Given that I did a re-read of R.L. Stine’s original “Fear Street” series, as well as a few “Super Chillers” and a couple special Trilogies within the Universe, when I saw that Netflix was going to make some “Fear Street” movies I knew I was game. And because that re-read series was chronicled on this blog, I figured that I ought to give my thoughts on these new movies as well, as nostalgia bombs and a new way for people to connect with a classic series in YA horror literature! So let’s see what the Netflix “Fear Street” Trilogy does for the series when introducing it to a new generation!
We have come to the final installment of Netflix’s “Fear Street” Trilogy, and that means that everything is coming to a head. When we left off at the end of “1978”, Deena had tried to reunite Sara Fier’s hand with her body to save Sam and Shadyside (as the curse is interpreted as being done once they’ve been reunited), but then found herself transported back to the town of Unity in 1666, and experiencing Sara Fier’s final days before she was hanged as a witch. I figured we had to get the backstory to Sara and the curse somehow, and this was how we were going to do it.
I found this choice to be a bit risky, but only because period pieces can be difficult to pull off. But I felt that everyone involved (as cast members from previous movies came back to play members of the town of Unity, before it was split into Shadyside and Sunnyvale) did a pretty okay job, accents notwithstanding. We get a little bit of a historical thriller here a la “The Crucible” or “The Witch”, as once things start going bad in the town Sara and her friend/potential lover Hannah are seen as the obvious culprits due to their rebellious (and Sapphic) ways. You know I was steaming the whole time, as Puritanical bullshit really steams me, and it was interesting watching Sara Fier go from strong willed but generally affable townsperson to reviled by her community, and then consumed by her rage at the injustice of it all, willing to do anything to save Hannah and herself, even if that means making a deal with the Devil. That said, things aren’t always as they seem, and I feel a bit sheepish to admit that I wasn’t always totally in tune to what the movie was doing. Which was nice, actually. I fully appreciated the tried and true themes of ‘women being oppressed because they won’t tow the line’ within this flick, as well as ‘injustice can lead to very bad things that repeat over the years’. Throw in some really gruesome moments in the flashback (ugh, a couple actively made me gasp in disgust) and you have an effective historical horror section.
We also get the wrap up of the entire trilogy as a whole as Deena and Josh, with the help of familiar faces from the previous movies, try and stop the curse upon Shadyside once and for all. This felt less like a historical thriller and more like the slasher genre that the previous two movies had, which made it fit a little bit better within the trilogy. And like in the other two movies, the various Shadyside slashers get to show off their creepiness for one more big fight scene. I would love it if we could get backgrounds for all the slashers we haven’t seen origins of (especially that of Ruby Lane, the teenage girl who went on a murder spree the night of the Prom in the 1950s. Ruby was my girl!), as the tastes in these movies were fun and creepy, but definitely making me want more. I think that my only qualm is that in some ways it felt like it wrapped up a little neater than the other two movies. I’m not saying that I wanted more blood and guts, necessarily, but the balls to the wall stakes didn’t feel as high when all was said and done. Not to say it wasn’t fun and satisfying! It just didn’t go as far as previous installments when it came to emotional dread and fallout.
Overall, “Fear Street Part Three: 1666” was a satisfying end to a really fun trilogy. I think that “1978” is still my favorite, but they are all quite enjoyable in their own ways. As a whole, “Fear Street” is nostalgic slasher goodness, and if they wanted to continue exploring R.L. Stine’s stories I would definitely be on board!
Given that I did a re-read of R.L. Stine’s original “Fear Street” series, as well as a few “Super Chillers” and a couple special Trilogies within the Universe, when I saw that Netflix was going to make some “Fear Street” movies I knew I was game. And because that re-read series was chronicled on this blog, I figured that I ought to give my thoughts on these new movies as well, as nostalgia bombs and a new way for people to connect with a classic series in YA horror literature! So let’s see what the Netflix “Fear Street” Trilogy does for the series when introducing it to a new generation!
It was once again a night to myself as I sat down to watch “Fear Street Part 2: 1978”, and given that I had really enjoyed the previous installment I thought that there would be big, big shoes to fill this time. But this one did have some things going for it: I figured that the soundtrack at least would be really awesome. I also love me a camp based horror movie, figuring homages to “Friday the 13th” and “Sleepaway Camp” would be plentiful and enjoyable. But guys…. I loved this one even more than I loved “1994”.
And yeah, the camp factor (both in setting and a little bit of tone) was a huge part of that. I really liked how Camp Nightwing was the setting, as that summer camp played a pretty significant role in at least one “Fear Street” book. This movie also really does capture the essence of summer camp cinema, be it horror or sex comedy. The counselors are horny, the kids are afterthoughts, and the summer is hot and picturesque. And once again, this is not the “Fear Street” from my youth, because there were two, count ’em TWO, rather graphic sex scenes, and the gore is very much upped to about eleven (and mind you, it has NO qualms about killing young kid campers as well as counselors). But at the same time, it once again captures the essence of the series, and fleshes out the characters so that you are really and truly rooting for them. This one was almost even more emotional because at the heart of it there isn’t a love between two teens showcased, but the complicated relationship between sisters Cindy and Ziggy. What we know at the beginning is that one of these sisters doesn’t make it out alive, and the other is the key for the 1994 characters on how to stop Sarah Fier once and for all. And while it’s a bit obvious as to who is who, I still found myself wholly invested in the ups and downs of goody goody Cindy’s and bad girl Ziggy’s fraught sisterly bond. As someone who has a younger sister that I get along with in adulthood, but am not really close with, the way that these two butt heads was pretty relatable, and the way that they just can’t quite figure the other out hit me in the feels quite a bit. It’s a testament to the two actresses, Sadie Sink and Emily Rudd, who play off each other very well.
And it’s a joy seeing some of the horror lore build up in this one, specifically the maniac at Camp Nightwing who, looking like Jason Voorhees in “Friday the 13th Part 2” axes his way through camp, at the will of Sara Fier and her curse. “Lights Out”, where we first encounter Camp Nightwing, isn’t one of my favorite books in the series, but I liked that we branched out beyond Shadyside into another part of the Stine Lore. It’s a great homage to these exploitation camp horror films as mentioned above, and it had some great scares and death moments, as well as a bit of poignancy to round it out. Once again the filmmakers aren’t just going to let us see these victims as mere bodies to entertain us as they are run through. At least, not for the most part. Everyone is genuinely likable, and the standout is Sadie Sink as angry and hurting Ziggy who has been a black sheep at camp, and now has to survive a massacre. And we also get to see the connections to “1994” that we didn’t even know were there, and they fit together very, very well. The rivalry between Shadyside and Sunnyvale is expanded upon, we get to see some characters in the first movie as teenagers, and we get a bit more into Sara Fier’s machinations and what it is she does to get people under her thrall.
Finally, yep, more nostalgia goodness, and this time it’s squarely in the late 1970s. So you know what that means! We have another really good soundtrack that finds a bunch of hits from the era, as well as styles and fashions from the time that perfectly reflect the various characters. A bit more denim for the more scruffy Shadyside kids, and more polos for the Sunnyvale ones. I was worried that the soundtrack and styles would seem a little forced, and while sometimes it treads pretty darn close, it never crosses over into ‘oh come on’ territory. There are even nods to popular authors at the time, from my boy Stephen King to Queen of YA realism Judy Blume. There are many easter eggs to find here, and since the books (at least in the original series) didn’t do much in the 1970s it felt novel and creative to have it take place in 1978.
“Fear Street Part Two: 1978” is a really, really fun and somewhat emotional follow up to “Part One”! I cannot wait to see what the final installment brings!
In two weeks I will reveal the third and final film in the series “Fear Street Part Three: 1666”.
Given that I did a re-read of R.L. Stine’s original “Fear Street” series, as well as a few “Super Chillers” and a couple special Trilogies within the Universe, when I saw that Netflix was going to make some “Fear Street” movies I knew I was game. And because that re-read series was chronicled on this blog, I figured that I ought to give my thoughts on these new movies as well, as nostalgia bombs and a new way for people to connect with a classic series in YA horror literature! So let’s see what the Netflix “Fear Street” Trilogy does for the series when introducing it to a new generation!
I sat down to watch “Fear Street Part One: 1994” at the end of the July 4th long weekend. The kid was asleep, the husband was out for the night, I had some mac and cheese and the TV all to myself. And almost immediately it was clear that this was not going to be the “Fear Street” of my youth, given that right in the first few minutes we had some pretty heavy swears and a blow up sex doll. But after I got over the fact that this movie, based on a series that had mostly off page violence and very LIGHT implications of teenage sexuality, was going to be balls to the wall slasher gore, I bought in but fast!
A quick description: In the town of Shadyside in 1994, a massacre at the local mall has upended the town, once again making people talk about how it feels cursed. It seems that ever couple of decades or so, something terrible happens and a slasher killer of some sort commits some kind of terrible murder spree. When a group of teens from Shadyside and the neighboring (and rival) town Sunnyvale unexpectedly awaken an ancient evil that has been pulling the strings, they have to figure out how to stop it, before it takes them all out.
The first thing that struck me about “Fear Street Part One: 1994” is the oozing nostalgia that it presents right off the bat. Our first scene takes place at a B. Daltons book store (RIP, B. Daltons), in which someone is buying “The Wrong Number”, one of the earlier “Fear Street” books. The soundtrack throughout the movie transported me back to my grade school years, ranging from the obvious like “Creep” by Radiohead to the more salacious “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails (I may have nearly spit out my beverage at this moment). It’s a nod to the time that these books were being written and were popular, but it also means that our characters can be put in perilous situations like in the books where a cell phone can’t come in handy to help save the day. Oh, and the fashions! I loved seeing the fashions! These kinds of nostalgia moments were highlighted in each of my “Fear Street” recaps, so seeing the movie makers really lean in was a lot of fun.
I also really liked the characters, as while they are definitely a bit more foul mouthed and prone to more sex and gory endings (all of this is fine by me), they all feel like “Fear Street” teens. Our main character Deena (that’s gotta be another nod to “The Wrong Number”, right? Deena Martinson?) is a bit of a loner with a geeky younger sibling named Josh. She runs with a couple of rebels, Simon and Kate, who peddle drugs on the side, Simon to support his family and Kate to make enough money to get out of Shadyside as fast as she can. And Deena is also pining for her ex, Sam, but unlike in the books of the past, Sam is a girl. LOVE the sapphic romance in this movie, just as I loved how diverse the cast is in many other ways. In the original books it was a lot of heteronormative white kids, but this “Fear Street” has had some much needed updating and it is for the better to be sure. They all have great chemistry with each other, and unlike in the books when you probably don’t have much attachment because of how cardboard they are, I really loved all of them, which made a few of the outcomes more weighted, even if they were splattery fun at the same time.
And how about the “Fear Street” connections and feel? Honestly, it does a good job of both paying homage and lifting from the source material, as well as creating new mythos and backgrounds for Shadyside and the people who live there. In terms of nods to the classic tales, we have characters who are named after those from the books, as well as references to Sarah Fear, and the Goode family as well. And next movie mostly takes place at Camp Nightwing, the summer camp in the original series! There is also the origins of the curse that Shadyside has upon it, with a teenage girl being executed for Witchcraft, though it’s changed a bit as of now. But that said, there are hints that the third movie in this trilogy, with the year 1666 as the time period, will probably take a lot of origin from the “Fear Street Saga”. After all, the Goode Family is popping up here and there. But a lot of the new stuff works really well, and makes the Shadyside lore (albeit original to the movie) come to life and all converge into a really fun horror movie. I’m thinking that we are going to see more backstories for the various baddies that pop up in this movie, as well as why Shadyside and Sunnyvale have a deep seated rivalry, as the series goes on, and I am absolutely stoked to see how this all came to be.
All in all, “Fear Street Part One: 1994” is a really fun slasher movie with a lot of love for the source material. Given that the “Fear Street” series was one of my personal horror building blocks, it was wonderful seeing it get an R-rated slasher treatment!
In two weeks I will review the next film in the series, “Fear Street Part Two: 1978”.
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!!!
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!
Book: “The Betrayal” (The Fear Street Saga #1) by R.L. Stine
Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1993
Where Did I Get This Book: The library!
Book Description:The Secret is Out!
Why do so many horrifying things happen on Fear Street? Nora knows.
She knows how the terror began. She knows about the young girl who burned at the stake–and the bloody feud between two families that caused the unspeakable horror that has lasted 300 years!
She knows, and she wants to tell.
Are you sure you want to hear it?
Had I Read This Before: No
The Plot: I thought that the best and most appropriate way to end my “Fear Street” re-read would be to read the trilogy that gives an origin story to Fear Street itself. So we’re going back in time!
We start in the Village of Shadyside in 1900. A girl named Nora Goode is watching Fear Mansion as it burns to the ground, hoping that her beau Daniel Fear will come out. But it looks like everyone is trapped inside. As the other neighbors speculate that the fire will burn forever and that the family is cursed, Nora holds the necklace that Daniel gave her in her hands. In a fit of desperation she runs to the window to look inside, and inside she sees a lot of distorted faces in agony, including that of a young girl tied to a stake. The window explodes outwards thanks to the heat, but Nora still stares inside.
Now we’re going even further back to the Wickham Colony of Massachusetts in 1692! We’re now following a teenage Puritan named Susannah Goode, who lives with her mother Martha, her father William, and baby brother George. Martha dotes on the baby and already sees Susannah as a nuisance it seems, and I’m getting shades of the dysfunctional family in “The Witch” here because CLEARLY teenage girls are sinful or some shit. That said, Susannah has been thinking a lot about a certain special boy in town.
