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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Odd, but strangely alluring
I wasn't quite sure what to make of this book. I knew, by the blurb on the back - "she played in cemeteries as a child" - that I'd like the author (but then who DIDN'T like to play in graveyards when little?), but I wasn't so sure about the story. However, Ahldorn's original, astute writing saved what could have been a very average plot and turned it into a book that kept...
Published on 26 Oct 2012 by Littlepig Littlepig

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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Suburban Nightmare?
I had hopes for this book, reading the blurb it sounded like something that was meaty and a cracking read. In Creekside, a town in Kansas, Andrew Morrison is moving in with an old schoolfriend, who he hasn't seen or spoken to in some time. On a lovely street which seems like an idyll Andrew finds that his friend lives in the only ramshackle house, derelict and looking...
Published on 26 Aug 2012 by M. Dowden


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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Suburban Nightmare?, 26 Aug 2012
By 
M. Dowden (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Neighbors (Paperback)
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I had hopes for this book, reading the blurb it sounded like something that was meaty and a cracking read. In Creekside, a town in Kansas, Andrew Morrison is moving in with an old schoolfriend, who he hasn't seen or spoken to in some time. On a lovely street which seems like an idyll Andrew finds that his friend lives in the only ramshackle house, derelict and looking like it will soon fall down. With the perfect house next door, and the ideal neighbours, things aren't necessarily as they seem.

Where this story starts to unravel though is in that it is so predictable, you know what will happen next, there is no thoughtful engagement between you and the book, it is as simple as 1+1=2. Although well written enough there is nothing to push this above countless other crime fiction/ thrillers, and so you do feel a tad underwhelmed, and in places you have to wonder if it is that believable. To a certain extent suspense has been pushed aside to give you instead 'flashbacks' into the characters' pasts. A quite quick read this is something to sit with in the garden or on the beach, where you are just looking for something to read that is easy and doesn't take much thought.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as I hoped, 21 Nov 2012
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Nikki - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Neighbors (Paperback)
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I love a good psychological thriller so I looked forward to reading this book as it sounded right up my street. I was however disappointed as it just didn't hit the mark for me with its rather basic and very predictable plot. I was hoping for a much darker, sinister and intense kind of read - something that would really draw me in and keep me on the edge of my seat but sadly this book failed to do that. I would describe this as a quick and easy read which dosen't require much brain power.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars MAYBE IT'S TIME TO MOVE, 30 Nov 2012
By 
Red Rock Bookworm (St. George Utah USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Neighbors (Paperback)
Andrew (Drew) Morrison has literally jumped from the frying pan into the fire in his attempt to escape his agoraphobic, alcoholic mother. Ever since his dad left several years ago, Drew has been the "man of the house" taking care of all the household duties and working in an attempt to hold his meager "family" together. Now he has moved in with his childhood buddy Mickey, whose home and squalid lifestyle are made glaringly more obvious when compared to the manicured lawns, white picket fence and "home and garden" residence of the picture perfect couple residing next door to Mickey. From outward appearances the Wards are the quintessential couple with the smell of fresh baked cookies emanating from their fairytale home. Some may "get their kicks on Route 66" but this particular fairy tale is more the "666" variety. Harlow, the female resident of the house next door is a beautiful but evil enchantress. Her husband, Red, presents a puppy dog attitude of obedient loyalty and turns a blind eye while his little woman blackmails Mickey into joining her as she compulsively engages in acts of incest, torture and murder in an attempt to satiate her need for vengeance. It's almost as if Mickey and Harlow share a mental disorder with her being the manic part of the duo and he the depressive.

So with Mickey keeping his guilty secrets and Drew experiencing some overwhelming feelings of culpability for abandoning his mother, both young men are prime candidates for some inevitable and violent encounters with the wacky Wards.

Less the Blue Velvet/Basic Instinct genre that was advertised in the blurb, this is more "the novice writers' version of Stephen King meets Dean Koontz for an evening at Peter Straubs' home". Not bad, but not great either.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Worst book I've read in a long time, 14 July 2013
By 
J. Johns - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Neighbors (Kindle Edition)
This book is marketed as a dark thriller-type novel. It is so badly written that I wish I'd not bothered. The characters are very poorly developed and the story is SO slow. The climax of the story is boring and disappointing.
The author has taken some very serious and emotional issues (alcoholism, depression, incest and domestic violence) and somehow made them really dull. If I had experience of any of these issues I'd be upset at the shallow way they are used to try to sensationalise a story.
I rarely take the time to review books but this one was so bad I had to.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Odd, but strangely alluring, 26 Oct 2012
This review is from: The Neighbors (Paperback)
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I wasn't quite sure what to make of this book. I knew, by the blurb on the back - "she played in cemeteries as a child" - that I'd like the author (but then who DIDN'T like to play in graveyards when little?), but I wasn't so sure about the story. However, Ahldorn's original, astute writing saved what could have been a very average plot and turned it into a book that kept itching at my mind until I finished it. Andrew, running away from his dysfunctional life and looking to start afresh, moves in with an old schoolfriend, Mickey. The grass is definitely greener with the neighbours, the Wards, who are good-looking, clean and seem absolutely perfect; but their perfect exterior hides a dark interior.

