Within These Walls

Within These Walls

by Ania Ahlborn

Within These Walls is a pretty decent horror novel with a nice touch of creepiness to make you see and hear things at night while reading it. Written by author Ania Ahlborn, the book takes place in the state of Washington in a remote house near the beach. A true crime author takes a gamble by moving across the country to this quaint little house in pursuit of a story that will save his career and his marriage. He’s been given the chance of a lifetime, the opportunity to interview an incarcerated cult serial killer who has never been interviewed before. It’s a chance to get the real story, a guaranteed bestseller, and all he has to do is live in the house where the grisly murders took place. What seems like a great opportunity turns into a nightmare.

All in all, the story does a lot of things right. Ania Ahlborn does a good job of making the book creepy and capturing the sinister element of the ghosts and the house they inhabit. The book follows the frayed journey of the true crime author, Lucas Graham, as he drags his young daughter across the country to go live in a house where people were murdered as part of a strange ritual. His marriage has already imploded and his career is dying. This is his last chance to make everything right, and he’s desperate to do whatever it takes. That desperation comes through loud and clear with the characterization in the book. Yet his story is balanced out by his twelve year old daughter Virginia. For her, her life is going down a spiral as divorce is imminent for her parents. Being dragged across the country for the summer means she won’t get to see her friends or the boy she has a crush on. Thinking of the future, everything seems glum and doomed. But those small worries are soon eclipsed by the immediate threat of the house she’s been brought to. Unlike her dad, she believes in ghosts, so when she starts seeing things, she doesn’t deny it. Instead, she pursues it. With Lucas researching the bloody murders and his daughter speaking to the ghosts of the past, it’s a bad combination that makes everything worse.

Running throughout the story, we also get the tale of Audra Snow, one of the victims of the ritual suicide. That storythread adds a great dynamic to the story as we get to find out what really happened. It also establishes a bond for the reader with one of the victims. We get to see what her life was like, how should wound up with this cult, and how it all went wrong. Knowing that these people she wound up with will kill her makes it that much more tragic. You know what will happen and you’re dragged along for the ride. There’s also snippets of letters, news reports, police reports and paranormal investigations that are sprinkled throughout the book to give readers an idea of the history of the house and the events that happened. With all those factors combined, it makes for a neat and creepy story.

It’s not without some flaws, though. I had some trouble with the main character, Lucas, as he has a really bad habit of not talking to people. He’s all these things going on in his head, all these things happening to him, and he keeps most of it bottled up. A lot of the bad things that happened could have been lessened had he just talked to people, including his daughter, rather than keeping quiet on everything. It’s an annoying character trait that kept me from bonding with the character. Toward the end of the book, Lucas and his daughter Virginia also start making some really dumb decisions which is also annoying. There’s a weird contradictory veil that falls over them as they want to do the right thing, but also feel compelled to do the wrong thing, as if the house is influencing their decisions. That hurt both characters as it made them feel weaker. Some of those problems could have been alleviated with stronger characterization. On top of that, there’s some repetition that creeps in two-thirds of the way through the book. It gets a little muddled.

That said, the first half of the book has a good run, and the ending is worthwhile enough to make the book overall a good read. It’s a creepy, uncomfortable tale that delves into the realm of horror that a little too close for comfort at times. While there are ghosts and the supernatural, the book equally highlights the evil that normal people can and do commit. When combined, it makes for some interesting reading material at night. While it’s not a perfect book, it’s still worth checking out if you’re into serial killer type horror books that delve into ghosts and the supernatural. It’s spooky, engrossing, and has some nice twists and turns. I give Within These Walls a four out of five metal bikinis.

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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