If You See Her by Ania Ahlborn Book Review

As much as it pains me to say this, this book wasn't one of my favorites by Ahlborn.



If You See Her by Ania Ahlborn

Released May 2019

Dark Fiction  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon 

Source:  Purchased With My Own $
The house on Old Mill Road has stood in an open field for longer than Jesse Wells has been alive, its crooked windows and jutting turret tormenting the kids of Warsaw, Michigan the way only a haunted house knows how. Everyone imagines that something terrible lurks within the house's abandoned rooms -- especially Jesse and his two closest friends, Casey and Reed. But when Reed chooses the house as a backdrop for his own suicide, childhood ghost stories are transformed into a nightmare that sends Jesse into a downward spiral of grief.

Nearly twenty years later, Jesse stands on the collapsing steps of the house that snatched away his best friend. Casey has asked him to revisit their old demons, if only to help them find closure that's long overdue. But tragedy finds them once more, and Jesse is left forever changed.

Now, left to cope with the disaster that had become his life, Jesse must unravel the mystery behind the house that has terrified him since he was a boy. To fail is to lose everything he has left. But success might come at an even a higher price.

My 2 Cents For Free!

I read If You See Her for the Ladies of Horror Fiction Group discussion on Goodreads. I’ve read several of Ania Ahlborn’s books and enjoyed them all with the exception of The Bird Eater. That one wasn’t meant for me! Anyhow, if you’ve read her work you already know that she writes a slow burn, atmospheric, moody creep-fest whose characters are typically stuck in a bleak situation. Her books have a melancholy feel to them so you need to be ready for that. If You See Her features several suicides and a character that chooses to revisit them over and over again in his head so please tread carefully if this is a trigger for you. Suicide features strongly in many horror novels but it’s not something I choose to purposely dwell upon for personal reasons so I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted to drop this book completely numerous times for this reason alone. But I stuck with it for the sake of the group read and I’m not entirely sure I should’ve. 

The prologue starts out strong. A group of teens head out to the local dilapidated haunted house. Three go in, two come out and you’re left wondering what the heck just happened. I was anxious to keep reading to learn all of the secrets despite and because of the thing that happened. I needed to know all of the answers. Chapter one picks up 19 years later where the memories of what happened in that house still linger with Jesse and Casey. Casey shows up at Jesse’s house one night disheveled and all worked up and convinces Jesse to visit the old house again. I screamed, “Don’t do it you dummies!” but they do it anyway. No one ever listens to me! As I suspected, things go very wrong. Jesse, who is still wracked with guilt over the first episode at the house, now has another horrible thing hanging over his head and spends the rest of the book attempting to hold his family, job and life together but it is difficult to keep it together when you’re possibly being haunted by a young ghost girl.

This book was well written and had a constant sense of dread and gloom looming over every page. I liked the dread. I love a slow-creep and I love creepy atmosphere and Ania Ahlborn is very good at creating it. With that said, I struggled to finish it because I didn’t connect to any of the characters on an emotional level. I don’t know if it was me, it certainly could be me, but I found them all a little too lifeless for my taste. Jesse was gloomy and obsessed and self-destructive and his wife was such a non-entity to me that I found it too easy to disconnect from the story.

The story is a slow burn, the "dream" sequences were effective and the ending was very fitting but I had too many questions about the origins of the paranormal aspects than I feel comfortable with and I felt myself slipping into a funk while reading it due to the suicides so I think I’m settling with a 3.

3 out of 5



Comments

  1. I own this one but to be honest, your not the first person I've seen who has said it didn't work for them. I've not read anything by her yet so I'm thinking this isn't the place to start right?

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    1. I liked Seed and The Devil Crept In MUCH better than this one.

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  2. I love the premise of the teens and the haunted house and the mystery of what happened inside it, but the whole suicide thing might make this too hard of a read for me. Thanks for the warning.

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  3. Ooh and it's set in Michigan! (My state). that caught my eye. Glad it had a nice sens of dread, even if the issues detracted a bit. It definitely looks spooky!

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    1. Maybe you can read it next October? I once read a book set in the town next to mine and I was riveted :)

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  4. It does sound depressing. I can't believe I've never read her books, but I won't start with this one.

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    1. Brother gets excellent reviews. So that might be a good one!

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  5. I've only read The Shuddering which I had mixed feelings about but I felt the book was well written. I'm not sure if I'll be reading more of her work as I'm not really into the slow burner!

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    1. The one's I've read have been a bit of a slow burn - so probably aren't for you. I do like the slow creep usually so I'll definitely read her again in the future.

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  6. sounds like one i would enjoy. great cover
    sherry @ fundinmental

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  7. Conflicted on whether I like horror novels featuring a slow, slithering plot or one that jump scares at you at every turn. :/

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  8. Ah, this sounds like one I need to avoid. Thanks for the heads up!

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