floor, dead. Simon says that the doctor will think that it was his heart, but he was the one who did it. Angelica is thrilled, as now they are going to get all of his money! They go back to the sitting room, and toast their glasses…. which are, of course, filled with blood.
We jump to 1865 to the town of Shadyside. Simon and Angelica have moved there, built their huge mansion, and had five kids of their own: Julia, Hannah, Robert, Brandon, and Joseph. Julia is the oldest and Simon is sad that she’s a bit of a wet blanket. She’s only happy when she’s at her pottery wheel. Hannah, however, is an effervescent delight! Simon is trying to plan the seating chart for their upcoming party, and wants to put Hannah next to a potential donor for the library Simon wants to build (how bad can he be?!). Julia is hurt that Simon is writing her off, and even though Hannah tries to change his mind he won’t hear it. As Julia throws her fit, the housekeeper Mrs. MacKenzie walks in to introduce the new maid, Lucy. Mrs. MacKenzie tells Lucy to be careful around Julia’s pottery, and Simon leaves the room, hoping to escape Julia’s shrill whining. Gee, a whiny, insecure, spoiled and boring debutante who thinks she’s the perpetual victim? Where have I heard this before?
Simon stumbles upon Angelica, who looks dead but has just been in a trance to consult the spirits. She says that she also consulted her tarot cards, and they say the dinner party shouldn’t happen, so she cannot act as hostess and he’ll have to ask one of their daughters, but suggests Hannah over Julia. Simon leaves the room to go find his daughters, and then hears a crash. He runs into the parlor and finds Julia howling over one of her ceramic bowls, which has been shattered, as Lucy dropped it. Hannah tells Lucy it’s not her fault, and Mrs. MacKenzie says that she warned the girl. Simon tells Hannah she’s going to act as hostess that night, and when Hannah points out that Julia is the oldest and should probably do it he tells her not to argue and storms from the room. Julia laments that Simon doesn’t trust her, and Hannah feels awful. In the kitchen Ms. MacKenzie scolds Lucy, and then reminds her to sign the servant’s list. Lucy tells her that her last name is “Goode”. To this I say HOW?! Franklin said he was the last one!! Ms. MacKenzie tells her to keep that name to herself.
At dinner that night Hannah is being the perfect hostess, and she also encourages Julia in her confidence. As they are all seated for dinner, Lucy starts to serve the soup course. But, oops, she spills soup all over Julia’s shoulder and dress! She shrieks and knocks her chair away, and Simon tells her to excuse herself and go clean up. I, however, am more shocked that Lucy wasn’t fired on the spot!! As someone who worked as a guide in a historic home that had a family like this one living in it during this time period, I am all too aware of how this would have been a fireable offense. Hannah asks Julia if she wants help, but Julia refuses and runs off. She sees Lucy, and wonders if Lucy was smiling about the mess…
Late that evening Hannah and Julia meet in a secret room that ‘only they know about’, which makes NO sense as Simon built and designed the damned place! Surely he’d know about this room! Anyway, Julia asks Hannah if she saw Lucy’s smile, and Hannah says no, and says that Lucy couldn’t have meant it. Julia is convinced between the broken pot and the soup Lucy is out to get her. She asks if Simon said anything to Hannah, but Hannah says no, he seemed upset about the disturbance but overall happy. Julia continues to sulk. They part ways, and when Hannah is going back to her room she sees Lucy leaving it. She’s suspicious at first, but then sees that Lucy just laid out her bed clothes. But when she crawls into bed, she finds a snake in the linens!!
Her brothers are blamed for the snake, and the next day Hannah is getting ready for dinner. Lucy had helped her with her hair earlier. As Hannah puts her shoes on, she suddenly screams in pain. She pulls her feet out of the shoes, and finds that glass has cut up her heel. She screams for help and Mrs. MacKenzie rushes in and helps her bandage her foot. Julia eventually enters as well, and Hannah tells her that maybe Julia was right about Lucy and that they have to tell Simon. Julia says that they have no proof, and PLEASE. Do you really think that the Victorian Elite needed PROOF to fire their servants?! Hannah says that she will hold off, but thinks that Julia is being too timid. She says she’ll join for dinner soon, and Julia leaves. As Hannah goes back to getting ready, Lucy comes into the room saying that she heard about the shoe and asks if there’s anything she can do to help. Hannah says that she’s done quite enough, but then feels guilty because Lucy looks hurt. So she backs off, and goes back to giving her orders, which I guess denotes that she is actually okay with her because CLASSISM!
