Fear Hall was a Fear Street anomaly. It was a special two-part series within the original Fear Street. Unlike trilogies or stories and their sequels this was just one story that was so long R.L. Stine broke it up into two books.
For once I don’t have a summary or synopsis for you on the first book. I could try and come up with one myself, but I would just repeat myself in my commentary, and R.L. Stine never gives us one. Instead he writes a letter to fans, used both in promotional material and also on the back cover of the first book. See for yourself… 😉
“Fear Hall: The Beginning”
Fear Street Scale: 3.5 out of 5 Fears
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: Second Place
I’m writing to tell you about a very special Fear Street. This story has so many scares and surprises, it took me two books to tell it all! Come with me to FEAR HALL – that’s the creepy campus dorm that was built many years ago by the cursed Fear family. Hope and her roommates live in Fear Hall. Hope’s boyfriend lives there, too. They’re all good students and get along. Everything is going great… until one of them becomes a murderer! Life at Fear Hall can be a real scream! I hope you’ll join me for both books. I had so much evil fun writing them, I SCARED myself!
Hope Mathis lives in Fear Hall and she’s more than happy to give the reader a tour. Fear Hall is a dorm at Ivy State College, a private prestigious school, fifty miles away from Shadyside. She rooms with three other girlfriends she’s known since high school. Angel is the sexy, flirty, boy-crazy roommate. Eden is the roommate who is truly an individual; she’s is sarcastic and makes her own rules. Jasmine is the painfully shy, quiet and mysterious roommate and Hope is the average roommate. Hope has a boyfriend named Darryl who gets crazy jealous and she’s also known him since high school.
The first murder occurs at the very beginning of the book and the murderer confesses by the end of the second chapter. This was a little fast because as a reader I wasn’t able to care about anyone, let alone understand the loyalty they had and the inner workings of their relationships. I mean when the murderer confesses, I don’t understand why at least two of the friends don’t call the cops. It’s stupid from a safety standpoint and the fact that they actually cared for the murder victim, but not so much about the murderer. So why aren’t they squealing? This stumped me as I continued reading until I figured out what was going on. But that was kind of a letdown.
I suspected what was going on after twenty pages, and I was absolutely positive, down to the smallest detail after the first fifty pages. This book is 165 pages so that kind of sucked. I’m not sure how I would have felt if I read it back when it was published (1997), because the twist was used in a movie and has been used in other books from 2003 on. So, R.L. Stine did it first – but it’s 2015 and I came across these later examples before I read this book. At the same time, even without encountering similar plot twists, I’m fairly certain I would have figured it out back then too. Because it’s the only thing that makes sense and I felt it was all pretty transparent.
This book didn’t make me feel like I stepped into a special Fear Street story – it was mostly just a lot of hot air. But the ending makes things really interesting, and I’m excited and hopeful that the second and final part of this two-part episode will make it all worthwhile.
“Fear Hall: The Conclusion”
Fear Street Scale: 4 out of 5 Fears
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: First Place
Where will Hope go now that her secret has been revealed? Does she realize that her friends aren’t real friends? Does she know who the vicious killer really is? What other shocking surprises are in store for her? I hope you will join me for the conclusion of FEAR HALL. I think it’s one of my scariest finishes ever!
This book is better than the first, but I still think it’s all a lot of hot air. Hope is on the run after she tries to turn in her boyfriend, Darryl, for the brutal murders on campus. But it’s not as simple as that, because Darryl isn’t really the murderer. This book is like a sketch of a nervous breakdown and Hope is constantly questioning everything, but since we never got to care about her, and still don’t, none of this really matters.
But there are two things that this book has going for it that the first one didn’t. First, the reader finally gets to witness the murders. In the first book we just heard about them after the fact, but here we see them take place. Even better, we finally hear from the killer, and get inside the killer’s head, so we can watch him/her stalk their prey, plan the murders and execute them. This makes for more interesting reading than a lot of seemingly random events that happen to characters we don’t care about. The second thing is the ending… this book’s ending was decent. In fact, I could only think of one other ending that would work as well as the one that’s used… and even that is just a slightly different spin on the same ending. It’s funny how a book that wasn’t all that good, had a very decent ending – it’s also one of the book’s saving graces.
All in all, this two-part story is something I would advise everyone except the most devout Fear Street fans to pass on. It was a new idea, original and had so much potential… but it just didn’t work. The characters were not developed, the pacing, urgency and even the writing itself wasn’t up to par.
I’m really disappointed that these books weren’t what they could be. I think the idea of Fear Hall had so much potential – it could even have been its own spinoff series. I mean it takes place at a college campus, not high school, so Stine could have had a series geared towards more mature audiences. After all, he created a Fear Street Jr. series for younger audiences (The Ghosts of Fear Street). I look at the idea behind Fear Hall and a see an entirely new setting for Fear Street. One that could have its own secrets, its own curse… and nothing. If these books were still in print I would volunteer to ghostwrite the series. It’s just sad to see such potential unused and discarded without a second thought.
There are only two more books of the original-original series. I haven’t read either one, and part of me wants to put them off for awhile. I’m not ready for this to be the end…