Friday, March 20, 2009
The Sign of Fear or "Extreme Historical Fiction!"
The Sign of Fear! I feel like this title needs to be said with a lot of emphasis and enthusiasm. I wanted to recap this book mostly because it had to do with the Fear family history (which I feel mildly attached to after doing the original saga) but also because half of the book takes place in the year 50 C.E. YEAH. R.L. is trying his hand at classical historical literature. This should be aMAzing.
The cover: We have the Fear amulet (which by the way, whatever happened to it? It never appears in any of the books set in the 1990s…) which is accurate. The skull with the glowing green eyes also makes an appearance in the book. BUT (you can see where I’m going with this) the scene with the man taking out a girl from a burning building? NOT accurate. In fact, the exact opposite happens in the book! WTFudge, cover artist? I mean, there’s artistic liberty and then there is just not reading the book. Or a recap of the book. Or the one descriptive sentence that I imagine R.L. sending the cover artist “Include the Fear Amulet, a skull with glowing green eyes, and a man LEAVING a woman in a burning building to die.” The job can’t be THAT hard.
We start very randomly with old, crazy-balls Matthew Fier. You’ll remember that in The Betrayal, Matthew bricked himself up in a room to die, to protect himself and his precious amulet, all while laughing hysterical. Creepy, yes. Practical? Nope! He thinks back to the year when he stole his de-LIGHT-ful little amulet from a woman named Christina Davis…
Cue flashback music!
The New World: Massachusetts Bay Colony, 1679
Like many of our poor protagonists, Christina has just found herself orphaned. Since this is a Fear Street novel, we know that her new guardian is not a magical unicorn who grants wishes and poops puppies, but is instead her evil Aunt Jane. While the funeral is taking place, the sky suddenly darkens because a huge murder of crows has appeared out of nowhere and are attacking the villagers! (Dream!) The crows tear at everyone’s flesh, including two unfortunate children. (Dream!) While Christina is running away from this terrifying funeral interruption, a crow drops something into her hands: the Fear Amulet. (Dream!) And then she falls into her fathers open grave.
She wakes up at her house later that day. She still has her wounds and the amulet, so I guess the crow attack WASN’T a dream?! I guess that could happen… never… Anyways, mean Aunt Jane comes in with a woman, and Christina pretends to be asleep. The women cackle about getting rid of Christina and her ‘disappearance’, then exchange money, so Christina assumes they’re going to kill her. (Why would they have that discussion in front of her, even if she was ‘asleep’? I could plan such better murders than these people.) Christina decides she needs to escape RIGHT THEN, while Aunt Jane is outside. Of course Aunt Jane catches Christina in the act of trying to break out of her window. (Christina realized that if she stopped to change, she would miss her window of escape. So she stopped and changed. WTF?) A fight ensues were AJ catches a foot to the throat and Christina is free!
The Old World: Britain, 50 C.E.
Fieran is a Celtic warrior who just killed and decapitated the leader of the advancing Roman army. He knows that bringing the head home will give him lots of power and honor (like marrying his dream girl Brianna) so he’s pretty jazzed about it. That is until, his mortal enemy Conn (also conveniently in love with Brianna) decides that the middle of a raging battle is the perfect time to engage Fieran in a fight to the death. Did I mention their in the middle of a battle against OTHER people, not themselves? Fieran successfully fights him off, but decides that killing one of his best warriors is not the best thing to do, so lets Conn go with a warning. I see that one coming back to bite him in the ass…
After sending Conn back into the fight, Fieran sees that the Romans are retreating and the Celts are chasing them off. So he decides to head back to his home. What? I’m pretty sure the head of the Celtic army needs to stay at the battle until it’s over. That MUST have been a rule somewhere. Anyways, he heads back to his home (which is a CAVE by the way. Not what the Celts lived in) and thinks about his love, Brianna and Conn. The three of them are spellcasters, who do pretty much exactly what you are imagining right now.
