Guest review by bestselling horror and thriller author Blake Crouch.
The second greatest pleasure in reading is opening a favorite author's new book. But the greatest, for me at least, is discovering a new voice. It's deciding to give that sample a shot, getting through those first few pages, and becoming awestruck with the mounting feeling that you're reading something new and masterfully created.
It doesn't happen often. There's so much to read, and life is simply too short to slog through bad, or even mediocre books.
Such was my attitude as I began Seed by newcomer Ania Ahlborn, a story about the Winter family living in the deep south and struggling to come to terms with strange occurrences in their house (and themselves).
My hopes weren't high. This was a first novel, and even more than that, it was billed as horror. I love horror, and I've read, watched, and written quite a bit of it. So I'm very choosy.
By the end of page one, I knew one thing—Ahlborn could write. This was carefully constructed prose by someone who slaves over their sentences, word by word.
By the end of page two, I knew she had a story to tell. But it was more than just that. It was that mounting feeling. It was how well she had drawn her characters. And most importantly...how freaking scary it was to read an intimate portrait of a family falling apart. This story is not about a haunted house, but something infinitely more unsettling. Haunted people.
It touches brilliantly on two of a parent's greatest fears: fear of your own child, and fear that your own failings, your own past, might derail their lives. I was deeply moved.
The ending of Seed is every bit as twisted, gut-wrenching, and horrifying as Stephen's King's Pet Sematary, and that's no easy feat.
Great horror instills you with that twinge of discomfort and then it just keeps ratcheting it up. It takes you to places you're not sure you can handle or want to see. But if the writing is amazing and we care about the characters, we can't stop ourselves from turning the pages.
Seed is great horror—a dark, fearless, unflinching blast of suburban spookiness that reminded me of early Stephen King. It's easily the best debut novel—in any genre—that I've read in years.