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The Girl Next Door

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Suburbia. Shady, tree-lined streets, well-tended lawns and cozy homes. A nice, quiet place to grow up. Unless you are teenage Meg or her crippled sister, Susan. On a dead-end street, in the dark, damp basement of the Chandler house, Meg and Susan are left captive to the savage whims and rages of a distant aunt who is rapidly descending into madness. It is a madness that infects all three of her sons and finally the entire neighborhood. Only one troubled boy stands hesitantly between Meg and Susan and their cruel, torturous deaths. A boy with a very adult decision to make.

370 pages, Paperback

First published December 1, 1989

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About the author

Jack Ketchum

203 books2,258 followers
Dallas William Mayr, better known by his pen name Jack Ketchum, was an American horror fiction author. He was the recipient of four Bram Stoker Awards and three further nominations. His novels included Off Season, Offspring, and Red, which were adapted to film. In 2011, Ketchum received the World Horror Convention Grand Master Award for outstanding contribution to the horror genre.

A onetime actor, teacher, literary agent, lumber salesman, and soda jerk, Ketchum credited his childhood love of Elvis Presley, dinosaurs, and horror for getting him through his formative years. He began making up stories at a young age and explained that he spent much time in his room, or in the woods near his house, down by the brook: "[m]y interests [were] books, comics, movies, rock 'n roll, show tunes, TV, dinosaurs [...] pretty much any activity that didn't demand too much socializing, or where I could easily walk away from socializing." He would make up stories using his plastic soldiers, knights, and dinosaurs as the characters.

Later, in his teen years, Ketchum was befriended by Robert Bloch, author of Psycho, who became his mentor.

Ketchum worked many different jobs before completing his first novel (1980's controversial Off Season), including acting as agent for novelist Henry Miller at Scott Meredith Literary Agency.

His decision to eventually concentrate on novel writing was partly fueled by a preference for work that offered stability and longevity.

Ketchum died of cancer on January 24, 2018, in New York City at the age of 71.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,416 reviews
Profile Image for Mort.
635 reviews1,294 followers
December 13, 2020
You should ask yourself only one thing: Are you ready for this book?
No matter what you think, you probably won't be.

The blurb reads as follows:
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.

That's it. And in a nutshell, that is about 99% of the story. I went into this with a lot of knowledge about the book and some about the true story, with eyes wide open and ready for almost anything. Almost...

Jack Ketchum was a brilliant writer and his words manages to pull you into this other reality, where you are an impotent spectator to the horrors inflicted on someone truly innocent. There were times when I wanted to scream out loud, the frustration making my blood boil. And the helplessness I felt, because I knew how this was going to end, made me wish I had the ability to do something about it.

This story will make you angry, as well you should be. These words will turn your stomach, will boil your blood, will yank at your heart and nest in the deepest darkest corners of your mind, with all the other things you wish you could forget.

This is probably the most brilliantly written book I have ever read, but I can't recommend it to anyone, because those words may change you. If you are reading this and you ever feel like you want to quit, please do. Some things will never be unseen and some words will never be unread. You have to make up your own mind if you are willing to take that leap of faith, and whatever your motivation, please know that this is probably the most depraved thing you will ever read, because the monsters are mostly children.

If you feel up to it, read the story about Sylvia Likens, who was the victim in the true story.

I leave with this thought, a quote from the book:
"In the basement, with Ruth, I began to learn that anger, hate, fear and loneliness are all one button awaiting the touch of just a single finger to set them blazing toward destruction.
And I learned that they can taste like winning."
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
761 reviews3,486 followers
May 2, 2021
That´s so freaking hardcore because it´s based on a true story that shows the slow escalation from mental abuse to the worst things possible done to a human, especially from perpetrators one wouldn´t assume able to do such things to helpless and innocent kids.

