Review: Brother by Ania Ahlborn

brotherAbout Brother

From the bestselling horror author of Within These Walls and The Bird Eater comes a brand-new novel of terror that follows a teenager determined to break from his family’s unconventional—and deeply disturbing—traditions.

Deep in the heart of Appalachia stands a crooked farmhouse miles from any road. The Morrows keep to themselves, and it’s served them well so far. When girls go missing off the side of the highway, the cops don’t knock on their door. Which is a good thing, seeing as to what’s buried in the Morrows’ backyard.

But nineteen-year-old Michael Morrow isn’t like the rest of his family. He doesn’t take pleasure in the screams that echo through the trees. Michael pines for normalcy, and he’s sure that someday he’ll see the world beyond West Virginia. When he meets Alice, a pretty girl working at a record shop in the small nearby town of Dahlia, he’s immediately smitten. For a moment, he nearly forgets about the monster he’s become. But his brother, Rebel, is all too eager to remind Michael of his place…

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 cooking, baking, movies, and traveling.

Learn more about Ania on her site,

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

My Thoughts

You think your family is messed up? Brother, you ain't seen nothing yet!

You see, deep in the Appalachia woods is farmhouse far off the beaten path. And inside this farmhouse is a twisted little family of cannibals, overseen by their brutal matriarch who has a penchant for killing young women. Brothers Reb and Michael have a relationship that borders on master/servant, or perhaps owner and pet, the dominant alpha and the cowed beta. Taken as a whole, the Morrows are a sick clan where the term 'sibling rivalry' barely even scratches the surface.

If you're a fan of The X-Files like me, you be sensing shades of the episode "Home" about inbred killers, or maybe The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. There's shades of both here, which is absolutely a good thing! And holy hell, is this ever a dark read.

I'll admit to being a bit lulled by the early happenings of Brother, where Ahlborn spends a lot of time establishing these sickos and their relationships, building a family history with alternating chapters that plumb earlier periods of Reb and Michael's life together, along with their sister Lauralynn, who is mysteriously absent from the present-day sections.

There is actually a lot I want to talk about here, but can't for fear of wading too deeply into spoiler territory. I'll just say the family dynamics here a bit...complicated, and leave it at that. The resolution is satisfyingly bloody, with a final denouement that felt like Ahlborn was sticking fish hooks into my heart and steadily jerking the line around. The finale is stupendous and horrifying and bleak, with an absolutely marvelous twist.

Ahlborn plays this one like a master locksmith, slowly moving the tumblers into place and then letting everything fall with a satisfying click, revealing all the goods.

[This review is based on an advanced copy received from the publisher via NetGalley.]

Buy Brother 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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