Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Girl Next Door” as Want to Read:
The Girl Next Door
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Girl Next Door

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  11,384 ratings  ·  1,046 reviews
A teenage girl is held captive and brutally tortured by neighborhood children. Based on a true story, this shocking novel reveals the depravity of which we are all capable.
ebook, 386 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by Dorchester Publishing (first published December 1st 1967)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Girl Next Door, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Colby It is not overly bloody or gory. However, it is still very unsettling and does contain a lot of torture and abuse. The book is more mentally scarring…moreIt is not overly bloody or gory. However, it is still very unsettling and does contain a lot of torture and abuse. The book is more mentally scarring than nausea inducing.(less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
This is a fictional story based on an actual 1965 killing of a teenage girl in Indiana. The girl, Sylvia Likens and her sister Jenny were put into the care of a single mother by their carnie parents. The woman, Gertrude Baniszewski, several of her children, and some neighborhood children tortured and eventually murdered Sylvia. She was forced to endure unbelievable atrocities like scalding baths, the carving of words into her body with needles, repeated beatings, eating feces, and worse. Ketchum ...more
WARNING: For those of you that still have a tattered, fragmentary scrap of optimism for the inherent goodness of people, this book may well rip it from you and shred your faith in mankind. This book is as disturbing as anything I have ever read. This is mostly because the novel slammed all of my soft/weak spots when it comes to violence, including:

1. Torture;
2. Sadism;
3. Violence against children;
4. Violence committed by children; and
5. Prolonged mental abuse.

…and worst of all, this is based on
Dan Schwent
When a pretty girl named Meg moves in next door, young Davy is smitten. Soon, however, Meg's aunt Ruth begins mistreating Meg and invites her children to help. Can Davy help Meg escape? Or will he join in her torment?

This is the twentieth book in my Kindle Unlimited Experiment. For the 30 day trial, I'm only reading books that are part of the program and keeping track what the total cost of the books would have been.

This is one brutal damn book. At the beginning, it felt like Stephen King's comi
Hunger For Knowledge
Disturbing. Disgusting. Depressing. Sickening. Shocking. Mostly angering. A book that makes you lose a little bit of the faith you have left in humanity.

Well done Jack Ketchum, well done.

Also posted at:
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

Have you ever read a book that you could not (with a clear conscience, at least) recommend to anyone? Ever read something that made you feel like you should turn yourself over to the authorities because only psychotic criminals would be interested in the subject matter you just exposed yourself to? If so, then you've probably already read The Girl Next Door.

When Meg and Susan’s parents die, they are taken in by their aunt rather than
Paul Bryant
Here's another long lingering gaze upon our inhuman humanity for everyone who is still labouring under the delusion that there might be a tiny shred, maybe just a single thread, something, anything, of common decency to be found in the vast majority of ordinary people. Jack Ketchum's here to tell you - sorry. There's not.

This novel is based on a real crime which took place in 1965. JK relocates it to 1958 and, creepily, as if this tale needs more creep, which it doesn't, to his home town - to h
Amber Rose
This is the hardest book for me to rate.

I want to rate it a 5 star because it was greatly written. I want to give it 5 stars because I couldn't stop reading. I did have to put it down once, and step away from it. It almost became too much for me. I knew what I was getting my self into before I even downloaded this on my Kindle. It is based on a true story. I read about the story on line and knew how it ended. If you are looking for a happy ever after with this book your not going to get it. I
In reviewing "American Psycho," all the other reviews from folks who said they wished the book did not exist struck a chord within me. AP never affected me that strongly, but I knew there was a book I felt that way about...oh yes!!! GIRL NEXT DOOR.

I wish this book did not exist. I wish all the people associated with its publishing had never been born. I almost considered ending my friendship with the guy who lent it to me just because I did not want to know a person who owned it, and that guy ha
Before reading this book, you need to prepare yourself.
Yes, it's going to be disturbing.
Yes, it's going to turn your stomach to knots.
Yes, it's going to make you very, very angry.

I won't go into the plot since several reviews and the book description already do that. I will say that to me, this book reveals the ugliest possible sides of human behavior, the worst being when good people do NOTHING to help.
Even the author is disgusted by what happened, according to his note at the back of the book
Rating this book is one of the most difficult ratings I've done. On one hand, this is an extremely well written book. The characters feel real, you care about the ones you are supposed to care about, and genuinely loath those you aren't. The scenes are set well and it is very clear as to what is happening. Your mind will have no trouble picturing exactly what is transpiring, and that is precisely why this book is so hard to rate.

