"Seed" by Ania Ahlborn, a hidden gem of a horror novel

Every now and then, I stumble across a book in the most unlikely of ways. If you're a listener of the Bloody Good Horror podcast, you've probably heard us mention that we mess about on TheChive while recording. It's a photo blog if you're not familiar, filled with everything from goofy pictures to cool HD stuff and everywhere in between. On one such day while browsing through a post, I saw the cover posted there to the left (I think, it's all fuzzy now) and the word 'horror' and it caught my attention. Having never had a photo blog recommend a book to me, it looked interesting, so I threw it on the to read pile.

Back when I was first introduced to Ania Ahlborn, I discovered her twitter account and being a want-to-be self published author myself, I followed. You see, Ms. Ahlborn has had quite a bit of sales success with Seed. In fact, it was number one on Amazon's horror charts for a bit. And she published it all herself. Not too shabby!

Jump ahead many months later, sitting on the computer during that sleepy time between Christmas and New Years. I still hadn't gotten around to buying a copy of Seed but I just happened to notice that the author was giving away copies of the book for three days on Twitter. Seeing as I'd been wanting to check it out, I jumped at the chance and dug in right away. Two days later, I was done with the book, left well entertained and here we are. Since I don't have this one slated for a Dad and his Weird Friends Episode as of yet, I'll fill you in here.

From Amazon:

In the vine-twisted swamps of Louisiana, the shadows have teeth. Jack Winter has spent his entire life running from something no one else can see. His childhood is his darkest secret, but after a near fatal accident along a deserted road, the darkness he was sure he’d escaped rears its ugly head… and smiles. But this time, he isn’t the only one who sees the soulless eyes of his past. This time, his six-year-old daughter Charlie leans into his ear and whispers: "Daddy, I saw it too." And then she begins to change. Faced with reliving the nightmares of his childhood, Jack watches his daughter spiral into the shadows that had nearly consumed him twenty years before. But Charlie isn’t the only one who’s changing. Jack never outran the darkness. It’s been with him all along. And it’s hungrier than ever.

As a good story should, the first thing to jump out at you in Ahlborn's "Seed" is a family of well crafted characters. Jack Winter, a family man doing his best to support his family. Sure, he's not perfect. He doesn't need to be though, because he's a good dad and a good husband. Then there's Aimee. Written well to fit her back story of a formerly well to do southern daughter throwing off her families money for love and a family of her own. Abby, the older sister is a good kid, a good student and a happy older sister. Then, there's Charlie. Charlie's cute and precocious, she's funny and adorable and quite obviously, the apple of her father's eye.

Easily identifiable and more importantly, relatable, the Winters are any happy American family. They work hard, live happily with what little they have, and simply enjoy being together; A cast of characters that could easily be you or I. Since we can relate to these characters so well, when the darkness shows up, it’s not so much the things that scuttle about in the shadows that make our skin crawl in "Seed", but the aftermath and the effect that that shadow has on the Winters as a whole. For fear of spoilers, I won't go into specifics.

Accompanying all of this is an easy flowing writing style that makes for a quick read. I have problems when books hit a lull and the story's pace slows to a crawl. Here, I never encountered such problems. This isn’t a story where there is constant carnage around every turn; in fact, it's a bit of a pot boiler as you get to know the family and the gradual problems they have to face. Never does this get bogged down to where the reading feels like a chore. The landscapes and scenery are well spelled out, though not integral to the story. There are always more details to latch on to that makes the world of Jack Winters, past and present, feel real.

As you can see, I thought quite highly of "Seed". I knocked this out in two short days and resulted in at least one late night turning pages. I didn't come across any problems between the covers of "Seed"; there are no pot holes to speak of and the emotional weight that comes as the story unfolds is what we're truly here to read and it works well. If there's anything I would have liked to have seen different, those items would be minor and inconsequential to the book as a whole. For instance, I enjoyed the character of Jack's friend Reagan who was brought in a few times. Where I thought he might be contributing something significant to the tale later on, he serves as a minor sounding board that sort of disappears. Again, nothing at all that harms the story; just a character I thought would have turned into something more significant. We hear a lot of mention of Aimee's father but never really meet him, though her mother was bad enough. As you can see, any issues I had with "Seed" were minor and had only to do with small characters!

To wrap up, "Seed" is a fine foray into horror for Ania Ahlborn. Keep in mind, this is Ahlborn’s first novel AND it’s self published. Had I not known that going in, I’d have never known. It’s fully edited, well formatted and all together a professional and finished book. It has a lot of style and is well written and left me feeling positive that I'll be looking for more from her in the future. Even more importantly...I'll be expecting more from her in the future. I feel pretty certain that she's going to have some more good horror novels coming for us that are only going to get better as she goes. With "Seed", we get a warm look at a family and a punch to the gut as we watch them go through their own personal little hell. In the end, you can feel good knowing that Ahlborn doesn't pull that punch either; for horror fans, you'll be happy with where this journey goes.

If this sounds up your alley, you can purchase "Seed" for a mere $2.99 at Amazon.com For the time being, the book is available exclusively on the Kindle through Amazon. If you take a glance at Ania's blog however you'll see thatboth "Seed" and Ms. Ahlborn's next novel "The Neighbors" have been picked up by Amazon's new publishing houses, so print versions will be coming soon!

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