Susannah says she needs to got get firewood and her mother says that walking outside alone is dangerous these days because the local Magistrate, Benjamin Fier, has been targeting young women as witches for doing ANYTHING suspicious, like living their lives. The most recent ‘witch’ is Abigail Hopping, whom Benjamin claims was singing songs of The Evil One (honestly same). Susannah can’t believe that her friend is a witch, but promises to be careful. She goes to gather firewood and passes Benjamin Fier as he’s going to no doubt interrogate Abigail because she was probably not wearing her cap right or something. But Susannah knows that Benjamin is not only a ‘fair and righteous man’ (GAG), but he is also the richest man in town along with his brother Matthew. And obviously they are so successful and prosperous because they are SO RIGHTEOUS. Benjamin Fier also has a history of conducting other witch trials and executions across Massachusetts, and insists that the witches have to burn as opposed to hanging, probably because it sounds more brutal. Also, Susannah has a thing for Benjamin’s son Edward, who is almost assuredly NOTHING like this tyrannical father or anything like that, right?
Susannah decides to take a quick detour into the woods, even though she’s been told that the witches in town like to go there to worship The Evil One. I mean, it’s not like random girls are being persecuted as witches for any old thing, right? No problem! Suddenly someone grabs her, but instead of The Evil One it’s Edward! He scolds her for even thinking that he could be The Evil One because the village is full of witches no according to his father. Susannah says she’s so upset about her friend Faith, who had just recently been burned as a witch, and Edward assures her that his father no doubt has AMPLE proof of her evil ways! She says that they have to stop meeting in secret, because it could get her in trouble, and he brushes that off in the way that only a certain kind of privilege can bring. She jokes that what if The Evil One is watching them and he straight up scolds her for joking about that, and he sure seems like a fun date to bring to parties. They hear the townsfolk getting ready to burn Abigail, and when she expresses sadness about it he says that if she’s a witch she deserves to burn. She asks when he’ll tell his father about them, and he says when the time is right he will, and hey buddy, that’s all well and good for you because YOU won’t be accused of being a witch just for looking at a person of the opposite sex in a way that isn’t deemed ‘righteous’! She is excited that she’s going to be married to Edward Fier, and I think it sounds like a raw deal for her.
Over dinner that night the Goodes wonder aloud how it is that even though they grow in the same soil the Fiers always have bigger and more plentiful vegetables than they do. Martha also casually wonders just where it is that this new family came from, because they know it wasn’t England. William then confronts Susannah about the fact he’s seen her meeting with Edward in secret. He tells her that’s super dangerous, but Susannah insists that they’re in love and doing nothing wrong, and that he’s going to marry her. But William has to break the news to her that Benjamin Fier told him just that morning that Edward was engaged to be married to a girl from Portsmouth! Heartbroken, Susannah goes to bed and cries her eyes out. Cut your losses, Susannah. YOU CAN STILL GO TO THE WOODS AND JOIN THE WITCHES! LIVE YOU BEST LIFE!
Meanwhile, across town, Edward is talking with his asshole of a father Benjamin, saying that he refuses to marry Anne Ward. Benjamin tells him that Anne Ward is a good match for the families (I assume it has to do with wealth and land ownership), but Edward tells him that he’s not in love with Anne. No fucking duh, you moron, this kind of thing isn’t about love, and Benjamin tells him as much when he reminds his weenie son that when he and Matthew first came to America they had to eat rats to survive, and doesn’t want that for his kid. By marrying Anne he will get access to a tea importing fortune and become even MORE wealthy, in spite of the fact that Benjamin is already town Magistrate and Matthew is the most successful farmer. Edward confesses that he loves Susannah, and Benjamin says that she’s poor as fuck so THAT’S not going to do. Edward says he intends to marry for love, not money, and Benjamin tells him he’s not marrying Susannah and that’s that.
Some time later Martha and Susannah are preparing dinner, Susannah still sulking about Edward’s engagement, when Benjamin and a couple of Puritan thugs bust into their home. He tells the thugs to watch the women as he looks for proof, and he reaches into a pot and pulls out a vial with a chicken’s foot, a charm, and perhaps blood. He says that this proves that they are witches! Susannah says that they’ve never seen that before, and Benjamin says they’re lying and they’re going to be taken to the jail. Martha and Susannah are horrified, but manage to pass baby George off to a neighbor named Mary Halsey as they’re hauled away. And honestly, this seems pretty accurate given that it’s said that sometimes accusations of witchcraft were done for political gains during this time period. Hell, during ANY time period!
Mom and daughter are standing together in a prisoner’s box in the town hall, and will be tried and convicted and burned before the week is done. Susannah says that the people in town KNOW they aren’t bad, but Martha is far more pragmatic and knows that they’ll see what they’re told to see. When a bat flies into the room, Matthew Fier accuses the women of conjuring it. William stands up and demands that his family be released as Matthew KNOWS that they aren’t witches, and Benjamin says that they don’t put innocent women on trial. They try to goad the ladies to confess, but they both refuse, and Susannah STILL thinks that Edward will come and save her. John Halsey, who has been watching baby George with Mary, says that they need to let William speak but he’s ignored and William is removed from the courtroom, but not before getting roughed up a bit. Benjamin shows off a bag of items he has deemed associated with witch craft, and Susannah and Martha still say it isn’t theirs. When they refuse to confess, he finds them guilty and sentences them to death by burning the next night.
As Susannah and Martha lie in their cell, Edward suddenly appears at the cell window. Susannah asks if he’s come to save them, but LOL NO WAY, he’s come to yell at her about being a witch!
He asks how she could betray him, and OH BOY IS THAT A JOKE. He says that she tried to lead him astray with The Evil One, and when she says she’s innocent he says that there’s no WAY because he told his father his feelings about her and would his FATHER HURT HIM SO BY FALSELY ACCUSING HER? NO WAY! He tells her off and ditches her, leaving her heartbroken.
Across town William is probably trying not to have a nervous breakdown, and Matthew Fier knocks on his door. Matthew says that he can help change his brother’s mind, but it’s going to cost William money to do so. 100 pounds, to be exact. William says that he only has 80 pounds to his name, and Matthew says that that won’t be enough, but is more than willing to accept a fancy belt buckle and whatever else William has instead. William gives Matthew the money and the finery and Matthew says he’ll take care of everything. William notices a fancy amulet around Matthew’s neck, and it has the phrase ‘Dominatio per malum’ engraved on it. William asks him what it means, and Matthew doesn’t give an answer. When William asks him about the bird claw design and says it’s sometimes called a demon’s claw, Matthew freezes, and then says that HE knows nothing about that and neither should William. He then rides off.
The next night William is elated that his wife and daughter are going to be freed, but, in a big fucking surprise, he gets to the town commons and Martha and Susannah are STILL being led off to be burned! William confronts the officers and tells them that he paid the Fiers to let them go, where are they so they can confirm it? And haven’t you heard? THE FIER FAMILY DISAPPEARED INTO THE NIGHT! No one knows where they are, and they didn’t give any word about stopping the execution. So Susannah and Martha are burnt at the stake anyway. William, absolutely devastated, returns to his home. He thinks about how not only did they die for things they didn’t do, but how he was totally bamboozled by their accusers. Mary brings George back and tells William that the baby needs his father, and William says that she has to hold onto him a little longer because he has something to do first. And THIS is where things get interesting. William enters a secret room in the house, one that Susannah and Martha never knew about, and PULLS OUT HIS OWN MAGICAL ITEMS!! William Goode IS a practicing Warlock (though I’m still pretty sure that those Fier assholes planted the witchcraft evidence because it sounds like William hid all his shit in this room, so fuck them)!!! And now he’s seeking his revenge!!!
Quick stop back to 1900, as we find out that Nora Goode is writing out her family history, trying to trace her lineage and the curse that is upon the Fear Family that as of now they have so richly deserved. She doesn’t remember how she got from the lawn of the burning mansion to safety, but knows that there was a reason for it.
Jumping back to 1710, we meet up with the Fier family once more. They’ve moved to Western Pennsylvania, and have made quite the lives for themselves. Edward didn’t end up marrying Anne Ward, but he did marry some woman named Rebecca and now they have a bratty son named Ezra. Matthew and his wife Constance now have a teenage daughter named Mary. They all seem very pleased with themselves, in spite of the fact Benjamin has been muttering that he feels like the family is cursed, mostly because the new shingles on the roof came off in a storm. Edward says he’ll take a look after supper, and assures Mary that the only curse the family has is his ‘crotchety old father’. I would argue psychopathic zealous father, but hey, potato, potahto. Meanwhile, someone is standing outside, hiding behind a tree. It’s William Goode, and after twenty years of searching he’s finally found the assholes who ruined his life. He watches Edward as he climbs up onto the roof, with Mary holding the ladder for him. She asks him to be careful and he brushes her off, so it’s no big shock when he manages to plummet off the roof. Mary screams, and everyone rushes out of the house (and Constance accidentally cut her wrist when she heard Mary scream, so she’s bleeding like a stuck pig). Edward is alive but his arm is broken. Benjamin keeps muttering about a curse.
After breakfast the next day Mary is returning from the henhouse (and thinking about the chaos from the night before), when she’s approached by a handsome young man on the road. He says that he’s looking for the owner of the estate, and she says that it’s her father Matthew Fier. She says she’ll take him to see him and he carries the egg basket like a true gentleman. She tells him that the farm has been growing steadily since before she was born, and Matthew lumbers out like some oafish bear on quaaludes. The man says his name is Jeremy Thorne and he’s looking for work, and while Matthew first tells him they don’t need help Edward comes out and is like ‘hello, my arm is broken?’. Once Jeremy tells them all that his father is ill and he’s the only one who can bring in income, Matthew decides to hire him. Mary is excited because he’s a hottie.
That afternoon Mary finds Jeremy by the well and they do some light flirting, and just as he’s about to kiss her Rebecca comes running out asking Mary if she’s seen Matthew or Edward, as something terrible has happened! Mary follows her back to the house and Benjamin in collapsed on the floor, staring up at the ceiling as if in a trance. He snaps out of it as Edward arrives, and while he’s not dead his left leg is suddenly paralyzed for no discernible reason. I’d say it’s karma, but we know it’s far more intentional.
Three days later, Mary has snuck off to meet Jeremy in a field where he’s clearing brush, and it seems that they’re already head over heels for each other as they’re already talking about how they can’t live without each other. Mary says that her uncle would never approve of this, but given that his entire left side is paralyzed at this point he has bigger worries to think about, I’d say. They kiss, and Mary is head over heels. Later that night she and Edward are walking through the woods on the property, and he is saying that not only is his father ill, but now Rebecca is acting sullen and distant, and maybe it’s because you leave her to care for your shitty child as if you didn’t have some hand in his creation. As they’re walking, however, they see that some of the trees are on fire! But when they get closer, it’s not trees that are on fire, it looks like a girl! A girl is ablaze and Edward starts to scream that it’s Susannah Goode! As the vision fades, Edward continues to scream.
Two days later Mary is telling Jeremy about what she saw, and he says it was probably a trick of the light, but she insists that it was something far more sinister. She says she’s going to bring sweet rolls to Rebecca to lift her spirits, and Jeremy asks her if she’s told her father about them yet. She says no, because when she told him about the girl in the fire he reacted very poorly, in that he grabbed the silver amulet around his mouth and got very quiet. She says she needs to get to Rebecca and Edward’s before the incoming storm starts, and then asks Jeremy if HE’S told HIS father about HER? He says no. So they’re both dragging their feet. When Mary gets to her cousin’s house, it starts to rain. She hopes that the sweet rolls will raise the spirits of her cousin, as his father’s paralysis got worse in the night and now Benjamin can only move his head and his right arm. As she searches through the house for her family, she stumbles upon something really upsetting: Rebecca has hung herself from the rafters! Mary screams, pukes, and then runs outside into the rain like a lunatic. She calls frantically for Edward, but then runs into what she thinks is a scarecrow. Except, it’s not. IT’S BENJAMIN, PROPPED UP LIKE A SCARECROW AND DEAD AS A DOORNAIL!
A couple days later the funerals have happened. Edward is practically catatonic and Ezra is now in the care of Constance because, once again, why would a father parent his own child when a woman can do it? Mary saw her father late at night chanting ‘Dominatio per malum’, but doesn’t know what it means, because not only do girls not get educated, they certainly aren’t educated in Latin. Mary sees Jeremy at the edge of the group, and follows him to the toolshed. He tells her that he knows who killed her uncle and Edward’s wife: it’s his father! His father isn’t a sick old man, his name is William Goode, and he is evil, but only because evil has been done to him! He’s been obsessed with the Fier family ever since Martha and Susannah were murdered, so much so that Jeremy’s older brother George returned to Massachusetts to escape his anger. Jeremy tells her about Benjamin murdering Susannah and Martha, Edward doing nothing to stop it, and Matthew stealing the money. He says that his father will keep seeking revenge unless they stop him, and he says that can do this if they get married. That way the families will unite in goodness. Mary accepts, and they embrace, but unfortunately Edward had followed her like a creep and now that he’s seen everything he fully intends on narcing on them because even STILL he believes his father was right in burning Susannah and her mother. PRICK! Though, he thinks about the vision he saw in the woods, and starts to have doubts. So he goes to confront Matthew (making sure to shove his son away when the little boy wants to see him, like the model father he is), who of course denies it all. But when Mary arrives Matthew relents, and then confesses everything to both of them, though he says it was all in Edward’s best interests. Why that had to involve stealing all of William’s money remains to be seen. Mary says she wants to marry Jeremy Goode, and Matthew says NO WAY, he’ll never marry her off to the son of a murderer. Edward and Mary remind him that he is ALSO a murderer, but they were poor WOMEN so who gives a shit, right? They fight and Mary says that she loves Jeremy and intends to marry him, and then Matthew suddenly relents, and says that after the mourning period has passed they will invite Jeremy AND William to dinner, and the feud will end. Mary is ecstatic.