Three days later the Fear siblings are going for a picnic with their little dog Fluff. They walk past and open grave and we are told that the gardener passed away, and he’s going to be buried there. FORESHADOWING? They all go into the woods, and the boys go off to follow a deer while Hannah and Julia start to lay out the spread. Hannah feeds Fluff some pie… And then he starts to cough, vomit, and then dies! Julia says that the pies must be poisoned!! And Lucy has to be the one who made the pies! Hannah tells Julia to gather their brothers, and she’ll go ahead to tell Simon. When she gets to the house she runs into Lucy, and accuses her of poisoning the pies and killing Fluff. Lucy denies it, and Mrs. MacKenzie hears their fight and asks what is going on. Hannah says that Lucy poisoned the pies that she made, and Mrs. MacKenzie says that she was there and Lucy didn’t even prepare the pies so much as poison them. Because it was JULIA who made the pies!!! Hannah is horrified, and then rushes out of the house to confront Julia. She finds Julia by the open grave, and tells her she knows about the pies. Julia doesn’t deny it, and says that she hates Hannah and wants her to die because she’s pretty, charming, and Simon’s favorite. Ugh, such an Edith thing to do. She then attacks Hannah. Hannah tries to run, but Julia tackles her onto the pine coffin for the poor dead servant and starts to strangle her. Hannah nearly passes out, but then Julia, thinking she killed her, lets her go, and climbs off of the coffin. Hannah catches her breath, and then rolls off the coffin as well. Julia, shocked she’s still alive, comes to finish the job, but Hannah grabs the nearby shovel and smacks her with it, killing her. In a panic she stuff’s Julia’s body in the coffin as well, and then rushes to the woods. She watches the coffin bearers lay the coffin into the ground, and then goes back to the house.
Simon is looking for Julia, and thinks that perhaps she’s wandered off in the woods. So he goes outside that evening and goes looking for her, and hears a distant noise of someone shrieking. He realizes with horror that it’s Julia, and that it’s coming from teh ground in the fresh grave! He grabs a shovel and unburies her, but it’s too late. She has died by being buried alive. Woof. He runs away howling with grief, and then runs into the house. He stumbles upon the servant log, and sees the name “Lucy Goode”. He’s convinced that Lucy did this, and grabs his amulet and a sword from his collection of antiques. Angelica, hearing the ruckus, runs down the steps, telling him to stop, but he doesn’t, and he sees Lucy and plunges the sword in her chest….. Except, it wasn’t Lucy. It was Hannah. Hannah falls dead in his arms, Angelica screams her head off, and Simon says he wanted to kill Lucy, not Hannah! Mrs. MacKenzie tells him that Lucy resigned that afternoon. Simon and Angelica cry and scream over the deaths of their daughters.
Time jump to Shadyside Village in 1900. Daniel Fear, grandson of Simon and Angelica and son of their youngest Joseph, has come to visit the grandparents he has never met. After Julia and Hannah died, Joseph never forgave his parents and left as soon as he could. Daniel calls a cabbie to take him to Fear Mansion, and the cabbie tells him about his family’s unfortunate history as Joseph never talked about it. Daniel has only come because he was invited to Simon’s seventy fifth birthday. The Cabbie drops him off at the end of the drive, and Daniel asks if he can be taken up to the door, but the cabbie is like ‘fuck no’, and drives the carriage away. Daniel walks through the overgrown lawn, and up to the ramshackle house. He knocks on the door, and an old woman answers, telling him to go away. But he says he’s Daniel Fear and was invited. The woman introduces herself was Mrs. MacKenzie, and says she’s the only servant who stayed. She leads him to the parlor, and Daniel sees his grandmother Angelica, who has pretty much gone completely mad. She tells him to put more logs on the fire, and then screams at him to leave. He runs into Simon, who is now wheelchair bound and laughing about his wife’s grief stricken madness. Daniel says that his father sends his love, and then Angelica asks ‘what is love?’, and Simon says that Joseph has no love for them so cut the bullshit. He says that Joseph should have stayed because Fears have to stick together, casually mentions that the other boys are dead, and gives Daniel the silver amulet while Angelica keeps screaming about more logs on the fire. Daniel puts the amulet on, and sees a vision of fire and a girl burning and screaming in pain. Daniel realizes that the necklace has weird powers. Mrs. MacKenzie leads him to his room, and how Daniel didn’t high tail out of there after this is beyond me.
