Ah, incest. The Gothic’s favorite taboo, there from the very beginning. Much like the function of incest in the original Gothic novels, the horror in Pin is less focused on the perverse acts themselves than on the ways in which a young woman is forced to exchange one captor for another. Here, teenage siblings inhabit an isolated home with their oppressive parents, stumble through their sexual awakenings, and come up with the worst answers possible to “What’s happening to my body?” Perverse, bizarre, and Gothic, Pin takes the concept of transgressive sexuality and pushes it well past expected limits, making it obvious as to why Andrew Neiderman took over the VC Andrews name.
BEHIND THE PEN
Andrew Neiderman was born in Brooklyn. His family moved to the Catskills of New York when he was an infant. He is a graduate of State University of Albany where he received his Masters in English. He taught at Fallsburg High School for 23 years before leaving to pursue a career as a novelist and screenwriter. He is the author of numerous novels of suspense and terror, including Deficiency, The Baby Squad, Under Abduction, Dead Time, Curse, In Double Jeopardy, The Dark, Surrogate Child, and The Devil’s Advocate—which was made into a major motion picture starring Al Pacino, Keanu Reeves, and Charlize Theron.
A NO-SPOILER SUMMARY
Orphaned teenage siblings, a giant pile of money, and an anatomically correct medical manikin. What could possibly go wrong?
VOICES FROM WITHIN
HOWLs reaction to Pin could be summed up as, “This made me feel disgusting; it was incredible.” HOWLers generally loved the fast-paced and twisted story; another HOWLER noted that Pin “makes me remember why I love reading. Sometimes I feel like I’m reading to impress someone. This is not that at all. This is such lurid fun. It’s compulsively readable. I’ll recommend this wide-eyed insanity to everyone.”
Much of the discussion centered on the perversity of specific plot points (which unfortunately would be major spoilers). As the story wore on, HOWLS discussed the ways in which the book gripped them; as one said, “Overall this is not a book I would have picked up on my own. I’m not sure that I really like it. But I do find it oddly compelling. If for no other reason than to see how it can top itself as it grows progressively more and more disturbing.”
That said, not everyone got such enjoyment from Pin. One astute HOWLS member had this to say: “I personally consider a work that intentionally seeks to induce fear or dread in the audience/reader to be horror, as well as works that are primarily characterized by the presence of horror elements such as ghosts, demons, monsters, axe murderers, etc. This is my definition and others may understand the genre differently. I have no issue with murder and general violence, supernatural forces, or other types “horrific content” in fiction. I don’t even consider this depravity. But [Pin] goes beyond the types of horror elements I consider to be typical of the genre and ventures into truly repulsive territory that I do not consider at all “the point” of the genre, especially when read through the lens of 40 years that have passed since this book’s publication and especially recent movements regarding consent and sexual assault. I just found this book a lot more vile than any other horror book I’ve read, so even while acknowledging the reading experience as being fun, I don’t feel comfortable giving a book with this kind of content a higher rating.”
WELCOME TO THE BLURBS: HOWL SOCIETY MEMBERS’ REVIEWS IN THEIR OWN WORDS
- Pin is written in crisp, clean prose that handles difficult topics with the lurid glee of a madman. It’s at once in the tradition of Poe, deeply entrenched in what makes classic horror tick, while also being a shining example of more taboo-breaking modern horror. Taboo, dark, and absolutely batshit—Neiderman’s Pin is never afraid to “go there.”
- Neiderman is an author who uses spartan sentences and simple descriptions with great skill—he feeds you just enough detail and leaves the rest to your twisted imagination. Discuss this story with a group and you’ll find that no one pictures it the same way. However, this is by no means an Oprah Book Club pick, so choose your reading partners carefully.
- Pin is expertly paced, suspenseful, and yet utterly disgusting and depraved in its content. A book that may appeal to fans of the 1980s “paperbacks from hell.” Frankly, I am ashamed by how much I enjoyed this book.
- A very well-done modern take at the gothic novel. I may never look at a manikin the same way ever again!
- I was not prepared for how good this book actually was.
- I feel like I missed out by having a childhood without an anatomical dummy to call my friend. Then again, the amount of dysfunction in this book leads me to believe that no amount of puppet hijinks could make up for the mental toll that kind of isolation has on a person…
- Nobody tell my sister I rated this so highly.
- I’ve never felt so thankful to be an only child!
If you wanted to read “Fall of the House of Usher,” only the incestuous desire is triangulated through a transparent anatomical manikin and not a narrator, this is the book for you.