Thursday, March 5, 2009

A New Fear, or “Power Through Evil: A Compelling Story of Right Versus Might”


Evil was his birthright. Ooh, this sounds ominous, which matches the cover – storms and lightning, decrepit graveyard, Nicholas Fear looking like a total creeper. At first glance, I thought he had a wee little mustache. Now I wish he did have one. This book has total potential.

Shadyside Village 1900

The first of the Saga series picks up right were the Saga trilogy leaves off (see A.M.’s reviews of The Betrayal, The Secret, and The Burning to get caught up). We begin with Nora Goode in the asylum in the village of Shadyside. I love how every small town in North America had a requisite mental asylum, no matter how small the town. I mean, otherwise, where would all the crazy people go? Who would we do disturbing experiments on? Nora has been there ever since witnessing the Fear mansion burn to the ground, taking with it the entire Fear family. Or did it? Pssst: no. Nora Goode is PREGGERS. After one ... afternoon of being married. Man, they did NOT waste any time there.

Hard to keep these things secret when forced to bathe in front of attendants and such. As soon as Nora has her bouncing baby boy, Nicholas, the doctors take the only reasonable course of action ... sell the baby! Nora will have none of this. Her original plan to make a rope with the hair on her head (sidenote: ick) is foiled by someone burning it, she gets desperate. When they go to take her baby, the amulet the Nora still wears around her neck heats up, and the room bursts into flames. Daniel Fear, her dead husband, emerges from the flames and grabs the doctors and attendants, burning them alive. He tells Nora to run, and she grabs the baby and flees, the institution collapsing behind her.

So you think if your paranormal lover returns from the grave to help you out, things will go a bit smoother, right? Wrong. Nora just can’t catch a break. She stows away (is that the correct term?) on a cargo ship, not caring where it will take them. Unfortunately, she is found out by a sailor with limited morals, who tries to steal her amulet. Sailor is then eaten alive by rats. Nora is discovered by the crew, who come to a logical conclusion: she must be a witch. Actually, if I had seen that, I might have been pretty close to making the same judgment. They try to throw her overboard, but she develops inhuman strength somehow and throws a sailor across the room, impaling him on a wooden peg. A tremendous storm whips itself up, destroying the ship, yet somehow the crate Nicholas is resting in remains buoyant. Nora passes out in the middle of the sea.

And wakes up totally okay on a beach somewhere! That’s lucky. She decides that they would no longer be Fears, and throws the amulet of death into the sea. Since they survived the elements, they would now be named Nicholas and Nora Storm, and settle down right there on the beach.

Shadow Cove 1919

Flash to Nicholas Storm all growed up, and moping about how much it sucks to be a fisherman, and how beautiful his girlfriend Rosalyn is. Rosalyn is Spanish, and rich, and her father wants her to have nothing to do with smelly fisherman Nicholas. Nick bemoans his fate, and wishes he was rich and powerful. Be careful what you wish for ...

He comes home to find his mother, Nora, dying from being a single mother for 19 years – she kinda wasted away. She tells him his father left him a legacy ... then dies. Nick is sold on the idea that he should find out about this legacy, and hopes it involves money and power. He goes to find Rosalyn, and along the road sees a man who looks identical to him, rasping the word Shadyside at him, then disappears. Creepy. He tells Rosalyn that he must leave to find his fortune, but that she must wait for him, because he will come back because he loves her SO much. As a token of her affection, Rosalyn gives him an amulet she found on the beach years ago. On the back is inscribed: Dominatio per Malum (Power through evil). What a thoughtful gift to give your lover!

Village of Shadyside 1919

Nicholas goes to the train station and randomly buys a ticket to Shadyside, not knowing where it is or even whether it exists. He is taken to a small town in New England (have we officially determined Shadyside is in Massachusetts?) He takes a walk through town despite a vicious storm brewing, and finds a creepy undeveloped street – Fear Street. He is inexplicably drawn to the burnt shell of a mansion, and goes inside the ruins. Um, dangerous. Quite dangerous, actually, because a crazy lady attacks him with a knife, screaming that Daniel Fear must die. The woman starts babbling that her husband had been killed in the fire, and she wishes she could join him. Nicholas gets the information that Daniel Fear’s wife was Nora, so figures out he’s in fact a Fear. He figures anyone who owns such a large mansion must be wealthy, and is genuinely happy to discover he’s a Fear. I don’t know, the whole scene seemed pretty foreboding to me ...

