Monday, March 11, 2013

Book Review: Pitch Green by The Brothers Washburn

Monday, March 11, 2013
Pitch Green 
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Jolly Fish Press
Series:  Dimensions of Death #1
Website
Source: From the publisher in exchange for an honest review
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.

I don't read a ton of horror novels, but sometimes they're exactly what I need. That's why I was so excited for Pitch Green. Disappearing children? A mysterious mansion? A decades-long mystery? It sounded like the makings of a very creepy story indeed. However, Pitch Green is a monster book, and this made me a bit apprehensive. Monster books are very tricky to do well because the result is either terrifying or borderline childish. And I'm not really sure where a (spoiler) giant green rat (spoiler) falls.

That said, the Brothers Washburn definitely know how to build suspense. Some of the scenes in the mansion had shivers running down my spine. The mansion is haunting, with its Gothic and somewhat morbid architecture, and in that it seems alive. In fact, that building is probably the spookiest part of the book. It would take a lot of guts to go into a place like that.

As far as the mystery itself goes, I want to know a lot more. By the end of Pitch Green, few to no questions are resolved. It's the first book in a trilogy, but I still feel there should be more answers, even if they only lead to more questions. Some town history is revealed, though, which could play a bigger part later in the series, and the government's involvement definitely has me intrigued.

Now to step away from the spookiness, let's talk about characters. Unfortunately, Pitch Green's characters didn't do it for me. There is plenty of potential, but neither Cal nor Cam has much depth. Even their reactions to events in their lives just aren't realistic- for example, when they watch a character die in a brutal way right in front of them, they aren't any more traumatized than if they had just gotten a particularly bad test grade. The love angle lacked something, as well. Cal and Camm have been best friends since birth, which is one of my favorite set ups for romance. However, while Cal mentions his feelings for Camm right at the beginning, nothing is brought up again until the very end. There is no chemistry, and it made me wonder what the point is. I would have preferred it if there hadn't been any romantic arc at all. Again, this could be developed and improved in the subsequent books, but I feel that there should be a strong foundation for it stand on from the beginning. I liked the brother/sister dynamic of their relationship as it was.

Overall, I think Pitch Green would be better suited as a middle grade book. I would have been significantly more scared and absorbed in the story had I read it when I was eleven or younger. Still, I'm interested to see where these books will go and it's a great book if you're just starting to read horror stories. The Dimension of Death novels have plenty of potential and I want to see how this mystery unwinds.
*3 stars*
Recommended for: Readers trying the horror genre for the first time
What are some of your favorite horror novels?

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