As part of my continued efforts to binge read as much horror as I can in the days leading up to Halloween, yesterday I burrowed in with a copy of Ania Ahlborn's latest, Brother. I've not yet quite recovered.
I'm going to head this up by saying that in spite of what you read below, Brother is quite good. Ahlborn's got a serious talent for horror and any genre fan should definitely check her work out. I do have a copy of Brother to give away today so be sure to enter via the Rafflecopter at the end of the post if you're interested in getting your name in the running.
Michael doesn't really fit in with the Morrows, but he does know his place. Don't upset Momma and do everything Reb says and he'll be ok. Maybe.
When Michael meets Alice, he finds himself falling for a girl for the first time. And as Alice dreams of leaving behind Dahlia, she makes Michael consider escaping the Morrows for the first time. But Reb has other plans for Michael. Plans that don't include his leaving the Morrows. Ever.
I've been debating how much to say about this book, but considering I found out what it was really about from other reviewers I guess it's not too spoilery to go ahead and tell you this is a book about cannibals.
Yep, you heard right. Cannibals. Never my favorite horror subject matter, but since it's Ania Ahlborn I didn't let it deter me. I think one of the reasons I generally stay away from cannibal horror is that it's a bit too... human. I can see it happening more easily than a lot of the other horror fodder and I find it more disturbing as a result.
And Brother is definitely disturbing.
Ahlborn reels you in with Michael, letting you get to know him and his story. He's not really a bad guy, but he's been raised into an impossible situation. And the focus is more on him as a character and his arc than the overall eating human flesh thing.
And then there's Reb. Reb's story we get via flashbacks interspersed between the present day narrative. Reb, like Michael, turns out to be more gray than black and white. In fact, he turns this story from a clear cut horror tale into a bit of a family drama. (In actuality, the when and the exact why behind this family's weird food issues are never really laid out. It's a framework, a really twisted framework!)
We all know that there are houses that hold secrets. Kids growing up in families that hide awful stories. I'm not saying I think any of my neighbors are serial killing cannibals but I am saying that Ahlborn has taken something familiar to us all and wrapped it up in a gory little package that fits neatly into genre reading. It's quiet well done, too.
Horror should shake you up, readers, and Brother does just that. You can consider me pretty amply shaken :)
I would say as well that you shouldn't pass up Ahlborn's acknowledgements. She does specifically refer to the movie that inspired this and it's likely not the one you think it is. You know, in case you want to continue the... fun.
And now for the giveaway. To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, November 9. (US only please.)
a Rafflecopter giveaway