Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Cataluna Chronicles: The Evil Moon, or “One Boy’s Descent Into Madness in Seven Parts”

Hey, Fear Street lovers. Sorry for the blogging hiatus, but now that I am sadly back in the cold Canadian winter, I will get right back to it. And what better way to make it up to you then to do a new trilogy – the Cataluna Chronicles. Who doesn’t love a tale about a possessed car from the 17th century? There is no place that R. L. won’t go.

This book goes back and forth between present time (Shadyside 1995) and West Hampshire Colony 1698, so I’ll go with that format. The “prologue” begins with two Shadyside boys who steal a car. A bee-yoo-tiful car, called a Cataluna. As they start driving, a sexy woman’s voice starts talking to them, then the car takes over the driving and the boys freak out. The car goads them on as they leap from the speeding car to safety … only to be run over by a semi. Ouch. The semi driver comes out to see what happened, and mumbles that the car is staring at him. Professional tip: that story is not going to help the drinking and driving case.

West Hampshire Colony 1698

Catherine Hatchett is a poor misunderstood girl in the American colonies. All she wants to do is get an education like a boy, but this continuously leads to her being beaten and whipped. Life was hard for a girl way back then! She is caught listening in on the school lesson the boys and having, and the boys all come out and beat her up. What are they teaching these kids in school? She throws a rock at one of their heads, so, good for her, I guess. It doesn’t make them like her any more though. She runs home to her parents, who threaten to beat her too. She is called Bad Luck Catherine, because she was born under a bad moon, and the villagers have not an ounce of creativity. What is a bad moon, anyways? I’ve always heard of this, but I don’t in fact think I’ve ever seen a “bad” moon.

Poor Catherine. She goes on to find her only true friend: an old lady who lives by herself in a shack in the woods who is in no way suspicious. Yah, right. People who lived in shacks by themselves in the 17th century were almost always witches. I have no way of telling if that’s true, but that’s what all the stories tell me. The old lady (witch) makes Catherine feel better, and she cheerfully trips back into town, only to be accosted by the handsome Parker brothers. William, the youngest, is all for beating her up again, because apparently she killed his pig by “looking at it.” It’s true, violence against women has always been logical. Joseph, the elder, tells William he’ll deal with Catherine alone. Then he starts making out with her, and telling her sweet nothings. Catherine is over the (bad) moon, and probably thinks the fact that he wants to keep it a secret romantic. Because nothing could go wrong with that plot line.

Shadyside 1995

We go to modern times where we follow around one of my LEAST favourite Fear Street characters, Crazy Bryan. Bryan is bitter because his best friend Alan and girlfriend Misty are both rich, and he is poor. Le sigh. I feel this storyline has been done to death. We get it, it sucks to be poor. In his jealousy, he becomes prone to fits of rage and violence, and becomes obsessed with a beautiful car he wants to buy, a Cataluna. Of course he can’t afford to buy it, so he gets part time jobs to help with that, then loses said jobs by being an asshole. And he treats his girlfriend like crap because she’s rich, even though she’s super sweet and doesn’t care they come from socio-economically different backgrounds. Not cool, Bryan.

He takes the Cataluna for a test drive one day, and hears a sexy woman’s voice. He tries to find her and in the process crashes the car. Nobody is very impressed by this, but Bryan is just happy the car is miraculously unscratched. He decides to amplify his savings for the down payment by stealing from people. Seems like a sensible plan, what could go wrong with this?

West Hampshire Colony 1698

Catherine of the Bad Moon, with the illicit handsome boyfriend, is not doing so well in the 17th century. The villagers have decided she is the reason for all their bad luck, and she must be exiled or hung. Her parents claim she isn’t their child at all, but only turned up on their doorstep as a baby. Man, that is HARSH. Catherine has heard enough and runs to the loving arms of her secret lover.

Only to find him with another woman. Joseph denies knowing Catherine “in that way.” Who saw that one coming? Catherine runs crying to the old witch in the shack. The old witch confesses to actually being a witch, then proves it by turning into a cat. The cat tells Catherine she’s her daughter, left on the doorstep of the Hatchetts as a baby to avoid being vilified as a witch by the villagers. That worked out well.

Catherine finds herself and turns into a cat as well. A cat hellbent on revenge! She finds cheating Joseph and claws out his eyeballs. Wow. That would not be first thing I would do as a cat, that’s gross. Catherine turns back into a cat and is kind of smug about the whole thing. She goes to her house to get her belongings, and her fake father shoots her in the chest with a musket.

Shadyside 1995

Whiny Bryan has taken a further turn into the CRAZIES and starts ineptly breaking in to rich people’s houses. This lasts approximately 15 seconds before he’s caught by the police and sentenced to hard time doing community service at the hospital gift shop. His rich girlfriend breaks up with him, and everyone in his life has accurately assumed he’s lost it. He proves them right by stealing all the money from the gift shop and running down the street like a madman towards the precious Cataluna. Because no one’s going to figure out it was you, Bryan. He comes to a crashing halt when he discovers the Cataluna was recently sold.

