These Fear Street Saga books are pretty intense. Like I said, I didn’t read these back in the day, so all of this information is new, and it’s gruesome.
I don’t mind the cover (pulled from its Amazon page) but it’s a little hard to tell what’s going on. I think it might be Nora on the cover? Except Elizabeth is stated to have a ribbon around her neck at some point. I imagine that couple are Jonathon and Delilah. I like it more than the first one, it’s a little more ominous and a little more coherent, and the gravestones are a nice touch.
The Fear Street Saga… where the terror began.
Same tagline as last time, and it still doesn’t bother me. This series started in 1989 and it’s 1993, and I like that enough have come out that people are clamoring for the truth behind Fear Street.
There are so many people in these books! And following the Fier line is linear but it gets a little difficult to follow, especially when the Goodes disappear for most of the book. We start with Nora again, who’s still frantically writing, and someone is walking towards her. It’s unclear if she’s in actual danger or if she just needs to get this all down. I’m sure we’ll find out in book three.
Smash cut to Wickham Village in 1737. Ezra is now an old man with a wife, Jane, and children, Abigail, Rachel, and Jonathon. They return to Wickham Village to track down the Goodes and finish their feud. Ezra is obsessive, and his children are oblivious except for Jonathon, the eldest. He worries about his father and his fruitless attempts to destroy the Goodes. They’re disturbed to find the village is completely empty and consumed by some plague. It must’ve been a fast acting plague, because they just find skeletons lying around, including animals. It seems less like a plague and more like a bunch of alien laser beams just exploded the town overnight. They find the Goode house outside of town and decide to squat there, which sounds horrifying, but no one in this family acts normal.
They spend the next few days(? weeks? months? it’s hard to tell the passage of time in these books) exploring the town. Jonathon and his father call on their neighbors, who flip out at the mention of the Goodes, who they blame the plague on. Jonathon and Abby walk around, burying animal bodies, and then they just find a little girl and decide to get her a coffin. I’m not saying they shouldn’t try to give the dead some peace, but if I found a village of dead bodies, I’d run far away, not try to find a bunch of child sized boxes. Jonathon returns to his sister and sees her playing with a young girl called Hester. She’s mysterious and runs away all the time, and after she’s been hanging around a while she invites Abby to “her house”, and then Abby goes completely missing. They run after her and find a graveyard, which has the grave marker of Hester Goode! They dig up the grave and find Abby inside.
Now we flash forward to Western Massachusetts in 1743. It’s only a few years. Jonathon is almost eighteen, his mother is disturbed since Abby disappeared, sometimes seeing Rachel as her, Ezra is more angry and bitter than ever, and Rachel is told bedtime stories of everything the Goodes have done to the Fiers since the feud began, which can’t be good for her. They settle into their new home, and are visited by Delilah Wilson. Jonathon immediately takes a liking to her, and it’s a strange romance only in that they don’t really have any obstacles to overcome. Susannah and Edward were separated by their station (and witchcraft), and Jeremy was a farmhand while Mary was rich (and also he was an old man, also witchcraft), so while Delilah is poor, it doesn’t seem like there’s really anything stopping them from being together.
Jonathon calls on Delilah often, even after Rachel scares them all by recounting the entire cursed history of their family to her. Jonathon also hears animal screams in the night, and the well draws up blood. Jonathon hears Abigail speak to him in the night, and Rachel sees their dead sister walking around. Jonathon tells Delilah what’s been going on, and she’s pretty bummed about it. She also tells him she and her father are leaving by the end of the week. Jonathon is extremely unhappy about this as he’s desperately in love with Delilah. Worse, in the middle of the night, they hear their mother screaming about Abigail, and when they follow her outside they see her body in the well. She’s clutching Abigail’s cap, seemingly cementing that there’s been a ghost around.
Jonathon has a sudden realization, and he runs to Delilah, demanding that he tell him her secret. Delilah admits that she’s been a Goode all along! She tells him there’s a curse on both of their families, and the only way to stop anymore horror is for them to be married. Jonathon readily agrees, and they run to her father, who is a priest, deciding to get married right then and there. But the ceremony is stopped at the “speak now or forever hold your peace” (because it’s dramatic) by Ezra! He carries a rifle, Jonathon tries to wrestle it away, and Delilah is shot! Ezra moves to kill her father as well, but the priest shouts that they aren’t Goodes. What??!!
