It is no secret to any regular reader of Clues and Reviews that I have a serious Ania Ahlborn novel obsession. She is one of my “go to” authors when I want a novel that will make me filled with unease and keep me looking over my shoulder. With Halloween approaching, The Neighbours by Ania Ahlborn, was an obvious choice to add to my TBR pile.
One of my favourite features of an Ania Ahlborn book, besides the ominious tone and chilling content, is the ease in which Ahlborn delivers her prose. She has a writing stye that cannot be beat. One that you can curl up and lose yourself in for hours. It never takes me longer than a couple of hours to get through one of her novels and The Neighbours was no exception.
The novel opens with Andrew arriving at his new home. After a rough childhood caring for his alcoholic mother, he feels as if he deserves a fresh start and the idyllic suburban neighbourhood where his friend, Mickey, resides seems like the perfect space. Upon arrival, he meets the neighbours, a perfect couple, The Wards, who feel like they came straight out a movie or a Norman Rockwell painting. However, things are not as they appear, behind the white shutters and the picket fence, Mrs. Ward is hiding a secret; a secret that Andrew is about to find out.
Comparing other Ahlborn novels to this one, I felt like this was lacking some of the classic “horror” elements that I have come to know and love with an Ahlborn’s work. I didn’t find this one as scary as some of her novels. The characters had some creepy elements but I didn’t find myself as on edge as I usually am when I pick up an Ania Ahlborn book.
I still enjoyed the plot for what it was; I loved the Twilight zone vibe and the disorienting feeling of what time period it was taking place in. I loved the backstory of Harlow’s character. However, I feel like someone who is looking for a “scare your pants off” type of horror book (like some of Ahlborn’s other work- Brother and The Devil Crept In comes to mind!) they would feel disappointed.
In the spirit of Halloween, Jessica and Chandra decided to read this one too and make it a #cjsreads pick! Keep reading to see what those lovely ladies thought of this pick!
What Chandra Thought:
My second time reading this book and my feelings are the same! I love me some Ania and having read ALL her work, am never disappointed. While I tend to love some more than others (which is going to happen with any author), I still am fully entertained and fascinated with her mind.
The Neighbors is a solid read. Once again, she reels you in right from the start. She brings in characters that are completely flawed, some of which are entirely insane, and yet you can’t stop turning the pages or wanting to know exactly what is going to happen – because with Ania, you just never know.
We get moments of absolute insanity in this book. Everybody feels like they’re missing something in their life. As humans, we tend to always want something more – especially if we’ve had a hard childhood or a traumatic event. There’s a hole you’re constantly trying to fill that you think will make you feel complete again…. and when someone comes along that can make that happen, it’s tough not to dive right in.
What Jessica Thought:
I’ve only read a couple of Ania Ahlborn’s books before this one (SEED AND BROTHER) and those did not disappoint! I love a great chilling horror story – which she seems to effortlessly deliver in her books. THE NEIGHBORS is her sophomore novel and it will keep you wary of your own neighbors.
Andrew Morrison is moving into his new home. He has been desperate for a fresh start. He has lost everything in his life (education, the love of his life, and lost his childhood) thanks to his alcoholic mother. He moves in with a childhood friend and everything seems to be going is way, for once. He meets the Wards, his new neighbors. As with most horror books, they seem to be the perfect couple in the perfect suburban home (white fence and all), but Mrs. Ward his hiding a dark secret.
I thought this was another great and eerie read from Ania. There’s that constant feeling of looming dread throughout her novels – something all horror stories need! The characters were crazy and you never truly know what was going to happen next. The reader is pulled in instantly and you want to know what Harlow Ward’s secrets and why she has captured so much of Andrew’s attention. I will say that this one wasn’t nearly as scary and terrifying as BROTHER and SEED were, but don’t let that deter you. It’s definitely a book that’ll make your skin crawl.
Overall, if you love Ania Ahlborn, then this is one you have to read. If you want a scary story reminding you to keep your neighbor’s at a distance, then pick this one up (perfect for a creepy October night!)
I give this one 4/5 stars!