Category Archives: Ania Ahlborn

Review: The Devil Crept In by Ania Ahlborn

Title: The Devil Crept In by Ania Ahlborn
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Horror, Supernatural
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

An unforgettable horror novel from bestselling sensation Ania Ahlborn—hailed as a writer of “some of the most promising horror I’ve encountered in years” (New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire)—in which a small-town boy investigates the mysterious disappearance of his cousin and uncovers a terrifying secret kept hidden for years.

Young Jude Brighton has been missing for three days, and while the search for him is in full swing in the small town of Deer Valley, Oregon, the locals are starting to lose hope. They’re well aware that the first forty-eight hours are critical and after that, the odds usually point to a worst-case scenario. And despite Stevie Clark’s youth, he knows that, too; he’s seen the cop shows. He knows what each ticking moment may mean for Jude, his cousin and best friend.

That, and there was that boy, Max Larsen…the one from years ago, found dead after also disappearing under mysterious circumstances. And then there were the animals: pets gone missing out of yards. For years, the residents of Deer Valley have murmured about these unsolved crimes…and that a killer may still be lurking around their quiet town. Now, fear is reborn—and for Stevie, who is determined to find out what really happened to Jude, the awful truth may be too horrifying to imagine.

Review:

With a possibly unreliable narrator, supernatural elements and a mysterious disappearance of a  twelve year boy,  The Devil Crept In is the latest eerie and somewhat creepy horror novel by Ania Ahlborn.

Ten year old Stevie Clark is best friends with his twelve year old cousin Jude Brighton and when Jude goes missing, he is the only person in town who takes his disappearance seriously.  Due to his stutter and overactive imagination, Stevie is a bit of a social pariah in town which makes his friendship with Jude that much more important to him.  Everyone in town considers Jude a troublemaker so it is little surprise that the general consensus is he has run away from home.  Stevie knows without a doubt that his cousin would never voluntarily abandon him, so Stevie gathers his courage to help search for Jude.  A grisly discovery indicates Jude might be the victim of foul play so Stevie decides to investigate his best friend’s disappearance in earnest.  Deciding to venture to the spooky house that Jude is so fascinated with, Stevie is frightened by what he sees, but Jude’s sudden reappearance puts an end to any further investigation.  At first relieved his best friend has returned unharmed, Stevie becomes frightened by the differences he notices in Jude.  Although no one seems aware that anything is amiss, Stevie is determined to understand what happened to Jude in the woods but will anyone believe him once he uncovers the truth?

Told in three parts, part one delves into Jude and Stevie’s somewhat tragic childhoods and follows Jude’s disappearance and Stevie’s search for his cousin.  Stevie is an incredibly sympathetic ten year old boy but his various problems make him an unreliable narrator.  At one time a happy, normal child, he inexplicably began stuttering and experiencing night terrors and hallucinations.  His home life worsened dramatically following his father’s abandonment and his mom’s involvement with an abusive and volatile man who does not hesitate to mete out corporal punishment.  Although always rambunctious, Jude essentially turned into a surly juvenile delinquent after this father’s death.  The two boys are now inseparable and Stevie is quite forgiving after he occasionally becomes the object of Jude’s mean streak.

The second part of the story provides the backstory of Rosamund “Rosie” Aleksander, an emotionally damaged recluse once married to a local doctor.  Rosie is inconsolable after a tragic loss and her attempt to escape her pain leads her to a stranger and a mysterious retreat. Returning to her beautiful home in the woods, Rosie’s deepest wish comes true but in a particularly cruel twist of fate, her dream soon turns into a horrific nightmare that tests her deepest bond.

Part three is where the two storylines come together with a terrifying supernatural twist that will put even the most ardent horror fan on the edge of their seat when evil is unleashed in the aftermath of Jude’s disappearance.  Stevie finally uncovers the ghastly secret about the strange occurrences that have happened in and around town over the last several years.  Just as he is piecing together the events that have plagued the town, Stevie also learns the stunning truth about what happened to Jude and in the aftermath of his discoveries, his life goes in a very shocking direction.

Although initially a little slow-paced, The Devil Crept In by Ania Ahlborn catapults to an adrenaline filled and sinister conclusion.  An imaginative and suspense-laden novel that I highly recommend to fans of the horror genre.