So after a week passes Jeremy arrives and Mary is convinced that Matthew is going to give him her hand in marriage. But when Matthew enters the room, instead of shaking his hand, he yanks off his amulet and chucks it at Jeremy’s head… which in turn EXPLODES with graphic detail of brains and blood and everything. And up comes the head of someone else. WILLIAM GOODE! There never was a Jeremy, it had been William the whole time trying to steal Matthew’s only child away from him! But Matthew, who is ALSO a warlock, was too clever, and a wizard fight ensues, as Mary keeps calling out for Jeremy, Constance looks on in horror, and Edward just kinda stands there. Eventually Matthew yells out ‘Dominatio per malum, power through evil!’, and the spell turns William into dust. Matthew starts laughing, and once he starts he literally cannot stop. As Constance begs him to stop, Edward grabs Mary and Ezra and runs out of the house.
Another time jump, this time to 1725 in the Pennsylvania wilderness. Now Ezra is an adult, and reflecting upon what has happened since they ran away. Edward tried to raise him and Mary up on his own, but he eventually died of exhaustion and Mary, who was driven crazy by what happened that night, killed herself. Ezra blames the Goode family for everything that happened, and unfortunately he wasn’t privy to how his grandfather and father and great uncle were complete assholes. Hoping to get any info he can, he goes back to Matthew and Constance’s farm, not sure of what he’ll find. The place is basically abandoned. He does eventually find the skeletons of Matthew and Constance, and a diary left by Matthew talking about how he walled them in for safety and bashed Constance over the head when she tried to escape. The last pages are about how the Goodes and their treachery did this. Very convenient that he made NO mention of two innocent women who were burnt at the stake, hm? Ezra swears that he’ll get his revenge.
We end this book back in the Village of Shadyside in 1900 as Nora continues to write out her family history. She thinks about how the story is long and awful, but she is compelled to tell it. To Be Continued…
Body Count: 5 (nine if you include the off page deaths of Matthew, Constance, Edward, and Mary)! Some weren’t the most historically accurate of deaths, but whatever. If Stine wants to burn his witches, who’s to stop him?
Romance Rating: 2. I feel like Norah and Daniel are going to be something significant, but we haven’t seen them interact yet. But Edward was a piece of shit to Susannah and Jeremy was a big ol’ lie.
Bonkers Rating: 7! I was legitimately caught off guard by the William Goode reveal, Jeremy’s head exploding is pretty hard to deny as being bonkers.
Fear Street Relevance: It’s gonna get 10s across the board! This is the history of the Fear family, guys!
Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:
“‘Edward Fier is engaged to be married,’ her father said. “Edward is to marry a young woman of Portsmouth. His father told me this morning.'”
… Cliffhanger maybe, but Edward sounds like a true dink so Susannah should have cut her losses and went to join a REAL coven to free herself from the idiot men in her life.
That’s So Dated! Moments: Given that these are historical fiction novels that doesn’t really apply here.
“Innocence died today, But my hatred will live for generations. The Fiers shall not escape me. Wherever they flee, I will be there. My family’s screams shall become the Fiers’ tortured screams. The fire that burned today shall not be quenched – until revenge is mine, and the Fiers burn forever in the fire of my curse!”
Gotta say, this fired me up and made me solidly #TeamGoode.
Conclusion: “The Betrayal” was a dark and solid start to the three part origins of the Fear Family and Fear Street! It will be interesting to see how this Hatfields and McCoys-esque feud will escalate, as I have to imagine it’s just going to get worse. Up next is “The Secret”!
Book: “The Dead Lifeguard” (A Fear Street Super Chiller) by R.L. Stine
Publishing Info: Pocket Books, 1993
Where Did I Get This Book: An eBook from the library!
Book Description:In too deep…
The lifeguards at North Beach Country Club know they’re lucky. While other kids are flipping burgers, they’re sunning themselves by day and partying by night. So what if some people say the place is cursed, haunted. This is the life!
And then, one by one, the lifeguards start to die horrible deaths. Someone—or something—evil is stalking them. They all know how to save other people’s lives…but who will save theirs?
Had I Read This Before: Yes.
The Plot: We start with one of R.L. Stine’s patented Killer Talking To Potentially Imaginary/Dead Friend Intro®, with someone named “Mouse” talking to someone named Terry (with the ‘don’t talk just listen’ bit to make us think that maybe Terry CAN talk, but we all know better, right?). Mouse informs Terry that not only have they passed the lifeguard test, but they can’t stop thinking about that last summer, and how Terry is dead because of the lifeguards. So now it’s revenge time as Mouse is heading to North Beach Swim club to kill the lifeguards, as it’s their fault Terry is dead. Auspicious start!
We now move onto Lindsay Beck arriving at North Beach Country Club. She’s excited for the summer, so excited that she forgot to pack her sunblock! She’s a lifeguard again this summer, as she was the previous summer, and she wonders if anyone else has come back. As a rain storm starts up she rushes to the gate of the pool area, and she can see at least one of her fellow lifeguards inside the guest house. She tries to open the gate but it’s locked, and she remembers that she has an ID card that she can swipe to give access. But it too doesn’t work. She decides to start calling towards the guest house in hopes someone will hear her, but then she looks in the pool and sees a girl drowning in the pool. She screams.
Note: This book is split into multiple POVs per chapter, and while I tried to tackle them independently it just became too convoluted. So just know that sometimes narrators change and their reliability does too.
Danny is the head lifeguard and he’s having a meeting with his team. There’s Cassie, who has white blonde hair and a ‘sexy whispery’ voice and I’m just picturing Joey Lauren Adams (have I just dated myself?). Cassie is afraid of the thunder from the storm that’s just started. Then there’s Runty Arnie, who makes bad jokes; Deirdre, whose main feature is being ‘hot’ (I get that this is Danny’s POV but sheesh, that’s all the girl gets huh?); May-Ann, who is quiet and shy; and Pug, who sounds like a stereotype of a lifeguard with curly blonde hair and a meat head attitude. They suddenly hear screaming from outside. Danny and Arnie go running outside to see what Lindsay wants, and she tells them about the girl who is floating in the pool. But when they look they don’t see anything. Danny and Arnie lead her inside and she meets the other lifeguards. She tells them that she SWEARS she saw someone, there really was no one there. They ask her what she’s doing there and she says she’s a lifeguard like them. When Danny looks on his roster, he doesn’t see her name. She insists that she does TOO belong there, and shows him her ID card. Danny asks if this is the one that was just sent to her, and she says yes, but he points out that it’s two years old. While everyone else is looking at Lindsay like she’s a nut, May-Ann offers to let her get changed into dry clothes in her room. Lindsay asks everyone if everyone is new, and they confirm that they are, so no one will remember her from the year before. Pug says he was a guest the year before but doesn’t remember her, and they figure that Pete the athletic director will be able to clear it all up when he arrives. May-Ann lets Lindsay get changed and visits with her pet mouse Munchy (why you brought your pet to your summer job is kind of beyond me, but I get missing one’s pets), and then Lindsay asks May-Ann how all these things could be going so wrong, the ID card, the list, the girl she thought she saw. May-Ann says they will get it all sorted out. They go back into the main room, and after Arnie kills the conversation with another bad joke, May-Ann tells Lindsay that she knows who she saw in the pool: it was one of the resident ghosts. When pressed, she tells them that every summer a person dies. The summer before a fourteen year old boy drowned, and two summers ago one of the lifeguards drowned. May-Ann says that these ghosts haunt the club now, and while most of the people don’t believe her they all get a little freaked when the door to the room opens and no one is there. But then someone is there, another lifeguard who says he’s Spencer Brown and his ride was late. Lindsay is convinced that she recognizes him, and when she says hi he kind of balks, but then says he recognizes her too. Then Pete arrives and FINALLY, and adult presence. He asks Danny if he’s assigned rooms to everyone yet, and Danny says he has. But he also says that Lindsay is here and she isn’t on the list. Pete doesn’t remember her either, and asks her when they talked. She doesn’t remember. Pete thinks it’s weird that he doesn’t remember her either, but he says that since she’s passed her tests she can be alternate lifeguard, and Danny says she can bunk with May-Ann. While Deirdre and Cassie fight about assignments (but they’re really fighting about Pug because Deirdre likes him for some reason but be likes Cassie), Lindsay is relieved she can stay, but realizes she doesn’t remember ANYTHING about Spencer.
Cut to Mouse talking to Terry (aka talking into an off the hook phone as a busy signal no doubts shrills). Mouse asks Terry if they should kill their roommate first. After all, everything Mouse is doing is for Terry.
Over dinner Danny is jealous that Pug is getting all the attention from the ladies, Cassie is insisting upon building a fire even though it’s the dead of summer, and Lindsay is obsessing. She asks Spencer if he was the lifeguard when the kid drowned that past summer, but he says he wasn’t even on the property at that time and it sounds like he’s really worried about liability or something. She asks him if he has seen the ghosts, and he seems confused, but May-Ann insists they’re real. May-Ann is pretty much me as a tween and I really love her for that. Cassie screams and says she sees a ghost, but she’s just joking, which pisses May-Ann off and she storms out of the dining room. Danny asks his team to lay off May-Ann but no one seems to want to listen except Lindsay, who says it was her fault for asking Spencer about it. Soon Pug and Spencer are taking out the tried and true dick measuring contest by arm wrestling, and as Pug is pressing against Spencer’s arm there’s a huge CRACK sound. Spencer looks like he’s about to lose it, but SURPRISE, it was just Cassie breaking a piece of kindling! What a character! Everyone laughs as Spencer tries to stop his heart from beating through his ribcage, and he says that he would have won had Cassie not scared him. Pug then stuffs Arnie in a wastebasket and that’s the end of the night. When Lindsay goes back to her and May-Ann’s room to see if she’s okay, May-Ann isn’t there. Then a lame cliffhanger moment happens (more on that later) that establishes that May-Ann REALLY likes mice…. I smell seafood. Red herring, specifically.
Mouse POV again. Mouse is now telling Terry that everyone laughed at them tonight and that just won’t do. Revenge, Terry, killing, blah blah blah.
On Lindsay’s life guard shift the next day she’s lamenting her sunburn and noticing that Cassie and Pug have officially hooked up. Lindsay notices May-Ann getting all primped and asks her if she’s going out, but May-Ann doesn’t answer. Later that night, Lindsay is awakened from sleep by a voice outside the door of someone calling for help. May-Ann heres it too and they go to investigate, worried that someone is hurt or in danger. But NAH, it’s just Cassie and Pug again, playing a pretty dumb and reckless trick on them. Cassie gives May-Ann crap for thinking that she was a ghost, and hey Cassie, maybe she thought that you were someone in actual need of help? May-Ann tells her that she’ll be sorry, and rushes to her room crying.
At breakfast the next day Cassie has told everyone about her dumb prank and they tease Lindsay as she eats. She leaves for her shift before she can see what they do to May-Ann, and so much for roommate solidarity! While on her shift she notices all the ladies in the pool fawning over Pug and Cassie looking mad about it. After Artie relieves Lindsay she runs into Spencer, who is doing a great impression of a privileged rich woman who gave him a tip of twenty five cents and told him to put it towards his college fund, and if THAT doesn’t still sting I don’t know WHAT does. She tries to figure out how she knows him, as she still can’t remember, but he runs off before she can prod him. Later, she wakes up in the middle of the night, and sees May-Ann is missing. It’s so hot in the room she decides to go for a midnight swim in the pool. But when she goes outside, she sees the floating girl again! She doesn’t hesitate and jumps in, hoping to save her. But when she pulls her up, the girl’s face is HER FACE! It whispers ‘I’m Lindsay’, and then starts to decompose until it’s just a skull. Then Lindsay wakes up. Yep, it was just a dream. But May-Ann is still not in bed AND now there is another voice calling Lindsay’s name. Lindsay wonders if it’s May-Ann, and decides to follow it. She eventually winds up in the dining hall, and someone has built a HUGE fire in the fireplace. And…. in the fireplace… IS CASSIE! FACE FIRST! Lindsay pulls her out but yeah, it’s far too late, the girl’s face has been burned off. So now we know that Cassie was sultry, mean spirited, and decidedly NOT the Dragon.
The police arrive and start questioning everyone. Officer Malone asks Lindsay why she was in the dining room in the middle of the night, and Lindsay says she heard a voice, and Malone seems to be suspicious. Eventually the cops tell everyone they can go back to bed. May-Ann reiterates that someone dies every summer, and Danny thinks that she is smiling a little too much.
Mouse again. Mouse tells Terry that they killed one of the lifeguards and that they’ll let Terry know when they kill again. Yawn.