Ahldorn has created a likeable, empathetic hero in Andrew, and a very human antihero in Mickey. Their nemesis, Harlow Ward, the beautiful seductress next door, is also a tormented and twisted character who is a unique antiheroine (is that a word? it is now!). The whole story, which threatened to be a rather typical black-deeds-behind-the-white-picket-fence affair, is surprisingly well-observed and enjoyably gruesome without being OTT. And, without giving anything away, I really liked the ending.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Light, easy to read but fails to deliver any tension or surprises, 28 Aug 2012
By 
JK "J. K." (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Neighbors (Paperback)
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I expect psychological thrillers to have edge of the seat tension, darkness at the heart of the plot, scary themes and at least one sinister character. What I don't expect is to read a psychological thriller, promising all of the above, and find it so shallow and predictable I've guessed the ending half way through by which time I'm so bored I don't want to carry on. Oh dear; The Neighbors promised so much but delivered so little. The plot is basic, and centres around Andrew Morrison, a 23 year old living unhappily in Kansas and failing to achieve his ambitions. Andrew works in a shop and has dreams bigger than his bank balance and has to learn, the hard way, nothing comes for free. When things appear too good to be true, that's because they are! Themes of blackmail, nastiness and slight erotica ensue but I can't tell you more than that, the plot is so shallow I'd give the whole thing away if I went any deeper.

I've given 3 stars and not 2 because there's nothing wrong with the quality of the writing and Ania Ahlborn develops the characters nicely. The book is incredibly easy to read, and to follow, but my criticism has to be the predictability and simplicity of the plot.
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1.0 out of 5 stars The Neighbors simply fails to deliver on pretty much every level, 3 Aug 2014
By 
Joanne Sheppard (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Neighbors (Kindle Edition)
The blurb for The Neighbors describes it as "an insidiously entertaining tale of psychological suspense and mounting terror by the boldest new master of the form, at the intersection of Basic Instinct and Blue Velvet". It's the story of Andrew Morrison, who leaves home after a row with his alcoholic mother, moves into a rundown property with a deeply unpleasant housemate, and finds himself fascinated by Red and Harlow Ward, the strangely glamorous couple next door who seem keen to take him under their wing. To me, this all sounds quite promising.

Unfortunately, The Neighbors simply fails to deliver on pretty much every level.

First of all, Andrew - who is also irritatingly referred to as Drew and Andy throughout, despite the narrative being from a third person omniscient point of view - has little in the way of either depth or backbone. His departure from his mother's home is not especially convincing, and nor is his response to the strange reaction he gets from his new housemate Mickey (sometimes called Mick, which irked me as much as the Andrew/Drew/Andy business) when he arrives after agreeing to move in. He's perturbed by Mickey's incredible rudeness upon his arrival, but fails to confront him about it or even question it, despite Mickey being a old childhood friend. Moreover, his obsession with the Wards simply doesn't seem credible. Admittedly, Andrew might be looking for a mother figure or a family unit, given his background, but I still fail to see why he'd a) develop an erotic fixation with an obviously mad middle-aged woman solely because she's well-groomed and makes him some cookies or b) believe for one moment that a suburban couple could possibly need to pay him to work full-time simply on some low-skilled maintenance jobs around the house. Why does this not make him in any way suspicious?

Similarly, while we're constantly reminded that Harlow Ward is an attractive woman, there is no real explanation for her apparent magnetism or her ability to manipulate her husband into turning a blind eye to her blatant violent lunacy. It's simply not plausible in any way. I kept suspecting that there might be some sort of supernatural element to it, as this seemed the only possible explanation, but no, it's nowhere near as interesting as that.

Red Ward is largely devoid of character, as is Mickey. Harlow herself is essentially just a dangerous nutjob, and while some cursory effort is made to explain her psychological issues, it's a pretty poor one that's also tastelessly dismissive of the type of experience she's been through. And there is little suspense, either, simply because everything is so obvious and happens with such unlikely speed. There are no real surprises, and no attempt to build any kind of atmosphere.

Finally, the quality of the writing overall seems low to me. It's all telling and no showing, with clunky exposition and asides on the characters and their behaviour that take the place of character development through action and dialogue. Harlow Ward, supposedly the all-important, all-powerful lynch-pin of the novel, is reminiscent "of that Mad Men show - her hair, her clothes; they were profoundly retro". Is that kind of lazy catch-all, shorthand description really the best the author can do?

I honestly hate writing bad reviews, and I can usually find plenty to enjoy even in a book that didn't really work for me. Unfortunately, not this time.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not good, 4 April 2013
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This review is from: The Neighbors (Kindle Edition)
It's the worst rubbish I have read in many years. It was badly written and I am sorry to even have bother to finish it must have been hoping it would get better.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The house next door, 1 Dec 2014
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This review is from: The Neighbors (Kindle Edition)
This really is not a bad book, assuming you have the patience to go through the early chapters, which do seem to drag on endlessly. However, the pace picks up and it soon provides the reader with a rather interesting, although predictable storyline. Andrew is eagerly anticipating a fresh start when he arrives to rent a cheap room at his old friend's house. His neglected and dirty new lodgings are strangely located next to a pristine dream house next door. The couple there are friendly and welcoming and soon Andrew finds himself under their spell, as he spends an increasing amount of time at their company. But what are the dark secrets simmering beneath the surface?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A very unpleasant book, 8 July 2014
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This review is from: The Neighbors (Kindle Edition)
Gratuitously violent and fit only to be turned into a D-rated teen horror slasher flick. Can't think of anything good to say about it. I'm giving it one star only because zero stars is not an option
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The Neighbors
The Neighbors by Ania Ahlborn (Paperback - 27 Nov 2012)
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