I never grew up with R.L. Stine’s novels. The two books that I read when I was about eight years old terrified me so much that I never read anything else by him again. I don’t know if it was my decision or my parents not to have anymore of his books in the house or a combination of both, but I never read anything by him again until this year. I found out that Stine was trying to reboot his Fear Street series so I read one of them just to familiarize myself with the series since I didn’t know or read Fear Street before. I then found a three in one book at Barnes and Noble by Stine called Betrayal. They were originally published as three separate books several years ago as The Betrayal, The Secret and The Burning.
Betrayal takes the reader back to the Salem witch trials, 200 years before Fear Street was even a street. Stine shows us how the horror began with a mother and daughter being wrongly accused of witchcraft by two Fier brothers and are burned at the stake. Over the next two centuries, the two families are intertwined with death, hate, revenge, and well, fear. At the end, the curse appears to be broken, only to end where the other Fear Street novels begin.
I was interested in reading this not because of the horror, but because of the historical context with the witch trials and family feuds that waxes nostalgic of the Hatfields and McCoys. And it was interesting…for a little while.
Stine repeats himself constantly throughout the entirety of the book. About halfway through the novel I wanted to quit, mainly because I was tired of the Fier’s paranoia of the Goodes and vice versa. They seem to kill off each other mainly because of this paranoia and very little because of actual curses and ghosts. At the end when one of the Fiers wanted to marry a Goode, I thought, this could have happened several generations ago and spared us a couple hundred pages. The characters didn’t develop at all and most of the characters had forgotten why they were so hateful to begin with.
If I was younger or had been interested in reading these books when I was a child, I would have probably ate this book up. But alas, I read this at a much later stage when Fear Street can’t cause me any anxiety.
Overall impression: A repetitious novel with no character develop set between 1692 and 1900.