A couple days later Lindsay is trying not to think about the horribly mutilated body she found or the fact that the cops seemed suspicious of her. She then realizes that she hasn’t talked to her parents at all since she arrived, which is odd because USUALLY they’re all about communication. So she goes to her room and calls her number…. But the number is out of service. She tries again and again, but still no connection. She even tries calling information, but there is no one in Shadyside listed under her parents names. Thinking something is terribly wrong, she decides to drive down to Shadyside that day and see if they’re okay. Danny gives her permission to go, and she’s off. By the time she makes it to her home on Fear Street she’s in a panic. But she sees a woman through the screen door and bounds up the steps, relieved to see her Mom… but it isn’t her Mom, it’s a random woman. Lindsay says her family lives her, and the woman says there has to be a mistake. When Lindsay drops her name, the woman suddenly looks like she could pass out. She then informs Lindsay that Lindsay Beck is DEAD.
Understandably distraught, Lindsay returns to the country club and feels the need to find clues as to what the FUCK is going on. She sneaks into Pete’s office and finds her file. But when she opens it, she does see her status as ‘deceased’. There is also a newspaper clipping that details Lindsay Beck as drowning at the Country Club pool two years ago. LINDSAY IS THE DEAD LIFEGUARD.
Mouse again. Mouse hasn’t been talking to Terry for awhile because they’ve been so busy with their lifeguard duties. But don’t worry, they are still working on killing them all, they just have their tan to think about as well.
Two days after Lindsay’s trip to Shadyside she’s stewing and refusing to believe she’s dead. While Pug and Artie continue to display preenings of toxic masculinity by rough housing and sniping at each other, May-Ann tries to bring up the ghost talk again. Then Pug turns his unchanneled and unhealthy anger her way, and starts yelling at her (and if you think he’s still traumatized about Cassie, I can assure you he’s not; he’s already flirting with other girls). As everyone starts yelling at each other Arnie suggests that he and Lindsay go get some air. Lindsay agrees, but before long Arnie is shoving her up against a tree and trying to kiss her, and HOLY SEXUAL ASSAULT. Spencer then comes up the path and pulls Arnie off of her, and Arnie rushes off. Lindsay thanks him and they get to talking. She tries again to ask him if he can tell her anything about their friendship, and he evades the questions. He tells her that she left so suddenly that they didn’t have time to get to know each other, and then won’t tell her what that means.
The next day Lindsay is on duty, and we have a particularly cringey moment where Arnie comes up and tells her that he’s sorry about the night before, but that he’s not a bad guy, he just made a mistake. To make it even worse, Lindsay concedes that she may have ‘overreacted’, and I could have thrown my smartphone in disgust when I read this. Arnie then asks her if she wants to go on a date, and she turns him down. And he keeps pushing because GUYS, HE IS A PREDATOR. She doesn’t have to answer as he’s called away, and then Lindsay notices a woman staring at her. The woman says she recognizes her and asks her how she’s doing, but looks shocked to see her. Lindsay wants to yell at her that she is, in fact, alive, but the woman rushes off.
Dinner that night is tense, and while trying to take a walk to settle her mind Lindsay sees Pug and May-Ann arguing by the weight room, with May-Ann telling him to keep his big mouth shut. Is he about to reveal that he knows she’s a killer, or is it perhaps that he’s just a creepazoid asshole who has been picking on her ever since they arrived? Regardless of what it’s about, Lindsay can’t catch all the details, and Deirdre comes up behind her and bitches about how Pug is now hitting on May-Ann. Lindsay doesn’t think they’re romantically involved, as May-Ann has better taste than that I’m sure (projecting? Maybe). But then she sees them walk off together with his arm around her shoulders. Lindsay goes back to her room and tries her parents once more, but still nothing. She doesn’t think she’s dead, but also doesn’t know WHAT is going on. She falls asleep, but wakes up in the middle of the night again, and AGAIN May-Ann isn’t in the room. But that voices outside the door is back, and it tells Lindsay to follow. So, like a dummy, she does, and it eventually takes her to the weight room. And LO AND BEHOLD, there is Pug, and his windpipe has been crushed by a barbell! And then Lindsay turns around and sees Pete in the doorway!
The police come again, and Pete says that he found Lindsay standing over Pug’s body. Lindsay notices a spider crawling into Pug’s nose (YUCK). They all go to the common room for questioning, and Officer Malone really starts to press Lindsay about the voice she heard, and Lindsay shouts at her that she must think that Lindsay killed Pug! Always a good strategy, going apeshit on the police. Officer Malone says Lindsay needs to calm down, and when another officer asks her why she looks so familiar Lindsay wants to yell that she’s a ghost of a girl who died a couple years ago. Which also wouldn’t be sound, strategy wise. Lindsay then overhears May-Ann saying that she believes Lindsay, but also saw Lindsay looking at her and Pug right before Pug died with a strange look on her face.
MOUSE AGAIN. Bragging about Pug, saying they have the next target in mind, etc etc etc.
A few nights later Lindsay can’t take it anymore. While the police think that someone broke onto the property and killed Cassie and Pug, Lindsay feels like everyone thinks that she did it. She asks Danny to borrow his car keys and just decides to drive. Unfortunately, Arnie hid in the back seat, and when she confronts him about this unacceptably creepy behavior he said that he wanted to cheer her up. He tells her that he doesn’t think that she’s a killer, but then starts to put his hands on her again. She pulls over, gets out, goes around the car, opens his door, and DEMANDS that he get the FUCK out or else she’s going to flag down a car and call the police on his entitled, disgusting ass.
Lindsay gets back to the club and everyone is poolside. Danny is happy that she’s back okay, and she tells him that she left Arnie on the side of the road. They tell Lindsay to get in her swim suit and join them, and she agrees. They’re all having fun, until May-Ann pushes Deirdre into the pool. Deirdre is fine, but Lindsay starts to scream. When they all rush to her side, she says that she’s NOT Lindsay!! Her name is Marissa and she KILLED Lindsay! Well, kind of. She and Lindsay were lifeguards at the pool two years prior, and were thick as thieves. But one day they got in a petty argument by the pool and it turned physical. Marissa shoved Lindsay a little too hard, and Lindsay fell in the pool in just the right way that she hit her head on the concrete, cracking her skull open. Marissa was so traumatized she assumed Lindsay’s personality, unable to believe she was dead. She went to a mental hospital for a few months, but was discharged and everything was okay. But then she ran away and began thinking she was Lindsay again, which is how she came back here. Spencer asks her why she killed Cassie and Pug, and Marissa says that she didn’t, or at least doesn’t remember doing it. Spencer suggests that she blocked it out. But then Marissa remembers something. When they met up each other this summer, he did in fact say that SHE was Lindsay. He says that he didn’t realize that her name wasn’t Lindsay as he didn’t really know her and got confused since that summer was such a blur. Without questioning any of this Marissa decides she needs to call her parents. So she goes to Pete’s office. But when she gets there the phone is ringing. She answers, and the woman on the line says that she needs to explain why her son Spencer hasn’t shown up for his lifeguard job. Marissa is shocked but listens. Spencer was MURDERED!!!
Marissa goes to confront ‘Spencer’, and he says that the real Spencer HAD to die, because he HAD to be a lifeguard to avenge Terry. Folks, Spencer is Mouse. And now Marissa remembers. Mouse and Terry were kitchen staff, and Marissa and the other lifeguards would look down on them because they weren’t lifeguards. They made Mouse and Terry do dives and laps and hold their breath, but then told them that they couldn’t actually certify them. and Terry was SO distraught about this that instead of actually looking into how to get certified, he KILLED himself. Now Mouse is going to kill Marissa because 1) she was mean to them, and 2) she knows too much about Spencer and his involvement in Cassie and Pug’s deaths. Spencer also admits that he was the one who lured Marissa out both nights that Cassie and Pug were killed, as he realized she didn’t remember who she was and that he could make her the perfect patsy. He then drags her to the pool and starts to hold her head under the water. She pretends that she’s lost all her breath, but then pulls him in as well. They struggle, but then it’s my girl May-Ann to the rescue! She jumps in and helps subdue Mouse! Then the others all show up and help hold Mouse down while they call authorities. Marissa explains everything, and May-Ann explains that the reason she wasn’t in the room those nights was that she and Pete were sneaking around (HE’S TWENTY, SHE’S A MINOR, INAPPROPRIATE!). That was what she and Pug were arguing about. Lindsay says that she needs to go call her parents to tell them that she’s okay. The End.
Body Count: 2! From a face in a fireplace to a graphic description of a spider crawling into a dead guy’s nasal cavity, these were pretty nutty deaths to be had!
Romance Rating: 1. There wasn’t really any romance in this one outside of Pug hopping from girl to girl.
Bonkers Rating: 7. The forgotten identity was a fun twist that was executed pretty well!
Fear Street Relevance: 2. Lindsay/Marissa mentions living on Fear Street, but all the action is in a beach town forty miles away.
Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:
“I started toward the phone, but stopped when I saw Mary-Ann’s dresser top. ‘Ohh!’ I let out a low cry as my eyes tried to focus in the dim light.
The dresser was crawling with mice!”
…. But it’s just mouse figurines that Mary-Ann has collected over the years in the most heavy handed misdirection ever.
That’s So Dated! Moments: Sadly this book didn’t have many moments that stand out as dated. Sure, one could say that an Internet search could have been beneficial, but that could be said for most of the “Fear Street” books.
“Cassie and Deirdre both came on to Pug all through dinner. I admit it, I was turning as green as the steamed spinach that no one touched. I’m the big cheese, after all, the main guy. Those girls were supposed to come after MY bod!”
Conclusion: “The Dead Lifeguard” actually held up from my youth and felt like a fun way to start the summer! I remember liking it as a kid and I was entertained as an adult. Up next we start our final “Fear Street” Trilogy, with “The Betrayal”.
Book: “Bad Moonlight” (A Fear Street Super Chiller) by R.L. Stine
Publishing Info: Archway Paperbacks, 1994
Where Did I Get This Book: An eBook from the library!
Book Description:She wasn’t just crying wolf…
Danielle Verona can’t believe the band picked her to be their new lead singer. She’s on the road, performing at all the hot clubs. The adoring fans, the bright lights— it’s a dream come true!
But when nighttime falls, Danielle can feel the terror in the darkness. There’s eerie howling outside her window. And then a band member is killed—ripped to shreds by a wild animal. Danielle knows something is out there, lurking in the moonlight. Something savage…and hungry.
Had I Read This Before: Yes
The Plot: First I want to give a shout out to my friend Melissa, whose vivid memories of this book inspired me to re-read it myself! On the night of the half moon (mentioned as I’m sure this will be relevant to the timing later in the story), Danielle Verona is making a quick stop at the grocery store. Her physical description is given right away: brown hair with blonde highlights, and a body that looks like she’s twelve instead of eighteen. Why THAT is relevant, I’m not sure I want to know. Her obnoxious younger brother Cliff and her Aunt Margaret are also at the store. Margaret (who is described with bleached red hair? What does that mean? All we get beyond that is that she looks ‘hard’ and ‘tough’). Danielle and Cliff live with Margaret because their parents died, and she’s been very loving to them. Danielle has just returned from a two week trip with her band, and seems to be feeling strange. As she goes to look for Cliff, she wanders the aisles, feeling super cold and out of it. Before she knows it, she’s torn into a package or raw beef and started eating it! When Cliff asks her what she’s doing, she replies that she doesn’t know.
Let’s go back in time now! Specifically a couple weeks prior when Danielle and her as of now unnamed band members are traveling between gigs! Let’s meet her fellow bandmates. There’s Billy, the manager of the band and the twenty two year old hanging out with a bunch of teens. There’s Kit, the hot roadie that all the ladies have a crush on. There’s Dee, the former lead singer and now back up singer (and the one diverse character that Stine threw in here, so NATURALLY she is jealous of Danielle, who replaced her on vocals). There’s Caroline, the bubbly keyboardist that Danielle really likes, and Mary Beth the drummer, who doesn’t have much of a personality beyond being good at the drums. And last and totally least is Joey, the ‘sound guy’ who is presently driving the van at dangerous speeds as he fancies himself a Blues Brother and/or Corey Hart as he drives with his sunglasses on at night. Joey is a real creep who keeps asking Danielle for a kiss and he’s supposed to come off as crude and fun loving as opposed to a sexual harasser. As they drive Danielle thinks about the day she auditioned for the band, and how everyone loved her but Dee. When they took her on Dee cornered her in the driveway and told her that she doesn’t belong in the band. So now Danielle is intimidated by her. As Joey drives like an idiot and makes sexist jokes, Danielle suddenly freaks out as he DRIVES THE VAN OFF A CLIFF, and by that I mean he doesn’t actually do that, but Danielle has a hallucination that he did. She has hallucinations, you see. Joey says that since it’s a full moon and the moon makes him a little ‘wild’, that’s why he’s driving like a guy with a death wish. Danielle thinks about how her parents died in a car accident on a night like this one, in a similar way that her hallucination happened. She also seems to remember their bodies cut up by rocks, though she wasn’t there and her aunt Margaret never told her any details… She thinks about how her therapist Dr. Moore has been trying to help her with these hallucinations and hopes he can help her soon. The moonlight makes her shiver and then her hair stands straight up on end I guess?
They arrive at the hotel and after Caroline and Danielle drop their bags on in their room they go to the elevator to meet up with their bandmates to check out the club. Dee tells her that she has to talk to her and grabs her arm tightly, but Danielle, convinced Dee just wants to yell at her, blows her off. They all arrive at the club to check it out, and soon Joey is once again harassing Danielle and inviting her to his room and trying to force her to dance (SHE SAID NO YOU CREEP). She declines, and Bill shoos him off to help Kit with equipment stuff for the gig the next night. He then says that Joey ‘comes on kind of strong’.
