Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Neighbors by Ania Ahlborn

I loved Ms. Ahlborn's previous novel, Seed, so I was thrilled to check out The Neighbors, thanks to the Amazon Prime Lending LibraryAmazon calls it a blend of Blue Velvet and Basic Instinct, and I call it creepy as hell.

The Neighbors follows a man, Andrew Morrison, who escapes the trappings of his life and caring for his alcoholic and agoraphobic mother to go live with a childhood friend. As he travels down the street that the house is located on, he is thrilled to see a beautiful neighborhood with immaculate houses.  However, when he arrives at his new rental, it is rundown and completely out of place in the neighborhood.

He tries to make the best of his new living situation with his roommate, Mickey, but things are hard.  The house is a pigsty, and Mickey is mostly uncommunicative and absorbed in video games. The light at the end of the tunnel for Andrew is his seemingly perfect neighbors, Red and Harlow.  Not only is Harlow the perfect mother he never had, but he also finds himself attracted to her flawless looks at well.  The couple immediately takes to Andrew, inviting him over for meals and even give him a job doing housework.  Drew ignores Mickey's warnings against the couple, and spends more and more time there, despite Harlow's increasing flirtations, and overall strange behavior.

There is something dark and scary hiding under the pristine surface of Harlow and Red's perfect life.  But it seems that Drew will discover it when he is already in way too deep.  Not only is there violence involved, but sexual deviance, crazy families, hidden bodies, and conspiracy.

I can't say I liked this is much as Seed, since, in my opinion, I don't think it was ever able to achieve the true eeriness that Ahlborn's previous book invoked.  I also agree with other reviewers/readers that it seems like the author held back a bit.  I saw her heading down the road of extreme horror a la Crouch and Kilborn, but she seemed to snap back and show (maybe a little too much) restraint.  I really liked the story, but I would have appreciated it to go even a little deeper and more gritty.  Definitely worth a read though, and check out Seed if you haven't already!