West Hampshire Colony 1698

Catherine wasn’t really shot, the musket was empty. Gotcha, reader! The shot was just a warning from her asshole father. She has until dawn to leave the village, otherwise she’ll be hung. Catherine does the sensible thing anyone would do in the situation: crawl into the barn and sleep until dawn. Oops!

Waking up in a panic, Catherine realizes the village is crawling with angry villagers carrying pitchforks and torches and other clichés. She manages to escape to the old witch’s shack, her real mother. There is nothing there by the steaming body of a skinned cat. Oh, ugh. That’s revolting. That’s worse than the eyeballs. Historic Fear Street always goes way harder into the gore. Catherine pets the skin of her mother for awhile, then runs again.

Stumbling through the forest, she happens into a clearing where sits a gleaming white car, a Cataluna. She doesn’t know what it is – obviously! She’s from the 17th century! But I’m confused. I had kinda assumed Catherine WAS the car. I don’t know what the car is doing hanging around the 17th century. Is it a time traveling car? Anything is possible. Anyways, she is caught by the villagers.

Shadyside 1995

Bryan goes BIG TIME crazier when he discovers Alan had bought the Cataluna. He finds Alan, beats him up, and steals the car. As soon as the car starts talking to him, THEN he finally gets scared. He has no control over the steering or the brakes, and the car goes on its own joyride. They hit a few people, take off somebody’s hand, and Bryan snaps completely. He is so frightened he can’t breathe …

The car rolls up to Alan’s a few minutes later, and they find Bryan attached to the wheel, all the blood vessels in his face had popped, his mouth opened in a scream. I THINK the consensus is that he was frightened to death, if such thing is possible (it is in Fear Street). Alan is sad because he had bought the car for Bryan for his birthday, but he is comforted by Bryan’s ex-girlfriend, so there you go.

West Hampshire Colony 1698

Catherine is strung up to be hung by the villagers. She decides she’s had about enough of them, and I don’t blame her. She turns herself into a rat and stuffs herself down her executioner’s throat until he chokes to death. Ick, what a way to go. Catherine turns herself into a shiny white horse and gallops off into the sunset. Which is kind of awesome, actually.

William Parker, brother to Joseph and son to the executioner, claims he will get revenge on her, for the blinding and deaths of his brother and father. William is telling this story, apparently, it is his quest to get revenge on the girl he tortured and tormented for being unlucky until she was driven to evil. Although she did admittedly kill his family. He calls Catherine Cat of the Moon, which is, you guessed it, Cataluna!

A word about the cover. I realize that the girl on the car is probably supposed to be all sexy and kinda evil, but she comes off as cross-eyed and moon-faced. Which may have been the cover artist’s intent anyways. This first in the series was pretty good, I love a partially historical Fear Street. Points definitely for the added gore, but points off for the confusing time traveling car. I give it 4 white cars out of 6.


A. M. Stine said...

Out of curiosity... what IS the first thing you would do if you were magically turned into a cat? I realize I could just walk into the living room and ask you, but I'm so so so comfortable right now.

L. K. Stine said...

I don't know ... I don't particularly like cats that much, but maybe I'd try purring. That seems fun, or sitting in someone's lap and pretend to be cute but actually continuously prick them with my claws, like it's an accident. That would be my revenge on somebody. Pretty much anything BUT clawing someone's eyes out.

Anonymous said...

A possessed time-travelling ghost car? I don't know if that's the best Fear Street ever or the worst.

LAK said...

I just did a google search and came across an astronomical web site that said there is "no such known phenom as a bad moon." Good ol' RL should have done some fact checking!
And to answer AM...if I was a cat I would immediately go take a nap in a sun beam. I would need to rest up before trying to trip people on the stairs.

Anonymous said...

Im confused? lol

Fear Street said...

I'm with Megan--confusing! I liked the review anyway, though :p

I hate books where Stine goes back in time...

L. K. Stine said...

Me too. Especially when he brings his effing car. BUT am looking forward to the next book, which will hopefully explain everything!

Anonymous said...

Everything? Is it only a two-part series, then?

L. K. Stine said...

No, it's a three part series. And I'm skeptical that anything will be explained. I'm pretty sure I will sit back after reading the last book and say: "Wtf, R.L.?" That's my plan, anyways.

Broken1again said...

I love this series and I like this book the best of all three...if i turned in to a cat, id go get some revenge on my ex too lol, i wouldnt claw out his eyes but id def claw at something hahahaha

K O'B said...

I read these 20 years ago, and loved them at the time. But I was 11