Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Forbidden Secrets, or “Gone With the Wind on CRACK”

Now THAT sounds like a historical romance. In fact, I’m fairly certain I’ve read several romances with the same title. I am missing the brawny shirtless man on the front, but other than that, let’s see how R.L.’s Sagas stack up on the romance side of things.

We start with an old lady on the porch, telling the tale of two sisters, Victoria and Savannah, who live on the plantation of Whispering Oaks. They both fall in love with Tyler Fier, their brother’s friend. The old woman is one sister, the other is dead, but we don’t know who is who.

Whispering Oaks, Georgia – Spring 1861

Back when the girls were young, and Savannah Gentry is, well, Scarlett O’Hara. She’s beautiful and boy-crazy and says “Fiddle!” a lot, and just fell in love with a young soldier named Tyler Fier, the friend of her brother Zachariah. He apparently feels the same way, because after their first kiss, he proposes. Savannah is excited, but worried about her sister Victoria who she thinks also loves Tyler. Victoria is the smart homely sister, who hangs out with the slaves and learns witchcraft from them.

Victoria overhears the proposal, and runs to the slave quarters to sacrifice a piglet. She starts chanting domination per malum (to us hardcore Fear Street fans, that means power through evil), and goes to kill the pig, when Savannah stops her, having to break her out of a trance. Victoria claims she learnt about Tyler, the he comes from a cursed family, and Savannah should stay the hell away. I’d say Victoria is bang on, and less in love with Tyler, so much as outright hates him.

Just then, like literally that minute, war breaks out. Savannah feels betrayed because Tyler, being from Massachusetts, will fight for the North. She refuses to refuses to marry him, and Tyler gets mean and possessive. I believe his words before riding away on horseback are: “You will regret choosing the South over me! I swear it!” So far this book is awesome.

Whispering Oaks – Summer 1863

Victoria and Savannah are completely alone on their plantation, and Savannah never got over Tyler. She keeps repeating “We will not go hungry tonight.” This book is a poor man’s cliff notes of Gone With the Wind. They do gross things like eat worms to stay alive. At night, Savannah dreams her brother comes into her room, bleeding from a gunshot wound to the head. She wakes up from the nightmare to find drops of warm blood where Zach was standing. The next morning a letter comes from Tyler, telling her about Zach’s recent death. Prophetic dreams?

Savannah is more worried about Tyler than the death of her brother. Victoria still wants Savannah to stay the hell away from him. Savannah starts to suspect her loving sister is so jealous of her, she’ll harm her. Sigh. The love of a man coming between two sisters – an age old tale.

Whispering Oaks – Spring 1865

The war is over. Savannah runs to tell Victoria about this, only to find Victoria playing with voodoo, letting a waxen image of Tyler melt in the sun. Oookay … Victoria tires to give Savannah protective grave-dirt, and Savannah decides she’s bat-shit crazy.

Eventually, Tyler comes to Savannah, and re-asks her to marry him. This time he gets an unconditional yes, and Savannah immediately regrets it when she realizes he’s taking her to his home up North, Blackrose Manor. They decide to bring Victoria with them, because all marriages should start with a crazy third wheel. Vic portends that one of them will be buried before the year is out.

Blackrose Manor, Massachusetts – Spring 1865

Blackrose Manor is a huge manor surrounded by black roses – I’m underwhelmed by the creativity of the author here. The manor itself sounds like it was modeled after Disney’s Haunted Mansion – wrought iron and spindly turrets, the occasional flash of lightning. Victoria is horrified by the whole place, but seems to find a kindred spirit in creepy ancient Mrs. Mooreland, the housekeeper, who also seems to find the place evil and warns them away.

Savannah is shown to her room. At first I thought it was weird she wasn’t staying in Tyler’s rooms, and then I thought it was weird that 19th century Southern belles were being put up by some rich bachelor. Is this … seemly? I mean, they’re not married yet. Savannah is already regretting coming here, when she walks in on Tyler attacking a portrait with a butcher’s knife, overcome by some post-traumatic stress from what he did during the war. Savannah says she understands what Tyler did, because she had to eat worms. Um, I don’t think that’s exactly what he means, Savannah.

Just then, Victoria and Lucy come running into the room, screaming over a pouch of protective grave-dirt. Lucy is a little girl who’s like a sister to Tyler, as their parents died at the same time or something, I don’t care. I def don’t think it’s seemly that Tyler was living alone with a child, then abandoned her for war. Lucy immediately proves to by a psychopathic pyro, obsessed with the pretty fire. Lucy brings Savannah to see her doll collection. All the dolls have black hair and eyes, like Lucy, dressed up in black, WOW creepy. She’d names all her dolls Lucy, except the one whose hair she cut off and named Tyler.

Savannah comes away from that disturbingness, to find Victoria trying to slip an eyeball under her pillow for protection. It’s a hawk’s eye, but still. Ew. Victoria’s hair is turning stark white. Victoria also tells Savannah that Lucy isn’t a little girl at all, but a severely stunted seventeen-year old. Her and Tyler are even more fucked than I thought. Anyways, a 17-year-old Lucy in love with Tyler seems much more dangerous.

