We come to the end of this saga, and all will be revealed. Luckily there’s the Fear Street Sagas to look forward to, and this melodrama isn’t over yet.
This is my least favorite of the Fear Street Saga covers (pulled from its GoodReads page). The girl’s expression is very nothing, and the dagger is oddly placed (and would have been better for the last book cover). I’m guessing that’s supposed to be Nora and Daniel, as well as Nora escaping the burning mansion. This book has fewer jumps than the last ones did, so the story is more on Nora than anything else, so I guess they had a little less to work with.
The Fear Street Saga… where the terror began.
I still find this perfectly serviceable. No complaints.
Nora starts us off again, still writing all the way to dawn. She leads us into New Orleans, 1845, where Simon Fear is about to con his way into a rich person’s party. He puts together this list of his best attributes:
- I am good-looking.
- I can be very charming and witty if I desire to be.
- I am as smart as anyone in New Orleans.
- I am determined to do anything it takes to be a success.
We will find only a handful of these to actually be true. No mention is made of Elizabeth, who I thought survived the last book with him, but she’s utterly unimportant to the story anyway. Simon is sure he’s going to find himself a rich wife here, and he gets into the party in the worst possible way. Like I’d rather Stine just have written him breezing past the servants. He pretends to drop his hat, kicks it inside, and then quickly latches onto other people walking in. It’s terrible, it means they’re going to be looking for him, and for sure it comes back to bite him later.
Simon tries to schmooze, but the ladies ignore him. So far his charm isn’t doing him a whit of good. He sees a woman on the staircase, and she’s the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen, and he’s instantly in love. Her name is Angelica Pierce. Simon is quickly kicked out of the party, but not before Angelica gets a good look at him. Angelica’s a mean girl with her cousin Liza, and they make fun of clothes, men, and poorsies together. She sees Simon being carried away but finds him handsome enough to stay on her mind. She’s got two suitors interested in her: James Daumier and Hamilton Scott. She dances all night, and when the party is over she goes out to her garden, where Simon is waiting for her. He grabs her, tells her not to scream, and then asks her to marry him before absconding. Yup. Real charming, super smart.
Simon, despite his “Goodness is weakness” motto he adopted in the last book, has never used to the dark arts given to him by the amulet of his family. He’s ambitious, but not enough to do devil magic. He is held at knife point on his way home from the party, which forces him to use the amulet to burn a dude’s face off. Now the gloves are off, and Simon starts following Angelica around. Angelica, Liza, and James go to the opera. She sees Simon and makes some dreamy comment about him, which sets off James. Suddenly he climbs onto the banister of their box and then topples off, and I started keeping a death count because a lot of people die in this book and it’s all gruesome, though James gets the least horrific description of his:
Simon watched the body plunge from the box. It hit with an echoing thud in the aisle.
And then everyone just screams. Simon uses this as a chance to get in Angelica’s good graces by comforting her, and it seems he continues to comfort her up to and after the funeral. Liza doesn’t trust Simon, but Angelica doesn’t mind. About a month after one of her beau dies, she’s on her way to being engaged to the other. She, Liza, and Hamilton go to see off Angelica’s aunt, and Hamilton is super into the steamboat. They cross past the roped off area, and Hamilton falls in, leading to his gruesome demise.
His limp body rose up, then made a loud crunching sound as it was crushed between the wheel and the boat. It plunged back into the water, then was dragged up again, only to be crushed with another loud crunch.
That boy is dead.
Angelica mourns again, but a few months after that Simon comes a-calling. At this point Angelica is down to be wed. Simon, so overjoyed with the news, tells Angelica that he murdered those two gentleman for her, because that’s what every girl wants to hear. Angelica then tells him that no, he didn’t murder them, because she murdered them with her black magics. They’re pretty overjoyed to find evil in each other, and when Angelica worries her father won’t allow it, Simon gives him a heart attack. They’re so overjoyed, they toast blood together. Simon’s evil goes from zero to one hundred in this scene, and the escalation is so hilarious I think it can only be conveyed through a full transcription of the chapter, but dang, if murdering folks and drinking blood together isn’t true love, then I don’t know what is.
Now Nora leads us into Shadyside Village in 1865, where Simon and Angelica now live with their two daughters and three sons. Hannah is the younger daughter, but she’s far prettier, more social, and is basically better at everything than Julia, something Simon does not let up about. Angelica is basically high on dark magic all of the time and just randomly falls into trances. They’re setting up for a big party, when a new staff member is introduced, by the name of Lucy Goode. She immediately breaks something of Julia’s and is warned not to go around saying her name thanks to the bad blood between the families. At the party, she spills hot soup on Julia, nearly scalding her, and Julia tells Hannah that she did it on purpose. Hannah isn’t sure, until she finds a snake in her bed, and when she puts on a pair of shoes after Lucy has cleaned her room, a large shard of glass had been hidden inside, cutting her foot. Hannah wants to fire her immediately, but Julia says they have no proof to back their claims, and she isn’t sure father would believe them. I’m pretty sure in those days you could fire whoever you wanted for no reason, and I highly doubt Simon would notice her gone, but whatever.
Hannah heals up, and all the kids go for a picnic in the woods, along with Hannah’s dog. They play for a while, and Hannah gives her dog first bite of their food. The dog then becomes incredibly sick, and, yes, I’m going to share that death too.
