Monday, September 22, 2008

The Betrayal or "GOODE versus FIER!)

Oh lordy, are you guys in for a treat! Many of you (I think two) have begged for this, so here it is: The Betrayal, the first in the “FEAR STREET SAGA … where the terror began” trilogy! This 161 page monster has THREE separate parts and also includes a prologue, epilogue and numerous interludes! Not only that, but this books takes place over three different time periods! Prepare to have your mind BLOWN.

Let’s see. The cover isn’t actually that snarkable, mostly due to the pretty girls who is taking up most of the space. Now since most of the characters in this book either have luscious blond hair OR are killed without much fanfare, I’m left to assume this pretty young thing is Nora Goode. Nora is not so much a character (yet) but is the chronicler of the FEAR STREET SAGA. This will make sense soon. The amulet that is placed on her chest, even though she’s not actually wearing it, is actually a pretty important part of this book. Fire is also important (way to go cover artist!) but points taken away because I have no clue who that tip toeing woman is supposed to be… Also points lost? No tagline! How am I supposed to be suckered into buying this book when there is no tagline??

Shadyside Village 1900

So we start in 1900, in the village of Shadyside. Nora Goode is standing outside the burning FEAR mansion. She keeps hearing the screams of everyone that is trapped on the inside. Blech. I have to tell you, I can’t think of a worse way to die than to be burned alive. Thanks for the nightmares, Fear Street! Nora thinks that everyone she loves, including this guy Daniel she keeps yelling for, is in there and wondering when they’re going to escape. It’s already been an hour! Um, Nora? If someone hasn’t escaped a burning building in an hour? They’re not coming out. Well, at least we already know that Nora is slow. It will probably be important later. The villages surround the building and say incredibly dumb things. I think it’s supposed to show that people at the turn of the century were uneducated, but they seriously sound like three year olds. “The fire will burn forever!” (No, it won’t) and “It looks like the SKY is on fire!” (That is false).

Nora goes up to the window of the house (wtf, Nora?) and peers in. To the burning building. She sees that the ballroom is full of people who are burning but not dying. I repeat, BLECH. She sees a girl with lovely blond hair, tied to a stake in the middle of the fire, also burning (remember this, it’s important later. There will also be a test.). The window of the house bursts around Nora and she still stands there, silently staring. Again, Nora sounds slow, doesn’t she?

Wickham Village, Massachusetts Colony 1692

We meet our first young, impressionable main character, Susannah GOODE. (get it?) She lives with her mom, dad and infant brother George in a small hut, because they are poor. (A hut? Really?) She and her mom discuss the recent witch trials that have been going on in their small village. They’ve already burned two girls at the stake and there’s another fire tonight! We also know that a certain Benjamin FIER is in charge of these trials. Susannah thinks that since Benjamin is the most prosperous man in town, he must be the most pious. Bahaha! Can you imagine if we believed that nowadays? Actually, I call bullshit. I don’t think anyone, EVER was so deluded to think that wealth = piety. Susannah goes for a walk through the forest were she thinks “improper thoughts” about a certain Edward Fier, Benjamin’s son. Hmmm, improper thoughts, eh? What might they be? Anyways, someone grabs Susannah from behind and she shouts “The Evil One!”. Yeah, that’s Satan’s M.O. Sneaking up behind people in the woods. Is it him?!

No, it’s Edward and I guess he was having some improper thoughts himself since they proceed to kiss! Hot 1692 action! She must really be turned on since she bursts out with a “You are suffocating me!” We all know how much the Shadyside women love their first base intermingled with some violence. Once they separate Susannah tells the reader how naïve she is. Well, not in so many words. She tells the reader that even though Edward is the son of the richest man in town, and no one knows about their love affair, the two of them are going to get married! Umm… wow this is awkward. I have no clue how to break this to you Susannah… well, never mind, you’ll find out for yourself!