He goes to the boarding house in Shadyside, run by Mrs. Winter and her vivacious teenaged daughter, Betsy. Betsy develops a big crush on Nicholas, and they both welcome him into their home. They tell him a bit about the Fears, about how they were all crazy and that. And how an Andrew Manning now owns all the Fear land. Nicholas decides to pay Mr. Manning a visit.

The next day he heads to the Manning mansion, to politely ask for his land back. Manning laughs in his face, and you think this isn’t going to go well ... but then he apologizes. Turns out the Fear lands were a shitty investment, as for some reason no one wanted to develop their land, so all that’s left of the Fear estate is back taxes. Nicholas is crushed, but it turns out Manning is a good guy, and offers him a job at his sawmill, where he can start from the bottom to build his fortune. Nicholas is happy to find a job his second day in town. On his way out of the mansion, Nicholas is hit by a girl on a bike. She is described as being very ugly, with tangled black hair, eyes as black and lifeless as a dead fish, and feeling moist and clammy. Yum, delicious. She introduces herself as Ruth Manning, Andrew Manning’s daughter, and drools over Nicholas’ open shirt ... as well as the fancy jewelry he’s wearing. She seems to agree with power through evil.

The next day Nicholas starts his sawmill job, where he meets Ike and Jason, two affable guys who take him under their wing. Betsy shows up that day to bring Nicholas his lunch and flirt with him, and Jason immediately takes a dislike to him. Nick figures Jason is in love with Betsy, and since he has nothing to worry about since Nick’s heart lies with Rosalyn, figures everything will be alright. Until someone throws a rock at his head. There is something so insulting about having rocks thrown at oneself. This rock has a message attached: Be afraid. Betsy helps clean him up, and confesses that she is a Goode herself, and that not all people in her family are as affable towards the Fears as she is. Nick informs her he’s half Goode too, so everyone else can shove it.

The next day Nick continues to make friends and influence people at the sawmill when there’s an accident that causes Ike to lose all his fingers – a sheet of wood that Nicholas checked over had a knot in it, which is never supposed to go through the saw. Nick wonders if he was meant to be on the receiving end of the saw to finger action. Everyone else thinks Nick did it on purpose, and he is shunned at work. Except for Mr. Manning, who has taken a liking to him, and keeps on bringing his dead-eyed daughter around to keep him company. Dead eyed Ruth is embarrassed by her father’s obvious matchmaking attempts, and keeps on feeding him sandwiches. Manning leaves that day feeling decidedly unwell.

Nick gets home that day, to find Betsy lying on the kitchen floor, her hands tied behind her back, the over door open and cooking up the kitchen. Nick flips Betsy over to find her face horribly disfigured and puffy. He forces her mouth open, and white goo comes flooding out. It’s dough. Someone stuffed her mouth and nose full of dough and tied her hands behind her back – as the heat from the oven caused the dough to rise, Betsy slowly and horribly suffocated. I remember this death from when I was younger, and found it extremely disturbing. I still remember it to this day, and try to avoid any yeast-based doughs in case they expand in my throat/stomach and kill me. That’s my advice for you today: make sure your dough is not going to kill you!

Nick doesn’t know what to do, so runs over to Mr. Manning’s mansion (haha, alliteration!) Mr. Manning has taken quite ill, and asks Nick to stay at their place to watch over Ruth, in case someone comes after her with dough as well. Nick and Ruth go to Betsy’s funeral together, and come home to find Manning dead in his bed. Ruth tells Nick that her father’s dying wish was for them to be married, and although she knew Nick didn’t love her, she had loads of money now that would make being married to a dead fish somewhat more palatable. Nick doesn’t want to tell her about Rosalyn, because he doesn’t want to make her “feel bad”, so he basically tells her he’ll think about it.

Nicholas figured Jason killed Betsy, because of her flirtatious ways with him. He goes to confront him in his home, but Jason informs him Betsy was his cousin – Jason is a Goode. Jason pretty much thinks Nick killed her, and they get into a big fight. Ruth randomly jumps out of the shadows and plunges a hot fire poker into Jason’s throat. Nick is pretty overwhelmed by Ruth’s random act of violence, and even more so when she confesses she also killed her father and Betsy, and would go to the police with information that Nick killed them if he didn’t marry her. Damn, that’s pretty immoral, I’d say. Nick decides to match her ways and agrees to marry her, thinking he’ll kill her right after the wedding and take her fortune, so that he can go to find Rosalyn. This is for sure going to end well.

