Wednesday, October 1, 2008
The Burning or "Finally all the Fears are dead! Now everything can go back to normal in Shadyside, right??"
So we have finally come to the last book in the original SAGA series: The Burning. A little bittersweet for me, since I LOVED these books as a kid, but having to read them again was less fun. These books are loooong. Well, not really “long” but so full of “events” and “plots” and “characters” that I can’t just coast through the books like I normally would!
The final cover is missing something … O yeah! It’s missing stuff relating to this book! I assume that the girl on the cover is Nora Goode (remember how we talked about her being slow? The proof is in her expression.) so this man must be Daniel Fear. It’s okay that they’re on the cover, they are part of the “big” climax after all. The mansion on fire is also pretty accurate, although weird that it’s so much smaller than it was on the first cover… The big knife/sword on the other hand? I think it was talked about once. And it was never mentioned that it was BEJEWELED! Woman in the wedding dress is wrong, mostly because no one wore a wedding dress in the book. So the cover artist got two out of four… that is not good. That mark would get you into the remedial class at cover artist school!
Shadyside Village 1900
We start, as always, with Nora Goode furiously writing the history of the Fears. She’s a pretty dull character, isn’t she? Always writing, always paranoid about people coming to get her. Moving on!
New Orleans 1845
So our most famous Fear character, Simon, is down in New Orleans to find himself a rich wife to marry! He sneakily ducks into the most fabulous party of them all, thrown by a Mr. Pierce, for his daughter Angelica. He obviously falls in love with Angelica at first sight (this seems to happen a lot doesn’t it?) and we move over to Angelica’s point of view. And WOW she is a b-i-t-c-h. Even her thoughts are cruel! Her and her cousin Liza cattily talk about all the other girls at the party. Simon gets thrown out of the party which of course peaks Angelica’s interest.
After the party, Angelica goes outside in her backyard to think about her two suitors (handsome James vs. small, red-haired Hamilton). She’s totally accosted by Simon, who creepily tells her that he’s going to marry her, someday. Thanks Simon for giving everyone nightmares about attackers in our own backyard! Simon goes for a walk down by the waterfront (always a good plan in those days) and predictably gets attacked. Unfortunately for our attacker, Simon is wielding his heirloom amulet and presses it against his face. The attackers face then melts away. ICK! Simon muses that it was the first time he used it for evil purposes, and realizes that being evil is kinda rad! He decides to kill Angelica’s suitors so there is nothing in the way of their marriage. Oh, except mutual consent. Might I say that that was an awfully quick descent into evilness! Usually R.L. might have bothered with say, some character development? But not here! Instead of being disgusted by the murder of another human being Simon thinks: “The two young men have wealth and breeding. But I am a Fear! And what good are wealth and breeding if you are dead!” (Actually, Simon, you’re an effing FIER)
Simon goes about courting Angelica while secretly killing her other suitors. He “dark magically” makes James get up at the opera and jump over the balcony. Later, once Angelica is starting to get over the trauma of watching one suitor die in front of her, Simon makes Hamilton fall into the water near a paddle boat, and the paddles crush him. “His head, the skull crushed beyond recognition, rolled back, then forward as the wheel carried him into the boat again.” Traumatizing much? Simon is cruel to force Angelica to watch these murders! You know, I just don’t think he’s going to make a very good husband!
When Simon is over at the Pierce’s house, to “comfort” Angelica (or force her to watch another murder, whatever), Angelica tells him that she will marry him now. Simon is overjoyed but must confess: he murdered those other men because he LOVES HER SO MUCH. Gack, coming off a little strong there, Simon. Angelica laughs at his confession. Because you see … She’s a dark arts master who actually killed the boys! What? So who killed James and Hamilton? Does Simon not have powers then? Confused! It gets more confusing when Angelica thinks about what to tell her father and Simon is all “No worries, taken care of.” And her father is dead. So Simon does have powers? Anyways, they are both super pumped to have found their own evil soul-mate so they cheers each other with blood. For Reals. “Then they tilted the goblets to their lips and drank, allowing the rich, dark liquid to flow down their chins.” Is it impossible for evil villains to drink blood without getting it everywhere? Is blood REALLY that much harder to drink?
Shadyside Village 1900
Nora explains that she has to write the story of the Fears so that the evil will be stopped. YAWN.
Shadyside Village 1865
The Fear’s have finally moved to our favorite village! Yay! So what has changed for our happy couple since they drank blood over the dead body of their father/father in law? Well, they have a big mansion and five happy children! Suburban bliss for the wicked?
Simon is still a huge asshole, much preferring his younger daughter Hannah, over his older daughter Julia. Because Hannah is prettier. Yuck. The Fears also have a new maid, Lucy, who we learn very quickly on is a Goode! But we already guessed that since she had flaming red hair, and only Goodes or Fears have red hair. Angelica is losing it a little bit, getting really into her dark arts. Simon suggests that maybe she should cut back (so is performing dark magic like smoking somehow?) but Angelica is in too deep.
Oldest daughter Julia immediately doesn’t like their new maid because Lucy breaks her favorite pottery bowl on the first day! Yikes, that’s embarrassing!And kinda not a big deal to most people. Lucy then dumps steaming hot soup all over her during a big dinner party. Alright, I probably would be pissed if someone did that, especially since the soup scaled her! Julia tells her hot sister Hannah about her suspicions but Hannah doesn’t care. Nice.