O and soon! Susannah’s father, William, sits her down after dinner and tells her that she’s been seen around town with this Edward boy. Susannah bursts out that they’re to be married! And her dad is all “Nope. He’s engaged to someone else. You fool.” Ouch. Susannah vows to never trust anyone, ever again. Meanwhile… Benjamin is telling his son Edward that he’s to marry some girls he’s never met before. Edward is mad because he loves Susannah! Aww, well that’s kinda cute. He actually did want to marry her. Ed stands up to his dad and vows to run away with her. Benjamin gets a “dark smile” on his face. That is never a good sign.

The next day, Susannah and her mother are accused of being witches. WEIRD! They have a shame trial (which I image most witchcraft trials consisted of) where Benjamin and his brother Matthew just hurl insults at Susannah then tell them their witches. Nice. The proof they use is the fact a bat flew into the courtroom and also, that after a door was opened, the torches flickered. MY GOD! How could they NOT burn them at the stake? Edward does his best to crush the remainder of Susannah’s spirit by visiting her in jail to tell her that he hates her and wants her to die for lying to him. “I revealed my feelings about you to my father. I told my father of my love for you. Do you think that knowing this, my father would put you on trial if you were innocent?” First of all Edward: you’re a total dipshit. Second? Shouldn’t your father not be putting innocent people on trial no matter what your feelings are?

Meanwhile, back at the GOODE hut. Matthew comes to William and tells him he can get Susannah and his wife back … for a price. William of course gives him everything he has. Unsurprisingly, William finds out the next day that Benjamin, Matthew and the Fier’s have stolen everything from the village and fled during the night. But his sentence about the witches still stands! Question: if Benjamin and Matthew were the witch-hunters because they were so “righteous” and “pious”, would it not give the villages pause when they found out they were totally immoral? Nope? Alright, villagers, burn away! William goes back to his hut, reveals that he is actually a dark art man-witch (hahaha) and curses the Fiers.

Shadyside Village, 1900

Nora Goode is writing the history of the Fiers. She doesn’t remember how she got home after the fire, but has been writing for hours. She’s worried because she has to finish the story before the night has ended. Why? Why put yourself under that kind of pressure?

Western Pennsylvania Frontier 1710

The Fier men settled their family in Western Pennsylvania (on the Frontier of course) and had families. Benjamin has no wife, but his son Edward married Rebecca and they had their ‘disturbed’ child, Ezra. Matthew married Constance and they had Mary, who is the primary, foolish character for this little ditty. (Aside note: Rebecca is described as having dark lips. Does that make anyone else think of Pamela Anderson and her black lipliner, pink lipstick lips?) We find out that William is still seeking revenge, as he’s creeping around the outside of the Fier house. He sees that Edward is a “sturdy young man” now. If Edward was 17 in 1692, that makes him 35 in 1710. Wouldn’t 35 be like middle-aged in that time? Methinks William is a little love-blind!

Edward goes to the roof to fix some shingles in the dark. He falls off and breaks his arm predictably. I think we’re supposed to assume William did it through black arts but it sounds like good ol’ Darwin to me. Don’t climb on roofs in the dark, kids!

The next day, a devilishly handsome boy named Jeremy Throne just shows up on the farm looking for work. Mary is immediately titillated, as she repeats his name over and over again in her head. Hot. It gets better though. The next day, she sees he’s hot and sweaty (not wearing a shirt either!) so she brings him some water. He drinks a little … then dumps the rest all over his body!! O my GAWD. This is the closest we’ve come to some real action I think! I’m surprised Mary holds it together!

After that hot piece of ass, Mary and Jeremy start to see each other on the sly. In the woods. Mary realizes that her uncle and father won’t let anything happen between the two of them because Jeremy is just a farm hand so she thinks bad thoughts. Her prayers are almost answered when Mary finds Uncle Benjamin dead on the floor. Except he’s not dead, he just had a stroke. He can’t feel his left leg anymore and reacts surprisingly well. He just kinda pokes it and comments on how strange it is. Yeah… okay.

