The Hidden Evil or "Out of Two Siblings, One is Always Evil" or "I've Got My Eye On You, L.K. Stine"
The Hidden Evil, another Fear Street Saga. As you can probably tell, we are anxiously awaiting our next shipment of TRUE Fear Streets so we can get back to basics. One thing I feel is important to point out is how creepy the back description is! “It is a story of evil. The worst evil imaginable – the evil in the heart of a child.” Now you may not think this is scary. But I however, have been working in a daycare for the past 4 months and KNOW how true that statement is. I swear, sometimes certain kids look at me … and it’s pure evil in their cold, soulless eyes. Gack!
There are actually two parts to this book. Timothy, in 1858 Boston starts us off by getting a group of his peers (his “gang” if you will) together to tell ghost stories. God, the 19th century must have been dull. Anyways, he says he’ll tell them the scariest ghost story ever if they agree not to interrupt or leave the room. I hope it’s quick though, cause I gotta pee.
New York 1847
Maggie and Henrietta are mourning the death of their father, who fell down dead the night before. The police show up and Maggie gets unusually pissed off when she sees them. They inform her that the autopsy showed their father had been poisoned so his death was actually a murder! (Well, duh, why else to police show up the day after a death?) Henrietta starts talking about how it’s IMPOSSIBLE someone poisoned their dad since Maggie was at home alone with him the whole time! And they were together the whole time because Maggie and him were having a big fight all night! Um, shut up Henrietta.
Right, so they search Maggie’s room where they find a vial of POISON! How they know it’s poison is beyond me. (I can only imagine that Maggie labeled the tiny bottle “POISON: which I will use to kill my own Father!”) However, since these are policemen in a Fear Street novel, they determine that the case is CLOSED, and arrest Maggie and sentence her to death. Seems reasonable.
Four months later and it’s the day before Maggie is supposed to be hung. Henrietta visits Maggie in jail for the first time. And of course gloats over the face that it was SHE who poisoned their father! It’s weird how Maggie didn’t figure that one out in the four months she rotted in jail without visits from her sister. Henrietta was jealous of how gorgeous Maggie was, and knew that she would never get a husband without their father’s inheritance. So she got her money and revenge for being the hideous sister all in one swoop! See, now WHY must all villains gloat about their horribleness? It’s always their downfall!
Fortunately for Maggie, her luck finally turns around when she’s rescued by a policeman disguised as her executioner. He helps her escape the prison in a nick of time, and randomly thanks her for something her family did to help his a few years earlier. But no one ever mention what happened anywhere else in the book. I hoping it happens in another Saga book and they’re connected! So the policeman and his family help Maggie get a job as a governess for a family who recently lost their wife and mother.
She arrives at Tanglewood Estate a little nervous because she’s never had any experience being a governess. Her nerves are not helped by the consumptively thin Cook (who never gets a name throughout this book) and the fact that her employer, Mr. Malbourne isn’t even there. She meets little Andrew though and her cold heart melts! She’s in charge of cherub-faced Andrew and his brother Garret. Who introduces himself to Maggie by hurtling a vase at her from the second story landing. So I guess there isn’t really a mystery about who the evil child is…
Garret proceeds to have the mother of all tantrums, in which he slams himself against his door and screams about how much he hated his dead mother. Once he’s calmed down a little, Maggie tries to get Garret to open up a little bit. She looks through his sketchbook, which are full of imaginative drawings of him in jungles or in hot air balloons. Cute! But the rest of the book is filled with drawings of his old governesses, who are drawn in coffins in various stages of decomp with different animals feasting on them. … Less cute. Maggie is rightfully horrified when she opens her closet later in the day and finds a life-sized drawing of her in a coffin, with birds pecking out her eyes.
The next day, Andrew takes Maggie on a tour of Tanglewood Estate which includes a topiary maze! Loves those things! He also shows her the stables, their frisky cat Charcoal, and the painting gallery. Maggie sees a picture of Mr. Malbourne (the absent father) and gets immediately turned on by his rugged handsomeness. I feel like I’ve already read this book before, but it was written by a one Nora Roberts…
Maggie is so twitterpatted by Mr. Malbourne’s painting that she decides to go and snoop around his room. Yeah, I didn’t get that leap of logic either. She accidentally finds the hiding place of a key in an old music box. Garret comes in and gives her shit for being in his dad’s room. Which, I’m sure Maggie found annoying, but it’s totally within reason. I’d giver shit for snooping too! Garret finds a way to make it creepy though: he tells her that his mom can see everything and is gonna be pi-iiiiissed. P.S. Her spirit is still alive and locked in the tower. Thanks for the nightmares, Garret!
When Maggie hears wailing that night coming from the tower, she decides to investigate to put her mind at ease. Instead of a terrifying ghost, she finds Andrew crying at the door to the tower because he misses his mom. Aw! I rarely feel sympathy in a Fear Street book but that’s just too sad. After putting Andrew back to bed, she slides into her own bed and finds… a dead cat. Someone slit poor Charcoal’s throat and put it in the bed with the note “Curiosity killed the cat” attached to it. 19th century mobster?
Maggie makes a supremely weird choice to go and immediately bury the cat outside even though it’s the middle of the night. While she’s outside, she sees the ghost of Mrs. Malbourne in the window of the tower. Maggie runs for the house, and bumps into… super sexy Mr. Malbourne! Once he figures out who the MANIAC burying his dead cat at 3am is, he’s very sweet and kind. Maggie is practically salivating over Mr. Malbourne in this scene and he reciprocates by calling her “pretty”. What, no burning loins and quiverations? O right, Fear Street book, not Nora Roberts. Dammit!