As a spellcaster, he knows that to release the power of the decapitated head, he must cook it. He puts it on a spike in his pot for safe-keeping (where I keep all my things!) He also has a vision that he will soon be declared chief of the tribe. Conn and Brianna randomly wander into his cave to tell him that the chief has been mortally wounded and the new chief will be chosen that night! Convenient. The two men head over to the clearing, where everyone waits for the ceremony. Which includes the old, dying chief stepping into a wooden cage and being lit on fire. This apparently “transfers” his power to the next rightful chief. Yeah, chief is not a job that I would be applying for. Fieran obviously feels the power go into himself but before he can prove that he is the rightful leader, Conn announces that HE has the power. I see a flaw in this method… To prove he’s the chief, and blessed with powers, he grabs Brianna and drags her into the fire with him. When they both come out unharmed, the tribe makes him chief and banishes Fieran. Burn!
Conn comes by Fieran’s cave later to taunt him over losing. Ass. Conn tells him that his precious Brianna helped him win willingly, and it was her magic that protected them from the fires! Fieran feels so enraged and betrayed, that he decides to release the power of the skull early! Apparently, you’re supposed to let the severed head of your enemy ferment over the course of a few days (in a pot) before releasing the power, otherwise it could be too hard to control. You probably already knew that, though. Releasing the power means de-fleshing it, which leads to a graphical scene that basically ends with Fieran passing out.
So Christina is still on the lamb from Aunt Jane. She’s running through the woods when she’s scooped up by a stranger on a galloping horse. She’s oddly not TERRIFIED (which is what I would be) but maybe this was a regular occurrence back then. The man ends up being a friendly guy named Matthew (dun dun dunnnnn!) who wants to help her out. Christina immediately thinks that he is her soulmate. Wow. She had not met a lot of guys, did she? He takes her to the Peterson’s farm since he’s been there before and thinks they are nice. Christina is apprehensive since she’s heard gossip that the Peterson’s practice witchcraft! But since it’s late and her soulmate would NEVER lead her wrong, she agrees.
Turns out that Mrs. Peterson is actually the woman that Aunt Jane paid early that day! Except Christina misunderstood: Mrs. Peterson was paying Aunt Jane so that Christina would come be her servant (cough*slave*cough). Mrs. Peterson also has a daughter, Emily who is apparently HAWT x 10 000. The Petersons send Christina to her room to clean herself up while Emily “entertains” Matthew downstairs. Christina then does the most normal thing for a girl to do when someone else is macking on her soulmate-of-one-hour: She crushes a porcelin water pitcher in her hands and runs downstairs streaming blood. Well, Matthew is certainly not going to forget about you!
Emily also reacts to someone bleeding in a completely typical way: She squeezes Christina’s hand to get the most blood into her cupped hands, then runs away while sniffing it. YEAH. Christina is creeped out and begs Matthew not to go, but he tells her that he must find his family’s amulet! (You know, the one that Christina has. O the star-crossed shenanigans that will ensue!) Anyways, Matthew leaves, but after confessing his undying love for Christina and proposing, saying he’ll come back for her. Remember, they still met about an hour ago.
Well, Mrs. Peterson immediately beats Christina for breaking the water-jug, and throws her in the cellar for the night. So apparently Christina was right about them, fat lot of good it’ll do her now. Basically, her days consist of cleaning the house from dawn to dusk. (But here’s my question: There’s only three of them living there. How dirty are they, that they need someone to clean every day, all day? Even if it does consist of like washing walls and stuff that no one ever really does, wouldn’t the work just run out one day?) Anyways, whenever Christina passes Emily’s room, she hears terrible moaning. So one day she decides to investigate… WHY!?
Emily’s room is full of mirrors, kind of a shrine to her glorious beauty. The moaning is actually coming from a clay jar, that knows Christian by name, but she never opens the jar (I wouldn’t have either). There’s also a big spice rack filled with vials of old blood, including Christina’s! Well she smashes it on the floor and vows to run away. I don’t know why she didn’t vow this while she was say, a SLAVE to the Petersons. Maybe Christina has deeply Catholic values that don’t allow witchcraft, but slavery is a-okay? Anyways, after she smashes it, the Fear Amulet on her chest burns and the world erupts in flames around her.
Britain, 50 C.E.
Cutting back to our lame hero Fieran, he’s just released the power of the skull of his enemy. It transports him to a stone altar that looks like the Amulet, but bigger and made out of rocks. He realizes that the power he will be given is pure evil, and wonders if he can use pure evil power for good. Hmmmm. I wonder.