Edward and Mary take a nice, cousinly walk through the woods. They suddenly see something burning in the forest! Except it’s not something… it’s someone. Edwards yells out “Susannah!” so he basically solved that mystery for us. Uncle Ben is still going downhill as he can’t use his left leg, arm and also now his right leg. That’s not so much a stroke now, is it…

So Mary decides to cheer Rebecca up (since she has that disturbed child and all) and brings her some sweet biscuits. Only Rebecca has already committed suicide. Ohhh, that sucks. Mary runs out to tell someone (and presumably find Ezra, said disturbed child) and runs into a scarecrow. Which used to be her uncle Ben! Bah! Someone killed him and strung him up like a scarecrow. Mary and the rest of the family are a little bit nervous after these discoveries. After the joint funeral, Jeremy tells Mary he knows who did it. He says it was: his FATHER!

O tell me more! Jeremy says his father’s name is William Goode, and he is his second son, Jeremy Goode. His father has been consumed with revenge against the Fiers for 18 years and told him not to tell anyone his last name. Jeremy says his older brother George left their small family because he couldn’t deal with William’s craziness. Mary and Jeremy decide to bring their families together through their LOVE. They will get married and end the creepy, blood fueled feud. Alright let’s just stop right there. I already spot a glaring discrepancy, and it just annoys me that no one seems to catch on. Jeremy even tells Mary that all this stuff happened before he was born. Like his MOTHER … DYING. He calls her his mother! Where exactly does Mary think he came from? Did anyone even read this book before it was printed? (Actually, I’m almost positive no one did, because there are a few names that are totally mixed up. I’m calling this the editor-less edition!)

Mary confronts her father, Matthew who confesses to all the things they did to their tiny town before they left. Edward is understandably upset that he basically killed his girlfriend, Susannah. Matthew insists they have Jeremy and William over for dinner to put aside their differences. Yeah, who can’t forgive four gruesome murders over some lima beans and pork?

Right, Jeremy comes over to dinner, but William is no where to be seen. Matthew whips out the amulet that we see on the front and yells “Dominatio per malum” which means “Power through evil”. Hah! Is that really their family motto? Jeremy’s head explodes, but its okay. William’s head grows back in place! Mary is super confused (not terrified?) and keeps demanding to see Jeremy. Ohhh Mary. Matthew kills William because his evil arts are more powerful (hence the slogan) and laughs uncontrollably. Edward takes Mary (now insane apparently) and his disturbed child Ezra, and heads for the hills!

Western Pennsylvania Wilderness 1725

Ezra Fier is now 21 and on his own. His father died of exhaustion early on, and his crazy aunt Mary drowned herself in a pond a few years back. Now he’s off to seek revenge on the Goode family for doing this to him. Seriously, if they would just cut back on this revenge stuff…

He goes to their old farmstead to get clues on where to find the Goode ancestors. He doesn’t find the Goodes, but he does find a bricked up wall with two skeletons behind it! That would be dear Matthew and Constance. Matthew bricked themselves up to “protect” themselves from the Goodes. And probably because he was nuts. Ezra finds out the Goodes are from Wickham and also takes this chance to steal the amulet from around his uncles dead neck. Ahhh grave robbin’. Satisfying, isn’t it, Ezra?

Shadyside Village 1900

Nora Goode is still writing. To be continued …

Alright. This trilogy was totally my favorite back when I was a kid, so reading it now and pointing out flaws… is kinda awesome! I already hate all the women characters. I didn’t include it but they all kept saying stuff like “A woman’s place is in the kitchen!” We get it R.L. It was a different time! You can stop now. The men aren’t much better, but at least they’re eviler. No zombies which is always a let down in my book, but lots of burning people and gore, so that’s a plus. I also realize this snark was SO long, so forgive me. I’ll try to cut down for the other two. I give this book a cool 7 non-existent editors out of 9.


Anonymous said...

