Saturday, October 31, 2015

Book Review: Within These Walls by Ania Ahlborn

Adult, Horror, Thriller, Paranormal
Publication.Date  April 21st 2014
Published By:  Gallery Books
AuthorAnia Ahlborn

Within These Walls on Goodreads
My review copy:Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Where to get:

From indie horror author and bestselling sensation Ania Ahlborn, this brand-new supernatural thriller questions: how far would you go for success, and 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 crime writer Lucas Graham is desperate for a comeback. So when he’s promised exclusive access to notorious cult leader and death row inmate Jeffrey Halcomb, the opportunity is too good to pass up. Lucas leaves New York for the scene of the crime—a split-level farmhouse on the gray-sanded beach of Washington State—a house whose foundation is steeped in the blood of Halcomb’s diviners; runaways who, thirty years prior, were drawn to his message of family, unity, and unconditional love. Lucas wants to tell the real story of Halcomb’s faithful departed, but when Halcomb goes back on his promise of granting Lucas exclusive information on the case, he’s left to put the story together on his own. Except he is not alone. For Jeffrey Halcomb promised his devout eternal life…and within these walls, they’re far from dead.
“To wonder meant to want, if only in some small way.”

“Every mother has the miraculous ability of momentary blindness.” 
“That kind of loss came with a lot of guilt, and guilt made people defensive.”
“Life is hard. Death is easy.”
“Marriage did strange things to people. It could have been World War III in that kitchen, but if there was coffee, two mugs would always be served.”
“She’d crossed her fingers for so long they had fused together like the branches of a tree.”

“It is the secret of the world that all things subsist and do not die, but retire a little from sight and afterwards return again. Nothing is dead. People feign themselves dead, and endure mock funerals and mournful obituaries, and there they stand, looking out the window, sound and well in some new disguise." —Ralph Waldo Emerson

It's like a screwy mix of The Following (the TV show) with the Skeleton Key, cherry-topped with some heavy-ass existential dread and drenched in human's most basic fears and darkest nightmares. I absolutely loved it!

       True-crime writer Lucas Graham is on the edge of failure. He knows he has to do something and he has to do it fast, or his life will crumble to pieces and he'll loose his daughter forever. When death row inmate Jeffrey Halcomb contacts him with the exclusive opportunity to write down his story, Lucas grasps at the chance, packs up and moves from New York to Washington state. Jeffrey Halcomb is the infamous cult leader and mass-murderer who lured his faithful followers to death. Now, this deranged and horrifying human being wants Lucas to tell his story, but he will only talk if Lucas agrees to stay at Halcomb's farmhouse - the murder-scene. Lucas is determined to turn his fate around and desperate enough to accept Halcomb's eccentric conditions. He'll do anything to capture the true story of Halcomb's slaughtered lambs who were promised the eternal life in peace and love. Little does he know, that promise did not go entirely unfulfilled...

     Ania Ahlborn's writing style is truly something different. A curios mixture of intensely morbid and dazzlingly poetic. Her prose is magnificent and creative, and so incredibly substantial, it fills you up with feelings and thoughts. It's not a wordy style at all, Ania gets straight to the point. She chooses her words carefully - it is obvious, for each of her words carries weight and makes you pause and consider its meaning. Short sentences deliver strong punches. This is a very powerful writing style, thoroughly atmospheric and evocative. So many writers get caught up in long descriptions and meaningless dialogues - and that can be particularly damaging for horror books, because you really need to focus on the feelings and creepy events to be able to scare the reader. Ania's descriptions make your skin crawl. They're not gruesome, though they're definitely vivid and mesmerizing. She makes it all too easy for you to picture the creepy ghost reflected in the washroom mirror,  the creaky rooms of the old house, or the abandoned orchard. And the isolated, foreboding setting only adds to the disquieting atmosphere of the book. 

    This is a modern classic in the making. It's scary, but in that sticky and crawly kind of way that really gets under your skin. Ahlborn flavor of horror is not the cheap, B-style, in-your-face type of horror, it's more of a subtle, nagging, deeply unsettling fear-fest filled with sadness, existential dread and failure. The story becomes more chilling and more eerie with every page turned, and the ultimate twist at the end, elevates it to a whole new level of terrifying. 
     In a genre filled with contrived, unoriginal dramas posing as thrillers, Within These Walls truly stands out. It's genuinely creepy and emotionally affecting. Ahlborn pulls you in with her sticky, flavorful writing and keeps you in shackles all the way to the end. And once you reach the end, you wish you could go back... This book stays with you long after you turn the last page. Whether it's a good or bad thing, is up to you to decide.

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