turn the page: Jack Ketchum – The Girl Next Door
I just finished reading this book and I am glad I did in more than one sense. I am glad that I read it because for once a book delivered on what was promised on the blurb on the cover, it is well written, tense and truly was horrific. I am also glad I read it because the author was recommended to me by a friend and I saw where some of his influences lay and that was an interesting experience.
The key to what makes the book work without giving too much away is that it makes the reader feel complicit in the acts that happen through the device of the narrator. I worried at certain points, being able to see how the character was being used, that he would become a mere cipher, but Ketchum thankfully sidesteps that. The main way which he does this is by making it seem real — by giving the story an emotional core. It is believable that things that happen in this book might happen in real life. I had to admit that when I saw the quote from Stephen King on the cover I was expecting something more supernatural, but to be fair to King the real strength in his books is also in making the humans in the story emotionally true. Good horror is about the human, not the fantastical. This book is about as human as you can get and all the more horrific for it. It scares in the way some news stories scare — that there but for the grace of God go I feeling.
This was the first experience I had of Ketchum but it definitely won’t be the last — I am looking forward to exploring more of his twisted imaginings.
It is also available as a film which I may check out at some point too.