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Literature / Pin

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Brother, sister, madness, sin
Now the terror will begin...

Pin is a 1981 horror/psychological thriller by Andrew Neiderman (who would later become the ghostwriter for V. C. Andrews).

Teenage siblings Leon and Ursula live in a Big Fancy House with their clinically detached doctor-dad, who explains everything—including his love for his children—in strictly scientific terms, and their deeply neurotic mother who is obsessed with cleanliness and seldom leaves the home. With such remote, unreachable parents, it's no wonder that Leon and Ursula grow unusually close, turning to each other for support, comfort, and...all kinds of things.

Then of course, there's Pin, the life-size, grotesque anatomical model that once occupied their father's office, his veins and organs visible through his clear plastic skin, who comes to live with Leon and Ursula when their mother and father die unexpectedly. Pin has always been there for the children. Pin is wise, calm, analytical. Pin gives wonderful advice. Pin is always right and always knows exactly what to do. Leon wants to be just like Pin.

Ursula only wants to escape and live a normal life. But Pin doesn't like that. Neither does Leon.

Pin has a plan that will allow the three of them to stay together, forever. All Leon has to do is obey him.

Pin was adapted into a fairly close-to-the-book film in 1988.

Tropes Included:

  • Abusive Parents: Leon and Ursula's parents have several strange ideas compared to what normal parents do. Their father is very frank and honest to a cold level and their mother is so strict she never removes plastic sheets from the furniture.
  • Bait-and-Switch Gunshot: At the book's climax, it seems that an enraged Ursula is about to take an ax to Leon as revenge for murdering Stan. In the epilogue, we learn that she attacked Pin instead.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Averted fully with Pin who is anatomically correct and is able to be used as a sex toy.
  • Batman Gambit: Leon and Ursula use one to make sure they stay together once their parents are dead by anticipating how their relatives will react. It pays off as Leon is old enough to be on his own and the relatives don't take Ursula to court.
  • The Beautiful Elite: Leon and Ursula are described as being beautiful and their family has plenty of money but it is played with given the fact they are so weird.
  • Becoming the Mask: Leon believes his father's medical dummy is alive and it drives him to commit worse acts after another. After Leon witnesses Ursula destroy Pin, he collapses on the floor unable to move by himself essentially becoming the new Pin. Something Ursula will now live with.
  • Brother–Sister Incest:
    • While short of on-page direct intercourse for Leon and Ursula the likelihood it happened is all but confirmed. They do have an on-page threesome with Pin. Leon controls the really inanimate Pin to penetrate Ursula. It is said that they used to do this a lot before Pin moved downstairs. Given their openness about sex throughout their whole life, it seems probable the threesomes involved direct incest on their part.
    • In the end where Leon now is the new Pin, he describes Ursula sometimes coming into his room naked and even pressing herself against his head. He earlier accuses her of sometimes using Pin as a sex toy herself, the implication here being obvious.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Leon doesn't handle Stan's arrival very well as he feels he is leading Ursula away from him and Pin.
  • Disposing of a Body: After Leon kills Stan he drags his body out the back and into the old pond. He however throws the wooden leg into the fireplace which proves to be his undoing.
  • Don't Split Us Up: Leon and Ursula don't want to be split up when their parents die. Leon is of legal age to stay by himself but Ursula is only 16. At first the Aunts and Uncle don't want them to be alone together but thanks to the above mentioned Batman Gambit they don't press it and allow them to stay together.
  • Driven to Madness: Ursula eventually explodes after already knowing Leon was going crazy and finding out he killed Stan. But of course Leon blames it all on Pin, so Ursula grabs the axe and chops the hell out of Pin. But when this turns Leon into the new Pin Ursula has lost all sense herself so she dresses him up and continues living on with her brother/dummy in her own little world.
