Books

FEARFUL: Scary Stories of the Cursed Filter by Christian Nava

Christian Nava takes us back to Quiet Falls in the second book to his Fearful series

When we were last here, we followed Esau and company as they fought the evil app/phone that had taken control of his brother, Jake (aka GoatyJakey). Now a new evil threatens the citizens of not-so-Quiet Falls, once again proving that Nava has a Stephen King-esque aversion toward technology. 

There’s just one tiny problem – Esau isn’t in the story. And while CJ, Jake, and Kara (as  Ex-Machina) make an appearance, they’re downgraded to secondary characters. I do like that they’ve formed their own version of the Scooby Gang, hunting the horrors of Quiet Falls. 

In this story, we meet Lily Andrews, her brother Donnie, and the Sucky Siblings, Blair and Caleb. In an attempt to protect her brother from being terrorized by Blair and Caleb, Lily makes a deal with the mysterious Diana, whose shop just magically appears in the woods one day. She is given an irl filter, which has the power to transform Lily into someone’s wildest daydream to their most horrendous nightmare. 

But nothing in Quiet Falls is cheap, and Lily must pay the price. 

Much like his first book, Nava crafts a story reminiscent of a Goosebumps tale with a modern flare – which can be distracting. He doesn’t shy away from using the current slang, though at times it can feel forced. (I’ll let the children decide if he’s using it correctly.) 

While I’m on the topic of slang, there are a couple of eyebrow-raising words used in the story. Whether it’s because I’ve become a tad more conservative in my older years, but terms like “pissing” and “FUBAR” (which last I checked stood for “fucked up beyond all repair”).  Now I’m no stranger to cursing, but this was a book intended for a younger audience. 

There’s no denying, however, that Christian Nava has a knack for spinning these stories and crafting interesting and relatable characters. Lily reminded me of Esau from the first book, though their motives were polar opposites. Where Esau wanted to one-up his brother, Lily wanted to protect him at any cost—and she was willing to pay the price for it. 

Donnie, while much like pre-evil app Jake, is given some room to grow as a character as well. From allowing others to bully him to learning how to be the hero in his own tale, his transformation feels natural and never forced. 

Nava’s ability to unleash several antagonists without it feeling oversaturated surprised me. Not only did Lily face the horrors of Quiet Falls, she was also tasked to stand up against bullies and adults who just didn’t understand. And not once did it feel like it dragged or delayed the story. 

He builds upon the world he created in the Evil App, dropping us right back into the world as we watched it grow. And there are more horrors still in Quiet Falls. I just hope that Lily joins the Scooby Gang for the first book, Scary Stories of the Phantom Music School!

This is a fun read that both parents and children can enjoy. Just so long as we don’t have to explain what FUBAR is to any children.

Afterthought

While it hasn’t been confirmed, it also hasn’t been denied—Senor Guillermo was 100% named after me. Just sayin’.

Until next time, keep on huntin’. 

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