Fazbear Frights: Fetch

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Into the Pit. You can read my review of this novel [here]

Fazbear Frights: Fetch was written by Scott Cawthon, Andrea Waggener and Carly Anne West and was first published in 2020. It is a collection of three short stories, all of which are set within the vague canon of the Five Nights at Freddy’s video game series. Although the stories are largely designed to stand alone, this collection does follow on from Into the Pit (2020). A further three collections are planned to be released over the coming months.

In Fetch, Greg and his friends break into an abandoned pizzeria for a laugh but soon find more than they bargained for. Behind the prize counter, Greg discovers Fetch – a robotic toy dog who is designed to sync in with a person’s phone and retrieve data. Not long after, Greg starts to get texts from a mysterious person who claims to be Fetch. Fetch is eager to help him retrieve anything that he desires. Trouble is, Fetch does not always leave these “items” in the best condition…

In Lonely Freddy, Alec is jealous of the attention that his younger sister retrieves. His parents act as though Hazel can do no wrong, while constantly treating him as though he is a bad egg. Alec is determined to prove that Hazel can be as selfish and petulant as any other kid, and what better place to do so than at her birthday pizza party. However, as Alec’s plan goes sour, he finds himself at the mercy of one of the pizzeria’s malevolent mascots…

In Out of Stock, Oscar is desperate to get his hands on a Plushtrap Chaser – this year’s must-have toy. However, when he is held up by his mother, he arrives at the store just in time to see them sell out. When he finds a defective Plushtrap behind the counter, his desperation forces him to steal the toy. Yet he soon discovers that this particular Plushtrap was left for a reason. Its eyes and teeth seem almost human, and it seems to have an irrepressible desire to maim its new owner…

In case you didn’t read my previous review, I guess I should probably tell you a little about the game on which this collection is based. The original Five Nights at Freddy’s was released into 2014 and was a horror game for Windows, Android and iOS. It put you in the role of a night watchman at a pizzeria, surviving for five nights by controlling lights, cameras and security doors to keep out the restaurant’s murderous animatronic mascots.

The game was a massive success, praised for its tension, originality and jump-scares. Since then, it’s become a bit of a cult favourite and has spawned a lot of tie-in merchandise. This includes sequel games, plush toys and a trilogy of young adult novels (see below for links to my reviews of these).

As none of the games really have a clear narrative, there is a lot of debate between fans regarding what exactly is canon. Due to this, this collection of short stories does not really require you to have played the games to fully appreciate it. The only part that does not stand on its own is the closing chapter, and this only ties back Detective Larson’s investigation from the end of Into the Pit. It seems that this segment is going to be a continuing story and I expect that readers will need to purchase each of the collections to find out what the whole mystery will be.

Anyhow, with that out of the way, let’s take a look at each of the stories in turn.

While I did enjoy the Into the Pit collection on the whole, I did not think that this set of novellas was anywhere near as strong. The stories just were not as memorable, and I don’t think they will even hold a lot of appeal to fans of the games. While there is more reference made to Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, as each story does either feature the restaurant or make reference to the franchise, there is far less focus on the animatronics. The evil robots faced by the characters this time around are all either plush toys and miniatures, more suited inside to the younger protagonists but also less threatening.

The strongest and creepiest story in this collection is Fetch. This story does not feature any recognisable characters from the games but is still a fast-paced and often grisly horror short. While I did feel that its odd focus on Zero Point Fields and REGs seemed a little heavy-handed (especially when Five Nights at Freddy’s is so blatantly supernatural), the story is still incredibly tense and certainly kept my attention throughout.

Despite being only 85 pages in length, the story used its pacing very well. Although Fetch’s short texts seem harmless enough at first, they soon grow sinister as the story progresses and it becomes clear that he takes a pretty lax interpretation of what Greg wants. As local pets and Greg’s friends are brutalised by an unseen entity, it quickly becomes clear that the villain has the upper hand.

While Greg was a bit of an unmemorable protagonist, he was still a sympathetic lead for the story. Although some of the protagonists in Into the Pit were dislikeable, Greg didn’t really do anything to deserve his fate and was largely punished due to his curiosity. As the plot built to a dark conclusion, you could not help but feel sorry for him and the shocking ending mad me wonder what his (and Fetch’s) eventual fate would be.

Unfortunately, the other two novellas were not nearly as strong. Lonely Freddy was a slow-burner that did not even really seem like a horror story until its final few pages. A majority of the tale was taken up by Alec’s many attempts to show up Hazel, therefore somehow proving that she is not the perfect human being that their parents believe that she is.

Although Lonely Freddy is the only story so far to actually take place in a working Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria, the plot is very shallow and does not really make much sense. It is obvious to the reader from the start that Hazel is genuinely fond of her brother and really unclear why Alec seems to be going out of his way not to notice this. Due the fact that Alec is just an argumentative and generally disagreeable teenage boy with no redeemable features, I found it difficult to empathise with him even as he finally saw the error of his ways.

The novella only took a turn for the horrific in its final few pages, as Alec finds himself at the mercy of a diminutive animatronic known as a Lonely Freddy – a robot programmed to follow around any kid who does not seem to be having fun in order to make them feel included. This really leads to the story’s only saving grace – this sting in its tail. The ending of Lonely Freddy is actually incredibly frightening and is certainly something that will haunt me for a long time.

While Out of Stock was a little stronger, it was still unfortunately a bit of a generic morality tale. The protagonist this time around is punished for dishonesty, as he snatches a defective plush toy against the direct instructions of the employees of the store. Oscar does at least leave money for it on the counter though, so at least he didn’t outright steal the item!

Naturally, things go rapidly downhill for Oscar in ways that you can probably imagine. While Out of Stock was a lot more exciting than Lonely Freddy and did follow some of the mechanics of the games (Plushtrap can only move in the dark), it just felt too familiar to be truly memorable. The novella reminded me a lot of the classic Goosebumps story Night of the Living Dummy, and largely played out in the same way.

However, Oscar was a sympathetic protagonist and received more development than many of the previous characters. You did really feel for him due to his home situation and the pressures that had been placed on him by his mother. While it would have been nice to learn where the Plushtrap came from (and where it got its eyes from), the story did at least end well and was certainly the most optimistic tale in this collection.

As I previously mentioned, this collection ended with another short glimpse at Detective Larson’s continuing investigation. Personally, I found this to be incredibly confusing. This instalment did not entirely seem to tie into the last one, although did make reference to the events of Out of Stock in order to add a vague chronology to the events. Hopefully, things will start to become a little clearer in the next collection.

Anyhow, I think I’ve probably said enough. All in all, this collection was certainly a mixed bag. Fetch is an excellent horror novella but, on the whole, I felt that this volume was a lot weaker than Into the Pit. Here’s hoping that the next collection will be a bit more memorable.

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

Scott Cawthon and Kira Breed Wrisley also previously released 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

1 Comment (+add yours?)

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

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