by The Brothers Washburn
Hardcover, 280 pages
Published March 16th 2013 by Jolly Fish Press
Trona is a small, smoggy, mostly insignificant town in Colorado. Besides a booming chemical plant, the only thing that characterizes this dismal town is dirt, sagebrush, and an enormous abandoned mansion. The mansion is, admittedly, the only notable addition to Trona, but it’s something everyone tries to avoid due to its creepy facade. Everyone except for Camm Smith, who is obsessed with the need to get inside. Seven years earlier, as Camm herded a pack of little trick-or-treaters past the mansion, her young neighbor, Hugh, disappeared, becoming just one of many children who have vanished from Trona over the years without a trace. Now a senior in high school, Camm is still haunted by the old tragedy and is sure the answer to the mysterious disappearances lies hidden somewhere in the decaying mansion. Joining forces with her best friend, Cal, who also happens to be Hugh’s older brother, Camm naively begins a perilous search for the truth. As things spiral quickly out of control, and others die, Camm and Cal discover it will take all their combined ingenuity to stay alive. An unseen creature, lurking deep within the bowels of the mansion, seems to have supernatural powers and is now hunting them. Making matters worse, they become entangled with hostile federal agents, who care only about keeping old secrets permanently hidden. Left with only their wit and seemingly ineffective firearms, they know they are running out of time. Unless they can make sense out of the few pieces of the puzzle they manage to unearth, the monster will certainly destroy them, and like so many others before them, they will be gone without a trace.
What continues "scary" with today's youth?(Discussing inspiration for the fear factor in this novel.)
Andy discusses “When it is Scary.” While blood and gore is repulsive and disgusting, it is not necessarily scary. Scary only works if it is personal, and personal is a matter of perception.
WHEN IT IS SCARY
Why are we afraid of the dark? (A question purportedly answered by the movie The Sixth Sense.) Why are some people afraid of clowns (something I never understood), or worse, of nuns? (which I understand even less--it seems to me that nuns have more cause to be afraid of the rest of us, than we do of them.)
Why are we afraid? I don’t mean, why do we have phobias. We all have phobias. I have “vexophobia”, the fear of being annoyed by other people. (Okay, okay, I just now made that up. Back off already!) I mean something deeper; something way down inside of our dark, hidden selves. What is it down there that reaches up, grabs us by the throat and tells us when to be scared? Why are we afraid?
As a writer of scary stories this question is something more than metaphysical to me. It is, in fact, not only practical, but a means to earning an income. So, as you may imagine, this is something I have thought about extensively. Shoving all the psychology aside, I think that fear is determined by our perception. It all comes down to when we look out our little window-eyes, what do we perceive is out there, and more importantly, how do we perceive what is out there. Depending on how our minds perceive what our little window-eyes see, I believe, determines if we are to be afraid or not.
As I frequently do when I blog, I’ve reached a point where I have mentally painted myself into a corner. Oh, I can get out of the corner, but can I do it without leaving red footprints all over the place? (For some reason, when I paint myself into a corner I always do it in red paint). I will try to get out of this corner by giving you an example:
“I cut my victims down one by one; slicing their life away as I dismembered their limbs. They did not go willingly. As I attacked them with a large, serrated blade each would groan in protest. They scratched at my face and hands in futile defense, clawing and tearing my flesh. It did them no good. After cutting them down, they screamed as I eviscerated their remains. They could not stop the inevitable. With heartless determination I finished the job, and then carefully cleaned up the mess so there would be no evidence of their remains left behind.”
The above statement is all true, and took place just a couple of weekends ago. I am describing a Saturday morning’s work trimming a number of trees, and pushing the cut limbs through a wood chipper. Remember Fargo?
It wasn’t really that scary, unless you were the tree. Perception.
Background summary of the inspiration for the fear factor in Pitch Green:
From the time we were old enough to sleep over night at a friend’s house or have a friend sleep over at our house, an important part of the sleep-over ritual was the late-night telling of scary stories, and there was no better scary-story teller than our own mother. Scary stories have always been a Washburn Family specialty. There were many favorites, like Anna (about a nobleman’s beautiful, young wife, who eats human flesh) and the Fungus Man (about, well, a fungus man) and many others. Glorious and wonderful were the stories of our childhood, but from the time we were little, a family favorite was The Green Rat. Variations of this twenty-minute story have been told to family, friends and complete strangers in many different settings over the years and were the basis for our novel, Pitch Green. The general outline for the book came together one evening in November of 2010. We were attending a writer’s seminar in Manhattan, and as we rode the subway from one end-of-the-line stop across town to the opposite end-of-the-line stop, and back again, we mapped out the basic elements we would need to expand the childhood story into a full-length novel. Andy wrote the first rough draft of Pitch Green, and then Berk took it over to edit and expand the tale. In writing the first book, the ground work was laid for the sequels and prequels in the horror series, Dimensions in Death.
Bad things lurk in the dark. Alone? Be afraid! Be very afraid. People go missing all the time; and in a small town in the Mojave desert, children go missing EVERY year. Eighteen year Camelot Mist Smith was eleven when her six year old neighbor, Hughie, went missing on Halloween. Seven years later, while Cam can never ignore the past, Hughie's older brother, California Gold Jones just wants to forget about the void in his home and focus on his promising jock future. Cam and Cal are still friends, closer yet since the abduction. When a FBI agent comes to town, Cal and Cam become unofficial interns apart of the investigation realizing that the disappearances are far sinister with deeper implications pointing to the secrets of the town's haunted house and staple of the community.
Pitch Green is a chilling young adult horror mystery. The comic relief comes in very small bursts such as the lead characters' ridiculous names and Cal's unavoidable pigheadedness immaturity. The romance is overshadowed and downplayed in leau of the seriousness of the plot. The point of view is third person alternating between center stage and behind the scenes. This provides much of the spine tingling suspense, because you can see through the mind of the stalker without actually having them revealed. The conclusion was beyond my predictions and is sure to stick with me. Pitch Green was well written and high on the creepy give-me-the-heebie-jeebies factor. I recommend this to any teen looking to get spooked. The Brothers Washburn have been compared to the Grimm brothers. While I'm only slightly familiar with their works I can agree that these authors possess the same drive to be the recipe of nightmares.