by Ania Ahlborn
Review by Steve Sawicki
47North Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781612183664
Date: 17 July 2012 List Price $14.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
As a child Jack Winter met a nightmare that he was never fully sure did not exist. He fled home as early as he could, and, over twenty years later, has a family--wife and child--and a feeling that the past is about to find him once again. Jack's son is starting to exhibit some odd behaviors. Jack's wife puts it all down to a car accident that they recently had. Jack, however, begins to recognize the behaviors for a repeat of history. But it's something he can't seem to talk about. He figures the best action is to return to his childhood home and confront the horror that he thought he left there. The only problem is that the horror had the same idea, only earlier.
This is a debut novel and it is very well written. Ahlborn has two more novels in the pipeline. And, it should be noted, this is a very dark novel filled with evil. As such there is not a happy ending but an ending full of evil and nasty surprises. It's the type of ending that readers must surely wonder about. After all, evil can't always be on the losing end. It surely can not be constantly represented as superior and horror striking only to consistently fail when it counts. It must, given how it is often represented, win some times. And, if so, then here is now.
I enjoyed the beginning of this book. In the middle, I thought that Ahlborn lost some momentum, getting caught up in what many horror writers get caught up in, the humdrum of normality in order to show how horrible the horror really is. Great for staging but boring to read. It's almost as if the writer feels the need to justify the dumb behavior of the protagonist (and is not most horror based on the dumb behavior of protagonists?). I mean, how much horror could potentially be prevented if the protagonist just decided to tell someone, not open the door, not enter the house, not go down to the cellar, etc.
Ahlborn does catch her second wind as the book works to conclusion and she does put together a really nasty ending, that is full of horrible surprises and some twists that you just won't see coming. I do wonder how much of this is simply new author syndrome. Hard to tell from just the first book. I would recommend it. Grind through the middle section if you find it slowing down as the ending is worth it.