Especially, it seems, since Lucy wants to be Savannah’s new sister. She sits next to her at breakfast, as Savannah sneakily feeds her sausage to a begging kitten. Cute. Until the kitten has fits and nearly dies, from poisoned sausage. Between Victoria, Mrs. Mooreland and creepy Lucy, Savannah has too many people who might want to kill her.

That night someone sets fire to her curtains. Savannah deals with this by moving up the date of their wedding. Because everything will be okay then, right? Lucy reveals her parents were killed in a fire, somehow related to the Fier curse. Savannah is starting to suspect that everyone is out to get her. Until she finds Mrs. Mooreland in the oven with her hands cut off. She goes to find Victoria and Tyler fighting with each other. Victoria confesses to Tyler that she did stuff like poison sausage and set curtains on fire, but only to protect Savannah. Victoria has a knife on Tyler, so Savannah attacks her, accidentally stabbing her in the side, killing her. Tyler demands Savannah marry him immediately, because fraternicide is sexy. (Is it sororitide?)

They get married after the funeral. (What?) Lucy tries to get Savannah to promise to never have children, so as to not pass the curse on to them. Lucy then has a tantrum when Savannah and Tyler try to go to bed together, insisting Tyler should have married her instead. Once she’d been sent off to bed, Tyler reveals Lucy killed her parents by burning them to death, and now Tyler is worried Savannah is in danger. A little late for THAT, now, isn’t it Tyler?

Lucy wakes her up a few nights later, saying she knows the truth, and runs away. Savannah runs after her in the dark, only to trip over her warm body. In the candlelight, she sees Lucy is missing a hand. She goes to find Tyler, and ends up in a mad-scientist-type lab, with potions bubbling around Lucy’s severed hand. It was Tyler all along!

He killed Lucy, Mrs. Mooreland, even Zachariah. He lunges after Savannah, and she stabs him with a convenient pitchfork. Tyler starts laughing because HE IS ALREADY DEAD. Zach killed him on the battlefield by stabbing him in the gut. This book is about a civil war zombie. That’s awesome. Tyler is a master in the black arts and returns to life from his fatal wound, invincible.

Well, not entirely invincible. Savannah knocks over his mad scientist bubbling vials, which fall onto Lucy’s creepy dead girl hand. Apparently that ruined his zombie master mojo, and he tries to kill Savannah. But she thinks about how much she wants to go home, and this defeats him. Like the Wizard of Oz, a bit? Tyler turns into a rotting corpse, then a skeleton.

So, the old lady is Savannah. She sat on the veranda at Blackrose Manor for years, next to the skeleton of her evil husband. That’s commitment. Maybe a little romantic, in an uber-sick way? I wasn’t sold on this entirely, until it turns out the evil mastermind was a Yankee zombie, and everything was right in the world. 18 severed hands out of 18!


A. M. Stine said...

How did I not get this one?! Gawd I'm so jealous. History + zombies? BRAIN EXPLOSION

Anonymous said...

I only own three Fear Street books. This is one of them and I find it awesome as well (I also have a Fear Park, which I believe was called awesome here, but I might be thinking about the Fear Street 1 blog.). I remember as a kid I thought Savannah's hair would be ugly without the back part, and that her sister looked like what Jane Eyre does on whichever edition I read of it.

HelenB said...

So I can't help but notice that the last comment on your previous post said Thus necrophilia would be added to the long, long list of R.L. Stine's vices..Then you wrote a post about a crazy chick who stays married to a skeleton for years and years and years!

Coincidence? Or something more sinister?

PS: If they don't form any babbies, how does the Fier/Fear curse continue?

Anonymous said...

Black roses?! You can't have black flowers! Only very very very dark purple! Also, this book sounds utterly amazing, completely deluded.

I suspect the family tree of the Fiers is now completely tied up in knots. That the eponymous Fear Street rarely appears when they're around should be a warning.

CocoaVenus said...

Does anyone else read the taglines on the book covers in the voice of Horatio Caine off CSI:Miami?

Excellent blog by the way :D

L. K. Stine said...

Whoa -
I totally will from now on!!

Deathycat said...

This book is so awesome. I need to read it again. Tyler is descended from Benjamin Fear but it's a different branch so he's not directly related to Simon. They're like second or third cousins.

raspberry swyrl said...

This was one of the fear street books that really stuck out in my mind. I was hoping you would get around to reviewing it!! Tt was just as messed up as I remembered! Was there a part where the old lady breaks off a birds head?
The Fear family rocks.

L. K. Stine said...

Yes - Old Savannah is rocking on her veranda, looking at a pretty bluebird, then - crack - rips its head off. You're like - what?

Whitney G said...

Civil War zombies = teh awesome.

But my one burning question is...did the kitten live? Please tell me an animal lived through at least ONE Stine book.

L. K. Stine said...

The kitten did live! She got sick after being poisoned, but survived.
Sadly, after the massacre that went on in Blackrose Manor, only Savannah was left to take care of the kitten ... so that might not have ended well.

VelociraptorSarah said...

I read this when I was in 7th grade....... It is probably my favorite book. It's AMAZING!