Fazbear Frights: Into the Pit

Fazbear Frights: Into the Pit was written by Scott Cawthon and Elley Cooper and first published in 2020. It is a collection of three short stories, all of which are set within the vague canon of the Five Night’s at Freddy’s series. The stories are designed to stand alone and are not directly linked to any previous games or novels. There are also three further collections that are planned to be released over the next few months.

In Into the Pit, Oswald’s best friend has moved away and now he seems to be destined to spend the summer alone. As he hangs out at a local pizza restaurant, he makes a bizarre discovery. The out-of-order children’s play area has the power to transport a person back in time. Oswald finds himself in the busy arcade that once stood in the place of the restaurant. Trouble is, his appearance seems to have caught the attention of a sinister figure in a yellow rabbit costume. Worse still, this person manages to follow him back home…

In To Be Beautiful, Sarah knows that she is ugly and dreams to be noticed by the Beautifuls – four popular girls at her school. When she finds an abandoned robotic doll, she soon discovers that it has the power to grant her wish. The doll calls itself Eleanor and is more than happy to make Sarah’s dreams come true. Every day, Sarah wakes up to find she is more beautiful than before. What she doesn’t realise is that nothing comes without a price…

In Count The Ways, Millie has never been a cheerful child. She is the only Goth at her school and is constantly picked on by the vapid, fashionable girls. Although Millie has always admired Gothic writers and poets who find beauty in death, she has never truly wished to die. However, when trying to hide from relatives, she finds herself trapped inside the body of a mechanical bear. To her horror, the robot seems to be alive and is eager to kill. If she doesn’t find a way to escape, the creature will force her to choose what way she wants to die…

Before we begin, a little bit of history. Five Nights at Freddy’s was first released in 2014 and was a point-and-click survival game for Windows, Android and iOS. The basic premise of the game was that you played as a night watchman at a Chuck E Cheese-style restaurant and had to survive for five nights, using dwindling power supplies to control lights and security doors.

This was necessary as the four animatronic mascots – Freddy Fazbear, Bonnie the Rabbit, Chica the Chicken and Foxy the Pirate Fox – were allowed to roam freely at night. The robots were unable to recognise humans, instead seeing them as endoskeletons who needed to be stuffed into a robotic shell. Naturally, this would instantly kill the player. The game was well received by horror fans for its tension, originality and jump-scares. Due to this, it has since spawned a number of sequels, as well as a trilogy of young adult novels (you can find links to my reviews of these below).

Into the Pit is a collection of three short horror stories that are also set in this world. However, it may not be the collection that fans of the games were hoping for. Each of the stories is written in such a way that they are totally accessible to people who may not be familiar with the games. Although the three robots featured – Springtrap, Circus Baby and Funtime Freddy – are all recognisable, they are never named in the stories. Even Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza is not even name dropped, although Into the Pit does make a vague reference to the child murders of the third game.

As Five Nights at Freddy’s canon doesn’t always fit together at the best of times, these short stories don’t really sit within the continuity of the games. Due to this, they also don’t really offer up answers for any of the lingering questions that fans may have. However, if you are young fan of horror stories, you could certainly do far worse than this collection. Let’s take a little look at each story in turn.

Into the Pit was probably the story that is most connected to Five Nights at Freddy’s lore, but it is also the strangest. While the story was quite slow to start, the tension began to gradually mount as Oswald spends more time in the past and starts to noticeably draw the attention of the yellow rabbit. While this probably is creepier for fans of the games who know Springtrap’s history, there is still something inherently creepy about mute people in fur suits and the story plays this up very well.

However, the novella does start to lose this tension in its second act and therefore never becomes as creepy as it could have been. When Springtrap follows Oswald home, he merely assumes the place of his father. How Oswald’s mother does not notice the terrifying rabbit is never explained. Oswald never truly learns exactly what Springtrap hoped to achieve, and ultimately defeats him with very little trouble.

While the ending was disappointing, what Into the Pit does very well is to develop the character of Oswald over a short page count, making the reader truly feel his isolation and empathise with his plight. Oswald is the youngest protagonist in this collection, but is also the only one that is truly undeserving of his fate as his only crime is missing his friend. Due to this, Into the Pit has a fairly positive ending, which is certainly not echoed by the other short stories.

To Be Beautiful carried a very different tone, replacing the science-fiction trappings of Into the Pit was a kind of body horror. This story is a classic case of ‘be careful what you wish for’, with Sarah being quite slow to realise that Eleanor is doing a lot for her while only asking for the strangest things in return. Early in the tale, Eleanor gives Sarah a necklace and instructs her never to take it off. This was the thing that really kept my curiosity. Like The Green Ribbon, I was desperate to learn what would happen when this did invariably get removed.

While To Be Beautiful is a fast-paced and incredibly memorable precautionary tale, my only small disappointment was that Sarah isn’t quite a sympathetic as Oswald. When she is introduced, she is verging on an eating disorder and has an unhealthy obsession with being popular, even shunning her best friend for being too childish. Although she is clearly punished for these mistakes in the surprisingly grisly twist, she is never given a time to learn from her mistakes. To the end, Sarah never regrets her earlier behaviour – she just looks to the mysterious robot of unknown origin to save her.

The final instalment – Count the Ways – was probably my least favourite of the stories. While it was an uncomfortable read, it really lacked the tension of To Be Beautiful as it was always clear how the story would end. The plot flitted between past and present, as Millie is trapped inside Freddy from the very beginning but the story gradually showed how she came to be in such a deadly predicament.

I felt that giving Freddy a voice was possibly a mistake, as the animatronics in the games are frightening in part because almost all of them are mute. The voice that he was given lacked any kind of subtlety as he eagerly expresses his thirst for blood, describing different methods of execution to Millie along with facts about their history and what could go wrong. All of the while, he repeatedly calls her “Silly Millie” which really set my teeth on edge.

Millie, at least, did get a bit more development than Sarah. While she never fully accepts that she is wrong to judge the other kids at school based on appearance, she does start to repent as it becomes clear that the hour of her death is drawing close. While her fate isn’t quite as certain as Sarah’s, it still ends the novel on a dark and reasonably ambiguous note. Personally, I found this trend to be a bit disquieting. Oswald, the only male protagonist, is portrayed as being sympathetic and gets off lightly. Sarah and Millie and flawed and are therefore punished. While I suppose it remains to seen if this pattern continues into future collections, the treatment of the female protagonists in this one is troubling.

The collection ended with a single short chapter that loosely tied in with To Be Beautiful, introducing a detective who is investigating a string of murders attached to a strange urban legend. While this felt like a bit of a confusing loose end, I presume that this will be some kind of overarching mystery that will tie into the next collection.

All in all, Into the Pit was a bit of a mixed bag. The stories are more polished than the average Goosebumps book and will probably appeal to young horror fans, but I feel that this first collection may leave lovers of the games unsatisfied. Still, I’m curious to see where this is going and will pick up the next instalment when it is released next month.

Fazbear Frights: Into the Pit can be purchased as a Paperback, eBook and Audio Book from Amazon.co.uk

Scott Cawthon and Kira Breed-Wrisley also previous release a trilogy of young adult novels that are loosely based on the Five Nights at Freddy’s games. If you would like to find out more, check out the links below:

The Silver Eyes | The Twisted Ones | The Fourth Closet

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Fazbear Frights: Fetch | Arkham Reviews
  2. Trackback: Fazbear Frights: 1:35AM | Arkham Reviews

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