It’s a new year and a new fear. You thought Daniel and Nora Goode were the last of it? I’ve found some contentious information about the Fear Street Sagas before I started reading this one. According to several sources, the Fear Street Sagas were ghost written, but none of those sources are what I’d call trustworthy. R.L. Stine himself has sad none of his books are ghost written, and since it only takes him a few days to chug out a book, it’s unnecessary. I do feel the writing style is different in this one, but I wonder if I only felt that because I’d read it was ghost written. Either way, we’re starting the new year off ghastly.
I won’t say I don’t like this cover (pulled from Goodreads). I think the composition of it is good, and the graveyard ad the lightning are striking, though I’m not 100% sure who the woman being struck by lightning is supposed to be. Nora? I think the man and the woman look good. Definitely a lot of effort was put into this cover.
Evil was his birthright.
I like this too! It goes with the theme of a new Fear, it’s creepy, and it doesn’t imply too much to give away the plot. A+ all around.
It’s 1900 in the village of Shadyside, and Nora is still trapped in an asylum. Like before, she attempts to tell her story, to share it with the world, and like before she’s told she’s lying, that she’s stuck with her delusions. She has a child while there, a boy she names Nicholas, who has his father’s eyes. I do not know old-timey asylum rules about patients having children, but it seems a thing they either just would not allow happen or would not allow her to keep. I mean, they don’t. She’s told the baby’s going to a new home soon, far away from the asylum, which is probably for the better if we’re all being honest, but of course Nora doesn’t want to give up her son. She’s made a rope out of human hair, which I believe Mythbusters has said can be done, and tries to climb out, only to be stopped by the doctor.
She’s held down and has her hair chopped off and cries herself to sleep. She overhears the doctor and the nurse discussing it, and the doctor says they’re going to sell the child to a rich family. As the doctor comes in to get the baby, she fights him, ripping out a chunk of his flesh, and then the fire bursts out of the hearth. Daniel emerges, wreathed in flames, and he burns the doctor down to the bone in a gruesome sequence. He sees his wife one last time, and then Nora runs with the baby, screaming at the others to get out.
She makes it, at least, and stows away on a ship. She’s freezing and starving, and she kills a rat to drink its blood. A man comes in and finds her, threatening to throw her to the sharks, and then he steals the necklace that belonged to Daniel from her neck. The rats come out in droves, scurrying all over the man, and then devouring them. The other men find her and drag her out. They call her a witch and threaten to throw her to the sea, but the sea hits first. They’re all thrown from the boat, which crashes beneath the waves. Nora puts her child in a trunk and ties it to her, thankful that it floats. She manages to weather out the storm and wakes up on a beach, gathering her son and the amulet. She throws it into the ocean, saying she doesn’t want evil to be part of his heritage. They are now Nora and Nicholas Storm.
It’s now 1919, and Nicholas is a fisherman, who hates fish and hates working everyday in the small town. He loves Rosalyn, a rich woman, who came from Spain, and whose father would never allow them to wed. He comes home to find his mother collapsed on the floor. Nora tells him in her dying words that she never told him about his family, and that his father left a legacy of… and then dies. It’s actually kind of sad, as Nicholas says he only worked to get rich for her, and there’s no one else to mourn her.
It’s fine though, because Rosemary runs up to Nicholas and tells him to get the fuck out of town. He asks her what happened, and she tells him her father engaged her to a wealthy man, and she blurt out that she loved Nicholas. Now her father wants to kill him. He promises to go and win a fortune, and she promises to marry no one else while she waits for him. Nicholas runs to gather his things and is stopped by a phantom in the road, one that looks just like him. The man only says “Shadyside” before disappearing. Nicholas buys a ticket to Shadyside and is greeted again by Rosalyn, who gifts him her favorite necklace. Its a flat silver disc with blue stones and an inscription: “Dominatium per malum”. For once, he actually translates it. Rosalyn most definitely knew what it said too, and she’s just been carrying out this “power through evil” necklace for a long ass time.
Nicholas arrives in Shadyside and walks through the streets, stopping to see the ruined mansion at the end of the road. The mansion looks so familiar to him, and he approaches. He explores the ruins, only to be stopped by a man in a wheelchair, and then a woman runs at him with a knife. She screams at him, calling him Daniel Fear, and he manages to calm her enough to ask her questions. She reveals Daniel Fear married Nora Goode, and he starts to put the pieces together. He immediately changes his name to Nicholas Fear, even though he has no other proof of this and knows no one in the community. He gets a room in a boarding house under the name Nicholas Fear. Betsy Winter runs it with her mom and starts hitting on him super hard. When he says his name, she asks him if she’s related to the crazy people, and her mom sends her off. Betsy also tells him the Fear land was bought up by Andrew Manning.
Nicholas goes to meet Andrew Manning, hoping to regain his legacy. Again, he has no real proof, and clearly no business sense. Mr. Manning is very welcoming and open to him, but laughs in his face when he asks for the money he’s owed. He tells him there’s no inheritance, and the only thing waiting for him is back taxes. Still, he gives him a job in his lumber mill. As Nicholas leaves, he runs directly into Ruth Manning on her bicycle, and he refers to her as similar to a fish, though he’s kind to her. She notices his necklace, and he tells her it’s a gift from his fiance.
