Review: Within These Walls by Ania Ahlborn

within-these-walls-9781476783741_hrAbout Within These Walls

April 21, 2015

In her all-new supernatural thriller, bestselling indie horror author Ania Ahlborn asks: How far would you go for success? What would you be capable of if the promise of forever was real?

With his marriage on the rocks and his life in shambles, washed-up true-crime writer Lucas Graham is desperate for a comeback, one more shot at the bestselling success he once enjoyed. His chance comes when he’s promised exclusive access to death row inmate Jeffrey Halcomb, the notorious cult leader and mass murderer who’s ready to break his silence after thirty years, and who contacted Lucas personally from his maximum-security cell. With nothing left to lose, Lucas leaves New York to live and work from the scene of the crime: a split-level farmhouse on a gray-sanded beach in Washington State whose foundation is steeped in the blood of Halcomb’s diviners—runaways who were drawn to his message of family, unity, and unconditional love. There, Lucas sets out to capture the real story of the departed faithful. Except that he’s not alone. For Jeffrey Halcomb promised his devout eternal life…and within these walls, they’re far from dead.

About the Author

Born in Ciechanow Poland, Ania has always been drawn to the darker, mysterious, and sometimes morbid sides of life. Her earliest childhood memory is of crawling through a hole in the chain link fence that separated her family home from the large wooded cemetery next door. She'd spend hours among the headstones, breaking up bouquets of silk flowers so that everyone had their equal share.

Beyond writing, Ania enjoys gourmet cooking, baking, movies, drawing, and traveling. She currently resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico with her husband and two dogs, Beau the Scottie and Galaxy the Yorkie.

Learn more about Ania on her site,, where you can sign up for a direct-from-the-author newsletter on new releases, promos, and more.

Want to connect? Follow Ania on Twitter @aniaahlborn, or find her on Facebook at

My Thoughts

[Note: I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher via NetGalley.]

Ania Ahlborn's latest, Within These Walls, might be the best horror book of 2015 thus far. Well written, and filled with depth of character and authorial confidence, it's certainly among the best of the trio of Ahlborn's releases that I've read (although her next novel, Brother, due out in September sounds like it could pose some stiff competition).

Taking center stage here is Lucas Graham, a washed-up true crime novelist whose marriage is on its last legs, and his angst-fueled twelve year old daughter, Virginia. Graham receives an offer from inmate Jeff Halcomb to pen the definitive account of a cult murder-suicide that occurred in Washington in 1983. The catch - because isn't there always a catch? - is that Lucas has to move into the home where the grisly murders occurred. Graham convinces himself this is a fair trade, and one that might not only salvage his career but win back the love of his wife.

What follows is a complex but consistently engaging story of familial detachment, a charismatic cult leader and his sad followers, and a haunted house that hides the secrets of its past. The main narrative is fueled by a series of flashbacks to 1983, which thankfully never feel misplaced nor pose as a distraction that threaten to derail the steady pacing of the novel, along with excerpts from news broadcasts, police reports, and write-ups from paranormal investigators. Each of these elements provide necessary background and serve to enrich the core of this story, while Ahlborn entwines various threads of her narrative into a stunningly dark and brave finale that left me jarred.

If you've not yet read any of Ahlborn's work, now is the time! Or, if you're a fan of Stephen King, grab a copy and sit a while with this one; I think you'll feel at home with it. Within These Walls is a gritty, haunting, and atmospheric read, and one that I expect to be a contender on a lot of Best Of lists by year's end.

Buy Within These Walls At Amazon

Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

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