Daniel goes into town the next day to check it out, and finding himself thirsty goes to the general store. And there he sees a beautiful girl behind the counter and falls in love instantly. She offers him some cider, and he accepts, and asks her what there is to do in Shadyside. She says that the only interesting thing is Fear Mansion, and he decides to pretend he doesn’t know anything about it. She tells him that it’s said to be cursed and people avoid it (so why she said it was an interesting thing to check out is a little beyond me). He says that perhaps she’d like to show him around town, and introduces himself as Daniel. She says that her name is Nora Goode, and HERE. WE. GO.
Daniel and Nora spend their afternoons walking in the woods together. She says that his grandparents must wonder where he’s going each day, but he says that his grandparents don’t give a rip about him. Nora is lonely too, as her mother died in childbirth (This can’t be Lucy though, because she wouldn’t have been married as a servant as that wasn’t done, so is she Lucy’s niece?), and she dreams of running away someday for better things. Daniel wants to tell her he’s a Fear, but is afraid she’ll think less of him because his family is cursed. But they kiss and they’re both quite smitten. Daniel is determined to debunk this curse business before he reveals his identity. They part ways at the edge of town, and Nora is on cloud nine. But when she gets home to the store she sees her father waiting for her and looking grumpy. He asks her where she’s been, and even though she tries to be coy he says that he knows she’s been sneaking around with Daniel and that he’s a FEAR! Nora is shocked, and wonders why he never told her his true identity. But she tries to convince her father that Daniel is wonderful. Her father tells her about Julia and Hannah and how their bodies were found of the woods, skinned (wait what?! Did this happen after the fact?!), and that Angelica is a known witch, and that she is forbidden from seeing Daniel. She says that he can’t stop her from seeing him, so he locks her in her room, like any reasonable parent would do, right?
Daniel is exploring his grandfather’s personal library, and sees a lot of books on black magic and sorcery. He thinks that his family must have a scientific interest in these books even though he knows the weird rumors of a curse and the fact his family is blatantly batshit.
He wanders to the kitchen in search of a snack, but instead of the delicious ginger cookies Mrs. MacKenzie made he finds a hidden room (omg it must be the room Julia and Hannah used to hang out in!). Inside he finds the family bible, that has the names of all the Fiers/Fears and also talks about the terrible deaths that so many of them experienced. Suddenly a cold hand grabs him, and it’s Mrs. MacKenzie. She tells him that if he wants family history, she can tell him everything. So she gives him the whole run down of everything that has happened thus far, though honestly it’s pretty skewed to favor the Fiers/Fears even thought THEY STARTED THIS WHOLE THING. She tells him that the other family is named Goode, and he is horrified because he loves Nora so much and she isn’t evil like her family is! Mrs. MacKenzie mentions that perhaps the two of them will be the ones to break the curse by marrying each other. And this seems like a great idea to Daniel!
The next day he goes to meet her for their walks, but sees that the store has been boarded up. He thinks that perhaps she left, but then he hears her crying out for help from her window. He climbs up the side of the store and onto the balcony, and breaks the window open. She tells him that her father is going to move them away, and he confesses that he’s a Fear. She says she knows but doesn’t care. He suggests that they run off and get married, and she accepts, and he gives her the amulet as a stand in for a ring. She quickly sees a flash of a vision of fire, but it passes quick and he says they’ll go to the justice of the peace and get married right now and tell his grandparents at his grandfather’s seventy fifth birthday party that night.