You don't want to picture what transpires in this book. You don't
Jun 20, 2007 Peter rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: eh... no one. Ted Bundy, maybe?
Why is it always so hard to admit that I like Stephen King? (You see that? Right there! Even then, when I did kind of admit it, I made sure to censor myself, and under-exaggerate how I really feel...)

All right, fine. I love Stephen King. And I promise to spare you any rantings and ravings about how I think he's one of the most underrated writers of our time (nevermind that he's the bestselling novelist in the world), because this is not his book. I'll save it for "The Stand" or "Lisey's Story."
The Game. It started off innocently enough, kid stuff. It rapidly segued into something else altogether when Mama, with her empty glittering eyes, joined in. This is as disturbing as anything you ever want to read.
Wendy Darling
I've read many accounts of crimes that are as horrible as (and sometimes even more horrible than) the terrible things that happen in this book, both in terms of real-life non-fiction crimes and in visceral thrillers. The voyeuristic, no-accountability POV in which this story was presented, however, relegates it to nothing more than straight out, uninspired shlock horror. Even then, the most gruesome parts are skated over and related in such a no-frills way that the book doesn't even succeed in b ...more
Mark Matthews
Maybe the hardest book I ever read. Tough to finish. I wanted something traditional to come rescue me, something heroic, like a vampire or ax murder or even a cannibal. I needed that to take away the pain of the reality. But, no, you won't find that here. You'll find a narrator who is just like you as an adolescent, and who eventually takes part in heinous abuse, facilitated by an adult, and the worst of humans is portrayed in stunning reality. This is what people slip to. People like your neigh ...more
A shocking story of abuse at the hands of an evil mother.
What was once a harmless game of fun that a group of friends played in a neighborhood turned into a game of torture and abuse.
Executed by the hands of kids ranging 7 to 13 and one wicked woman.
There was one boy who did not want to take part and tried to dissociate from what he was seeing.
The boy also fell in love with one of the girls, who was the person who was receiving the brunt of the violence.
She arrived in the neighborhood just r
This is one of the leanest, nastiest books I've ever read. I consume a good deal of horror fiction, but this one really took some fortitude to get through certain sequences. It tells a fictionalized account of the torture and murder of Sylvia Likens. Here's something from the wikipedia entry on the case:

Sylvia Marie Likens (January 3, 1949 - October 26, 1965) was tortured to death by Gertrude Baniszewski (née Van Fossan), her children, and other children from their neighborhood. Her parents, car
Bark's Book Nonsense
This is a disturbing book and a difficult one to read if you know beforehand how it ends (and it's pretty easy to figure out the outcome from the narrator's early comments).

Knowing so much about this book before I picked it up (I read about the real life case it is based upon on, I figured I'd be able to handle the content but it was so unrelentingly brutal near the end that I had to put it down and watch a silly movie (The 40 Year Old Virgin, if you must know) to help me tempo
Wayne Barrett
I gave this book a 5 star rating, but I can't bring myself to recommend it. Although, I know that just because I say this there may be some who now have to check it out because of curiosity. Like passing an accident that you can tell is going to be horrible and telling yourself not to look but doing just that at the last second.
This is Annie Wilkes from Stephen King's 'Misery' meets the boys from 'Lord of the Flys'. Only, this story is much more terrifying because it's plot is based on a true e
This book was well written, but I could barely bring myself to get through it. I'm a chicken when it comes to watching or reading about people being physically, mentally and verbally abused, and no one stepping in to stop it. What makes it worse is that this book is based on a true story.

The ending made gave me a tiny sense of satisfaction.
This was a terrific book, brutal to read at times but wonderfully written and gripping from beginning to end. The fact that it is based on a true story made it all the more horrifying. Ketchum took a tough tale and managed to keep you glued to the pages even when you wanted to look away. Highly recommended but not for the squeamish.
The Girl Next Door is a fictionalized version of the 1960s Indiana torture slaying in which a group of children/teens under the guidance and encouragement of single mother of seven, Gertrude Baniszewski, tortured (eventually to death) 16 year old Sylvia Likens.

I recently read the true-life account as told in House of Evil, which is a stick-to-the-facts recounting of the case and trial. As such, it gave the what and how but lacked any real insight into the why.

