Review: Brother by Ania Ahlborn

I received a copy of the ebook Brother from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  I am reviewing in honor of the 7th annual Women in Horror Month.

At one time I watched quite a lot of horror movies. I wasn’t too terribly picky about sub-genre and often liked a slasher or serial killer flick, a la Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Wrong Turn or Last House on the Left.  Brother by Ania Ahlborn was the first novel I have read which put that type of imagery to the page as I have not read much horror.

Brother could be classified in such horror files as hick-lit or grit-lit. The novel opens with the screams of a girl and our main character, Michael Morrow, trying to ignore them, as he is tired of them.  See, Michael’s mother, Claudine seems to have a need to kill young women. All members of the family have their role in the catch, kill and clean-up and if anyone deviates from the plan, they’ll be the next victim. The setting in West Virginia, deep in the heart of Appalachia, adds a lush layer of creepiness.

Michael is nineteen and his older brother, Rebel, takes him into town to the local record store.  Reb is trying to date one of the clerks and hopes he can make a man out of Michael by introducing him to the other employee, Alice. Michael struggles with attempting to date as he doesn’t know how to be with anyone other than his family, talking about himself without exposing his truth. No one wants to date the guy who hangs women by meathooks in the cellar no matter how much he hates his job.

As even darker family secrets bubble up and Rebel’s behavior becomes more erratic, Michael must make the decision if he is going to stick things out in West Virginia. Should he continue to be a loyal member of the Morrow family and protector of his sister Misty, or should he try to escape and make something of himself outside of West Virginia?

This was an intense read. I am not one to be too affected by horror films, but the way my brain processes printed word, it caused nightmares. Trigger warnings for just about any type of trauma apply while reading Brother. I honestly could not put it down as I was eager to see how the story would resolve. It was an easy read, but I do recommend it if you like a slasher flick and want a different way to experience that type of story. It was also nice to see a woman succeed in this genre usually dominated by men.