  • Foreshadowing: Leon's transformation so to speak if foreshadowed by moments where he feels a pain in his leg, like it's become hardened and stiff like wood. You can also see the reveal about Pin being alive being only in Leon's head by noticing no one ever gives an actual answer to a question Pin asks.
  • Frameup: When Ursula finds Stan's leg in the fire, Leon tries to confess that the whole thing is Pin's fault and that Pin killed Stan. Ursula doesn't buy it at all and starts to snap herself.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Not entirely but Ursula is topless when she destroys Pin.
  • Happily Ever After: True, but in a weird twisted way. Leon and Ursula are going to remain together, Pin is gone and they can be happy. You know besides the whole being brother and sister. That Leon now thinks he's like a wooden dummy and Ursula is totally out of her own mind. But in what is clearly a nod to this, the last sentence of the book is here reading Pinocchio aloud to Leon.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Leon murdering Stan is this, as he feels Stan is going to take Ursula away from him. Mind you that, Leon and Ursula are siblings and Leon sees Pin as alive and part of this situation. So according to Leon he's trying to turn this square back into a triangle.
  • Neat Freak: Leon and Ursula's mother is one to the point she keeps plastic sheets over everything. When she dies, Leon and Ursula joke that she'll be asking God to take his shoes off.
  • No Sense of Personal Space: Ursula and Leon are very open with one another even when they are younger. They regularly appear naked to one another and even discuss their sex partners openly. This before the implied incest and threesomes with a medical dummy.
  • Old, Dark House: The house Leon and Ursula live in is one.
  • Parental Favoritism: Their father tends to give Ursula the easier questions during his quiz rounds putting her ahead of Leon who is given much harder ones.
  • Police Are Useless: Somewhat, as the cops are called and don't take long to find Stan's car where Leon left it. However they never uncover what happened to him, Ursula knows but probably won't be telling anyone.
  • Rape as Drama: The threesome scene described above is non-consensual to Ursula and is shown to be a guide to help push her over the edge.
  • Really Gets Around: Ursula at least at first to the point local school graffiti includes "If you want an easy screw, Ursula will do". As she grows up this is an averted trope.
  • The Reveal: While the story is told through Leon's perspective the reveal happens in a conversation he eavesdrops on but disbelieves. Stan clearly knows Leon is not well and that Pin is not alive but Leon sees it as Ursula lying to him and abandoning them.
  • Rewatch Bonus: While you may miss it on your first read, the reveal can be guessed with one giveaway. At no point does anyone actually respond to any question Pin asks them. They reply to keep the conversation going but they can't hear Pin say anything, only Leon does.
  • Sanity Slippage: The story itself is one for Leon who slowly drifts further into his fantasy but Ursula goes quite a bit mad herself.
    • Leon thinks Pin is alive when he's not. While his father had used ventriloquism, Leon simply imagines Pin is talking when he isn't. Leon eventually feels Ursula is going to leave him and Pin behind with her new boyfriend Stan. So he and Pin plot to murder Stan to get rid of him and then leads his sister on to a get back together threesome with himself and Pin. When he gets caught he tries to blame the whole thing on Pin, which causes Ursula to snap and destroy Pin with an axe. Leon collapses becoming like Pin himself with Ursula becoming his caretaker. So even though they both lost their sanity at least they got each other.
  • Shout-Out: Pin is short for Pinocchio.
  • Tragically Disabled Love Interest: Ursula's boyfriend Stan has a wooden leg from his time in the war and issues around it.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Due to how they are raised, Leon and Ursula begin to experiment with sex very early on. Their sexual precocity isn't as disturbing as their casual attitude about it: they freely share intimate details about how often they masturbation, their sex drives and (later) their sexual encounters with others.
  • Unusual Euphemism: The Doctor teaches his children to refer to sexual desire as "the Need," comparing it to a biological need no different or more shameful than hunger or urination.
  • Ventriloquism: The Doctor uses Pin for this. Mostly for his younger patients and sometimes to teach his kids lessons. He also uses it sometimes to have conversations with himself but frame it as Pin questioning if he's sure of his decisions.