Billy asks Danielle if she’s nervous about the show, and tells her that she’s going to be great. Danielle is more worried about Dee, who is staring at them from across the room. Danielle thinks that perhaps Dee has a thing going with Billy and is jealous, even though Billy isn’t doing anything untoward or unprofessional in this moment. Kit comes up and asks Danielle if she’d like to go for a walk, and now Danielle thinks that perhaps it’s KIT that Dee wants and that’s why she is mad! Because now KIT clearly, CLEARLY, wants to do her. She happily accepts, as Kit is cute, and she likes being ‘seen as a groupie’ or something? There was a weird quote like that, I don’t know. They get to a local park, the moonlight making her uneasy again, and he tells her that he’s wanted to be alone with her for awhile. They start to make out, but the mood is ruined when Danielle bites his lip so hard she makes him bleed! Horrified, she runs all the way back to the hotel. She bursts back into her room and Caroline asks what’s going on, and Danielle says that she has to see Dr. Moore! Unable to do anything in that moment, Caroline tells her to take a shower and relax. Once she does, and once Caroline gets in the shower for her turn, Danielle decides to try and write a new song, as she’s a lyrical wunderkid. She whips up a song about Bad Moonlight and Caroline is so impressed she gathers up the rest of the band to listen. The band then says that their name should be Bad Moonlight! They then decide to go their separate ways for the night. Caroline says she’s going to walk Billy out, and Danielle is so tired she falls right asleep. She startles awake around midnight to the sound of an animal making horrible noises outside, in fact, you could say that it’s howling. Danielle whispers for Caroline, but no answer. There is, however, a knocking on the door. It’s Dee, who whispers that she has to talk to Danielle, and Danielle ignores her until Dee leaves.
The next day Danielle goes back to Shadyside to see Dr. Moore before the gig that night. She tells him about her hallucination, the strange song she wrote, and biting Kit’s lip until he bled. Dr. Moore tells her that this is something that sometimes happens when two people who are attracted to each other kiss (uhhhh NOT ESPECIALLY), and in regards to her hallucination he starts doing some hypnotherapy for her, as is his usual method. She tells him that she sees herself running across a field as the moonlight pours down on her. She says she feels angry, and she turns around to fight someone or something that has been chasing her. He snaps her out of it, and tells her that letting her fantasies run their course will help her with her anger that she has over her parents’ deaths. She thinks that maybe this is all normal, but then looks at the arms of the chair she’s sitting in. She’s ripped them to shreds.
That night the gig goes well and the crown is chanting ‘BAD MOONLIGHT!’ over and over again, so Danielle encores with the same song that she presumably just played as if this is an episode of The Teletubbies. Danielle sees Kit watching her from the audience, and it makes her more confident. After the club has closed down the band is too excited to go home just yet, and Billy suggests that they go to the coffee shop at the hotel since it’s the only thing open at one in the morning. Joey also picks up Danielle and kisses her without her consent, and UGHHHHHH, can we please just get rid of him!? Danielle is concerned because Kit saw the whole thing and looked miffed. Still too wired to come down completely, she asks Caroline to order her a rare cheeseburger when she gets to the coffeehouse because she’s going to take a walk. While on her walk, she jumps over a high wall with ease and lands on all fours. When she stands up in the moonlight, she notices that her nails have grown long and look gnarled and crusty!! Then, someone runs up beside her. It’s Joey!…..
And then it’s the next morning and a number of the band members have gotten together for breakfast. Everyone but Joey. They ask Danielle where she was the night before as she never showed, but she says she just went back and straight to bed. The reality is she doesn’t remember. No one knows where Joey is, and Dee says that he said something to her about Danielle before he left. Danielle notices that Dee seems nervous. The band eventually meets up in the lobby, ready to head home to Shadyside, but still no Joey. Danielle notices Caroline and Kit talking in low tones, and she hopes that there isn’t anything going on btween them. As they all start to load up the van, emergency vehicles rush down the street towards the park, and Kit says they should go rubberneck see what’s going on. When they get to the park, they see an ambulance. Dee and Kit rush ahead, and soon Dee screams. When Danielle gets to the scene, she sees a dead body, it’s clothes and skin all torn up. And, wouldn’t you know it, it’s Joey.
Three weeks later, Danielle is in Dr. Moore’s office, lamenting that she couldn’t POSSIBLY have killed Joey! But she also admits that she doesn’t remember what happened that night, so maybe she DID kill him. Dr. Moore says that she was probably over tired and that’s why she doesn’t remember what happened, and that in all likihood she went back to her room without incident. He says that she’s still trying to work through the death of her parents and that she probably wont’ actually act on her fantasies, and performs more hypnotherapy on her just to ease her mind.
On the way to the next gig, Danielle is feeling a lot better. Dee is upset that they’re just continuing on as if Joey was never important, and newsflash, Dee, that’s exactly right. He was awful. Danielle tells the band that she wrote a new song specifically for Dee to sing, and it’s just kind of “Bad Moonlight” again, but with more aggressive lyrics, like ‘don’t let me kill again’. Everyone LOVES it, however. Except Dee, who accuses Danielle of killing Joey and proceeds to jump on her and strangle her! Mind you, we’re still in a moving vehicle here! The van pulls over and Kit pulls Dee off, and Danielle says that she didn’t write that song to accuse Dee of anything. Kit reminds them that they have a show to do so they all need to just chill out. Danielle notices that Mary Beth the drummer looks nervous, but Danielle doesn’t know if she’s scared of Dee or scared of her. They eventually make it to their next destination in spite of band strife and a thunderstorm. Danielle gets out of the van, and then for some unknown reasons she sprints down the sidewalk. Once she can’t run anymore, she falls on all fours and starts to drink water in the puddles on the ground next to her. Like you do when you’re a wolf.
At the club the next morning the band is rehearsing and the club owner is already counting all the money he’s bound to get from their appearance. Because he heard that Danielle is ‘dy-no-mite’. Danielle is still on edge because of how Dee’s been acting, and how she drank rain water from a dirty gutter. May wanna get tested for giardia, Danielle. That evening as Danielle and Caroline are trying on outfits for the gig, Billy comes into their room asking if they’ve seen Kit. The last Mary Beth saw him was leaving the club with Dee, and it looked like they were fighting. Danielle is worried when she hears this, and as they all go to look for Kit she runs ahead, in a way that I would describe as aimlessly. She arrives at an empty lot, and sees Dee standing over Kit. She yells out, and Dee smiles at her, and then attacks Kit! Danielle starts to scream, and Caroline runs up behind her asking her what’s wrong. Danielle yells about Kit and Dee, but Caroline tells her that Kit and Dee aren’t there, it’s two kids just wrestling. Another hallucination strikes again! Caroline says they should go back to the hotel, and asks Danielle what Dr. Moore has said about all this. When Danielle tells her that he says her hallucinations happen because of her memories of her parents deaths, and Caroline says that ‘makes sense’. NOT REALLY, CAROLINE. Danielle is still wondering why she just knows her parents were torn up when no one told her they were. She asks Caroline not to tell Billy about this, and Caroline agrees. When they get back to the hotel, Kit and Dee are there. Kit says he was catching up with friends, and Dee says she went on a walk.
The gig that night goes great. The band decides to go for a walk by the river afterwards, but when Danielle looks up at the moon she decides she isn’t feeling well enough to be in the ‘bad moonlight’ (Stine is REALLY trying to make this happen). Kit says he wishes she’d come, but she declines. When she gets back to her hotel room, Dee suddenly jumps out of the closet, and tells Danielle to not even ‘try to get away this time’. She says that she knows what really happened to Joey. But before this can be elaborated on, Kit comes into the room and asks them what’s going on. Dee says she was just saying goodnight to Danielle, and rushes away. Danielle says that she’s convinced Dee was going to attack her again and that she said she knew the truth about Joey. When Kit asks what that means, Danielle admits she doesn’t know. And she says it’s weird because Dee didn’t act like she even liked Joey, and Kit says that some people don’t show how they actually feel. But he’s not one of those people. That’s Santana/Rob Thomas levels of Smooth, my man! They start to kiss, but then a howl outside makes Danielle jump and freak out. Kit asks what’s wrong, and she says it’s the howling, but he tells her he can’t hear anything. Put off and feeling a little sheepish, Danielle tells him that she’s tired and needs to work on a song, and says he should go on the walk with their bandmates. Kit is sad that he couldn’t round the bases, but kisses her and tells her goodnight. Danielle tries to ignore the howls, and falls into a not so pleasant sleep. She wakes up a little while later, and Caroline isn’t in her bed. She goes into the hallway, and sees Billy on the floor, and she’s convinced he’s dead…. but no, he’s just drunk. Now THIS is how rock and rollers behave! Late night river walks and cheese burgers my ASS! She wakes him up and asks him why he got so drunk, and he says that he has a lot on his mind. She helps him back to his room, and then he wraps his arms around her and hugs her. She likes the feel of his arms around her (DUDE, SHE’S EIGHTEEN!), and when she presses him to tell her what’s wrong he snaps at her to forget it, and they part ways.
The next day Danielle is back home and she’s telling Aunt Margaret that maybe she should quit the band. Margaret tells her that she should just rest up and see how she feels after the next show, but Danielle insists that her hallucinations have only been getting worse. Margaret reminds her that Dr. Moore said this was normal, but Danielle says that maybe if she knew about the accident that killed her parents in full detail she could process things better. Margaret says no way and then makes up an excuse to walk away. Danielle mulls over her options of things she could do and decides to call Caroline, but when she picks up the phone she hears Margaret on the line talking to someone. It’s Dr. Moore! He tells her to come over so they can discuss their worries about Danielle. Danielle plays dumb when Margaret comes back into the kitchen, but then goes to snoop once Margaret leaves. She goes to Margaret’s room and starts rifling through her things. She finds a newspaper clipping about her parents’ deaths that says they ‘died mysteriously’, but Margaret always told Danielle it was a car accident! To make matters worse, the article says that their bodies looked like they’d been shredded up in an animal attack.
At her appointment with Dr. Moore the next day Danielle expresses her confusion and anger towards Margaret, but Dr. Moore tries to assure her that Margaret is just worried about her. He also tells her that their concern isn’t about the hallucinations themselves, but how Danielle reacts to them, and suggests that they do some more hypnosis. In this hallucination/flashback/whateverthefuck, Danielle sees herself running with Dee, and getting into a scuffle with her. Just as Danielle is about to strangle Dee, Dr. Moore snaps his fingers. She tells him that wasn’t really helpful, and says she wants to quit the band. He encourages her to stay in it as it seems to be the only thing she has going for her right now (I guess she’s a high school graduate?). She says she’ll take that advice for now, and the session ends. She’s supposed to meet Caroline in the parking lot so they can go shopping, but whoops, it’s Dee instead. Dee says she wants her out of the band, and that she’s running out of time to leave. They argue and eventually they end up wrestling around on the ground, with Danielle getting very violent with Dee. Caroline breaks it up, and Dee storms off. Danielle tells Caroline that she felt out of control, and Caroline says that everything was probably not as out of control as she thought it was and offers to take her home. But Danielle sees that Caroline looks a little worried.
The next day Danielle and Cliff and playing together, and after Cliff gets hurt Danielle starts to lick the blood off his arm. That night as she tries to relax she starts to write a new song that is also about moonlight (BIG OL SHOCK), but then sees someone in her backyard! It’s just Billy, and she lets him inside so they can talk. He tells her that the gig the next night is sold out, but the bad news is that Dee quit the band. Danielle thinks that it’s her fault, but he tries to assure her it isn’t, but won’t give her an answer when she asks how he could think that. After he leaves she calls Kit to voice her concerns/suspicions about Billy, and he tells her that Billy is probably just stressed. He invites her over and she agrees to stop by. When she gets there he suggests they go for a walk, and they start to walk down Fear Street (CONTINUITY ERROR! It was stated that Kit lived in a carriage house on a North Hills estate! North Hills isn’t in the same area as Fear Street, it’s the rich part of town!). She suddenly has an urge to run randomly. As she runs way ahead of Kit, she smells a rabbit, and decides to chase after it, thinking about how she can taste the blood already.
