Three spooky novellas pit teens against mechanical creatures.
Oswald, Sarah, and Millie are dissatisfied with their lives. Oswald's father is unemployed and money is tight—and to make things worse, his best friend has moved away. Sarah has a poor self-image, disordered eating, and wants to be model-pretty and popular. Goth Millie is miserable living with her grandfather in his overstuffed Victorian. Yet all three find that wishing for things to change can have consequences far worse than their previous troubles—ones that may claim their lives. Several characters from the Five Nights at Freddy’s video game franchise feature in this short collection, and the animatronics in these original stories evoke the game’s clunky, fear-inducing characters. While the novellas are certainly engaging in terms of plot and include some terrifying—albeit gory—imagery, the characters and their stories border on cliché. Debut author Cooper’s contributions are at times inventive, with nonlinear plots and inconclusive endings, but all the stories include similar, predictable plot points and occasional passages that could have been edited for clarity. There is a notable amount of repetitive and (too) straightforward dialogue throughout, but the simplicity overall makes for a smooth read that’s devoid of ambiguity, focusing instead on the forward movement of action, which may draw in reluctant readers. Main characters are white; there is some minor diversity in secondary characters.
Head into the pit for a quick horror read; those looking for immersion should keep out. (Horror. 12-16)