Five Nights at Freddy’s: The Twisted Ones

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for The Silver Eyes. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Five Nights at Freddy’s: The Twisted Ones was written by Scott Cawthorn and Kira Breed-Wrisley and first published in 2017. It is the direct sequel to The Silver Eyes (2015) and is loosely based around the hit video game series. The story picks up a year after the events at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, following Charlie as she is once again forced to face the dark events of her past.

Following her near death at the hands of the psychotic Dave Miller, Charlie is doing her best to forget what occurred at Freddy Fazbear’s and get on with her life. She’s accepted a place at college and has decided to learn robotics so as better to understand her father’s creations. She seems to be well on her way to getting her life back on track when the killings start.

Charlie would like nothing more than to delude herself into thinking that there is no connection, but the wounds on the corpse are unmistakable. She knows that they were caused by the springlocks inside one of the animatronics, yet the spacing of the cuts suggests that they were made by a suit far larger than any she has seen before.

When a body is found that looks suspiciously like Charlie, she starts to realise that the robots may be coming for her. It’s up to Charlie and her friends, John and Jessica, to find out why before it’s too late. However, in order to protect Charlie, they may have to seek the help of some old enemies…

I must admit that I never expected The Silver Eyes to get a sequel, but when I found out that it had I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. The previous story was the literary equivalent of a bad horror film. It was cheesy, poorly written and utterly daft, yet that’s what gave it most of its charm. If The Twisted Ones was more of the same, I knew it would be worth it.

Before I start talking about the book, perhaps I should say a little about the Five Nights at Freddy’s franchise. The original game was released on Windows, Android and iOS in 2014. It was a point-and-click survival game which put you in the position of a night watchman at a pizzeria, using dwindling power supplies to man monitors, lights and security doors. You see, the animatronic mascots of the restaurant were allowed to wander at night and if any of them managed to get into your office, they would kill you on sight.

The game was a massive success, impressing players with its tension, originality and very effective jump scares. It has since spawned a run of equally popular sequels and is even apparently set to be made into a movie. Yet none of that really matters here. The first spin-off novel, The Silver Eyes, was designed to be accessible to people who hadn’t even heard of the games and this sequel certainly follows suit. While you need to have read The Silver Eyes to fully appreciate it, The Twisted Ones is also only loosely connected to the games and so can be enjoyed in its own right.

Anyhow, with that out of the way, let’s talk about The Twisted Ones. Well, it’s unfortunately not as strong as its prequel. For all its many, many faults, The Silver Eyes actually did a pretty great job of recreating the tension of the games. The setting of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria was surreal and claustrophobic, sealing the teenagers into a very small area and giving them limited places that they could hide from the robots. In this book, the restaurant only plays a small role. The robots are out in the wider world now and this makes them a lot less threatening. The protagonists in this story aren’t in much danger from them until they start to actively seek the robots out. Of course this is precisely what they do, but it still means that there is far less tension this time around.

Yet at least this does mean that the story feels a bit more grounded in reality. The plot of The Silver Eyes didn’t stand up to scrutiny, but at least this time Charlie is drawn into the story through a murder investigation. The prose still felt clunky and a little exposition heavy, but the sequence of the events was more natural than “lets explore an abandoned restaurant that has been bricked up inside a mall”. Policeman Clay was one of the few adults who knew the secret of Freddy Fazbear’s and so I could understand why he would call in Charlie for her expertise. It’s not like any of his fellows would have believed him.

Yet the book soon starts to lose what little coherence it has as it moves into its final act. Fan of the games or not, the climax of this story is almost impossible to follow. As the characters pursue the titular Twisted Ones to their lair, I admit that I completely lost any grasp on what was actually going on. Seriously, I have no idea of what Cawthorn was trying to say with the ending twist.

So much of this story is left unexplained, from why there was so much fake blood splashed around the pizzeria, to what happened to Charlie’s brother. I won’t spoil any more for you here but if you have read it, please email me with an explanation. I would love to hear it. I suppose the one positive thing that I can say is that at least this time there were deaths of major characters in the story. For a horror novel, The Silver Eyes had a surprisingly low head-count.

Yet the true lure of a Five Nights at Freddy’s story isn’t really the plot, it’s the animatronics. Whether you’re a long-term fan or not, you won’t be disappointed here. The original gang – Freddy, Golden Freddy, Bonnie, Chica and Foxy – make an appearance once again, but this time a couple of other familiar characters from the games make their debut on page. Yet more interesting still are the Twisted Ones. These animatronics are completely new for this story and are very different to anything that fans have ever seen before. While their unique abilities do require heavy suspension of disbelief, I actually found them to be pretty interesting and wish that they’d had more page time.

As there is a lot less of the robots in this novel, unfortunately this meant that more time was spent with the human characters. They really haven’t improved since the last book, remaining as shallow as ever. Charlie, actually, faired a little worse this time around as her actions were just plain confusing. She acted erratically throughout the entire story, from her desire to study robotics, to her master “plan” to sacrifice herself to Freddy.

Seriously, her brother was kidnapped by a person wearing one of the suits. Her father was killed by a robot. Robots tried to kill her and her friends just a year previously. Yet she goes to college to learn how to make robots. She’s either very brave or very stupid. She also didn’t really seem to develop much as the story progressed and, by the end, she doesn’t seem to be any closer to finding out what became of Sammy. I also wasn’t sold on her relationship with John. Although he claimed that he loved her, I never really felt it. Neither one of them seemed to be wholly invested in being a couple.

Anyhow, I’ve probably rambled for long enough. The Twisted Ones did have some fun moments but started to fall apart towards the climax. Although it contained some good old mindless horror, it was a bit of a mess and lacked the tension of the first book. As a fan of the games, I am curious to see where the story will go from here. However, this isn’t really a novel that I’d recommend.

Five Nights at Freddy’s: The Twisted Ones can be purchased as a Paperback, eBook and Audio Books on Amazon.co.uk

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© Kim Dyer and Arkham Reviews, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kim Dyer and Arkham Reviews with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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