Five Nights at Freddy’s: The Fourth Closet

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

The Silver Eyes | The Twisted Ones

Five Nights at Freddy’s: The Fourth Closet was written by Scott Cawthorn and Kira Breed-Wrisley and first published in 2018. It follows the two previous instalments of this series, The Silver Eyes (2015) and The Twisted Ones (2017) and is based on the popular video game franchise of the same name. At the time of writing, there are no plans for future instalments to this series.

Charlie should have been dead. John saw her bleed out, trapped inside one of the springlock suits. He doesn’t know who the stranger wearing his former girlfriend’s face is but he’s not willing to accept her into his friendship circle like the others have done. There is something off about the way she dresses and presents herself. She may look like Charlie, but she is certainly not her.

As John starts to investigate into Charlie’s past, he uncovers secrets that he could never have imagined. Her Aunt Jen hides boxes of her father’s belongings, and these reveal the shocking truth behind his suicide. Yet someone else is also looking for information about Charlie and they will kill to get it.

At the same time, children have started to disappear all over Hurricane. Jessica is suspicious that these disappearances are linked to the opening of a new diner – Circus Baby’s Pizza – and takes it upon herself to find and rescue the victims. However, hidden beneath the diner, she finds that a madman is in the process of conducting a hideous experiment. Will she be able to stop him or will she become his latest victim?

Before I begin, a quick word of warning. Firstly, this novel does contain some violent and gory scenes, so if you’re a squeamish reader I would certainly advise giving it a miss. It’s also not really worth reading unless you have already read the previous two instalments. The Fourth Closet is set a few months after the events of The Twisted Ones and makes frequent references back to things that happened in both of the books, so does not stand on its own in any way.

However, you don’t really have to play the video games to fully enjoy these books. In case you’re unfamiliar with the franchise, Five Nights at Freddy’s was a point-and-click survival game that was first released in 2014. It put you in the position of a night watchman at a Chuck E Cheese-style pizzeria. Your job was to man monitors, lights and security doors in order to survive the night, while your power supply steadily dwindled and the animatronic mascots hunted you down. The game was massively popular and spawned a run of sequels and spin-off games, the most recent being Ultimate Custom Night which was released earlier this year.

Yet none of this really matters. If you are a fan of the games you will notice a few little Easter eggs and recognise some familiar characters, as the roster this time includes Funtime Freddy, Circus Baby and the Mangle. Yet the novel series is designed to be accessible to people who have never even heard of the games. It has its own continuity and, in all fairness, does hold its own very well. However, that does not hide the fact that it also has a lot of problems.

One of the things that you probably ought to know about the games is that they are deliberately ambiguous. Nothing is ever really explained and fans still love to share theories and debate certain aspects of the lore. The books are certainly no exception to this. If you’re looking for closure, you’re probably not going to find it here. While The Fourth Closet does wrap up a couple of plot threads, it still does not feel final. I suppose it’s possible that there are plans to take this series further, but I strongly suspect that Cawthorn is deliberately withholding certain explanations to promote discussion and fan theories.

Trouble is, as a novel and potential end to the trilogy, this did feel incredibly weak. While none of the books have been stunning works of literature, this instalment shared the structural issues that I found in The Twisted Ones. While the story starts out straight forward enough, it loses its way in the final act and becomes incredibly hard to follow.

The early chapters set themselves up well, introducing the mystery surrounding Charlie’s impossible survival and increasing tension through the advertisements for another Freddy Fasbear-style restaurant, which is something that fans of the games will recognise as the Sister Location. However, the plot becomes very muddy in the second half. Over this stage of the story, the characters split into two groups, which half heading on a rescue mission to Circus Baby’s Pizza and the rest learning the truth about Charlie’s past.

The former of these is probably the most interesting, as it echoed some of the better parts of the first book. Jessica’s escape from the Mangle was especially tense, as the description of the animatronic was horrifying and it was never clear if Jessica would manage to survive. However, the second plot line is just weak. By this point, it was a little easy to guess what the plot twist would be. I won’t spoil it for you here, but I’m a bit on the fence about the twist. While it is an interesting idea, it doesn’t entirely gel with some of the previously established continuity.

The climax of the novel did feel pretty final but it was also oddly similar to that of The Twisted Ones. However, as I previously noted, it does leave some loose threads hanging. We never find out what exactly became of Charlie’s mother and brother, we don’t find out if Afton’s scheme actually worked and we don’t see what became of the last few surviving animatronics. The Fourth Closet also raises a few questions of its own, which I have a sneaking suspicion will now never be answered.

In terms of characterisation, this book is really just more of the same. While Charlie did learn a lot more about herself, this discovery occurs very late in the story and she isn’t given the time to internalise and come to terms with the things that she discovers. The novel also introduces a brand-new villain who has strong ties to Charlie, yet this connection is quite confusing in places and never fully explained.

However, The Fourth Closet does do a decent job of reuniting the former cast. It brings back a fair few of the old characters, including Carlton and Marla, and gives them a lot to do. This forms some pretty decent development for Carlton in particular as it allows him the chance to confront the guilt that has always haunted him with regards to Michael’s kidnapping.

Anyhow, I think that’s about all I have to say. Five Nights at Freddy’s: The Fourth Closet is really just more of the same. It will certainly appeal to fans of the earlier books and Five Nights at Freddy’s lore in general, but if you don’t fall into either of these categories I would probably suggest giving it a miss. There are certainly far better horror novels out there.

Five Nights at Freddy’s: The Fourth Closet can be purchased as a Paperback, eBook and Audio Book on Amazon.co.uk

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