The baffling plan that Delilah Wilson and her father cooked up was that Delilah would try and get Jonathon to marry her by pretending to be a Goode. But to cement the deal, she would pretend the ghost of Jonathon’s dead sister was haunting them. She dressed up as Abigail, made animal screeches outside, threw animal carcasses into their well, and the night before, she’d lured their mother out there, and then accidentally pushed her into the well. Then they would convince Jonathon that the only way to break the curse was a marriage, and the Wilsons would be rich.
There’s so much to unpack here. A) As Jonathon rightfully points out, Jonathon was way into Delilah in the first place, and it wasn’t a secret or anything. He was courting her openly. There was no reason to do any of this other stuff. B) This is a truly insane plan just based on a legend a small child told you and a picture of a dead girl. C) This is horrific considering THEY LOST THEIR SISTER, and their mother was already clearly disturbed by this, AND WHO WOULD AGREE TO ANY OF THIS. You may have dodged a bullet there, Jonathon.
Ezra is pretty disturbed by all this, and he walks outside and immediately gets trampled by a horse. Jonathon buries his father, throws the amulet in with it, and declares the whole curse business done.
Nora leads us into Western Massachusetts 100 years later, in 1843. We’re introduced to a brand new crop of Fiers, including young Elizabeth, Kate, and Simon. Elizabeth uncovers the metal box Ezra’s ashes and amulet were kept in, and takes the amulet. Again, she doesn’t understand Latin. Is this a Protestant thing? I’m not saying Catholics are fluent, but I saw it enough in Church to figure out some basics. They meet a vagabond wandering around who introduces himself as Franklin Goode (DUN DUN DUN), and they give him a home and a job. Elizabeth finds Frank really handsome, and they start going on secret walks. She notices Kate acts weird whenever they’re around each other, but she doesn’t care. Frank lets the audience know he intends to kill everyone, though he plans to kill their parents, devastate the sisters, and leave Simon destroyed, which seems a little more evil to me. Elizabeth also sets up that there’s an old woman named Old Aggie that is in the forest, so remember that for later.
Elizabeth is knitting one day when Kate rushes in and tells everyone that Frank has asked her to marry him. Her whole family is excited, except for Elizabeth, who’d been waiting for Frank to ask HER to marry him. She runs away, Kate runs after her, and then Simon after them. Simon finds Kate murdered, a knitting needle stabbed in her heart. Elizabeth insists that she didn’t kill Kate, and it’s clear her family doesn’t believe her. Frank tells her that Kate was disturbed, that he never asked her to marry him, and he plans to elope with Elizabeth.
Simon leaves the house, hoping to escape his grief for a little while. He runs into Old Aggie, who tells him some cryptic things. Well, not actually cryptic. She tells Simon that their last name is Fier, which is an anagram for fire, which is how they’re all going to die. Then she hands him a fucking dagger that can poison only his enemies. This is some RPG garbage, but Simon rolls with it. When Aggie tells him Frank is the one doing all the murders, Simon runs home just as Frank has finished murdering his parents. He’s about to murder Elizabeth, and Simon cuts him with the knife. It takes a moment for the poison to work, but Frank collapses. Simon figures out that helping people is for the weak, and he takes Elizabeth’s amulet, claiming “Goodness is weakness”. He changes their name to Fear to avoid that whole “fire destiny” thing, though I don’t know if Fear is the best way to get over that.
We end the story on Nora again, who teases the tale of Simon Fear.
Why is she so sad, and so mysterious?
The thin research isn’t as obvious this time around, I guess because there aren’t any Puritans around to make it feel like people walking around in costume. The whole plague thing is very poorly done, especially since if it were a true plague, those bodies would be piled up and burned. This is the first book that finally connects the lines from here to the regular Fear Street books with Simon Fear, who’s mentioned fairly often in the regular books.
I liked this one a lot more, possibly because it felt more coherent, and whose twists were a little more interesting. It’s still gory, with a little more supernatural stuff thrown in there, so I’m going to give it three plague corpses out of five.