Nicholas goes to his job at the mill and meets Jason and Ike. They show him the ropes, with Jason being overly cautious, and Ike is a wise guy. Betsy arrives to give Nicholas a handmade lunch, and the others comment on it. Jason is annoyed by it, and Nicholas wonders if he’s jealous. As he returns home, a rock strikes him, and Nicholas finds a note attached to it, telling him to leave Shadyside. Nicholas asks Betsy about it, and she tells the Goodes and the Fears have always fought. She tells him the Fears practiced dark magic that required blood. She mentions her mother is a Goode.
Nicholas and Ike are chopping the wood, and they stop for lunch. Nicholas tries to learn more about Jason, but Ike only makes fun of Betsy making his lunches. They switch places after lunch, and Nicholas feeds Ike the boards. One board sticks, causing the saw to jump free, slicing Ike’s fingers off. Nicholas feels a lot of guilt over this, since he’d checked the boards before starting, and the men also seem suspicious of him. He runs into Mr. Manning, who introduces Ruth to him again, and he realizes he’s trying to set him up. Betsy walks up as well. Nicholas now realizes Betsy thinks he’s flirting with him, after he told Mr. Manning about Rosalyn, and now he looks two-faced in front of both of them. Luckily Jason calls Betsy over and seems to have an argument with her.
When Nicholas arrives home, exhausted and nervous, he finds Betsy on the ground, strangled by dough, an odd way to go and I’d have to check the ballistics on that. Instead of going to the police, he runs to Mr. Manning, which may be the right thing to do in this scenario. Mr. Manning is ill, but he agrees that Nicholas should have come to him. He invites him to stay in his home. A funeral is set up for Betsy, and at it, Jason confronts Nicholas, telling him he should have died instead. Betsy is his cousin, and his hatred of Nicholas comes from the fact that he’s a Goode. Nicholas tells him to hit him if it’ll make him feel better, and Jason backs off. He walks back with Ruth, only to find her father dead.
After the body is cleared up, they sit together, and Ruth tells him her father’s last wish was that he marry her. He finds her repulsive to look at, and he tells her neither of them would be happy if they married. She agrees and invites him to stay as a guest in her house. Nicholas is now sure Jason is the one who’s behind the murders and goes to confront him. They wrassle, and then talk about their feelings. Jason says he loved Betsy and would never wish harm on her. Nicholas insists he’s innocent, and they both agree to investigate it, right as someone runs out of the shadows, stabbing Jason. Ruth kills him, and tells Nicholas he now has to marry her, or she’ll tell everyone that he did the murders. She killed everyone: Ike, Betsy, her father. She wanted to force him to depend on her, and eventually they marry.
Nicholas agrees to marry her, thinking he’ll kill her on his wedding night, take her money, and marry Rosalyn with it. They get married quickly, and Nicholas is overcome with a horrifying vision of Ruth covered in maggots. As they return to the house to celebrate, he coats her wine glass in rat poison before pouring the wine. As they prepare to toast, they’re interrupted by someone knocking at their door. Rosalyn is here! Nicholas begs her to leave, telling her he’ll come for her in the morning, but Ruth interrupts, revealing their wedding. Rosalyn is clearly struck, and Ruth offers her the wine glass to toast their happiness. Both she and Ruth drink, and Nicholas no longer knows who has the poisoned glass, but don’t worry, it was Rosalyn. She keels over immediately.
Ruth reveals to Nicholas his heritage, the necklace Rosalyn wore, that he now wears. The power is his, his birthright, and he accepts with nothing else left, he has to use that power. He doesn’t kill Ruth, instead accepting her as his evil wife, and together they break ground on what will become Fear Street. She tells him she’s pregnant with his child, and the book ends. DUN DUN DUN.
As Ruth waited for his answer, an idea began to form in his mind.
A powerful idea.
An evil idea.
We get some repeats of the Simon Fear myth, and Betsy says again that his daughter’s bones were missing when they were found in the woods, which is an insane image I struggle to form in my head. I did look into the history of ear piercing because Rosalyn is mentioned to have pierced ears, and it’s about the time for that to spring up in popularity, so I’ll give it to Stine. It doesn’t really feel like we’re about to hit the 1920s. It still kind of feels like the old timey pioneer days of the early books, but I’ll give it a pass for its small town aesthetic.
Like his ancestor before him, Nicholas isn’t much of a protagonist. It felt like a retread of other Fear books, and I don’t know if this added anything to the mythos. Nicholas is a dummy, though Ruth was an interesting antagonist in he end, but it didn’t quite hit it off for me. I’ll give it two wine glasses of rat poison out of five.
As a note for future updates. November and December cleaned me out physically and emotionally, and I’m trying to get back on top of projects at the moment. For the foreseeable future, I’ll be updating every other week to give myself a little more time to read and write these. 2017 is going to start a little rough for me, but I’m hoping to swing back into it soon.