Another underrated, or let´s say too disturbing and extreme for many audiences, masterpiece that owns most of its much more prominent and well known horror and psychothriller colleagues, as it shows what can happen when mental illness hits hard and kids and teens are the victims of sadistic lunacy.

I have to warn everyone who can´t handle violence described in such detail and from the perspectives of kids, I will never be able to forget this novel and I assure you that the same will happen to you. But it´s important too, because just by sensitizing people for the downside of human nature, prevention by better social and societal models can kick in. The Thinking of the kids thing gets a new meaning when one is realizing that all of this is unnecessary and preventable, by simply introducing strong Keynesian eco social strong welfare state governmental systems, early warning systems, social workers, and, especially in the case of kids, extra prevention methods and many institutions that have the fundings to help and intervene.

Of course, the stupid neoliberal freedom choirs don´t like that, predatory turbo capitalism without any social net, singing prosperity gospels, because they think that it´s all parents own, holy decision to destroy the kids in a highly individual way, may try trying to reintroduce flogging in school next to creationist thoughts, what is just a logical continuation of how they think of other people, nature, and the world in general.

Where does much of this madness come from, especially if it´s not purely internal, schizophrenic, not from this world or connected with it, bonkers thinking, but something that has been trickled into the indoctrinated minds of monsters and made them what they are? Ideology, of course, what else is that stupid and inhuman, was, is, and will be a motivation for many mass murderers, dictators, serial killers, etc., who had no chance with an upbringing inspired by some of the most stupid and dangerous texts in history, mixed up with the poverty created by an unfair system filled with bigoted, hypocritical, opportunistic hater troll hybrids.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,517 reviews10.8k followers
June 14, 2011
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 a true story and the most horrific aspects of the story actually happened.

Pardon my colloquialism but are you fucking kidding me? What kind of a world do we live in and who do I talk to about a serious dereliction on duty. Whoever is in charge of this “show” we all act in needs to GET INVOLVED and start doing a much better job of bouncing the scum out of this establishment because there are far too many people dancing at this global party that belong at the bottom of cesspool.

The book description and other reviews have done a great job of describing the basic storyline, especially Flannery's review which can be found here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/.... Therefore, I will just briefly summarize the story.

The book is a fictionalized account of the real life torture and murder of a teenage girl in Indiana. In the book, Meg and Susan are placed under the foster of a woman named Ruth after they lose their parents to a car accident that has left Susan crippled. During the course of a summer of slowly escalating depravity, Ruth, her children and a group of neighborhood kids under Ruth’s direction brutally torture and murder Meg. The story is narrated decades after the fact by one of the neighborhood boys, Davy, who suffers extreme guilt because he was aware of the torture but didn’t do anything to stop it until it was too late. I think Davy is the perfect metaphor for an apathetic society.

The story is horrific, graphic, disturbing and as far from a pleasurable experience as you are likely to get. However, I do want to make this very, very clear...this is NOT TORTURE PORN or gratuitous violence for its own sake (which I call movies like Hostel and Saw, etc.). Ketchum has a reason for this story and it is not to titillate. It is to horrify.

His deftly accomplished escalation of the horrors suffered by Meg is masterful and allows the reader to “see” through Davy’s eyes as he constantly convinces himself that everything is okay or not as bad as it looks. Thus we see Meg’s ordeal begin with occasional insults that are shrugged off. This escalates into constant verbal abuse and harsh spankings which are seen by Davy as "the way things are for kids.”

When the abuse finally escalates into severe emotional and physical abuse followed by captivity, torture and finally death, Davy sees the wrongness but by then is caught up in the fervor of “The Game” as it is called. Throughout this unbelievable ordeal, Ketchum makes the narrative seem so “authentic” that the horror is made even worse because the reader KNOWS that this…could...(and did)...happen.

One of the tougher parts of this book for me was that it made me confront something I find somewhat troubling about myself, but that I know will always be a part of me. I have a wife and two daughters, 6 and 11, who I love more than I can possibly put into words no matter how hard I try. It is just a different order of magnitude though I am sure my fellow parents and spouses can understand. When I read this story, I was reminded of two things about myself.

