Rating: 4 out of 4 stars
Title: Within These Walls
Author: Ania Ahlborn
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Published: April 2015
With his marriage on the rocks and his life in shambles, washed-up true-crime writer Lucas Graham is desperate for a comeback, one more shot at the bestselling success he once enjoyed. His chance comes when he’s promised exclusive access to death row inmate Jeffrey Halcomb, the notorious cult leader and mass murderer who’s ready to break his silence after thirty years, and who contacted Lucas personally from his maximum-security cell. With nothing left to lose, Lucas leaves New York to live and work from the scene of the crime: a split-level farmhouse on a gray-sanded beach in Washington State whose foundation is steeped in the blood of Halcomb’s diviners—runaways who were drawn to his message of family, unity, and unconditional love. There, Lucas sets out to capture the real story of the departed faithful. Except that he’s not alone. For Jeffrey Halcomb promised his devout eternal life…and within these walls, they’re far from dead.
This book gave me a serious case of the heebie jeebies. I often find cult stories very interesting. Following one person and doing bizarre things such as orgies or murder has never made much sense to me. This book gives an up close and person look at what would cause people to be drawn to people like Charles Manson, or in the case of this book Jeffrey Halcomb. The author did a great job in bringing together a cult and a ghost story. There were many moments where my jaw dropped from shock that people would behave a certain way while also cringing at the horrors awaiting the narrator, Lucas, in the haunted house of Jeffrey Halcomb’s followers.
What I liked most about this book is that the author took a pretty well known story of a cult and expanded on it. It made the book even scarier as we were given a look into the minds and life of the followers. The story was told in the present and the past. We saw what it was like for those who fell under the spell of the cult leader and what would happen to those who disobeyed or doubted him. It was even scarier due to the fact that many of the people who joined the cult came from loving families. Cult leaders know how to prey on the weak and those who are vulnerable, people we would never expect. It is scary to think that our family members could easily fall prey to them.
While I do not 100% believe in ghosts, I do love a good ghost story. I think Ania Ahlborn did a great job of placing the reader in the haunted home with the narrator and his daughter. I definitely felt their fear and own apprehensions of the house. I often felt bad for Lucas. He truly needed the story, but in turn ended up putting himself and his daughter in danger. I know if I had to face a haunted house I don’t know if I would be able to believe it either. It is common for people to cling to the reality that we know. No one wants to believe that they have malevolent ghosts living in their house. I can’t say that I would either.
I would recommend this book. I do not like horror movies, but love a good horror book. I have never been a huge fan of Halloween, but couldn’t resist reviewing some great horror reads in honor of the holiday. This was definitely a great tale. This book kept me entertained from beginning to end.
Are you reading any horror books for Halloween? If so, I would love to know what it is. I am always on the hunt for a new horror book.