As Hannah watched in alarm, the dog’s entire body began to convulse. Fluff coughed, then his stomach heaved, and he began to vomit, his legs trembling, his entire body quivering. Then all at once, the dog crumpled to the blanket, dropped onto his side, and was still.
(Oh, man, I felt terrible just writing that. I could see all the violence in the world done to children and regular people, but I thought about my cats being poisoned and got real sad.)
Hannah is sure Lucy prepared their food and goes to confront her, but their head of staff tells her Julia prepared the lunches. Hannah finds Julia in the woods and confronts her. Julia tries to choke her out, lets go of her too soon, and Hannah whacks her in the head with a shovel in another terrible display.
Julia’s eyes bulged wide. Then they rolled up in her head as she dropped to her knees. Blood spurted from her nose, flowed down her chin. Finally she dropped facedown into the grass.
Hannah flips the fuck out and tosses her sister’s body into the coffin of another man about to buried. She then goes back home and hides until her father asks her where Julia is. Simon goes to look for Julia and can’t find her, until he hears someone crying from beneath the dirt. See, like Julia, Hannah didn’t check to make sure she was dead, and Julia was buried alive. Simon digs up the grave but isn’t fast enough, and he finds her dead corpse in the ground.
Simon is ready to rampage, especially when he sees Lucy Goode’s name on their staff ledger. He grabs a sword and starts swinging wildly, accidentally hitting Hannah instead
And as the darkness grew and the shimmering light faded, Simon’s vision was restored. He could see clearly once again.
Still holding the long ebony handle of the sword, staring at the blood as it stained the dress, Simon could see. Could see that he hadn’t stabbed Lucy Goode.
He had thrust the sword deep into his own daughter’s chest.
Bummer. Angelica screams at him, and then it’s smash cut to Shadyside Village, 1900.
Now we’re hanging out with Daniel Fear, who’s been sent by his father to meet his grandparents. His father is Joseph, one of the boys, who left his family’s home and refused to speak with them, and there’s no explanation why he would allow his son to go visit his grandparents. The other two boys apparently stayed and also died thanks to sickness or general bad juju. Daniel meets Simon and Angelica, the latter of which is completely gone, and Simon is an old, bitter man.Simon shouts at him that he can’t escape his blood before thrusting the amulet on him, which gives him the vision of Susannah Goode burning. Daniel is a pretty good sport about all of this.
Daniel is pretty much done with the situation and goes to visit town. He meets Nora Goode, who runs a shop with her father. They hit it off, and he spends most of his visit courting her, going for walks, which is the only way old-timey people courted. He doesn’t tell Nora that he’s a Fear, especially after she recounts some of the horror stories of the Fear mansion. Nora’s father catches her with him, though, and he knows the truth about the Fears. He locks Nora away so that she can’t see him.
Daniel hangs around the mansion some more and finds books on black magic, which, bless his little heart, he thinks means his grandparents had a scientific interest in. He finds the secret room that Hannah and Julie used, as well as the family Bible that has their lineage listed in it. I don’t know why this black magic loving family has a goddamned Bible, but we’re rolling with it. The head of staff finds Daniel and tells him everything that’s happened since book one, starting with Susannah and moving down the line. How the head of staff knows this, I cannot imagine, especially since the story has been so warped through time, and the Fear family themselves have changed the story through misinformation and misremembering. Daniel learns that Nora is a Goode from the same family that originally threatened his. He decides to go see Nora and tell her himself.
When he comes to Nora’s shop, it’s boarded up, and Nora calls to him from within that her father locked her away. He breaks in, helps her out, and he tells her his entire family history as well. He tells her they must be married right away to break the curse, and she agrees. They marry, using the amulet as a ring, and then Daniel still wants to go to his shitty grandparents’ birthday party. When they arrive, Angelica is seeing people who aren’t there, and Simon is still a bitter man. When Daniel tells them they’ve been married, Simon flips out, knocks over the cake, which lights the room ablaze in less than a second. Nora sees visions of every death in the series, from Susannah to Benjamin to Matthew and Constance to Abigail to Kate, Julia, Hannah, all of them. She manages to escape the fire and realizes that the end of the curse means the end of the Fears, who all burn up.
Nora finishes her writing, revealing that she’s been institutionalized. She claims her manuscript will inform everyone of the evil, and her nurse tosses it in the fire, though I’m not really sure how any of this information could’ve helped. If the evil didn’t die with the Fears, it’s here to stay. She learns that the mansion has been paved over, and they’re building houses around Fear Street.
“Funerals are so sad, Angelica!” she wailed.
There is a number of fashion trends given at the beginning of the book, thanks to the party scene. Lots of people in tailcoats and knee breeches. One girl is described as having “sausage curls”, which admittedly gives me the image I believe Stine is going for, but I’m not sure is the correct terminology for it. Lots of ball gowns and silk dresses. Simon Fear plays a big part in the mythology of Fear Street, especially since he was the last Fear to occupy the Fear Mansion. I remember less about Angelica, though I’m sure she makes appearances at times.
I didn’t love this one. I found Simon a poor protagonist, and Daniel and Nora didn’t do it for me. The melodrama of the last one was hard to top, though the death scenes were twice as gruesome. I’ll give it two shared graves out of five.