Confessions Of A Bookaholic: Guilty Pleasure Edition #35 – Fear Street’s The Cataluna Chronicles Trilogy

You’ve heard of speed demons… well how about a sports car with a demon inside? Okay, technically this sports car is not possessed by a demon, but it is certainly evil. Find out the secret of the Cataluna’s ancient and dark power in the last Fear Street trilogy I have read before (and second to the last trilogy of the original series).

The Cataluna Chronicles: The Evil Moon

FS_The_Cataluna_Chronicles_The_Evil_Moon

Fear Street Scale: 4 out of 5 Fears
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: Second Place

They came from different worlds; different times. Still, they were destined to meet. In 1698, Catherine Hatchett longed to be accepted by the people in West Hampshire Colony. But the people of the colony thought that the red crescent-moon birthmark on Catherine’s forehead brought them bad luck. They blamed Catherine for the crops that withered in the fields and the animals that lay dying… They finally came to hang Catherine for sins that she did not commit…. In 1995, in the town of Shadyside, Bryan Folger wants the Cataluna more than he has ever wanted anything before. The sleek white sports car is all he can think about. And he’ll do whatever it takes to get it. Steal. Even kill! But Bryan is the one who could end up dead, because inside the Cataluna lives an ancient evil. And it wants him!

Everyone blames Catherine Hatchett for the colony’s bad luck, and I don’t understand how a birthmark can spark such hatred in so many people and direct it towards an innocent girl. But then I think ‘witch trials’ and I am over that. Catherine is an intelligent, thoughtful, sweet and insightful girl when she is introduced. She is the wronged party and yet she does not act out of spite or seek retribution. She gets angry, she is not a doormat, but she doesn’t hold grudges and wants to believe in the good in everyone. She is the beautiful and intelligent underdog/girl who was just born in the wrong time. And then Stine mucks everything up by flipping a switch and making her vengeful and vicious.

The good news is there was a serious trigger that could make Catherine’s ‘turn’ an isolated incident. When Catherine discovers the truth about who she really is and how she came to be, she goes a little mad, but perhaps this is just the natural response to a murderous mob hunting you down? Catherine was born under the bad moon (hence the birthmark and the title of this book) and has the ability to take any form she chooses. Catherine takes on different animal forms and kills twice. Once when she (some would say understandably) snaps under serious provocation and the other in self defense: Her life or killing the person trying to persecute her and flee. Not exactly the makings of some supreme evil thing…

But then there is the present day. A car called the Cataluna (which has a tiny red crescent moon on its fender – we all know what is going on with that) is killing people. Okay, cars don’t kill people, people kill people. But in this case it is more accurate to say this car will cause horrible accidents, yet it never has a scratch on it, and have a strange power over you that makes you do terrible things, etc. until you end up dead.

Bryan Folger wants the Cataluna – understatement of the year. First, it seems like Bryan wants the car to wow his girlfriend Misty, because she is rich and he is poor. I am so tired of ‘poor’ people being insecure about their financial status in this series. No one cares that Bryan is poor except for Bryan. He breaks dates with Misty before things spiral out of control… In the end, Bryan gets his hands on the Cataluna, but he should have been careful what he wished for…

When I first read this book I was into it at first, but after about two thirds in I remember thinking, “Wtf.” I was eleven. A possessed car isn’t scary to me; it seems so junior or just grasping desperately for something new to write about. But I love stories of ancient evil, origin stories and stories set in the past, particularly colonial times so this book had that going for it, but even that couldn’t save it. It is certainly original but lacks a solid foundation, and in this book these two stories seem mostly random. It is also hard because there is no one to root for. Catherine was awesome until she went bat shit crazy and now she isn’t the girl she was… and Bryan was never very likable. He was whiny and self-pitying before things actually went bad…

The Cataluna Chronicles: The Dark Secret

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Fear Street Scale: 4 out of 5 Fears
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: First Place

In 1698, William Parker is determined to destroy Catherine Hatchett. His quest leads him to a small farm when he encounters a family who has fallen on hard times… Catherine must be near. He must destroy Catherine to avenge his family and break the curse she carries with her – the curse of the bad moon. Too bad William’s quest will only lead to more death. In 1995, stepsisters Lauren and Regina Patterson are thrilled when their parents get them their own car. But then Regina begins acting strange and wild. Lauren is afraid Regina may be Shadyside’s hit-and-run killer. She has found blood on the Cataluna’s bumper… Can Lauren stop Regina before she kills again? The curse of Bad Luck Catherine lives on inside the Cataluna and while Catherine is hunted in her own time, Lauren and Regina will continue to be haunted in theirs. Because in this car, evil is always in the driver’s seat!

In the second installment of this trilogy, the game has changed. First, back in 1698, likeable and misunderstood Catherine Hatchett is evil and she seems to relish bringing pain and suffering to others, even people who have never wronged her. I just can’t get on board with that. I know Fear Street isn’t exactly deep literature, but how a girl can go from someone so sweet to someone who is not just bad, but actually evil, is good at being evil, and finds being this way entertaining? It just doesn’t work for me.