The amulet has magically appeared in his hands but to get its power, he must wash it in the blood of an enemy who he killed. He’s unsure whether he could actually kill Conn or anyone for that matter. He spies on Conn’s hut, only to see Brianna and him have a romantic meeting. There’s a lot of “I’ll love you till the day you die, Conn” and such from Brianna. Fieran can’t believe she betrayed him, and vows to kill her too! I guess he got over his apprehension of killing people…
He gets Conn to meet him in a special “circle stone” meeting spot (cough* Stonehenge *cough). They fight and Conn almost wins, until a huge stone falls and crushes him. Fieran is disappointed because it means he can’t use Conn’s blood to get the evil power. Brianna pops up from behind a rock and says that she used her magic to kill Conn to escape him. Apparently she never loved Conn, it was always Fieran! And he believes this crap. They decide to get married that day. *shakes head*
Shadyside Village 1679
After Christina found all the disgusting vials of blood, she finally booked it outta that hell hole. Although she had been beaten, abused and neglected for months, those little jars of blood really got to her! Christina goes to confront Aunt Jane, who is baking pies in their backyard in Shadyside (backyard? Maybe people use their backyards as kitchen in non-Canada land). Before Christina can do anything though, the amulet acts out on its own. Hot pie juice begins to squirt all over Aunt Jane (more than a pie could ever contain) and it’s apparently an ACID pie since all of her flesh begins to disintegrate. Christina is rightfully horrified because she only wanted to give Aunt Jane a talking to, not … whatever the hell is happening to her. She’s unfortunately rooted to the spot by the amulet so she can neither go help Aunt Jane or get the HELL away from her.
Once Aunt Jane is a pile of smoldering bones and disgustingness, Christina runs away and bumps into her beloved Matthew! She tells him the horror stories about the Petersons, and he decides to take her back there to confront them. When they ride up to the Peterson’s Emily is outside shrieking her head off because Christina destroyed all the blood. Em ain’t looking too good. Apparently the blood kept her beauty around, and without it, she’s a shriveled old hag. In fact, she’s actually Mrs. Peterson’s mother! Weird. Christina and Emily get into a good old fashioned girl fight and the front of Christina’s dress gets ripped down the front, exposing… the amulet! And boobs, I like to think. Matthew gasps!
Britain 50 C.E.
Brianna and Fieran have been successfully married and are snuggling in post-coital bliss. Unfortunately Brianna has to go and RUIN it by giving Fieran the same love talk that she gave Conn earlier that same friggen’ day! Fieran realizes that Brianna only loves herself, and for that she deserves to die. Well… okay… let’s see where this is going. Fieran asks Brianna to share in the power of the skull and she jumps at the chance because she is a power-hunger hooch. Fieran does some dramatics and goes to stab her! But of course Brianna saw that coming and stabs him instead. While Fieran lies dying, he puts some things together. The skull had been promising him revenge but Fieran finally understands that the SKULL of the man he MURDERED wanted revenge against him. Makes sense. Brianna reigns triumphant and tells Fieran that she is pregnant with his child (approximately .5 hours old at this point) and the power through evil will live on through his bloodline. And while R.L. didn’t mention it, she MUST laugh manically at the end of all this. She just has to.
Shadyside Village 1679
After the amulet (and Christina’s boobs) have been exposed, everyone goes for her throat. Matthew is very excited to find it, while Emily wants it because it’s shiny. Okayyyy. The amulet is potentially scared, as it makes the whole room, including both Emily and Mrs. Peterson burst into flames. They die a horrible death, like they should. Christina gets caught under a fallen wooden beam and looks to Matthew for help. She’s gonna be looking for a long time, since Matthew just bends down and rips the necklace from her neck. He tells her that he never loved her, he was only drawn to the amulet. Then he effing LEAVES her in the burning building! I always thought the Fear Amulet made people evil, but no, Matthew was a total dick his whole life. Christina actually manages to escape the inferno by herself, and sees Matthew riding off into the sunset with the amulet. She’s super pissed he chose the amulet over her. The End!
Well, that was a different ending! No make-outs overtop of charred bodies. No cheesy one-liners. Too bad! I enjoy how both of our main characters ended up either dead or unhappy, but I think in the long run, Christina was better off without Matthew. Because she probably didn’t die a horrible death like everyone else in the Fear family. I give this book 70 de-fleshed skulls outta 74. Great!