SMASH CUT TO rehearsal the next day. Billy thinks they sound like shit, and the new backup singer/bass player Shawna is probably questioning why she agreed to join this band. Danielle assures her that he isn’t usually like this, he’s probably just nervous about playing at Red Heat (yes, THE Red Heat! Been so long since we had reference to it!). Kit asks Danielle if he upset her since she ran away the night before, but she says no. They all decided to play her new song in her ‘Moonlight’ catalog. Well that’s what I’m calling it because so many songs about Moonlight that aren’t part of a multi song story arc is just ridiculous. After they’re done Danielle asks Billy what his problem is but he doesn’t answer. That night before the show the band is getting ready and Shawna says she needs to go get her bass, which is in a big trunk in the dressing room. Danielle offers to go get it, and when she opens the big trunk, guess what happens! Dee’s body spills out onto the floor! And she’s been shredded up! Danielle wonders if she did this, along with Joey, and makes a break for it. She runs into Billy who grabs her, and tells her that she can’t leave! She breaks away frmo him and keeps running, past Caroline and Mary Beth (remember her? She’s the drummer), and into the night. She worries that Billy may try to come find her at her house, but before she can think too much she hears Caroline calling after her. She stops, and Caroline catches up. Danielle begs for Caroline’s help, saying that Billy is going to kill her, and that they have to get to her house to warn Margaret and Cliff. Caroline says she should calm down, but then the moon comes out, and guess what! CAROLINE TURNS INTO A SWEARWOLF WEREWOLF!!! For a moment Danielle tries to reason with her, but there’s no reasoning with a werewolf, Danielle, and wolf!Caroline grabs her. A car suddenly drives past and Danielle yells for help as she breaks away from wolf!Caroline. The car stops, and Danielle realizes it’s a van! It’s Billy and Mary Beth who have come to save the day! And by that I mean they too suddenly turn into werewolves. They back her into a corner, but once the clouds cover the moon they all say that she doesn’t have to worry. Then another car pulls up and it’s Kit, saying to run with him, that they’re in a werewolf band. Billy says that Kit is one of them but Kit says that Danielle can trust him, and Danielle doesn’t know what to believe. But she decides to believe Kit, and they start to run away as the moon comes back. But wolf!Billy catches up with Kit and tackles him, and Kit tells her to run and save herself. Danielle throws mud in the eyes of wolf!Mary Beth and wolf!Caroline, distracting them in time for her to run to the van and get inside. It takes a bit but it starts, and Danielle drives away to safety planning to come back for Kit.
Danielle rushes home and finds Aunt Margaret. She says that they have to call the police because werewolves are chasing her and Kit is in danger, but Aunt Margaret balks, and says that they can’t call the police because it would ruin the plans that they all have for her. Danielle thinks that she’s having one of her hallucinations, but nope. Margaret confesses that she isn’t, in fact, Danielle’s aunt. Danielle’s actual aunt died the same way her parents did, disemboweled by werewolves! Margaret has been part of a conspiracy to make Danielle a werewolf bride to her master! It must be Billy! Cliff comes in and acts as a momentary distraction, just in time for Billy to show up and for Danielle to break away, making a run for it once again. She gets back to the van, Billy on her heels, but is able to get in. He tells her that she can’t win, but she’s willing to test that theory, and decides to go to Dr. Moore’s house. As she drives she realizes that the moonlight never bothered her until she joined the band. Clouds cover the moon again and Danielle thinks that may buy her time.
She gets to Dr. Moore’s house and pounds on his door. He lets her in and she tells him everything. He tells her to sit and gets her a glass of orange juice to calm her nerves, though I feel like a nice shot of whiskey may do her better. He tells her that he believes her and that perhaps they can work together to find a way to trap the werewolves. Then someone else enters the house and calls out ‘Dad? Where is she?’, and Danielle recognizes that voice. It’s Kit! And Dr. Moore says ‘yes, your bride is waiting for you!’
Kit tells her that not only is he a werewolf, he’s the pack leader! All the others are controlled by him, and Dr. Moore has been hypnotizing Danielle to act more like a wolf so that the transition will be easier for her I guess? Kit once saw Danielle a few years prior and decided that she was destined to be his bride and she was absoLUTELY not of age when THAT happened, so they decided to wait. He isolated her (killed her parents and her real aunt) and sent Margaret to keep tabs on her. He killed Joey because Joey knew that she was betrothed to him but flirted/harassed her anyway, and killed Dee because she was trying to warn Danielle. And now he has to take care of Billy since Billy tried to save her tonight. Kit also tells her that once they’re married she will be one hundred percent devoted to him and won’t want to escape. She tries to escape, but Kit grabs her and tells his Dad they’re perform the ceremony now in the backyard in the moonlight. Question: why didn’t Kit turn into a werewolf before? This isn’t explained.
In the yard are the wedding guests, including all the members of the band (who look guilty and chastened), and Margaret. Kit says that before his father marries them, he wants her to sing “Bad Moonlight” to him. Danielle, thinking this could buy her some time, subjects us to the awful lyrics again. She tries to stall, but Dr. Moore tells her to hurry up and do it so they can do the ceremony. She goes from guest to guest, hoping to get some help, and even though Billy can’t help her as he’s under Kit’s thrall, he does tell her that she can save herself by using the ‘bad moonlight’ and I AM SO SICK OF THAT PHRASE. She rejoins Kit and the ceremony starts. But once the moon comes out, Danielle turns into a werewolf (why is this happening now?), and ATTACKS KIT. She lunges and bites him in the throat and won’t let go. As the moon fades away again, she turns back into a human, and Kit is dead. Then Dr. Moore starts shaking and his limbs start flying off (?!), and the same thing happens to Margaret and Kit!! I DON’T UNDERSTAND THIS MYTHOLOGY BUT WHATEVER. Somehow Billy, Mary Beth, and Caroline are spared from this fate and now they’re no longer werewolves because Danielle killed the head werewolf (because I guess it’s the same rules as vampires) in spite of the fact she was never actually a werewolf but somehow turned into a werewolf right when she needed to.
I like to imagine that while all this is going down Shawna is doing a solo set at Red Heat and is just KILLING IT.
Danielle realizes that she has to raise Cliff on her own now but ‘can face anything’ since she killed a werewolf all by herself (honey, you haven’t tangled with the U.S. Legal System, have you?). Billy puts his arms around her shoulders) (? Are they a thing now? Four years is a big age gap when you’re eighteen and twenty two), and says they don’t have to fear the moonlight anymore. Danielle says that she’s looking forward to some ‘bright sunlight’. The End.
Body Count: 5! And what crazy deaths we got out of it as well!
Romance Rating: 2. Given that Kit was ready to make a barely legal and uncooperative bride out of Danielle, I gotta say that the yuck levels were off the charts. She may have better luck with Billy, but…. still.
Bonkers Rating: 8! The werewolf violence, the weird hypnotherapy stuff and EXPLODING BAD GUYS was totally nuts.
Fear Street Relevance: 4. Dr. Moore lived on Fear Street, and the final confrontation was on/around there.
Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:
“Danielle heard the crush of metal as the van crashed through the low metal guardrail. She screamed again as the van sailed off the edge of the cliff.”
…. But it was just a hallucination. They were never in any danger.
That’s So Dated! Moments: Almost right out the gate Danielle asks Margaret if she’d make her a chicken dish that she describes as ‘oriental’. Holy shit for the casual racism tossed in here, but we’ve seen it before in these books, sadly.
“‘Bad moonlight, falling over me, bad moonlight shining down on me, bad moonlight makes me feel so strange and new….'”
Once again, Stine shows us his musicality based talents that we have not seen since the halcyon days of Stevie Nicks….
Conclusion: “Bad Moonlight” was a kind of fun and totally bananas romp that leaned all the way in with supernatural elements. It’s always nice seeing werewolf tales, as they seem to have fallen out of style. Up next is “The Dead Lifeguard”!
Book Description:Some kids in the sixties used to party in the tunnels under Shadyside High, until something left a bunch of people dead. But that’s just a story, right? Besides, exploring the tunnels is more fun than being stuck in Saturday detention. Too bad there’s no turning back–because in the tunnels there’s no one around to hear your screams.
Had I Read This Before: No.
The Plot: First I REALLY need to talk about that cover. What IS that cover? It looks like it’s trying to be the sleeve for the 1980s remake of “The Blob”, which served as serious nightmare fuel whenever we’d go to the local convenience store to rent a movie and it was RIGHT. THERE. Also, much like last time, the font has totally changed and it’s a weird time to change font when we’re at the end of the original series. But anyway. Our protagonist is Elaine. She’s usually a GREAT student, but after having forgotten to turn in a third assignment in a row for trigonometry she’s found herself at Saturday detention. And it occurs to me that I don’t think we’ve had any substantial “Fear Street” storylines that involve detention? At least not the I can remember. Anyway, it made me nostalgic for my detention days. Elaine arrives and speaks with the new principal, Mr. Savage, who says that he hopes such a good student like her won’t be making a habit of this. He also mysteriously says that he’s learned hard lessons in his life, and tells her where to go. She arrives to the classroom and finds a motley crew of detention kids. You have goody goody Elaine, graffiti aficionado Max, nerd Jerry, tough girl Darlene, and bad boy Bo, who may or may not have stolen a car. I think we’ve found our Bender, ladies and gentlemen, which means I will no doubt have a serious affection for him by the time this book is done.
Elaine asks if this is detention and Bo tells her that it’s dissection class (so… biology), and when Darlene throws a piece of paper at him in a flirtation ritual he takes out a lighter and sets it ablaze. Jerry is afraid he’ll set off the sprinkler system, and listen, narc, Bo doesn’t give a shit about your RULES. Jerry is there because he refused to dissect a frog in biology class and gee, that seems a bit harsh, being punished for having a conviction about animal mutilation… Bo keeps lighting things on fire and Mr. Savage comes in and tells him to put it out, which Bo does. Elaine is shocked and disgusted but probably also intrigued. Mr. Savage lets us know Darlene is here for cutting class and Max is here for graffiti-ing a school bus. He tells them that if they stay in their seats and focus on their punishment and police themselves they can leave at 3 and that will be that. As he’s leaving, Bo throws a switch blade. But it of course isn’t aimed at him, but at a cork board, and Mr. Savage doesn’t notice. Bo asks Elaine what she’s in for and she tells him it’s for not turning in homework, and Bo is amused. Darlene, unable to stand that he’s paying attention to Elaine (because girls are ALWAYS fighting over boys, right?), plants herself in front of him and says she’s bored. Bo suggests that they all go look for snacks in the cafeteria, and Jerry says he’s not getting in trouble by leaving. Bo specifically asks Elaine if she’s coming, and wanting to prove she’s not a goody goody she says she is. So they head out and down the hallway, and of COURSE Jerry runs to catch up with them. Elaine notices how not nervous Bo is, and given that she’s so responsible she envies his irresponsibility and finds it sexy.
They go to the kitchen and raid the fridge, but after pigging out a bit Elaine notices that Bo has gone missing, and so has one of the big knives. They go looking for Bo, and find him splayed out with a cut throat. It is, of course, a dumb practical joke, and this kid, I swear… They don’t stay mad at him long, however, because they hear Mr. Savage walking down the hallway. They lose track of his movement, but know he could cut them off back to the classroom, and Elaine suggests that they cut through the auditorium. So they get to the auditorium, and dick around on stage a bit. Max destroys some sets, Bo plays with a prop fiddle (as the drama club is doing “Fiddler”!), and Elaine goes exploring backstage. There she finds a strange black curtain hanging in a far off corner. When she pulls it, it reveals a corridor. Which she, of course, has to explore! So she starts down the hallway in the dark but chickens out. Unfortunately, as she’s heading back the floor gives way and she falls through it, plummeting down! She lands hard, and has no idea how far down she is. It’s dark and she feels broken glass and paint cans, and when she tries to stand her ankle hurts like the dickens. Also, a rat drops on her. She screams and it runs away, and she fumbles in the dark, able to find a ladder but unable to put enough weight on her ankle to actually climb it. Luckily her scream is heard by the others. Bo lights his lighter and looks down, telling her she fell through a trap door. She says she can’t climb because of her ankle, and Bo says he’ll come down to get her. Perplexingly they all climb down with him, though Bo is now suddenly quite protective of Elaine. He lights up his lighter again, and they see they’re in a space with LET’S PARTY written on the wall, and multiple hallways to pick from. Bo and Max tell them that it must be the Labyrinth, a tunnel system built to be a bomb shelter like tunnel system during the Cold War. It spreads across all of Shadyside. For years it was used as a party spot for teens, but the tunnels were all closed up after a number of teens died. So NATURALLY Bo and Max want to explore. Darlene and Jerry aren’t convinced and want to go, and Bo tells Elaine she’s the tie breaker. And now that she wants to impress Bo, she says they should explore.
Bo scrounges up some sticks and some rags from the trash and makes some torches they can use, and they venture into the tunnel on the right. They find a school newspaper from 1972 reviewing ‘the new Doors album’ (bitch, Morrison was long dead by that time, that album wasn’t going to be too great), and head deeper into the tunnels even though now Elaine is losing her nerve. The reach a dead end when they find a big pool of dirty water and trash, and decide to turn back. But it becomes quite clear that they are lost. Bo suggests that they go back across the water, as the tunnels are all over town and there HAS to be an exit somewhere. They manage to find a narrow ledge around the water, but while trying to cross it Elaine slips and falls into the dirty pool. Oh GOD, think of the germs. Bo pulls her out because he’s her protector now, obviously, and lets her wear his army jacket so she doesn’t get a chill. IS SHE GOING TO GIVE HIM HER DIAMOND EARRING BY THE END OF ALL THIS?
They keep going forward, and find a weird bricked up section that looks different from the other walls they’ve seen. The bricks are red instead of cinderblocks. Bo begins poking the mortar with a stick and it falls away, and the one of the bricks pops out about an inch, without any of them touching it. Bo hesitantly tries to push it back in, and then suddenly the wall EXPLODES! Elaine is thrown back into a wall, and as she sits up she notices that only one torch is still lit at this point. Everyone gathers their wits, and Bo relights his torch. Red dust hangs in the air, and they decide to keep going, but before they can, the separate red dust clouds suddenly gather together and surround Max. He says that something is wrong, and then the red mist envelops him and lifts him up! Bo tries to pull him back down, but the mist throws him away and starts BREAKING MAX’S BONES! It pulls Max up more and pretty much just snaps all of his bones IN GREAT DETAIL ON THE PAGE, killing him and flying down one of the tunnels with his corpse.
