Monday, April 6, 2015

Within These Walls - by Ania Ahlborn - Ultimately a Haunted House story and a rather good one

4 of 5 Stars     Review copy

It all starts with a letter to True Crime writer Lucas Graham. What's important is who the letter is from and what it offers, a chance to interview convicted mass murderer, Jeffrey Halcomb, who has never told his story of the heinous crime for which he was convicted more than 30 years ago.

It's an opportunity that would jump-start Lou's flagging career, but there's a catch. Jeffrey want's Lou to live in the house in Pier Pointe, Washington, the scene of the crime.  It's a deal breaker, no interview unless Lou complies.

If Lou were a single man, this wouldn't be a big deal, but as a family man, trying to keep his marriage from falling apart, this becomes a very difficult decision.

Ahlborn does a nice job in bringing out the stress involved in making his decision, but ultimately, the offer of the interview is too good to pass up.  Lou and his twelve-year-old daughter, Victoria, make the move from New York to Washington, while his wife, Caroline stays behind with her career and boyfriend.

I started out thinking the story was about the interview with Halcomb, but as time went by, I realized it was all about the house.  Like any good ghost story, there is a slow build.  Little things, which taken by themselves, don't mean a lot, but as they add up, lead to a frightening environment.

The book is written with parallel stories.  There's Lou and his daughter moving into the house and Lou's attempts to get his interview and then there's the year leading up to the mass murder that took place in the house some thirty years before.

The two story-lines converge with the climatic scenes where all hell breaks loose.

I found Within These Walls to be an exceptionally well-crafted supernatural horror story. Seeing other reviews, not everyone agrees with me, but I can only relate my personal experience.

Within These Walls will be published on April 21st, 2015, by Gallery Books, a division of Simon and Schuster and will be available in a variety of formats.


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