Hannah starts to care pretty quickly when she sees Lucy sneak out of her room and then finds a snake in her bed! And then puts on a shoe, only to have an inch long piece of glass get stuck in her heel! Hannah tells Julia that they should get Lucy fired, and when Julia hesitates, wanting more proof, Hannah thinks she’s a loser. So what have we learnt about Hannah so far? 1. She only cares about bad things that happen to her and not her family 2. She is overly malicious without proof and 3. Kind of an asshole to her sister. What a precious flower.
Uh oh. We get a long, detailed description about a dog. Gosh darnit! You know what that means! A cute little terrier named Fluff! Destined to die. The two Fear girls and their three younger brothers go for a picnic together in the woods behind their house (aka Fear Woods). There is a lot more about cute, lovable, playful Fluff, so I assume he’ll die pretty soon. Hannah and Julia spread out their picnic and Hannah feeds some of the meat pies to Fluff. Yeah. It was poison. I’ll spare you the details of his death, but I’ll tell you, it was way more traumatizing that the human murders. Poor Fluff! Hannah rushes back to tell her dad that Lucy has got to go since she obviously just tried to poison them all. The housekeeper is all “Um, no. Julia packed your lunch. Discuss with her.” Yikes!
Hannah confronts Julia in the woods, near the coffin of their groundskeeper who’s going to be buried later that day. How convenient! Julia confesses that she hates Hannah and wants her to die (doesn’t say why she poisoned ALL the food, like the food her little brothers were about to eat?) and starts to strangle her. Hannah almost passes out, so Julia assumes she’s dead. Huh? Hannah gets back up and bashes Julia’s head in with a shovel. Realizing what she’s done, Hannah shoves Julia’s body in the convenient coffin and never looks back! Except when she creepily watches the coffin be buried later in the day.
Simon finally shows a little bit of concern when Julia is missing later that evening. He goes outside to look for her, when he hears shrieks coming from the fresh grave. BAH! He furiously digs it up. I have to shamefully admit that that would not be my first reaction. He finds Julia, dead, in the groundskeeper’s coffin, with signs of a struggle on the inside. Did she die while Simon was trying to dig her up? Or did he just hear ghosts? When Simon marches back into the house he sees the new employee list and realizes that a Goode is working there! Simon now goes to kill Lucy, who is actually innocent! Intense.
The bejeweled sword is apparently drawn and in a blind rage Simon rams it into Lucy’s heart. And I really mean BLIND rage because Simon actually just killed his favorite daughter Hannah. Awkward!
Shadyside Village 1900
Finally we get to Nora’s story. Daniel Fear just arrived in town to visit his grandparents, Simon and Angelica Fear in time for Simon’s 75th birthday. Daniel is the son of Joseph, the only child to move away from Shadyside, and therefore the only child who survived. He meets his grandparents who have obviously lost it. Angelica keeps telling him to put more logs on the fire and Simon keeps telling him to ignore the crazy old woman. Simon gives Daniel the Fear amulet, and tells Daniel the inscription means “Power through evil”. Daniel is either dumb or evil, I’m not sure, because he puts the damn thing on and keeps it even after the whole surrounded-by-flames-in-his-imagination thing happens. What is with these people?
Daniel explores the village the next day and immediately falls in love with a local shop girl. It’s our thick narrator, Nora Goode! Daniel doesn’t know anything about the curse so he doesn’t think much about her name. He doesn’t tell her his though, mostly because his grandparents creep the fuck out of everyone in Shadyside. Geez, Daniel, have some family pride. They start seeing each other every day, and going on … you guessed it, daily secret walks through the woods. Was that all there was to do back then? Her father finds out about these chaste walks and does the rational thing: lock her in her room. Meanwhile, the old Fear housekeeper tells Daniel everything there is to know about the Fear family curse.
Daniel comes to rescue Nora and Daniel tells her what the housekeeper just told him. They decide they should put an end to the curse by: you guessed it, getting married. They actually do get through the ceremony without anyone dying, which is one step further than the rest of the Fear/Goode matchups. They go to the Fear Mansion to tell his grandparents, on the night of Simon’s birthday party. No one else is there because Simon and Angelica are totally insane. Creepy! The whole ballroom is light with candles. Simon’s cake is brought out with 75 light candles as well. Shouldn’t Simon Fear, previously FIER be wary of FIRE? Anyways, Daniel introduces his new wife, Nora GOODE to Simon and he freaks out, flipping over the cake. All of a sudden fire engulfs the entire room around Nora! WTF was in that cake?! Nora can’t find Daniel and runs out of the mansion, effectively bringing us back to the beginning of the first book. Full circle!
Nora finally finishes writing her story and thinks about how the house burnt for days. What a minute… I thought she was writing the story the same night as the fire started! O continuity error! Anyways, it’s revealed that she’s actually in a mental institution. The nurse comes in to take her to meet with the “doctor” and tosses her book in the fire! BURN! Eff that sucks Nora! The nurse is all “What? That made you look super crazy.” The nurse then tells Nora that Shadyside is building a street where the Fear mansion was before: “They’re going to call it FEAR STEET.” Chills. End!
Not bad. Again, super long! I realize these recaps have been like 4 pages long each, but there were just so. many. characters! I promise my next recap will be one paragraph, just to make up for it. The third book of this series was my favorite. I think the third of any series is always the best! (There’s an ongoing debate) But I’m interested: Which of the three books was your favorite? Did you love the first book, with its witch burning? The second book which had the murder of young children? Or the third book, with blood drinking? Let me know! I give this book 18 bejeweled swords out of 19! Almost perfect!