Welcome to Shadyside. First time? Don’t worry. There’s nothing to be afraid of. Well, nothing but Fear Street.
It wasn’t always called Fear Street. In fact, it still isn’t. But the name stuck after the Fier family changed their name to avoid a curse. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. Some say the fire they were cursed with eventually claimed everyone in the Fear family. And some say they still live in Shadyside. Either way, the curse haunts the street, and the town, to this day.
Fear Street books burst onto the young adult horror scene in 1989
The series by R.L. Stine first debuted in 1989 with a teenage reader in mind. It quickly gained popularity and in 10 years Stine wrote 51 books in the series. He then began writing a new spin-off series aimed at younger readers. Where the Fear Street books were largely mystery/thriller stories with paranormal elements only rarely included, Ghosts of Fear Street primarily featured paranormal creatures like monsters and aliens.
By 2003, over 80 million copies of the Fear Street books had been sold worldwide and included multiple spin-offs. With over one hundred books under his belt, not to mention the monumentally successful Goosebumps series to boot, Stine took a hiatus. 10 years later, he returned to Fear Street with Party Games, a longer, more violent, adult-oriented story. And readers loved it. Since his return, he’s penned several more spin-offs.
Long-awaited Fear Street adaptation finally arrives to Netflix in 2021
Part of that success was thanks to the long-awaited adaptation premiere on Netflix. The three-part feature was 20 years in the making. News of a Fear Street movie was first announced in 1997, with Parachute Entertainment. But developments never progressed. After Stine renewed the franchise in 2014, Chernin Entertainment began working on a new film trilogy.
The films were designed to marry the best of television and film. All three movies were shot back-to-back and were originally intended to be released one month apart in theaters. And while each movie was a stand-alone, the threads of the story intertwined to tie them all together. In early 2020, they announced a first-look deal with Netflix, who released the trilogy over a three-week period of time in July 2021.
More episodes in the works?
Even though the Fear Street franchise is enjoying more than thirty years of popularity and success, there’s still more to come. Stine has stated that he has no intention of stopping anytime soon. Even better, as of October 2023, both Stine and Netflix have confirmed that there are new Fear Street movies in the works.
That means there’s no better time to dive back into this fun series. But don’t be intimidated. While approaching a series with well over one hundred titles to contend with might seem daunting, Stine has created a universe that stands individually in each book. Whether it’s been 20 years since you read one of these books, or this is your first time, we’ve taken some of the stand-out titles to help you navigate your way through Shadyside.
The New Girl
Cory Brooks can’t get the new girl out of his head. Pale, blond, and eerily beautiful, Anna Corwin seems just as infatuated with Cory as he is with her. He dreams about what it would be like to kiss her, losing sleep and ditching his friends. But one day, she doesn’t come to school. It’s like she vanished into thin air. And the only way Cory can find out what happened to Anna is by going to her house. The only problem? It’s on Fear Street.
The first book that started it all, this is a must-read book in the series. It sets the tone of the series by introducing mystery, plot twists, and just enough humor to offset the scares.
Rachel Martin should not go to Fear Island. That’s what her friends keep telling her, anyway. But that’s where Brendan Fear’s birthday party is. And there’s no way she’s missing it. Everything is going great until one of the guests dies. Then another. It’s soon obvious someone uninvited is on the island. Nothing is what it seems, and Rachel has no idea who she can trust. She has no choice but to play the game until she finds a way to escape.
If you’re looking for a place to start that feels more modern, Party Games is the perfect place to start. It’s the first book Stine wrote after taking his hiatus in 2003 and is intentionally aimed at a more adult reader in terms of pacing and story elements.
A New Fear
The Fear family is cursed. It affects everyone they love, everyone they hate, and everyone who lives in the small town of Shadyside. Nora Goode and Daniel Fear want to end the curse. But on their wedding day, a terrible fire destroys not just the Fear mansion, but every member of the family. Except one. Nora and Daniel had a child. A new Fear. The only question is, can he live his life untouched by the curse? Or will it come for him, too?
The first to dive into the history of the Fear family, this series explores the legend behind the curse, and how it affects Shadyside.
Twice Terrifying Tales: Hide and Shriek and Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed?
Do you believe in ghosts? They believe in you. And they walk on Fear Street. Want proof? There are never any birds singing in the woods. There’s definitely something lurking in the lake. And don’t forget the cemetery. Randy Clay is new to Shadyside. When she’s invited to a slumber party, she’s thrilled. Until they sing Happy Birthday and start a game of hide-and-seek. Because they’re playing in a cemetery. And if she’s tagged, she’s dead.
With the success of Goosebumps, Stine decided to expand Fear Street to a younger audience and introduce far more aspects of the paranormal into the story.
The Best Friend
Honey Perkins is Becka Norwood’s best friend. That’s what Honey tells everyone. The only problem is Becka has never met Honey before. That doesn’t stop Honey. The closer she gets to Becka, the more Honey imitates everything about her. And Becka’s other friends? Well, they start having unfortunate accidents. Does Honey really want to be Becka’s friend? Or does she want something more?
While most of the Fear Street books have fairly happy endings, Stine tried something new with The Best Friend. Unfortunately, readers were so upset that Stine and his publisher ran a contest where the winner could decide Honey’s fate in the sequel. It’s worth noting, he didn’t try this type of ending in this original series again.
When Cari Taylor and her friends are hired to work at The Howling Wolf Inn for the summer, they can’t stop dreaming of all the fun-in-the-sun they’re going to have. But when they get there, the hotel is deserted. The mysterious owner, Simon Fear, lets the girls stay. No work and all play sounds like a killer deal. Until they hear a woman scream. Until the faucets drip blood. Until Simon Fear is murdered. Now, they’re trapped on the island with no way out.
The first in the Super Chiller spin-off, these books are known for being far scarier than the original Fear Street books. There’s plenty of mystery, but the thrills are designed to be more chilling, gearing this series towards horror fans.
Nora knows the secrets of Fear Street. She knows the history. She knows the curse. She knows exactly how it all began. It all started with a young girl burned at the stake and the bloody feud between two families that followed. The horror has lasted three hundred years. Are you sure you want to know more? Because Nora wants to tell you.
If you loved the Netflix movie, you won’t want to miss the trilogy that largely inspired all three films. While many elements of the entire franchise are woven into the films, The Fear Street Saga trilogy heavily influenced the main storyline.
Featured photo: Christian Lue / Unsplash