Finding this book, I was intrigued.
I spent a while debating whether to give this book 4 or 5 stars but eventually I realised that all the reasons I wanted to give it 4 stars were why it deserved 5. The book made me feel disturbed, angry, frustrated, depressed, nervous, stressed, horrified, and the fact that it managed to achieve all of this is proof of how well written this book is and what a fantastic job the author did of actually provoking these emotions and responses to the book. The story itself is horrible but so is the tru ...more
This book is revolting. I read it knowing that it would be. If memory serves, the Village Voice once said Ketchum amounted to "torture porn." They were probably talking about this particular novel, which is based on an actual torture-murder in Indiana in which a child was imprisoned in a basement and brutalized by the woman with whom she boarded and the neighborhood kids until she died. My primary motive in reading it was a more or less clinical interest in popular horror fiction, and this guy i ...more
This book was my introduction to Jack Ketchum and it definitely put him on the map as far as horror authors are concerned. His other books were okay (a little on the slow side for me). This one is the epitome of what Ketchum is capable of.
As things like this continue to occur in our society it becomes apparent Ketchum tapped into a current of thought in an archetypal way like Bentley did with Jaws in the 70s. This time the monsters are human-not fish.
He lets you inside the mind capable of tre
Ketchum's prose is tight and puts you right into the story. Considering the brutal content of this particular novel, that can prove for heart-rending, heart-stopping reading. This book is not for the squeamish, and I'll admit, there are a few places where I thought I would have to quit it for my own sanity. Gets under the skin.

The Girl Next Door is the harrowing tale of two sisters, Meg and Sarah, who lose their parents in a car accident. They are sent to live with a relative, Ruth, who over th
Behold, the holy grail of horror novels is back in print. The Girl Next Door has been on my to-read list since forever, but good luck finding a battered paperback on Ebay for less than $60.
Well, May 2005 it was re-issued. And good thing too. Because this is not a $60 read. The Girl Next Door has gained infamy over the Internet as being the one novel that, no matter how prepared you are for it, it will still shock you.
The violence in this novel is well over the top. And the storyline regarding th
Pam Godwin
I picked up this book one night, sat on my deck, and didn't move until I finished the final chapter. Didn't get a drink. Didn't eat. Didn't go to the bathroom. I was so engrossed, so horrified, my muscles strained in anticipation, I couldn't've pulled myself away if I wanted to. This book is gruesome, heart-aching, and based on a true story. Took me days to stop thinking about the horror that was this girl's short life. And now, years after reading it, the story still haunts me.
This book should be required highschool reading. Forget Knowle's A Separate Peace and Golding's Lord of the Flies. This is the book to read if you want to explore the space between empathy, peer pressure, cruelty, and the turmoil of adolescence.

This book tells a fictionalized story of two girls,10(?) and 14 years old who are horribly abused, one of whom ultimately dies at the hands of her sociopathic guardian. In the epilogue, Jack says his book is based on a true story, and he strove to maintai
Shelby *wants some flying monkeys*
This book will stay with you for the rest of your life..not really in a good way. Unbelievable what a "so called" normal group of people can do.

I will start by saying the 4 stars are for the author and his writing style and for the fate that I will go on to read more books by him.

I tried to read this book as fiction I honestly did, all the names etc are different and heck even the plot in this book is different (no spoilers here) but I simply could not get away from the real crime this book is based on. I first learned bout it about 10 years ago when I watch the movie and although I'm a true-crime buff and I've seen more than e
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
2015 Reading Chal...: The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum 1 18 May 12, 2015 01:51AM  
more sad and disturbing? girl next door or flowers in the attic? 7 76 Jan 26, 2015 01:00PM  
Consensus: Most disturbing book ever? 55 475 Jan 12, 2015 05:14AM  
The Goodreads Dar...: The Girl Next Door - Jack Ketchum 3 22 May 22, 2012 04:46PM  
Horror Help 8 67 May 03, 2012 08:28AM  
Books Stephen Kin...: The Girl Next Door (May Contain Spoilers) 8 83 Apr 21, 2012 10:08PM  
  • Survivor
  • Let's Go Play At The Adams'
  • The Summer I Died
  • Endless Night
  • The Resurrectionist
  • Naomi's Room
  • Flesh Gothic
  • A Choir of Ill Children
  • Depraved
  • The Jigsaw Man
  • Terminal
  • The Bleeding Season
Jack Ketchum is the pseudonym for a former actor, singer, teacher, literary agent, lumber salesman, and soda jerk -- a former flower child and baby boomer who figures that in 1956 Elvis, dinosaurs and horror probably saved his life. His first novel, Off Season, prompted the Village Voice to publicly scold its publisher in print for publishing violent pornography. He personally disagrees but is per ...more
More about Jack Ketchum...
Off Season (Dead River, #1) The Lost Red Offspring: The Sequel to Off Season Triage

Share This Book

“As though all the world were a bad joke and she was the only one around who knew the punchline.” 24 likes
“I lay in bed and thought about how easy it was to hurt a person. It didn't have to be physical. All you had to do was take a good hard kick at something they cared about.” 10 likes
More quotes…