Review

The Neighbors

by Ania Ahlborn

There’s no question that Andrew Morrison had it tough growing up. But was that any excuse to walk out on his mother, just like his father had done before him? Drew watched their family fall apart the day his dad climbed into a stranger’s truck, and it has haunted him ever since. His mother never recovered, now spending her days locked inside the house with a bottle of booze. It probably is no wonder, then, that Drew finally lost it.

“He broke down and wept. He wept for his mother, wept for the past, wept for the fact that somehow, under this roof, nightmares weren’t something you could wake up from. Here, under this roof, the nightmares were real.”

"This is edge-of-your-seat stuff. THE NEIGHBORS is more than a compelling read; it’s downright creepy."

Drew’s childhood friend, Mickey Fitch, has given him an out: come stay with him. He has a house on Magnolia Lane, an idyllic neighborhood with white picket fences and pristine lawns. Drew doesn’t need to be asked twice. He can’t bear the thought of another day living with his alcoholic mother. Doesn’t he deserve a chance at happiness? With a lightness in his heart, he drives to Magnolia Lane, unable to believe his good luck. Living on a street like this one is a lifelong dream. And he will be living with Mickey, whom he nearly idolized growing up. Could it get any better than this? Actually, yes, if you look at the neighbors.

Harlow Ward, living right next door, comes over to welcome Drew to his new home, carrying a plate of freshly baked cookies and wearing high heels that make her legs look beyond fantastic. She might be a little older, but she couldn’t be much more perfect --- blonde, gorgeous, sweet, and one hell of a cook.

Drew’s mom hasn’t made an effort in the kitchen for more years than he cares to remember. Harlow seems to sense this and aims to win him over by appealing to his taste buds. She and her husband invite him in for dinner just as he’s about to spend money he doesn’t have on fast food. It’s a scene straight out of “Leave it to Beaver.” And the Wards just keep on giving.

It appears that Drew’s fortune has taken a turn for the better. Everything on Magnolia Lane is perfect --- or it would be, except that Mickey is a video game addict, a slob and not driven to do much of anything. He sleeps late, lives in filth and barely talks to Drew. Oh, well, it could be worse. He could still be back at home.

Drew still thinks of his mother occasionally, wondering how she’s getting along. But he’s finally out on his own, even if he doesn’t have a job or the most agreeable of roommates. With time on his hands, he starts spending more time at the Wards’ house. But are things over there really as perfect as they appear? Not by a long shot.

Author Ania Ahlborn demonstrates how important it is to be careful what you wish for. What seems to be exactly what you want could very well prove to be your undoing. And with neighbors like the Wards, almost anyone else is a saint by comparison. This is edge-of-your-seat stuff. THE NEIGHBORS is more than a compelling read; it’s downright creepy.

Reviewed by Kate Ayers on January 24, 2013

The Neighbors
by Ania Ahlborn