Bo screams and chases the mist down the hallway, and Elaine and the others look on in horror. Jerry says they have to get out of there, and Elaine says that they can’t leave without Bo. Jerry tries to take the torch from her but she says no, and Darlene says that she and Jerry are leaving and they are taking the torch with them whether Elaine likes it or not. After some sniping, Elaine eventually sees reason and agrees to go with them. But, of course, those two book it and Elaine has a bad ankle! She follows the flicker of the torch, and eventually catches up with them, but only because they’ve stopped. Jerry says he thought the water was this way, but it’s nowhere to be seen. Darlene starts to panic, and Elaine grabs the torch back and says that they have to keep moving to get away from the mist. She’s still thinking about Bo, but agrees that they should keep going on their own.
Unfortunately, they almost immediately stumble over a corpse and drop the torch, leaving them in the dark. Darlene thinks it was Bo, which means the mist may be in the dark with them. Elaine says that Bo had the lighter, so if they can find it on his body they can relight the torch. Darlene and Jerry are both too big of wusses to touch the body, so Elaine says she will. But she doesn’t find the lighter, and realizes that these clothes are ragged and old. That wasn’t Bo’s body. Soon they see another light coming, and wonder if the mist can glow. But nope, it’s Bo! He’s alive! Darlene hugs him and he tells them that he tried to get Max’s body back, but wasn’t successful. And whatever that mist was, it’s probably coming for them next. Elaine notes that he doesn’t seem like the cocky prick he was earlier, but a scared boy who saw his best friend killed. Very Bender in his ‘FUCK YOU’ monologue if I do say so myself. Bo makes new torches but says his lighter is out so this is it. As they walk Elaine wonders what this mist could possibly be (GOOD QUESTION). Jerry thinks that if they can figure out where they are under the city they could figure out where the school is, but Bo rightfully points out that that might be hard. They stumble into a room full of garbage and LET’S PARTY written all over the walls, and find ANOTHER tunnel, but oh dear! THE RED MIST IS BACK! Thus a crazy chase begins wtih them running through God knows how many tunnels, and Elaine falls because HER ANKLE and Bo isn’t leaving her behind (even when Darlene insists that he do he does NOT!), and somehow they stumble into the first LET’S PARTY room which is below the stage at the school!! Darlene launches herself up the ladder first, and I can’t blame her, and Bo wants Elaine to go next but she tells him to go because of her ankle, so he does. And as Elaine starts to climb up too the ladder starts to give way!!! But Elaine is convinced they’re all going to make it, but guess what, Jerry does NOT make it. Because the Red Mist surrounds him and starts to squeeze him. Elaine grabs his hand, determined to hold on, and he keeps crying out ‘help me!’ (oh God, this is actually brutal), but the Mist keeps pulling on him and starts to envelop Elaine’s hand. Bo screams at her to let go… And Elaine knows she has to. So she does. The mist grabs Jerry, crumples him up into a BALL, and then flies down into the darkness. I’m honestly upset by all of this. Elaine feels horrible that she let go. But no time to feel bad, because the ladder breaks, sending her and Bo falling into the darkness. They land on the ground below, and Elaine asks Bo to hold her. Which he does. That diamond earring is going to be yours, Judd Nelson! Darlene is dangling from the top rung, unable to hold on much longer. Bo and Elaine tell her to just let go, that Bo will catch her, and she does. She suggests that they could keep calling for help, that Mr. Savage could be around, but Bo is convinced that he’s long gone now. And school won’t open again until Monday, and they probably don’t have time to wait. They have to find another exit. Elaine points out that the only tunnel they haven’t for sure tried is the tunnel the Red Mist came from.
They find the water pool again and continue past it, and find the chamber behind the red bricks. What they find isn’t another tunnel, but a giant pile of dirt and rubble that looks like a cave in. But at the top of the pile there is a hole that could be an exit. Bo starts to climb, but it isn’t easy going because the dirt pile is loose. But he gets up and crawls up through the hole. Elaine and Darlene call up to him, and he assures them he’s okay but that the tunnel is ‘wild’. WHATEVER THAT MEANS, BO. Darlene tells Elaine to go first, and Elaine does. She makes her way up, and into the hole, and it’s a small tunnel that she barely fits in, and oh GOD I’m going to have a panic attack. Elaine feels the same and has a panic attack, convinced she’s going to get stuck, but manages to get through. She finds that the dirt tunnel ends in another chamber, where Bo is waiting for her at the bottom of another dirt pile, and it smells aged and isolated. She slides down to join him, and Darlene comes down behind, and informs them that the tunnel partially collapsed behind her. Bo says that this isn’t where they want to be, and points out six skeletons! Bo says that the cave in must have trapped them, and points out that there are no rats. Darlene says that the Red Mist must have killed them and someone must have put the bricks up to keep the Red Mist in. But Elaine points out that the small garbage in this room was neatly stacked and it was less haphazard. These people weren’t killed by the Red Mist, they must have been trapped inside and starved to death or died of thirst. They look on the wall and see six names written in red paint, which must be the skeletons. But there is also one name carved into the wall with rock: “Scott Savage Knows”. Mr. Savage must have something to do with all of this! Before the can ruminate too long, however, the Red Mist comes out through the dirt tunnel!! Bo makes it focus on him so Elaine and Darlene can make their way back through the dirt tunnel! So noble! But soon the Red Mist has instead poured over the skeletons… BRINGING THEM TO LIFE. That’s fucking badass. Darlene starts to panic and Elaine yells at her to run through them and back up to the tunnel. Elaine beats the skeletons off of her as she runs, and manages to get up to the top of the dirt pile. But she looks down and sees that Darlene has frozen in her tracks. Bo tries to distract the skeletons, and Elaine books it, crawling through the dirt tunnel and coming out the other side. She hears Darlene’s horrible screams, and then silence.
Elaine calls for Bo, and hears footsteps and sees a light coming through the entrance to the chamber that had been bricked up. It’s Mr. Savage! He says that she has to get out of here and asks where the others are, and Elaine tells him that they’re dead. Mr. Savage is upset by this news, and Bo bursts through the dirt tunnel as it collapses behind him. They all tumble into the dirt, but Elaine thinks that the Red Mist is trapped now. Bo says that Mr. Savage is at fault, and they tell him everything they found. Mr. Savage confesses what it is he knows. He went to Shadyside High back in the day and he and his friends went into the tunnels. There was a cave in, and Bo says that’s pretty OBVIOUS and that he wants to get out of here now. Mr. Savage says he’s been carrying this secret for years and NOW he’s going to tell it. I think that’s misguided at best, but whatever. Mr. Savage was on the other side of the collapse, and he called for them but they never answered. Assuming they were dead and wanting to cover his tracks, he bricked up the tunnel. Unfortunately, his friends WEREN’T dead, and they were able to dig their way out… until they ran into his brick wall. Elaine and Bo blame Mr. Savage for everything that happened… but one COULD argue that if they hadn’t ditched out on their detention none of this would have happend either… BUT WHATEVER, potato, po-tah-to. They ask him about the Red Mist and he says he has no clue what they’re talking about and thinks they’re lying about what happened to their classmates. But before they can debate, the Red Mist BURSTS out of the ceiling. And NOW Mr. Savage believes them, and he knows what it is. It’s the VENGEFUL SPIRITS OF HIS DEAD FRIENDS!! The Red Mist didn’t kill those students, it IS those students! Knowing his time has come, Mr. Savage tells Elaine to take six consecutive left turns and that’s the way out. Then the Red Mist envelops him, crunches his bones, and squishes him into a tiny ball. Then the Red Mist and the Savage Ball disappear. Bo and Elaine make six consecutive lefts and make their way out of the tunnels. He asks what they’re going to tell people, and she says she doesn’t know. And they climb up the ladder. The End.
Body Count: 4! A little higher than we’ve seen lately, but at this point I think Stine was like “It’s the last one in the series! LET’S DANCE!”
Romance Rating: 2. Elaine and Bo clearly have a thing for each other, but they don’t really act upon it at all.
Bonkers Rating: 9! From endless underground tunnels to a ravenous red mist to moving skeletons, this one was up there for craziness! Again, Stine didn’t give a fuck.
Fear Street Relevance: 2. It took place in Shadyside, but I really don’t think that Fear Street came up.
Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:
“Elaine stared at his shirt. His neck. His face.
Soaked with blood.
‘Nooo!’ She let out a moan. Bo’s throat. His throat had been cut.”
… Except no, he just played a trick on them.
That’s So Dated! Moments: Darlene refers to Elaine as ‘Miss Yuppie’ at one point, and who even says ‘yuppie’ anymore?
” ‘What’s the lighter fluid for?’ Jerry demanded. ‘Are you some kind of pyromaniac?’
‘What I do with my spare time is none of your business,’ Bo replied.”
HA, I knew I liked this kid.
Conclusion: “Trapped” was a super bizarre and oddly violent final book for the “Fear Street” original series!! I enjoyed it for the most part because it was so bananas! I can’t believe that we got through it all! And we aren’t done yet. I am going to slowly bring it on home with a few more books: one ‘Super Chiller’ that a friend of mine remembers vividly, one ‘Super Chiller’ that I remember vividly, and then one last trilogy. So up next is “Bad Moonlight”.
Book: “Best Friend 2” (Fear Street #50) by R.L. Stine
Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1997
Where Did I Get This Book: ILL from the library!
Book Description:Becka is relieved. She’s finally ready to forget all the horrible things her “best friend” Honey did to her real friends. She can even forget the way she was blamed for it all. So why does she keep seeing Honey everywhere she goes? At first she thinks it’s her imagination. But then the threats begin. Honey is back. And this time she won’t stop–until Becka is dead.
Dear Reader: A few years ago, I wrote a book called The Best Friend. And hundreds of you wrote to tell me how unhappy you were with the ending. You thought Honey Perkins should pay for her crimes.
But I needed your help. I wasn’t sure exactly what should happen to Honey. So we held a contest to let you decide. I got thousands of great ideas. It was hard to choose, but I finally picked my favorite. A girl named Sara Bikman from Grafton, Wisconsin, sent in the winning entry. Thanks, Sara!
So here is the book you’ve all been waiting for. Honey is back–and she’s after Becka Norwood. But this time, Honey will get what she deserves. Won’t she?
Had I Read This Before: No
The Plot: Okay gang, I have been both anticipating and dreading getting to “Best Friend 2”. As I mentioned in “Best Friend 1”, the reception to that ending was so bad that R.L. Stine pitched a bit of a fit and pretty much said ‘okay, children, if you think that you can do better, I challenge YOU to write a sequel!’ So a contest for “Best Friend 2” was held, and the winner’s story was turned into an honest to God “Fear Street” book. I imagine that Stine took the plot and made it his own, but who knows, maybe this is the complete product of an unsatisfied fan. Whatever it may be, on we go.
Becka is trying to move on from the traumatic events of “The Best Friend”. She has moved to Waynesbridge, the lame unofficial sister city of Shadyside which seems to cultivate a lot of the “Fear Street” Bad Boys. This is her first day at her new school and she’s nervous and thinking about all the terrible things that happened with Honey Perkins, the girl who stalked her and tried to kill her friends Trish and Lilah, and killed her boyfriend Bill. Becka has to meet with Mrs. Englund the guidance counselor to check in, and we get the run down of everything that happened in Book 1 (Lilah’s bike accident, Trish’s fall down the steps, Bill’s stabbing). After Becka leaves the office she thinks that she sees Bill, and she calls out to him, but it’s not Bill. His name is Steve, and he helps her find her way to her first class. In this class she meets a girl named Glynis, and they seem to hit it off and Becka thinks that Glynis not only has cool nails (chocolate brown! How unique!), but that she could be a real best friend, unlike Honey. Unfortunately, she doesn’t realize that she’s written Bill’s name over and over again in her book.
After class Glynis meets up with Becka at her locker and introduces her to a boy named Frankie. Becka is instantly smitten because not only does he have rebellious long hair, he plays guitar! He tells Becka that her nails are so short she could be a good guitar player, an then he invites her to go with him and Glynis to get some pizza. Becka is convinced that this polite gesture of inclusivity translates to him having the hots for her. They walk to Pizzaz Pizza (you are NO Pete’s Pizza!), and all sit down together. Becka is feeling relaxed and okay, but then who should walk in, but Eric, her ex boyfriend (the guy she was with before Bill). Was Eric mentioned in “The Best Friend”? I honestly don’t remember. She runs to him and says hello, but he seems not so happy to see her. He reminds her that she dumped him, but she swears that she has changed, and asks if he wants to go join her, Glynis, and Frankie? When he balks she says that they can go driving around instead, and says goodbye to her new friends who were kind enough to invite her out after school, and instead goes with a guy who doesn’t seem to want to even be near her. They walk to his car, and Becka suddenly kisses Eric, even though she’s thinking about Frankie. Eric says that she’s change, and they kiss again and make an arrangement to see each other again. When Becka gets home she thinks about how excited she is for this new life, and then decides that she’s going to get herself some of that chocolate nail polish that Glynis has. In fact, if she changed her hair a bit, she would look a lot like Glynis….
The next day Becka buys the nail polish and after she applies it she fantasizes about Frankie calling her and confessing his feelings for her. At first she think that the conversation actually happened, but when she realizes that no, it didn’t, she starts to worry that she’s acting crazy, just like Honey was. We get another recap of the bad things that Honey did, and Becka tries to get ahold of herself… But the realizes that she used the nail polish to write Bill’s name all over her face.
