About the Book
- R.L. Stine
For the month of October, known in many circles as the SPooOOOoKIEST MONTH, I’m revisiting the best books of R. L. Stine’s horror YA series Fear Street. Today we’re going to tackle the first in his historical fiction trilogy Fear Street Saga: The Betrayal. Why is Fear Street so cursed with violence and terror? Who exactly were the original founders of Shadyside, the Fiers? Does R.L. Stine stick to his comfy formula even while visiting the 18th century? Let’s find out!
In Shadyside in the year 1900, a woman named Nora Goode watches the home of her lover, Daniel Goode, go up in flames. She sits down to write the saga of the Fear Family – once known as the Fiers. We skip back to the year 1692, in Wickham Village of Massachusetts Colony. Edward Fier is the pious son of town magistrate Benjamin Fier. He is in love with a sweet girl named Susannah Goode, but Benjamin does not approve of the match because Susannah is poor. So Benjamin and his brother Matthew falsely accuse Susannah and her mother Martha of witchcraft – and they are burned at the stake. Now it’s the year 1710 in the Western Pennsylvania Frontier. The Fiers have escaped Wickham with the town’s money and are living happily, Edward with a new wife and son, Ezra. William Goode, father to Susannah and husband of Martha, has spent the ensuing years tracking down the Fiers to exact his revenge – turns out HE’S a witch, but Susannah and Martha weren’t. Also Matthew is sort of a witch too. Anyway! William slowly takes his revenge on the Fier family, including Matthew’s daughter Mary by disguising himself as a handsome young suitor named Jeremy, but in the end, Matthew gets the better of him. Now it’s the year 1725, in the Western Pennsylvania Wilderness. Ezra Fier has grown up and now wants his revenge on the Goodes. He starts out on his quest for vengeance…TO BE CONTINUED!
The First Line:
“The fire roared like thunder.”
Cheapest Cliffhanger Ending:
Last passage of Wickham, Chapter One:
The air grew cooler. From a low branch just above Susannah’s head a dove uttered a deep-throated moan, cold and sorrowful.
‘It is so dark, suddenly so cold,’ she said.
Time to go back.
As she turned, she felt strong hands grab her from behind.
‘The Evil One!’ she cried.
First passage of Wickham, Chapter Two:
‘Let go of me!’ Susannah screamed.
To her surprise, the hands obediently released her.
She spun around, her blue eyes wide with fright, and stared into the laughing face of Edward Fier. ‘Do I look like the Evil One to you?’ he asked.
What’s even cheaper is that Susannah was in the woods to meet Edward. So really, why was she expecting the devil?
Best Reminder This Book Takes Place in Oldy-Times:
“Only minutes after the fire had begun, the Shady-side volunteer fire fighters had pulled their horse-drawn water truck onto the lawn of the mansion.”
Shady-side is hyphenated! Also “horse-drawn water truck” just makes me laugh for some reason.
Best Outfit Description:
“Edward was tall and good-looking. He wore a wide-brimmed black hat over his straight dark brown hair, which fell below his ears. His gray doublet was made of the finest linen. The cuffs at the end of his sleeves were white and stiffly starched. His navy blue breeches ended just below the knee. Gray wool stockings covered his legs. On his feet were Dutch-style clogs fashioned of dark leather.
No other young man in the village dressed as well as Edward.” Quite a catch, this one!
Best Fear Street of Yore Description:
“Unable to shut out their voices, she began running toward the house. Her cloak flapped behind her as she stumbled down the hill and over the lawn.
Slipping on the dew-wet grass, she could feel the heat of the fire on her face. Strange shadows flickered over the lawn, black against the reflected scarlet light.”
We see several different characters wear the amulet over the years: Nora Goode, Benjamin Fier, Matthew Fier, Ezra Fier:
“Squeezing the small round pendant tightly, Nora sighed. This silver amulet with its sparkling blue jewels held in place by a silver three-toed claw, like those on a tiny bird’s foot, had been given to her by Daniel Fear as a token of his love.”
Well, I’m pretty sure that’s an evil amulet, but still, cool token. It’s engraved with the words Dominatio per malum, meaning “Power through evil!” which is mildly awesome.
“Before Susannah could back away, Edward had his arms around her waist. He lowered his face to hers and kissed her.
The hat tumbled off his head, and he pressed his lips against hers, urgently, hungrily.
Susannah was breathless when she finally pulled free. ‘You – you are suffocating me!’ she exclaimed, grinning at him. She raised a hand to his shoulder. ‘What if the Evil One is watching us?’ she teased.”
And then Nora’s eyes focused on a figure in the center of the writhing, screaming crowd. A young girl. Wearing a long maroon dress and an old-fashioned cap.
Nora gasped as the girl raised her head and their eyes met.
The girl’s eyes were eggshell white. Glowing white.
As Nora gaped in horror, she saw the girl’s mouth open wide into a tortured scream, a scream of rage, of unbearable pain.
Then Nora noticed that the girl’s hands were tied behind her. Tied to a tall wooden pole.
The girl was tied to a stake.
And now her dress was billowing with fire. And the flames were rising up to her face, up to her long blond hair. The cap burst into flame then.
Struggling against the stake, the girl shrieked as she burned.
Then, with a low explosion, the flames hid them all behind a rippling yellow curtain.
The window burst, glass shattering and flying out. The fire’s roar rumbled over her.
And still Nora stood motionless, staring where the screaming girl had been, staring into the wall of flame, staring, staring into the bright, dancing horror…
Jeremy’s head exploded with a low pop!
At first no one was certain where the sound had come from.
Mary was the first to realize that something horrible had happened.
Jeremy’s skull cracked open, and the skin on his face blistered and peeled away. Pink brains bubbled up from his open skull. His face appeared to melt away, and another face pushed up from under the shattered skull.
Another head appeared on Jeremy’s body.
The head of a white-haired man, his cheeks scarlet, his eyes brimming with hatred.
‘William Goode!’ Matthew declared, still holding the strange medallion above his head.
‘Yes, it is I,’ William replied weakly. ‘I almost stole your daughter from you, Matthew. But your powers are stronger than mine.’
“Bending to her task, she picked up the pen, dipped it into the inkwell, and feverishly began to write again. TO BE CONTINUED…”
Next… THE FEAR STREET SAGA: THE SECRET
“The bloody feud continues. Jonathan Fier wants to marry a girl who could end the curse forever. But Jonathan knows she’s hiding something. Is she telling the truth? Then two Fier sisters fall in love with the same man – a man named Goode – and their rivalry ends in death!
The Fear Street Saga books have long been considered the best of the Fear Street series, and I can see why. They’re full of witches and forbidden love and exploding heads! Stiney really pulled out the big guns for this one.