The Neighbors

January 1, 2018 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, )

neighborsThe Neighbors by Ania Ahlborn


Ah, Ahlborn. I discovered her earlier this year through The Pretty Ones, and then went back and read Seed so I could see how her writing progressed. Both were extraordinary stories; they weren’t necessarily original, but they were engaging, effective, and well written. A new author entered my reading world, so of course I got her next book.

That book was The Neighbors, and it’s a huge disappointment. It starts out well enough, reading like it’s a new take on a “something isn’t right in the village” story when a desperate young man moves into his friend’s house in an affluent neighborhood, but it falls apart quickly. For one thing, Ahlborn uses multiple points of view for the story, when those kinds of story work best from the viewpoint of one person as they’re trying to make sense of things. Instead, we know early on what’s happening, and have to watch the main character make dumb decisions that put him further and further into trouble.

To be fair, the main character isn’t the only one making dumb decisions; all of the principle characters do. Red and Harlow, the neighbors, don’t make a lick of sense in any way, from their motivations down to how they could afford the lifestyle they live. Mick, their official neighbor, was defined enough to be a pothead, so that explained some choices, but Andrew (or Andy, or Drew, depending on … well, I’m not sure; his name changed a lot throughout the story) makes the dumbest choices of all by going as far as he does with the neighbors. It strained disbelief, enough so that I kept looking for some supernatural connection to explain it all, but no, this is a straight-up, could-happen-in-real-life horror story that doesn’t make much sense.

It doesn’t help that Ahlborn uses flashbacks liberally, and doesn’t segue from the present to the past and back again very well. I didn’t get lost going from one to the other, but the jumps were always abrupt. Seed used flashbacks, too, but they weren’t as jarring. Plus, during those flashbacks, Ahlborn tells us a lot about how Red and Harlow feel, but she doesn’t show us that emotion. I didn’t notice more telling that showing in the present-day part of the story, but the flashbacks definitely had that problem.

Seed was self-published, but didn’t read like one; The Neighbors was published traditionally, but reads like it was self-published. I know Ahlborn can write some great stories, but this book isn’t one of them.  Other reviews suggest this novel is the anomaly of her oeuvre, that her later books are as effective as the rest of her work I’ve read, so I won’t give up on her, but it was a struggle finishing this book. I wouldn’t recommend The Neighbors at all.

Started: September 23, 2017
Finished: September 28, 2017

1 Comment

  1. The Neighbors — Veni Vidi Verkisto – horrorwriter said,

    […] via The Neighbors — Veni Vidi Verkisto […]

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