by Ania AhlbornPublished by: Thomas & Mercer Publish Date: November 27, 2012 Genre: Contemporary Fiction Source: Review Copy Rory’s Rating: From Goodreads:
Andrew Morrison sacrificed everything—his childhood, his education, and the girl of his dreams—to look after his alcoholic mother. But enough is enough, and now he’s determined to get out and live his life. That means trading the home he grew up in for a rented room in the house of an old childhood friend— both of which are in sorry shape.
The only thing worse than Drew’s squalid new digs and sullen new roommate is the envy he feels for the house next door: a picture-perfect suburban domicile straight out of Norman Rockwell, with a couple of happy householders to match. But the better acquainted he gets with his new neighbors—especially the sweet and sexy Harlow Ward—the more he suspects unspeakable darkness beyond the white picket fence.
At the intersection of Blue Velvet and Basic Instinct lies The Neighbors, an insidiously entertaining tale of psychological suspense and mounting terror by the boldest new master of the form, Ania Ahlborn.
I will start by saying I liked this book, but I found the publisher’s blurb to be a little misleading. I wouldn’t classify this book as horror or terror, although psychological suspense is a fitting description. However, the lack of horror (or my perception of it) did not diminish my enjoyment of the novel.
Meet Drew, he gave up everything to take care of his mother. One day, with a simple discovery, he decides to change his life. Finally. He finds an old friend and asks to rent out one of the rooms in his house. Despite his new squalid surroundings, Drew is ready to start his new life. He meets the neighbors from the picture perfect house next door, Harlow and Red, and wishes he had grown up with parents like that. As he spends more time there, he begins to think there might be more than the pretty perfection that is visible on the surface.
Ania Ahlborn’s second novel, The Neighbors, is a fun (if such books can be called fun – and I say they can) psychological thriller. The novel is absolutely riveting; it sucked me into Drew’s world almost instantly. Drew’s world is tense, thrilling, and dramatic. However, Drew himself is less so. I would go so far as to say Drew is a little dense. Things just didn’t seem to sink in; he wasn’t stupid by any means, just oblivious. It’s pivotal to the story that Drew fails to notice what is going on around him until it is too late, but I like my main characters with a little more obvious intelligence. This is what dropped the book from a four star to a three star read for me. This doesn’t stop me from recommending it though.
While it has elements of horror in the novel, the scenes are tastefully handled. There is talk of some gore, but you don’t get a gritty, bloody play by play. This is actually quite nice. Although I haven’t read it, I understand The Neighbors is quite different from her first novel Seed in this respect. The author has a great writing style and the ability to throw in a few good twists and turns (some were a tad on the obvious side, others less so). I will definitely be following up The Neighbors by read Seed. I’ll also look for anything Ahlborn does in the future; though it is unlikely I will reread The Neighbors. 3 Stars.