October 7, 2015

The Bookworm: The Evil Moon

The Evil Moon, by R.L. Stine. 151 pages. Pocket Books. August 1995.

Bryan wants the Cataluna more than he’s ever wanted anything. The sleek white car is all he can think about. And he’ll do whatever it takes to get it. (back cover)

Let’s get straight to the point. This first book in The Cataluna Chronicles mini-series, The Evil Moon, is the worst Fear Street book I have read.

The Evil Moon is the beginning of a story about the Cataluna, a strange white sports car. The story is told by its first victim, who, believe it or not, first encountered the car in the late-seventeenth century.

Yeah. See what I mean?

The book follows two, braided storylines. The first, set in 1698 in a place called the West Hampshire Colony, is centered on a girl named Catherine Hatchett, who is suspected of causing the colony’s recent streak of bad fortune. Catherine, who was “born under a bad moon” and has a distinctive, crescent moon-shaped birthmark on her right temple, is expelled from the colony and her parents reveal that she is not their child, that they found her on their doorstep. Catherine eventually learns the identity of her real mother and that she is a shape shifter. She escapes the wrath of the colony after killing its leader and his oldest son. The leader’s younger son, William, vows, “I shall never rest until I kill you. Catherine. Cat of the Moon. Cataluna (p. 151)!”

The other storyline is set in Shadyside in 1995, where Bryan Folger becomes obsessed with a white sports car, a Cataluna, for sale at a local car dealership. He has to make the Cataluna his. To fund a down payment, Bryan begins stealing money and his life spirals down the drain. The Cataluna, literally, drives him to death.

By the way, it is revealed in the prologue that the Cataluna is possessed, à la Stephen King’s Christine. The car also features a distinctive crescent moon on its right front fender.

Hmm… I have no clue how the hell the seventeenth century and twentieth century storylines will come together in the next two books, but they better.

“Worst” is not the best word to describe The Evil Moon. “Dumbest” may be better. It is just so…dumb. I can’t get over it. However, I will say that The Evil Moon is gorier than many other Fear Street books. Though dumb, its paranormal elements are a welcome, imaginative departure from the tamer, mundane mysteries that were common in the series’ earlier books.

The coolest things about The Evil Moon is an ad in the back for the Fear Street 1996 calendar. Included with the calendar was a special bonus poster, “A map of Shadyside showing where all the horrors of Fear Street happened. Take a terrifying tour of the spots where your favorite characters lived — and died.” What a gem! From left to right, the map is oriented southwest to northeast, which places Fear Street on the southwest side of Shadyside. I always imagine it on the west side, but one book placed it on the east side. Hmm…