I'm going to go ahead and declare today Ania Ahlborn day on the blog! And I'm kicking things off with a novella review first (followed by a review of Brother).
It's 1977 and the Son of Sam is stalking the city. Nell Sullivan isn't worried, though. She has more immediate problems.
Nell is quiet and keeps to herself, mostly out of a need for survival. The office girls aren't welcoming. In fact, Nell finds herself being bullied by the worst one of them all. But at least she has her brother. And a new friend. And as the city braces itself for more killings, Nell begins to break out of her shell.
This was a fun little story! I mean, it's set during the Son of Sam killings so you've got a built in tense atmosphere. Then you've got poor, downtrodden Nell.
Nell lives alone in the city with her brother. Her brother is the charismatic one, the one people like. But her brother doesn't work, so it's up to Nell to pay the rent. Which is why she's stayed at Rambert & Bertram in spite of the fact that her co workers are making her miserable.
It's not just that they go out for after work drinks and don't invite her along. It's that the so-called pretty girls are outright catty and mean to Nell. Her brother Barrett says it doesn't matter, Nell has him and that's all she needs. But Nell longs for a connection beyond Barrett! Nell wants a friend.
So when one of her co workers offers a sliver of hope in that regard, Nell pounces.
Of course this is an Ania Ahlborn tale so you know things aren't going to end well. The surprise is in the turn the story takes, though, making The Pretty Ones a great little addition to Ahlborn's list of works.
If you haven't yet read Ahlborn, this is a good one to start with. You'll get a nice taste of her style, but you should know that this is in some ways a bit of a tame story for Ahlborn, at least compared to, oh I don't know, Brother.