It’s another swing and a miss for the first saga in this blog, but the second is an absolute hit. Like one of the best sagas so far that is its own story, but also pays proper homage to the original saga trilogy. So if you can stomach getting through the first, I promise the second will make it worth it! 😉
The dark power of the Fear family consumes all those connected with it. The Fears. Those they love – and hate. The entire town of Shadyside. All are tainted forever by the evil of the family’s curse. No one can escape…
“Fear Street Sagas #8 – Dance of Death”
Fear Street Scale: 3 out of 5 Fears
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: Second Place
After the bizarre deaths of her parents, Madeline never expects to feel happy again. Then she falls in love with Justin Fear, a handsome young doctor. When Justin asks to marry her, Madeline happily agrees, but not all is well. Madeline is warned away by a young man no one else can see, and an old woman everyone thinks is crazy. They tell Madeline that Justin is a man driven by an evil quest that destroys any woman who dares to love him. Just ask Justin’s other wives. Justin has been married many times before and none of his brides have lived more than a year after marrying him…
All right, I’ll just come out and say it – I really didn’t like this book. A “3” is the lowest rating I have ever given a Fear Street book because I am terribly biased in favor of Fear Street, and this book is at the bottom.
Madeline Simms moves to Shadowbrook, New York to live with her cousins after her parents die tragically. Her mother went insane, and so Madeline is terrified she’ll go crazy like her mother. That’s why she ignores the man she keeps seeing that no one else can, and is so keen to believe everyone else when they blame her imagination on things, like when Justin attacks her and sucks her blood. The entire story happens in less than a week. Madeline meets Justin Fear and immediately feels something is wrong with him, but “falls in love” with him anyway and gets engaged after only two days to get married two days later. I used quotes on the falling in love bit, because the author never sells us on Madeline’s feelings. It’s not that they seem too sudden or out of character, they’re just empty.
That’s one of the biggest issues with this book – the author doesn’t sell us on anything. The characters are sketches more than anything, not relatable, undeveloped and so it is impossible to care about them. The plot is ridiculous and predictable at the same time. Justin Fear is evil – the end. I’m not spoiling anything since the book makes that clear right away. And there is no surprise or complicating factor or new information by the end. We know what’s going on in the beginning and that’s what happens. There is no urgency. There is no investment. I’m more irritated by this book than anything, because I feel it taints an otherwise great series.
Last gripe – the ghostwriter (all of the sagas except for the first one “A New Fear” were ghostwritten, and not written by R.L. Stine) does not know anything about the series, so there was all this sloppiness that a real fan can call out faster than smacking the ghostie upside the head. For example, Justin uses the name “Fear” in 1793, but it was not changed from Fier to Fear until 1843. Oops! It also references Fear Street as being built and having nice homes in 1873, but Fear Street’s construction did not even begin until 1901. Oops again!
If this book had been well written, the technique of having two stories unfold simultaneously, each taking place in a different time (like what was employed in Fear “Street Saga #4: A Sign Of Evil”) would have worked well. But that’s all this book is: Would have, could have, should have.
I don’t recommend it – even to fans, but if you’re like me and have to read it anyway, prepare yourselves for a blood bath – and I’m not talking about what happens in this book!
“Fear Street Sagas #9 – Heart Of The Hunter”
Fear Street Scale: 4.5 out of 5 Fears
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: First Place
A Shawnee medicine woman tells Jamie Fier that she knows how he can win the heart of the girl he loves. But it will cost him… She gives Jamie a potion to drink and that night, when the moon is full, Jamie finds himself transforming – into a wolf! With each full moon, Jamie transforms again. But if his true love sees him while he is in the form of a wolf, he will remain a wolf… forever!
It’s the books you don’t expect much from that can totally surprise you. That was the case with this book. This is more than just an unrequited love story, or a story about the stupid things a person does for love, though it is both of those things – it also goes back to the original saga: the Fiers vs. Goodes. Jamie and his parents leave Virginia in hopes of settling in Kentucky where new land has become available. They are traveling with a wagon train, but one of the other wagons belongs to the Goode family. While neither family seems to have any knowledge of what happened between their families 100 years ago (click here if you want to know what went down back then) they don’t like each other – at all.
In the original saga trilogy the Fiers brought their doom on themselves by betraying the Goodes, stealing from them and causing the deaths of two innocent Goode women. Throughout the trilogy after that, Goodes would come after innocent Fiers or Fiers would bring about their own destruction or come after the Goodes again – it was a real feud. But in this book, it is the Goodes turn to be the unprovoked villains of the story. Lucien Goode is a lazy and greedy man, a cheat and then some. He keeps trying to get the other wagons to turn against the Fiers, steal their food and supplies, and leave them behind. One of these attempted thefts lead to Jamie’s mother’s death, and his father isn’t far behind and they are abandoned after awhile. Lucien Goode has to pay, and I for once agree. It feels weird to be on the side of a Fier…
Then Jamie is captured by a Shawnee tribe who decide to let him live because of a medicine woman’s vision that Jamie would lead them to buffalo. But the medicine woman has a dark secret of her own and convinces Jamie to drink a potion that she promises will land him the woman in the tribe he has fallen for. It will only cost him his soul – no big deal. After that there is no turning back, as Jamie turns into a wolf every full moon…
What really made the story for me though is when Jamie hunts down the Goodes and decides to take his revenge on them for killing his parents and destroying his family. Now this is what I’m talking about! This story is clever as is Jamie, and even though he is not the boy he started out as, twisted by the transformations that cost him his soul, you still want him to come out on top in the end. I can’t remember the last time I wanted the “villain” to win.
This book is well-written, its own story completely separate from the original saga trilogy, yet a definite throwback to it as well. Everything about this book works, and I found myself surprised at first at how much I liked it… and then surprised again and again as it just kept getting better. And the end… I approve!
I’d recommend this book to anyone who was even remotely curious about the Fear Street Sagas, let alone any fan. You won’t be disappointed! 🙂
*I should note there was one mistake in the book. When the book jumps ahead in time, but goes from 1792 to 1781. This is an error, and while I can’t swear what the original dates should be, I know that when the book makes the jump two to three years have passed, based on the ages of the characters before the jump, and after.
The first book made me worried this would be a not-so-great post, but the second book really saved this from being a “don’t bother” post. I’m still reeling from being so surprised… in a great kind of way. It’s the first saga to actually go back to the feud between the Goodes and the Fears, which is how all of the horror was supposed to begin, and it did a great job!
I can’t believe I’m more than halfway through the sagas (only seven books left to go) but I am really excited about the next saga I’ll be reading. It’s the story of the evil spirit of Sarah Fear that terrorized the Shadyside cheerleaders in their trilogy and then in that trilogy’s sequel, one of my all-time favorite Super Chillers. I really hope the origin story lives up to what it should be… I can’t wait to find out! 😉