So we're trying a little something new and fun here at The Book Cafe. So we kind of love Halloween here. I, personally, love it to the point where every weekend in October my friends and I planned to get together and watch a different horror movie. We each get to choose one. So I thought why not with books right?? Exactly. So each Wednesday for the month of October each of us are going to choose and review a different horror/paranormal/spooky/creepy type book. First up is "The Queen of All Things Horror" (yup, I gave her that title and it's sticking!) Coll.
by Ania Ahlborn
From the bestselling horror author of Within These Walls and The Bird Eater comes a brand-new novel of terror that follows a teenager determined to break from his family’s unconventional—and deeply disturbing—traditions.
Deep in the heart of Appalachia stands a crooked farmhouse miles from any road. The Morrows keep to themselves, and it’s served them well so far. When girls go missing off the side of the highway, the cops don’t knock on their door. Which is a good thing, seeing as to what’s buried in the Morrows’ backyard.
But nineteen-year-old Michael Morrow isn’t like the rest of his family. He doesn’t take pleasure in the screams that echo through the trees. Michael pines for normalcy, and he’s sure that someday he’ll see the world beyond West Virginia. When he meets Alice, a pretty girl working at a record shop in the small nearby town of Dahlia, he’s immediately smitten. For a moment, he nearly forgets about the monster he’s become. But his brother, Rebel, is all too eager to remind Michael of his place…
Review by Coll
My Rating: 5 Coffee Cups
**I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**
I have been patiently awaiting this book for months now so I was very excited to get the opportunity from NetGalley to review it. I read the book in about a day and it took me another day after I finished it purely to wrap my head around what I had just read. Michael Morrow lives in a secluded farmhouse in the Appalachian area of West Virginia with his family, leading the only life he has ever known, a life that would terrify any other human. He was raised on the adage that blood is thicker than water and was trained to keep the family’s secrets and bring them with him to the grave. However, Michael was never truly happy with this life and when he meets a girl and starts to have experiences that normal teenagers have he begins to question everything he has ever known. But family is family and some things you just can’t escape, and Michael’s brother, Rebel, wants to make sure that Michael never EVER forgets that.
When I was reading this book half of me wanted to make it last and savor it while the other half of me wanted to not take my eyes off of it and just devour it. I was never one for willpower so I read the book in a day. Brother throws you right into the macabre schemes of the Morrow family on the first page and it keeps you there, allowing no respite, until the very last sentence. When I finished the book I had to go back and read the last page several times to fully digest everything, and when I was done I felt I could do nothing else for the night. To move on to reading something else was just impossible and I was completely satisfied to just lie in bed and contemplate everything I had just read.
I think the main brilliance in this book lies in Ahlborn’s ability to create a character that you should, by all means, hate and fear yet you are compelled to love him and take his side throughout the entire story. I found myself in awe of this the entire time I was reading the book. The storyline was wonderfully creepy and the range of emotions I felt while reading this book was rather intense. Anger, sympathy, disgust, heartbreak, satisfaction, I felt them all during the course of reading this book, sometimes all at the same time, and I loved every second of it. This book is basically an emotional roller coaster in all the right ways.
For a sizable portion of the book the story changes between chapters from past to present, giving the readers insight into all the characters. This makes the story seem slightly disjointed at times, but everything in this book is done for a reason and the past is equally as important as the present when it comes to the story of the Morrows. As the family’s history grows more sinister with the passing of years, the reader comes to the grim understanding of how past traumas led to the present evil that is the Morrow clan.
This book does not give you the ability to predict what is going to happen in advance, so don’t go into it thinking you can figure it all out. I found myself blindsided several times by unexpected elements that Ahlborn added into the plot and just when you think the book cannot get more disturbing, it does. Brother combines all the key story elements depicted in a high level of detail from setting to characters to actions to realizations made by the characters in the book. Ahlborn forces the reader to confront nightmarish situations and realize how far humans can go when pushed in certain ways. The book shows that on a basic level human beings are no different than animals, and sometimes they can even be worse.
I feel like I need to say that if you are squeamish or afraid to look into the deepest and darkest areas of human behavior then you may want to think twice about reading this book. But in my opinion this is a must read, especially for any and all horror fans out there. It has been a long time since I have read an amazing horror book and Brother left me feeling so satisfied. I can honestly say it is one of the most chilling and brilliantly terrifying books I have ever read.
“There wasn’t much to fear in places like this. That’s why people moved out to the country. It seemed safe and peaceful and perfect until you caught a lunatic crawling through your bedroom window.”
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