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Filed under Ania Ahlborn, Contemporary, Gallery Books, Horror, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Supernatural Elements, The Devil Crept In

Review: Within These Walls by Ania Ahlborn

within wallsTitle: Within These Walls by Ania Ahlborn
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Contemporary, Supernatural, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Length: 464 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

In her all-new supernatural thriller, bestselling indie horror author Ania Ahlborn asks: How far would you go for success? What would you be capable of if the promise of forever was real?

With his marriage on the rocks and his life in shambles, washed-up true-crime writer Lucas Graham is desperate for a comeback, one more shot at the bestselling success he once enjoyed. His chance comes when he’s promised exclusive access to death row inmate Jeffrey Halcomb, the notorious cult leader and mass murderer who’s ready to break his silence after thirty years, and who contacted Lucas personally from his maximum-security cell. With nothing left to lose, Lucas leaves New York to live and work from the scene of the crime: a split-level farmhouse on a gray-sanded beach in Washington State whose foundation is steeped in the blood of Halcomb’s diviners—runaways who were drawn to his message of family, unity, and unconditional love. There, Lucas sets out to capture the real story of the departed faithful. Except that he’s not alone. For Jeffrey Halcomb promised his devout eternal life…and within these walls, they’re far from dead.

Review:

Within These Walls by Ania Ahlborn is an absolutely mesmerizing and downright spooky novel with supernatural elements. Part mystery, part ghost story, this story is incredibly fast paced with a unique storyline that has horror/suspense/paranormal aspects that fans of psychological thrillers will love.

Lucas Graham is a true crime author who desperately needs a best-seller that will revive his stalled career and hopefully save his failing marriage. When he receives a letter from convicted murderer and cult leader Jeffrey Halcomb offering him the exclusive story about the murder/suicides of ten of his followers, Lucas does not think twice before agreeing to Halcomb’s terms. Lucas, along with his twelve year old daughter Jeanie, pack up and move across country to live in the house where the infamous deaths occurred thirty years earlier. Ghostly apparitions, unexplained sounds and eerie sightings begin immediately after their arrival and soon both Jeanie and Lucas experience extreme changes in their personality. Could there be a rational explanation for these bizarre occurrences? Or is the reason far more sinister than either Jeanie or Lucas could possibly imagine?

Lucas is on a tight deadline for his interviews with Halcomb and he immediately immerses himself in his writing project. After he runs into a dead end, he considers packing up and returning to New York, but surprisingly, Jeanie tries to talk him into staying. When a neighbor provides him with invaluable information about Halcomb and the other cult members, Lucas decides to take the book in a new direction. His once close relationship with Jeanie soon begins to suffer when Lucas becomes obsessed with the cult leader and the deaths of his followers.

Jeanie is also fascinated by the history of the house and her research leads to a surprising adulation of Jeffrey Halcomb. She is angry with Lucas for breaking his promises to her and her resentment over his neglect is relieved by her friendship with their new neighbor, Echo. Jeanie’s avid interest in the occult takes a shocking turn after Echo confides stunning information that bolsters Jeanie’s growing fixation with Halcomb. This leaves Jeanie susceptible to manipulation that could have devastating consequences.

The events from thirty years ago are exposed through a series of flashbacks that provide vital information about Halcomb and his followers. The months leading up to the mass suicides/murders are meticulously detailed and reveal how the charismatic leader exploits the weaknesses of those living on the fringes of society. These recollections show how the cult ingratiates themselves with Audra Snow, an emotionally fragile young woman who is estranged from her family. She invites them into her home and over the course of several months, she becomes a believer of their twisted ideology.  The final months and days leading up to the murder/suicides are particularly poignant and it is absolutely heartbreaking when Audra’s experiences with the cult are fully revealed.

Within These Walls is a suspense laden novel that is quite riveting. Ania Ahlborn expertly combines supernatural elements with an intriguing mystery and the resulting story is a spine tingling psychological thriller that thunders to a jaw-dropping and completely unexpected conclusion.

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Filed under Ania Ahlborn, Contemporary, Gallery Books, Horror, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Supernatural Elements, Suspense, Thriller, Within These Walls