by Jack Ketchum
This book is not for anyone who wishes to avoid reading about graphically descripted torture, sexual abuse, and child abuse.
Now that we have that out of the way, Ketchum is a master of his craft. I read this book in ten days. 334 pages in ten days. Some people can read that in half the time. I can’t, and don’t. It usually takes me a few more weeks to read through a book of that length. But with The Girl Next Door, with Ketchum’s poetic flow and structure, he makes those pages fly by. Reading that fast made me feel like all the reviewers I admire so much – the ones who cruise through books every month.
This novel is broken down into five parts with a short epilogue at the end. It’s without a doubt the most brutal story I have ever read. I honestly don’t know how anyone could top it. I for one don’t ever plan on trying in my own fiction. On top of that, I have never felt so moved by a story before. Not moved in a good way. Not necessarily moved in a bad way either, though.
It wasn’t just what happened to Meg that did me in, it wasn’t entirely the graphic descriptions either.
Meg, David, Susan, they’re all people I wanted to jump into the page for, and fight off Ruth and her crazed children. Ruth is simply the vilest antagonist I’ve ever had the pleasure in reading.
Our protagonist witnesses the worst thing any human could go through. It’s a drawn-out process, one that roots itself into your soul with every turned page.
The way this book ends is satisfying on so many levels. It isn’t the ending some of you may hope for or expect, but isn’t that the fun in realistic and well-written stories? Again, this book is NOT for everyone. Heed my warning if you’re new to the name Jack Ketchum. But if your goal is to dive into the deep end of extreme horror like mine was, then Jack Ketchum and The Girl Next door is maybe that book for you.
I had never read Ketchum before. Ever since I heard about The Girl Next Door’s reputation, I knew this was the book I wanted to start with.
Friends warned me to not make this my first Ketchum novel. It put some of them in a bad spot for days and others for weeks. I understand why it did. But it did not deter my need to read this book.
The experience made me question if I was a shit person at times. You just have to keep telling yourself that it’s not real (even though it’s based on the real events of the murder of Sylvia Likens) and pretend that feeling in your gut is normal. Pretend your heart isn’t begging you to read something cute and cuddly.
Then again, you may be the type that likes all those icky gut-churning feelings. If so, carry on and enjoy!
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Review by Patrick R. McDonough
I bought a copy of this book for review consideration.