Raise your hand if R.L. Stine scared the bejeezus out of you at some point during your childhood.
*takes a look around at all the raised hands*
I thought so.
Well, it was the same for me. I started on the Goosebumps series when they first came out, starting with Welcome to Dead House. Now I can’t go into old houses, be near dummies or scarecrows, go down into basements, put on masks, go on haunted rides in amusement parks, or have a picture taken of me with those old cameras that have the flash above it. Even though I might have enough problems that it’ll take years of therapy to get through (seriously, I hate dummies so much that I can’t even watch movies with them in it), I still love the Goosebumps series.
And it was only natural that I progressed on to R.L. Stine’s young adult series, Fear Street. Now I suspect all cheerleaders as being evil and/or possessed, will not go into graveyards (if I can help it), and I will not wear clunky, old necklaces. You never know if it will somehow transfer a curse that goes back hundreds of years on you and those you love.
Because that’s what happens again and again in the Fear Street Saga, which is a trilogy that explains the origins behind Fear Street. And it’s not pretty, guys.
If you’re read them, you know what happens. For those that haven’t, here’s the synopsis of The Betrayal, book 1 of the Saga:
Nora knows the secrets behind the horrifying things happening on Fear Street and reveals the dark legacy that marked the start of the terror three hundred years earlier, when a young girl was burned at the stake.
So, this whole thing starts in 1692 in a Massachusetts colony called Wickham Village during a scary period of time for all women… the witch trials. Susannah Goode is in love with Edward Fier, the son of Benjamin Fier, who is the magistrate of the village and the one who “hunts down” the witches. You can already see this isn’t going to end well, can’t you? Anyway, things come to light when Benjamin demands Edward marry an out-of-town girl in order to increase their wealth, Edward reveals he’s in love with Susannah and will only marry her. And then her and her mother are suddenly found out to be witches! Oh, noes! But of course, they aren’t. Benjamin’s just manipulating everyone in order to get what he wants. He’s a bad man. And so is his brother, Matthew Fier, who swindles George Goode (Susannah’s father) into thinking Susannah and her mother will be released if George gives Matthew everything of value he owns! (Seriously, these are not good people.)
Edward believes his father. Susannah’s heart breaks. And then Susannah and her mother burn on stakes while George watches! It’s horrific! But wait… George is a witch! (Plot twist!) And he places a curse on the Fier family for betraying him and his family.
This curse lasts for over two hundred years and through the course of the three books, you get to read all about the betrayals, the deaths, and the good-hearted members of the Fiers (changed to Fear in 1843 in an attempt to stop the curse) and the Goodes who lose everything time and again.
And it’s all centered around this necklace that Benjamin and Matthew brought over from ‘the old country’. You can see it on the Betrayal’s cover. On the backside, there’s an inscription: Dominatio per malum.
I have to hand it to R.L. Stine. How I was able to read these books when I was younger and not go around shouting ‘Dominatio per malum’ to everyone I disliked, I’ll never know. Of course, it might have been because I had no idea how to say it. (Oh, where’s the audiobook version when you need it?)
Things move really fast in these books. I miss that kind of pacing sometimes when reading adult (or sometimes young adult) books. R.L. Stine doesn’t write long, drawn-out intros into a character’s psyche and explain their entire backstory. Now that might be because people tend not to live very long in his stories, but I like to think it’s because he knows the attention span of a kid or teenager is short and in order to keep them engaged, things can never slow down.
I also liked how there’s a little bit of everything in these books. Stine doesn’t hold back with the supernatural and evil. Just a few of the things covered: ghosts, zombies, witches, plagues, murderers, liars, medical mysteries, creepy little girls (*shudders*), and insanity.
If for some reason you missed these books, which were pivotal in my young life and probably countless others, find them and read them. Hopefully your library will have them, but if not check out garage sales, resell book stores, and online swap sites. You’ll want the originals, if you can find them. There’s just something about holding the original edition of a book that makes it so much better than the reprints.
One last thing. Somehow, R.L. Stine still has some terrifying things to write about and scare the next generation of children with. He has a new show called The Haunting Hour on the Hub channel. If you have kids or love R.L. Stine, check it out. You can find all the info on his website –> HERE.
So, what’s your favorite R.L. Stine book? Or what phobia do you now have from reading his books? Have you read his Fear Street books? Let me know in the comments section!
My most-traumatizing phobia? Automatonophobia – fear of ventriloquist’s dummies. It’s a real thing, people.