The next day, Mr. Malbourne tries to convince the boys to go for a horseback ride with him and Maggie, but they already suspect what Maggie wants: a big ol’ ring on her finger! They don’t want a new mom, and shut Maggie down hard. Maggie decides to go to the stables anyways, to introduce herself to the horses. Unfortunately, while she’s in the stables, they go up in flames! She quickly lets the horses out of their pens, then runs to open the stable doors. Wait. She let out the panicked horses without first opening to stable doors? No wonder she almost gets trampled! She kinda deserves it. Mr. Malbourne rescues her before she gets too hurt and she falls even more madly in love with him.
Maggie breaks down and tells Mr. Malbourne all the creepy stuff that’s been going on while he was away. He responds by being like “Well, I have to go away tonight, but I’ll come back tomorrow and everything will be fine! Even if we have to abandon our home.” What? In whose mind would abandoning their home be a good idea? (FYI we never even find out what was SO important that Mr. Malbourne had to leave for. Maybe something with the escape-plot policeman?) He forces the maid (who convienently bears a striking resemblance to Maggie) to sleep in Maggie’s room with her.
After Mr. Malbourne leaves, Maggie decides to investigate the well on the property that Andrew seemed to be afraid of earlier. While she’s leaning WAY over the edge of the well to try and reach something shiny at the bottom, two tiny child-sized hands push her all the way over the edge, and into the well. Except since Maggie could almost touch the bottom when she leant in, that would make it, like, two feet deep. Maggie stands up and gets out of the well. OOOOO! She found the something ‘shiny’ though. It’s a ring with Garrets initials.
When she asks Andrew why Garret’s ring was in the well, Andrew breaks down and tells her the whole story. Garret killed their mother by shoving her in the well. She didn’t drown (because that would be impossible and totally lame) but she got so sick afterwards that she wasted away. Her unhappy soul is now locked away in the tower room and has vowed revenge against her son Garret. Yikes! What about unconditional love there, Mom? Maggie gets Andrew to lock himself in his room all night to protect him from Garret. Turns out Maggie needs a lot more protecting than Andrew, because she walks into her room and finds him standing over the dead body of the maid (who looks identical!) with a knife in his hand. Whoopsie! They pulled the ol’ switch-a-roo and really showed him, didn’t they?
Maggie panics because now she’s the only adult and there’s a homicidal child after her. And maybe people who don’t hang out with kids think that would be all cute and funny, but NO. Children can be evil and terrifying, trust me. Maggie gets a great idea though. She grabs the secret key from Mr. Malbourne’s room which she correctly deduced opened the tower room. She thinks since the ghost of Mrs. Malbourne wants to kill Garret, then Maggie doesn’t even have to do the dirty work! Garret screams at her not to do it, that she doesn’t understand, but he’s lacking credibility at this point. She opens the door and a GHOST actually comes out. What? A ghost that can’t go through walls? I call shenanigans! Anyways, the ghost of Mrs. Malbourne is super pissed… and comes after Maggie! The former Mrs. is super pissed that Maggie was creeping on her husband.
Maggie manages to outrun the ghost (also unlikely, judging from the ghost hunting books I’ve read) but unfortunately, falls and breaks her leg in the topiary maze. She breaks her leg in half, with the bones sticking out and everything. How the eff do you do that running? She also attempts to get up and run on it, which seems like a terrible idea, so lets just pretend she’s in shock. Andrew catches up with her and Maggie is all concerned with his safety. UNTIL he tells her that he doesn’t think very highly of her trying to take his mother’s place. O nerds! Turns out it was Andrew who was evil all along (plot twist!). He killed the other governesses and tortures Garret on a regular basis by getting him blamed for all the evil stuff.
Well Garret’s finally had enough of his shit, because he comes up behind Andrew and blows a giant hole through his chest with a musket! Well, that’s kinda badass. The ghost of Mrs. Malbourne finally catches up to them (what?!) and sees what they’ve done to her precious Andrew. But all she does is scoop Andrew up in her arms and twirl around until they both disappear. Worst. Ghost. Ever.
The next day Maggie and Garret are having a nice breakfast, waiting for their absentee father/soon-to-be-lover. They discuss how Garret did all that creepy stuff (the drawings, etc.) to scare Maggie away. And he just happened to walk in after the maid was murdered the night before and pick up the blade. Right… Maggie reads the newspaper and sees a story about Henrietta, her evil sister! Henrietta killed again but this time got caught. She’s confessed to everything, so the authorities are looking for Maggie to apologize. How nice of them! No hard feelings! Mr. Malbourne soon comes home and they marry.
Timothy has finally finished his story. All his friends are generally creeped out and go to leave. Timothy thinks to obviously, that he changed the name Fier to Malbourne and Timothy to Garret. It’s his own family’s story, reader! Timothy sees one guest who hasn’t left yet, sitting in a dark corner of the room. The guest gets up and reveals themselves to Timothy. It’s Andrew in ghost form! (WTF) He says “I have been waiting for you to tell our story. Because as soon as you did, I knew I would be allowed back. Mother and I are very angry!” And then he pounces on Timothy, presumably at a very slow rate. Also, what kind of ghost rules are those? He’s just allowed to come back? Very poor plot twist R.L. I’m disappointed.
This wasn’t the worst Saga out there, but it certainly wasn’t the best. Instead of civil war zombies, it had … a super slow ghost. But it did have evil children which really creeps me out! I give this book 14 drawings of corpses out of 19.
P.S. Can we discuss how terrifying the child on the front cover is? GACK!