Daniel takes his new bride to Fear Mansion, and Nora is uncomfortable, perhaps because she’s deep in enemy territory. Daniel introduces Nora to Mrs. MacKenzie, who seems to approve, and he takes Nora towards the ballroom where he expects a large party…. Except it’s just his grandparents, him, and Nora. He wishes Simon a happy birthday, and Simon is happy that SOMEONE came to his party. Look man, you have no friends and family, what did you expect? Angelica, however, says that they should mingle with the huge amount of guests that are attending, and hoo boy, that’s awkward and very sad. Even sadder, though, is the giant cake that is wheeled in with seventy five burning candles. Daniel decides that now is as good a time as any to tell his grandfather the good news! So he introduces Nora and says that he’s married a Goode!
It goes as well as to be expected.
Simon starts to scream ‘noooooo!’, stumbles from his chair, and knocks the cake over. Which sets the damn ballroom on fire. Nora has somehow lost Daniel at this point (HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?), and the fire spreads and we get cameos of basically every person who has died in these books (but I have a note: The referred to Abigail Fier as Abigail Goode and I don’t know if that was Stine or the eBook transcribers. Either way, FAIL!!!!). Nora flees the house, but is the only one to make it out. So yeah, the curse is broken. But only because the Fear line ended in that ballroom. Bummer.
So we wrap up with Nora writing her story. But she has been committed to an insane asylum. So when she looks at her lovely and completely pages, some nurses enter the room. Nora says she has to show the doctor her story, but one of the nurses promptly burns the pages, saying it’s for her own good. The nurses escort Nora to talk to the doctor, and tell her that they have news that should cheer her. The Fear Mansion may have burned, but there is now a new road that is passing by it, where they are going to build homes. They ask Nora if she wants to know what they’re going to call it, and when she bites, she’s informed that it will be called “Fear Street”. THE END.
Body Count: 10! And that’s not including a couple Fears who died off page. And I’m not sure if the housekeeper died in the fire, so I’m potentially being conservative in my counting.
Romance Rating: 8. Daniel and Nora are the perfect star crossed lovers, and honestly I kind of loved how evil Simon and Angelica were together.
Bonkers Rating: You know what? I’m feeling generous. It gets a 10! From Simon Fear’s flamboyant attitude and deadly courting rituals to his witch wife to people being buried alive and burned to a crisp, this book went into the bonkers stratosphere!
Fear Street Relevance: 10 again! It’s great to finally see just how Fear Manor burnt to the ground, and how Fear Street came to be in the unassuming town of Shadyside.
Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:
“Simon stared down at her. She was sprawled on the floor on her back, her black hair in disarray around her head, her green eyes staring blankly at the ceiling, her mouth open. Angelica. Nor breathing. Lifeless.
‘Angelica!’ Simon cried. ‘Oh, Angelica!'”
… But she isn’t dead. SHE WAS BEING SUPER EXTRA AND CONFERRING WITH THE SPIRITS IN THE MOST DRAMATIC WAY POSSIBLE!! I LOVE THIS BITCH!!!
That’s So Dated! Moments: As a historical fiction novel, just like the two before it, that sadly doesn’t apply here.
“‘Delicious,’ Simon declared. ‘So bitter and sweet at the same time.’ He smiled at her knowingly. ‘It isn’t wine – is it?’
‘No’ Angelica replied, returning his grin. ‘It isn’t wine. It is blood.’
Simon snickered and stared into the goblet. ‘You are full of surprises tonight, Angelica.'”
Conclusion: “The Burning” had some seriously stellar moments, but it felt like it wrapped up too quickly and had a number of continuity issues (HOW DID THE GOODE LINE GO ON IF FRANKLIN THOUGHT HE WAS THE LAST GOODE?!). I liked having the history of Fear Street laid out, however, and therefore as a whole it was part of a pretty good trilogy.
And that is the end of my “A Revisit to Fear Street” series on our blog!! It was a serious trip and a true joy to go back and re-read (or in a number of cases read for the first time) these books from my childhood. Thank you to everyone who read this endeavor, and I hope that you guys enjoyed reading the recaps as much as I enjoyed creating them. And a very special thank you to R.L. Stine for being such a formative part of my childhood, and for creating a twisted and entertaining series of books for young horror fans!!!