In Pittsburgh we have this place everyone calls, “Thirteen Bends.”* It is an abandoned road in the woods that is rumored to be haunted.
Our local legend goes something like this…
In the 1800’s there was an orphanage along the road that is now called Thirteen Bends. One evening a bunch of teenagers were playing with matches and accidentally caught the orphanage ablaze.
Unfortunately, many of the children were too young to figure out how to escape on their own and got stuck inside, where they were ultimately consumed by the flames. These children haunt the road now, where you can hear them screaming and falling into the nearby water in a perpetual attempt to to escape the flames.
In the story we’re about to discuss today, there’s also the legend of a haunted road. However, instead of a road that anyone can go visit at any time, this road only appears at certain times of the year, and anyone who’s ever walked down the road has never returned.
*Note: My friends and I ghost hunted Thirteen Bends a few years ago. I’ll post some details about it at the end of this review, for those of you who are interested in a bonus scary story! 🙂
~There is a legend that haunts the town of Brier Glen: The legend of Lucy Gallows, a young girl who went missing along a mysterious road in the woods. Once a year, the path in which she traveled will appear, and Lucy beckons for someone to come find her.~
Sara’s sister, Becca, disappeared last year. All that was left behind was a notebook filled with the “rules” to find Lucy Gallows and survive the mysterious road in the woods.
Becca’s disappearance destroyed Sara’s friends group. Sarah has spent the last year alone and obsessing over Lucy and the road, which she firmly believes took Becca.
It’s been exactly one year since Becca went missing, and the road is about to re-appear. Although her estranged friends don’t believe her, Sarah knows this is her last chance to save her sister. Apprehensive but supportive, the entire group meets in the darkness of the forest to travel the road together.
But the road is not forgiving, and none of them will ever be the same… If they even make it out at all.
This story is dangerously delightful!
I should preface this review with confessing that I love urban legends and haunting stories! I also really enjoy a story where the haunting or supernatural’s validity is not in question.
For example, in Rules for Vanishing, we know that the road exists, and we know that it eats up teenage kids like coco-puffs. #sold
This relaxed my mind into letting go and allowing myself to completely trust in this spooky world that Marshall has created, without the fear that I’m being duped or lied to the entire time. (i.e. the overused twist that the person imagined the whole thing, or at the end they reveal she’s never had any friends all along and she’s just bat sh*t crazy.) No need to worry about any of that silly stuff!
Rules for Vanishing is a YA (young adult) novel, so it’s not too dark or over saturated with sexual or graphic scenes, which was quite refreshing. However, don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s mild! This does not mean that this book isn’t creepy as sh*t! Because it is!
Marshall was able to create an atmosphere that clearly exists somewhere completely out of this world. The ambiance is chilling, dangerous, and intriguing. The world is designed for those who dare to enter, to also dare to fail.
What I mean by this is, while there are a handful of rules to help keep the teens alive, there’s also a cruel amount of temptations in this world that seduce you into breaking the rules entirely.
Walking along the road with our group of teens was an amazing and nail biting experience, in part because of the scary realm, and in other part because of the writing style.
The story is presented to us in the form of interviews, transcribed video footage, and witness testimonies. Shockingly, it is also in a linear and easy to follow timeline.
I thought this was extremely unique! It felt very movie-esque. (Different angles and perspectives from different characters.) The story is also being told to us in past and present simultaneously, which paints a full picture of what is happening.
The storyline and concept are very ominous, intelligent, and fun. On one hand I was grateful that I wasn’t on the road, but part of me was also a little jealous that I wasn’t stuck out there helping the characters figure out what to do! At the end of the day, I couldn’t put this book down. I actually cut time out from my damn beauty sleep just to squeeze in a couple extra chapters each night, that’s how entertaining this is!
Ultimately, the reason I cannot give this a full 5 star review, (trust me, I wanted to,) is because the ending left me extremely confused. I re-read the last few pages a couple times and I really couldn’t understand what the f*ck just happened.
So then, of course, this put me on a quest to see if I was just stupid or if anyone else felt the same way about the ending as I did!
It appears to be a mix. Some people consider the book to have an “open” ending, (which seems strange to me considering the level of detail and explanations in the rest of the book,) and then the others are like me, and just feel very confused. While this doesn’t give anything away, I think this important to note since some readers prefer stories to have a clear and climactic ending.
My Rating: ★★★★☆
I think this book is totally worth reading even with the “open” ending. It’s a big old creepy ball of fun, if you ask me, and I enjoyed every second of it!
Ghost Hunting Thirteen Bends
So in addition to what I mentioned earlier, it’s also said that when you visit Thirteen Bends you should put baby powder all over your car and also bring bags of candy to offer the kids.
To get to Thirteen Bends, we had to drive with our headlights off down a really creepy and long road. The girls held the night vision camera out of the window to keep me on the path. #resourceful #basicallyeaglescouts
Once we parked the car, we sprinkled on the baby powder and started hoofing it up the bends.
I have to be honest, I wasn’t expecting much to happen at all. On our walk up the bends, we had a couple jump scares because we could hear rabbits being attacked by other larger animals, which is a horrifying sound if you’ve never heard it, and there were a lot of frogs and extremely fearless ducks who would creep right up to us on foot! It was beyond strange.
After walking for nearly 45 minutes, we made it up to where the orphanage was, and things actually started to feel a little more ominous.
All along the fence were thousands of candy bags tied to the metal, some intact and others shredded, as well as stuffed animals and limp balloons hanging down from the trees. It really was quite an eerie sight. I also realized we forgot to bring any candy, and we sorta felt like d*cks.
We decided to post up here and start using our equipment; an infrared night vision camera and a digital recorder.
While asking questions and being as quiet and non-giggly as we could manage, we heard footsteps and at least 2 voices fast approaching.
The color drained my face, and I had never been more afraid in my life because I thought it had to be police, and how was I going to explain to my parents that I was arrested at 28 years old for ghost hunting private property. (Honestly, they probably wouldn’t have been all that shocked.)
The 3 of us heard the voices and footsteps and immediately started panicking. We could tell from the volume that were roughly 15-20 feet away. This was also very shocking to us, since we were only at the spot for a few minutes and had walked such a long distance to get here. Wouldn’t we have heard them or seen them on our trek up here?
We jumped into some bushes on the side of the path and waited, still recording on all devices.
The voices and footsteps came up to us, nearly 3-5 feet away from us, and then suddenly, just as abruptly as it started, the sound completely stopped.
After waiting for what felt like an eternity, we realized no one was there.
We stepped out from the bushes to scream at each other about how we “cant believe that just happened,” and “we all heard that, right?” We played back the audio on the digital recorder, and there it was, clear as day.
Multiple voices talking, multiple footsteps walking.
We were really scared about this and decided to head back to the car. While there were no hand prints on the car when we arrived, we did decide to roll on our Ovilus, which is a device that quickly scans through white noise. (It is theorized that white noise is a means for the paranormal to speak through.)
While we stood near the water, which is rumored to have been used by some of the kids who escaped the orphanage in flames, and we asked questions. It didn’t take long before we heard the voice of a child. He was asking for help, and he even gave us his name: George.
Eventually we decided to split, because I was extra paranoid, after the footsteps, that we were going to get arrested! Haha! Also, I forgot what the wilderness was like and didn’t want to come across whatever was killing those rabbits.
And I am not entirely sure what to make of Thirteen Bends. It was a unique and chilling experience, however it’s hard to know exactly what happened up there.
What do you believe?! Do you have any local legends in your area?! Have you ever experienced anything paranormal?
I’m dying to know!