Some time passes and Becka checks in with Mrs. Englund. She says that she’s feeling really good, and Mrs. Englund compliments her on her new hairstyle. After school Becka goes to Glynis’s house and they hang out while Becka tries on some of her clothes. Glynis suggests that they should go shopping together, and tells her that she usually drives to Shadyside’s Mall on Division Street. Glynis’s mom comments on how alike the two of them look, and Glynis laughs, which makes Becka feel insulted, because after all they’re BEST FRIENDS RIGHT?! When Glynis goes to help her mother with a task, Becka does the very friendly and rational thing of taking Glynis’s clothes and putting them in her own bag because best friends always borrow each other’s clothes.
The next day Becka accompanies Glynis and Frankie to the Division Street Mall, and when Frankie comments that she’s wearing Glynis’s outfit Glynis starts to look a bit concerned. Becka says she wants to wear them on her date with Eric, and asks if there is a problem. Glynis, probably terrified that this girl will boil a rabbit if she protests, says no, and just to give them back after her date. They get to the Mall and Becka is suddenly nervous about being back in Shadyside. What if people from her past see her? And just as she’s worrying about that she runs into Eric in one of the stores! He tells her that he works there. They have some okay small talk, and when Glynis and Frankie join them it seems to be going okay. Glynis and Frankie tell Becka they’ll meet her at the food court, and when they leave Eric is suddenly on edge. He asks Becka why they called her ‘Becka’. Because, as if you haven’t guessed it yet, BECKA IS ACTUALLY HONEY!
Side note and pause: I don’t know who this Sara Bikman, the winner of the writing contest is, but if this is a plot point she came up with on her own, I have to give her some serious snaps. Even though I saw it coming from a mile away, I’m not certain I could say the same had I read it in 1997 when I was still within the target demographic.
Honey says that she IS Becka now, and starts to freak out and throw a fit. To make matters worse, she sees the ACTUAL Becka, and in a last ditch effort to try and keep her new name and new life, grabs a string of glass beads from a display in the shop and, for no clear reason, proceeds to STRANGLE ERIC TO DEATH WITH THEM. She tells Becka that SHE’S the one who did it, first she killed Bill and now she’s added Honey’s new life to the ol’ notches on the kill belt, and then makes a break for it with people chasing her.
We now move on to Part 2, and the perspective has shifted to the Real Becka, home in Shadyside and totally shaken up by this turn of events. She, Lilah, and Trish are attending Eric’s funeral, and talking about how Honey pulled off the great con of pretending to be Becka (she forged some transcripts and a letter from Becka’s parents). Evidently Honey escaped from her hospital that past summer and her father had no idea where she was, and she’s gone missing again. Becka thinks that she sees Honey, but it’s just someone else with the same hair color. As Trish and Lilah walk Becka home from the funeral they tell her that they’re worried about her. She’s been seeing Honey everywhere ever since Bill was stabbed, and to that I say uh YEAH, IT WAS A TRAUMATIC EVENT IN HER LIFE. And then, shock and awe, BILL shows up! Apparently he didn’t die from his stab wound, though he now only has one lung. Becka feels so guilty about what happened to him that she can’t even look at him anymore (but weird side note again: Trish ‘pecked’ Bill on the cheek when he came up to them. It seems like something a couple may do, but it doesn’t appear that they ARE a couple? Are they just really friendly and affectionate?). Bill wants to talk with Becka but she says she can’t, and he says that he knows she’s seeing some chump named Larry now (my words, not his), but he just wants to talk some things out. Becka refuses, and Bill leaves dejected. Trish and Lilah ask her why she doesn’t want to be with him anymore, and Becka says that her memories are just too awful, and frankly, I get it. Trish tries to lay on the guilt by saying that Bill was by her side while she was in the hospital with her broken neck, and Becka apologizes that she wasn’t there for her as much as Bill was. They all hug. Becka gets home and her mom asks her if she’s feeling stressed, as her doctor, one Doctor Perlman, says that she should avoid that, but Becka claims that she’s fine. Her phone rings, but when she picks up, there’s no one on the line, and Becka wonders if it’s Honey. Why isn’t she in any kind of protective custody right now? CAN THE POLICE AT LEAST SEND A SQUAD CAR TO HER HOUSE?! I don’t think this is unreasonable given that Honey just killed someone and has an obsession with Becka.
At work the next afternoon Becka is visited by her new boyfriend Larry, whom she describes as looking like Bugs Bunny. Not exactly high praise in the looks department, but you know, Bugs glamours up REAL nice.
Larry keeps pestering her but she tells him that he has to order something or get out. He obeys and leaves. When her shift is done she goes to her car, and hears footsteps. She worries that it’s Honey again, but no, it’s just Bill. He begs her to speak to him, and she once again says no, and he says that he tried calling her yesterday bot lost her nerve. She feels stupid for blaming Honey, but she’s not out of the woods yet because he won’t take her ‘no’ for an answer and tells her that he still cares about her. He grabs her, and she tells him to let go. And who should come to the rescue? Larry! Larry asks if there are any problems here, and Bill insists no before skulking away. Becka tells Larry she’s okay, but then when she looks at her car things go from bad to worse. Someone has slashed up the seats and left a gutted dead rat on the passenger side. Becka just starts screaming ‘HONEY!’ over and over, even as Larry drives her home. Paging Dr. Perlberg…
After taking some of her sedatives Becka has calmed down, and she tries to watch the news, but they keep talking about Eric’s death and how Honey is still at large. She turns it off and wonders if Honey is hiding out next door. She considers going outside to do some investigating, when her phone rings. She answers it, and it’s Trish, telling her that she just saw Bill and he was SUPER messed up. That isn’t Becka’s fault, I’d argue, but Trish seems to think it is. She tells Becka that Bill pulled off his shirt and showed off his scar, and told Trish that Becka’s cruelty hurt more than the knife, and to that I say HA!! Manipulation, much? Becka rightfully says that isn’t fair, and asks Trisha whose side she is on anyway, not as rightfully. Trish says that Becka is being unfair, and Becka hangs up on her, thinking that she’s a traitor. The phone rings again, and Becka answers, immediately apologizing to Trish, but, big shock, it isn’t Trish. It’s a raspy voice saying “YOU KILLED BILL”.
Becka proceeds to go outside to sneak around Mr. Perkins’s house to see if she can see Honey. She looks in the window but just sees Mr. Perkins, asleep in front of the TV. She is startled by someone coming up behind her, but it’s just Lilah. Becka screams, but then wonders if she was too loud, expecting to see Mr. Perkins now staring out at them but he’s not. Becka asks Lilah what she’s doing there, and Lilah says she came to show her something, but before she can clarify Mr. Perkins HAS shown up at the window and starts yelling at them, saying that somehow all of this is Becka’s fault and asks where Honey is. Becka says she doesn’t know, and Mr. Perkins says he’ll call the cops on her if he catchers her prowling around his property. He closes the window and Becka and Lilah scamper away. They go up to Becka’s room, and Lilah says that she has to show her something. She pulls a newspaper clipping from her pocket, and shows it to her. It’s about a family annihilator named Kevin Paulson who murdered his wife Deidre and his son Harold, while Harold’s twin Hannah hid in the closet. Kevin then shot himself to death. Lilah reminds Becka that Harold and Hannah were in their grade, and that after the murder suicide Hannah went to live with an Uncle. Becka remembers how weird the twins were, and how badly Hannah wanted to be their friend. So much so that she followed them around and was a general nuisance. One day Becka was so sick of Hannah she tricked her. She asked Hannah if she wanted to join the Cool Club, and Hannah said yes. Becka told her the way to join was to get down on all fours and bark like a dog during a school assembly. So Hannah did so, crawling up on stage and barking like a dog. The school laughed and laughed. And then when she went to Becka’s house in triumph, Becka informed her that THERE WAS NO COOL CLUB. Hannah as crushed, and Becka never saw her again. Becka realizes that Hannah IS Honey. And THAT is why Honey hates her so much.
The phone rings and it’s the same voice. This time it tells Becka that it’s her best friend and that they’re coming to see her with something sharp. Fine. Whatever. BUT MAY I JUST SAY that there was absolutely NO reason to give this kind of backstory to Honey WHATSOEVER. Bitch, you are not Carrie White! This isn’t a legitimate moment that would lead to some kind of mental break! And also, which is it? Is Honey psychotic, or hell bent on psychopathic revenge?! It can’t realistically be both!
Becka meets with Dr. Perlberg asking for more sedatives. He lackadaisically gives them to her, and also encourages her to call the police. Becka says she will, and leaves her appointment with her prescription. She is then attacked by Honey in the parking lot! Honey keeps screaming that she’s Becka and slams Becka’s head on the ground over and over until Becka passes out. She comes to, and realizes that Honey must have thought she was dead.
She is later telling Trish about all of this. She went to the ER and called the police, but all the cops will do is up the regular patrol on her block (SERIOUSLY?). That Sunday Becka goes to a movie with Larry, but is on edge the whole time. After mistaking someone bumping into her as an attack, Larry offers to take her out for coffee and Becka says that it may help her calm down (coffee is, as we know, totally known for being a calming beverage). She says that Honey keeps calling her every night with her disguised voice. They get to the diner, and Becka once again freaks out when she thinks she sees Honey, but it’s just a waitress. Becka has a full on melt down and Larry takes her home. He asks her if she wants him to come in, but she declines. Unfortunately when she gets to her room, someone has smeared red stuff all over her things and has written on the wall THIS IS U.
The next evening Becka is hanging out with Trish and Lilah. The police are worthless, I guess, and for some reason Becka is still staying at her house. Lilah offers up her home, but Becka declines. The friends leave, and Becka tries to concentrate on homework while she waits for her Dad to come home. But of course, the phone rings, and when Becka answers it it’s the caller saying that they are coming tonight, so Becka should wait for her best friend. Becka is terrified and decides to make a break for it, but there’s someone on the other side of the door. But it’s just Bill. She says that Honey is coming to kill her, and he says that they can go hide in his uncle’s cabin in Fear Woods. The phone rings again, and this time it’s Lilah, Becka says she can’t talk, she’s going to Bill’s uncle’s cabin, and hangs up, and the two make a break for it.
They get to the cabin, Becka feeling a new affection for Bill as he is now her knight in shining armor, and he says he’ll go get firewood. While he’s gone, the phone rings, and Becka answers. It’s Lilah again, and she says that Becka didn’t give her a chance to tell her the good news! Honey’s been caught! She was captured two days ago, and it’s just coming out now because she hadn’t given the cops her name. They must have caught her right after she attacked Becka. But Becka realizes something very bad: if Honey was caught two days ago, who called her that night, and who wrecked her room? Then, Bill walks into the cabin with a strange look on his face, and he tells Becka to hang up the phone. Becka, realizing the danger, tries to dial 911, but Bill lunges at her. He rips the phone out of the wall. She asks him why he’s doing this, and he says that she should know why. She says he’s been calling her and he snuck into her room, and he says it wasn’t him… And then TRISH walks into the cabin. She’s been doing this because they’re supposed to be best friends, and Becka never came to visit her at the hospital when she broke her neck because Becka is SELF CENTERED AND SELFISH. Trish says that Becka dumped her and Bill, and real best friends don’t do that to each other. She then reveals a knife she’s been hiding behind her back, and Bill looks totally caught off guard because THAT wasn’t part of the plan! But Trish raises the knife and lunges for Becka. But stupid, creepy Bill throws himself between them, and Trish stabs him in the chest!! That’s two for two, Bill!!! Trish says that Becka stabbed him again (?????), and she lunges for Becka. They struggle, but Becka manages to get the upper hand. Becka manages to cut Trish’s throat (but it’s made VERY clear that it hasn’t been done fatally), and as police sirens start to wail Trish retreats to a corner and cowers while Becka cradles Bill and says that she promises to be a good friend to him as he takes her hand. The End.
Body Count: 1, but maybe 2? I’m not sure about Bill’s survival this time around.
Romance Rating: 4? Becka seems to have a legitimate affection for Larry, but everyone else who has any kind of romantic feeling expresses their affection in unhealthy ways.
Bonkers Rating: 5, just because the first big twist was pretty good, even if I figured it out pretty fast. And then there was the big bonkers reveal about Honey’s origins, but that was so out there I was more frustrated than anything else.
Fear Street Relevance: 7. Becka still lives on Fear Street, and the final fight takes place in Fear Woods.
Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:
“‘Oh!’ I cried out as a sharp blade poked into my back.
‘No!’ Then the pain shot through by body, and I began to scream.”
… And it was some woman’s umbrella bumping into her.
That’s So Dated! Moments: The big one was that we once again used an actress as a visual description for a character, and this time around it was Claire Danes, fresh off her turn in “Romeo+Juliet”! A reference was also made to a volcano movie, and that could have either been “Dante’s Peak” OR “Volcano”!! And speaking of dated….
“So I work as a waitress three evenings a week and every other Saturday at a place on Canyon Drive called The Hackers Cafe. It’s actually just a coffeehouse. But Mr. Arnold, the owner, put computers at the counter so that customers could surf the internet and send emails while they drink their coffee and eat their muffins and pastries.”
This description of an Internet Cafe is so perfectly of this time that I was chuckling like an idiot as I read it.
Conclusion: “Best Friend 2” wasn’t the shit show that I was anticipating, and even though the ending felt like things we’d seen before, at least it felt more satisfying than the end of the first book. Up next is “Trapped”, which also happens to be the final book in the original “Fear Street” Series! We will have a couple books left with a final special trilogy arc, but we’re nearing the end of our time with this classic series.