Oh A.M., you do spoil us. I recall reading this saga in Grade 5 and thinking R.L. Stine was some sort of literary genius. I never did read the third book, though.

So what's the deal with Jeremy? Was he not real?

Anonymous said...

I can barely keep up with all these characters, but certainly it sounds uncharacteristically saucy. And depressing. And just plain strange (the exploding heads).

We were talking about the Saga on the other Fear Street blog the other day. Apparently this goes on for sixteen books? And there were meant to be two more but they were never published (and probably never written)?

zanne said...

That's a lot of characters. Otherwise, it's pretty good. I never read any of the Saga books back then.

I love your rating system at the end. I always look forward to that!

Anonymous said...

I think the original saga only goes on for three books. But it looks they started a new saga starting with The New Fear, which is listed as #1. I've never read it myself, but I'm really curious now.

Anonymous said...

i remember loving these three books in middle school. we would fight over them for our excellerated reader program haha.
for that reason i read them out of order. i think read this one second. or last. i don't remember. but i do remember thinking the cover was sweet and being proud of myself for reading the whole book in one day! what an accomplishment when youre 12 lol

A. M. Stine said...

You are totally right Shawn. The original saga is only three books (thank GOD) but then they started the saga 'series' which is pretty long. It's all the historical books about Fear Street... which doesn't make much sense since the 'Fiers' weren't in Shadyside til much later than some of the books. For SHAME R.L.!

Anonymous said...

Hate hate hate the Saga!

LAK said...

I remember liking the saga more then some of the others, possibly because it was a bit more complicated then the regular Fear Street books. Made my brain think a bit, if for nothing more then keeping track of all the characters.
I think you did a great job A.M. of snarking on this book! I can't wait for the others!

Anonymous said...

If anybody is interested in reading the Fear Street Sagas, I've put mine up for trade on I have all 16 for trade.

AJS said...

For those who have read "A New Fear" we all know Nicolas Fear winds up marring Ruth Manning who ends up carring his child at the prolog's end. But hear is what happens after that. Nicolas and Ruth's son Spencer Manning Fear is born on October 30th 1920. Graduating high school in 1938. He attends College up state, majoring in Law. After Graduating in 1942, Spencer joins the U.S Army to fight in World War 2. While stationed in Germany, he kills a record of 100 Nazie soilders. He leaves the Army in 1945 as a Lt. Colonel with 3 gold stars and a purple heart. He goes to work for as assisatant District attorney He marries a woman named Alice Booker in 1946 and has a son Rolland Fear in 1948. In 1952 he becomes District attorney after George Olson who had been the D.A for 35 years dies of a mysterious illnes.
He then becomes the district judge in 1960. Known as " Death Row Spencer" for sending more criminals to the electric chair then any other judge in the state. In 1972 he his killed when his brand new black Lincoln Contenetal stalls on the railroad tracks just as a passenger train barrels through.

Unknown said...

um aj, that does not happened. Ive read a new fear and while its true that nicholas is nora and daniel's son and he does marry ruth( after ruth kills the love of his life)

however spencer is not nicholas's son. if you read the fear park series, you would learn that robin fear is nicholas and ruth's son, and that he dated dierdre and killed most of his classmates in 1938 and tried to shut fear park down and keep it from ever opening.

he even killed dierdre's boyfriend as well as tried to kill dierdre just to keep it from happening.

Anonymous said...

I remember shedding some manly tears when Susannah dies. ;_;

When I read that "Mother? Will it hurt?", I just broke down. R.L. Stine does shine at times.

This scene had made me hate EVERY single Fier-Fear-whatever in the entire series (except Jonathan Fier from 'The Secret' because he's awesome).

Mystic Lover of Fairy Tales said...

Can't blame William Goode for putting a curse on the Fiers , they did deserve it, I mean his wife and child were unnecassarily killed and the supposed ly righteous magistrate robbed the village I'd be pissed off too.

Also why the hell did the villagers still go through with the burning , Didn't any of them have second thoughts .