They have a quiet ceremony, with two witnesses. As Nick leans down to kiss Ruth, the skin on her face begins to crawl with maggots, and the flesh falls off. It’s just a vision, but ICK. Who doesn’t want that in their bed? When they get home, Ruth goes to change and Nick nonchalantly poisons a champagne flute with rat poison. They go to toast each other, only to be interrupted by … Rosalyn! Nick runs to her and holds her close, thinking how much he wants to be with her, despite the slight awkwardness of her crashing his wedding night/murder plans. Rosalyn doesn’t really give any reason for being there, but is crushed when Ruth invites her in to celebrate their wedding. Rosalyn gets all weepy, and downs a glass of champagne, because she just wants to Nick to be happy. She gets up all dramatic, saying she’ll leave the two of them alone. She only gets two steps before it’s clear who swallowed the rat poison. Rosalyn collapses and dies a swift, blood spattered death. Not a good way to go.

Nicholas grabs the knife from the wedding cake, ready to do serious harm to Ruth, but she calmly tells him to chill out. She knows about the power of the amulet, and wants to use it, but she needed a Fear to really get it. She tempts Nick with wealth and power, if he lets her stay with him, backing him. Having nothing left to live for, Nicholas Fear gives in to evil. Their first act as a married couple is to develop houses on Fear Street. Dun dun DUN!

This was awesome. So many gruesome deaths, and the clear story connecting the Fears to Shadyside for once and for all. I wish all the sagas were as good as this one, but what can you do? I give this 53 doughy deaths out of 58.

14 comments:

Chad Walters said...

If I didn't know any better, I'd imagine that any asylum set up in Shadyside would have an opposite from normal agenda: protecting sane people from all the crazies in that town.

Anonymous said...

You're right, it is good that they finally tied the Fears to Shadyside and Fear Street a bit better. Because it often seems like the Fears are just larking about having not much to do with anything. And more and more keep on crawling out of the woodwork. Also, that bread dough death is indeed pretty horrible.

zanne said...

Great recap! I really enjoyed this one. I have to say the dough thing kinda freaked me out too.

A. M. Stine said...

Mmmmm killed by delicious dough? Who WOULDN'T want to go that way! I hope mine is cinnamon bun dough :)

L. K. Stine said...

A.M., that is so wrong. Remind me to stay away from do when you're making dough ...

ps. Betsy was killed by cinnamon bun dough

M.H Stine said...

i will never go to Ohio again i figured out Shadyside isareal place in Ohio i was like OMG! now im scared i might go one day and see if the stories are true...

princess-vevay said...

This was the first Fear Street book I ever read and it's always been my favorite. Despite her dead eyes, I always liked Ruth and the initiative she took.

Deathycat said...

This was always one of my favorites. ^_^ In Fear Park we revisit Nicholas and discover he's become pretty psychotic. He spends his days trying to be reunited with Ruth. You'd think he would've been happy she died considering the way she forced him to marry her. ^_^

L. K. Stine said...

Thanks for pointing that out, Deathycat ... I did not make the connection between the one Nicholas Fear and the other. I wonder if the Fear Park series was originally one book in the saga series, about Robin Fear, and then R.L. realized there was no effing way he could fit all that madness into one book?

Sadako said...

Awesomely snarky recap!

I'll never look at bread the same way again!

megan said...

they should totally make this book into a movie! and show the dough cooking in the body!!

i now want to find this book and read it. I dont think I have this one :(

Broken1again said...

Idk I was really hoping Ruths crazy a$$ would drink the poison and him and Rosalyn would be the evil little couple to build Fear Street together.

@ M.H. Stine...omg thats awesome, i just looked it up and the shadyside high school in ohio also has a tiger as their mascot! siiick lol

Letha Rose said...

Oh my gosh! This blog ended up being a real life saver! I think I would have gone crazy. While watching Tangled, I remembered the "making hair into a rope" scene. But, I couldn't, for the life of me, remember the book. If stumbled across this to look for young adult novels and there it was! I loved this books when I was younger. Especially the Fear Street Saga.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking the same thing, isn't Shadyside in Ohio. If it's real I wanna go there. Not to be killed I just want to look around.