William Parker is hunting Catherine after she killed his brother and father in the first book (they both had it coming more or less, but that is irrelevant). He has been chasing her for such a long time, though the year from the last book to this book has not changed so it can’t have been more than a few months. She takes on various animal forms and seems to enjoy toying with him. Almost like a game of chase and when you’re afraid your pursuer will never catch up with you, you stop and wait for them so they have a chance. But in Catherine’s case she seems to enjoy messing with William’s head, then gloating about it, which puts her in jeopardy. So, not only has she turned evil, but she has also become arrogant and stupid? This is too much.

William comes across a farming family who seems to be suffering from the bad luck Catherine brings, so she must be close. He doesn’t mean to become attached but falls in love with the farmer’s daughter and attacks their cat, thinking it is really Catherine in disguise. Then someone loses a hand, someone else loses more than that and just when Catherine has William at her mercy, she reveals herself and gloats, which leads to an end to both of them. But remember I said ‘an end’ not ‘the end’.

Back in present day, stepsisters Regina and Lauren are thrilled when their parents buy the Cataluna for them, but this gift brings nothing but horror to both sisters. There has been a hit and run killer on the loose and Lauren is sure that Regina is the killer. They used to be so close, but now Regina is acting strange, keeps sneaking out and won’t talk to Lauren. To make matters worse, Lauren has found blood on the Cataluna’s fender more than once and when they have been in the car together Regina has intentionally aimed the car at small children in a deadly game of chicken. And then she laughs about it!

But Regina insists it is not her laughter Lauren hears, but the laughter of someone else. Someone they both hear, but can’t see. And then Lauren hears the same voice that Regina claims to hear when she is in the driver’s seat. Is Regina really a murderer or is the car committing these heinous acts alone. How? Why? The truth is more horrifying than Lauren can possibly fathom…

This book reveals another truth to who Catherine is and how she came to be, as well as how she came to be haunting the Cataluna. It also reveals the origin of the Cataluna itself. I must say that some of these revelations were interesting or even ‘cool’ but other things like time travel and a car in colonial times (no matter how plausible it might seem in the world of Fear Street) were utterly preposterous. They made the entire trilogy that much harder to take as anything beyond a fluke or a joke, or hopefully some kind of test. But aside from all this nonsense, the present day story (unlike the first book) is incredibly solid, freaky and has a surprise ending that I don’t think most people will get before the big reveal. If only this storyline could be the entire book without all of the other, “Say what?”

The Cataluna Chronicles: The Deadly Fire

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Fear Street Scale: 3.5 out of 5 Fears
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: Third Place

The Cataluna, now called ‘The Doom Car’ killed racecar driver Stan McCloy, but his brother Buddy can’t seem to stay away from it. There is something about the gorgeous Cataluna… Something ancient and evil. In 1698, a girl named Bad Luck Catherine killed William Parker’s brother and father. William swore revenge and his quest led him three hundred years into the future – to a place called Shadyside. In one night, the fates of William, Catherine and Buddy will be decided in a race to the death!

This is where the Cataluna Chronicles meets “The Fast And The Furious”. It is time to get your drag racing on, Fear Street style! The final installment finally gives the reader Catherine’s point of view from inside the Cataluna, even if they are brief and few, between several other characters who both dread and want to drive ‘The Doom Car’. Catherine tells the reader she must destroy anyone who comes near the Cataluna because she is afraid that they may be William Parker in disguise. If this is meant to humanize her, it would have helped if she hadn’t already been an evil wretch and murdered several innocents in 1698 (after the Parker men).

The present-day story this time is one of the most rushed and uninteresting in the entire trilogy. There was no ‘back in time’ part to this book until the very end. The closure to William Parker, Catherine Hatchett and all of the victims of the Cataluna was a happy ending and made sense… or some of it did and that was enough. But this was still the weakest book in the weakest trilogy (that I have read/covered so far) in the Fear Street universe.


I gave the first book 4 Fears because of the book before Catherine snapped – it was decent until then. And the second book was the best, and despite the bizarre story and the flaws of this trilogy – it still earned that rating (both the 1995 storyline and the 1698 storyline pulled their weight). The third book, however, didn’t have something to bring the rating up like the other two books did and without the first two books’ better elements – they would have had a lower rating too.

My two biggest problems with this trilogy is Catherine as the evil at work, and the whole possessed car angle. Catherine was not believable as a villain, not because she was such a human villain but because the girl who the reader was introduced to in the first book and the girl she is after she learns the truth of her origin are two very different people. And I am not just talking about the evil thing, but mannerisms, personality and even the character’s voice changed, and was unrecognizable. This did not allow me to become invested. And the entire possessed car thing was hard to roll with and as much as Stine tried, I just never really bought any of it.

Anyway, I can’t wait until the next Fear Street list, which has one book I love and two books I have been waiting eagerly to read. Until next time! 🙂

-DMW

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One Response to Confessions Of A Bookaholic: Guilty Pleasure Edition #35 – Fear Street’s The Cataluna Chronicles Trilogy

  1. Pingback: Confessions of a Bookaholic Guilty Pleasures Edition #130: Fear Street Seniors: #10 Wicked | justalittlered reviews

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