The latest entry in the Fear Street reboot, this felt like two stories kind of roughly stitched together. In the first, Beth Palmieri (some sort of proto-witch who has “powers”) is being courted by the nephew of her father’s business rival, only by “courted” I mean “nearly raped.” In the second, Liz Walker shows up to stalk and kill a whole group of teenagers because one of them has a tenuous connection to the man who killed her father.
Let me unpack that a bit. In the prologue (which goes on until page 46), Beth Palmieri is remembering the day when her father, who started out as a stableboy working for the Dooley family, opened his own (rival) stable.
On her way home from her job at a bakery she’s almost raped by Dooley’s nephew, Aaron Dooley, who throws her to the ground and gets on top of her, kissing her. She fights back by making him choke on his own tongue (non-fatally, just for long enough to escape).
Two nights after the grand opening, two men show up and kidnap her father. They take him to Dooley’s stables, where he’s staked out and covered with honey and oats, so they can release some horses they’ve been starving for days and have him eaten. Okay. Beth follows them, but for some reason her powers (now suddenly contingent on a “spell,” like in most of the Fear Street Saga books) don’t work. Her father is killed, and she sees Aaron watching.
Then Aaron sees her and gives chase, and Beth escapes into a cave, where she falls into the darkness and wonders if she’s dying.
The rest of the book mostly follows a present-day boy named Michael Frost (I say mostly because we do, in flashbacks, find out that Beth is never found, and at the joint funeral for her and her father, Beth’s mother puts out Martin Dooley’s eye with a candle. Cool).
Michael find himself infatuated with a new girl, Lizzy Walker. Now, Lizzy is obviously Beth (though for a while I wondered if she was a ghost or zombie or what), but if you’re wondering who the hell Michael is, you’re not alone. Until the end there’s not so much as a hint given as to why she has (obviously) set him up by causing him to run over some guy with his snowmobile.
Michael and his friends leave the scene, then suffer pangs of conscience/common sense and return, only to find the “dead” guy missing. Lizzy has them convinced he’s some bad dude named Angel who beat two kids nearly to death at her old school.
Most of the rest of the book consists of Michael and his friends being attacked and/or killed by “Angel,” who keeps sending Michael threatening texts and phone calls. Naturally when the police finally get involved, these can’t be traced.
Things start to unravel when Michael and his (ex-) girlfriend Pepper find Lizzy’s yearbook photo…in a 1950 yearbook. But by then Lizzy has convinced Michael to show up in the Fear Street woods so she can give him a gun to kill Angel. Michael is powerless to resist her, or too stupid to see why that’s a bad idea.
Once there, he learns the truth: Lizzy is a time-traveller, and Angel is actually Aaron Dooley. Only they’re friends now! Yes, that’s right, she’s forgiven Aaron because he explained that he was watching in horror as his uncle had her father killed. No explanation is given as to why that was enough to make them team up after he’d, you know, attacked her.
Anyway, they want vengeance for Lizzy/Beth’s father’s death, and they’ve picked Michael because he’s Martin Dooley’s grandson, and his friends because…they’re his friends? I’m not sure. They try to throw him into the cave, but Pepper (who’d been spell-frozen) wakes up and screams, and that startles them so much that Michael is able to seize the moment and toss them both into the time-travel cave, where they age rapidly, decay, and fall to bits.
Michael and Pepper are back together, and he’s now uncertain about the accuracy of his impressions of his kindly, one-eyed old grandfather.
The ruins of the mansion were finally cleared away. Before I was born, I think. But nothing new has been built on the huge grounds. (p. 229)
Wait, what? What happened to Nights?
I’m really into writing. Pepper and I write a Shadyside High blog every day. (p. 51)
If the Seniors series is anything to go by, that must be one incredibly eventful blog. Or maybe Shadyside High has settled down since then.
- Seriously though: why is Lizzie now okay with Aaron having roughed her up and kissed her? Does the trauma of time travel make you bond with whatever person of your own era comes through the portal with you, even if they’re a pseudo-rapist you’ve always hated?
- What the hell happened to the shopping centre where the bar from Fear Street Nights was located?
- If she could forgive Martin Dooley’s nephew, why is she seeking revenge against his grandson? At the very least shouldn’t she give Michael the chance to say that he, too, would have been horrified if he’d seen her father’s death?