First, if anyone ever brutalized one of my loved ones and I was able to get a hold of them, the perps would SUFFER…BADLY for the rest of their miserable time on this planet. Call it a “primal” or "vengeful" aspect of man, but I would certainly unleash it in that instance. At times like that I always think back to the “post-rape” scene in Pulp Fiction when Ving Rhames say:
"What now?
Lemme tell you what now.
I'm gonna call up a couple a hard, pipe-hittin' niggers and go to work on the holmes here with a pair of pliers and a blowtorch.
You hear me talkin' Hillbilly boy? I ain't through with you by a damn site.
I'm gonna get medieval on your ass…..
This shit is between me, you and Mr. Soon-to-be-living-the-rest-of-his-short-ass-life-in-agonizing-pain, rapist here."

...Yes, it would be like that!!!

Oh, and the second thing is that I am completely, 100%, okie dokey comfortable with the above. It is just how it wouild be.

To sum up, this is a tough, tough book to read. However, it is also an excellent book and one that I think has an important lesson to impart about the depths of human depravity and the need for good people to confront the brutality when they see it happening. It is certainly memorable and will stay with me forever. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!! 4.0 to 4.5 stars.
Profile Image for Sadie Hartmann.
Author 23 books3,910 followers
July 11, 2021
I’m out.
I just can’t with this book anymore.
*update an hour or so after I quit*

Listen, I'm not "faint of heart" I'm not a "gentle spirit". Horror is my favorite genre and I love my stories bleak and dark but sometimes we have to know our limits. Is nothing off the table? No. We have to be true to ourselves. As much as I think Ketchum is a powerful, brave writer who drew me into this story even as I was dragging my heels, I just couldn't hang with those details anymore. I was angry, upset, exhausted and I just didn't want one more image to enter my brain. As it is, from what I read, I won't forget.
My heart breaks for the real 'Meg' who endured this horrific violation and for the boys who got drunk and stupid off their game of power led by an adult who was insane. It's really the sickest story of human depravity. I just don't want to know.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
209 reviews157 followers
March 8, 2022
Based on true events, The Girl Next Door is a painful heart wrenching story that will leave you feeling shattered. The book is written from David's perspective. He meets Meg, an older teen whose parents recently died. Coincidentally, Meg is David's new neighbour and will be under the care of Ruth, the mother of David's friends. Ruth treats Meg and her young sister Susan differently from the boys. But most of her anger and jealousy is toward Meg. With the help of her merciless sons and their friends, Ruth humiliates, imprisons, and physically abuses Meg. The torture is brutal. Reading this and knowing that it's based on true events is a graphic reminder of the horrible things human beings have done, and still do, in real life.

The whole story was extremely unsettling. It made me feel numb, furious, and heartbroken. Even before things escalated, it lingered in my mind when I put it down. It makes you uncomfortable, and nervous, in the beginning - you can feel that something's wrong and only going to get worse.

While graphic in nature, the Author handles the story well and it never seems disrespectful to victims of abuse. I found the moral ambiguity of the narrator interesting, can we ever feel like we helped enough or quickly enough when we encounter such a scenario? Interesting food for thought.

The true story of Sylvia Likens and her caretaker Gertrude Baniszweski was an even more horrifying read. The details are sickening and I can only recommend going into this novel and/or the true crime case with caution.

Trigger Warnings: explicit scenes with physical abuse, sexual abuse, manipulation, humiliation, torture and starvation.
Profile Image for Char .
1,613 reviews1,463 followers
July 2, 2012
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. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!
June 5, 2017
Κύριε των δυνάμεων!!!
Αποκλείεται να συνέβησαν αυτά τα αποτρόπαια βασανιστήρια σε δυο κοριτσάκια ανήλικα που το μόνο που τα βάραινε ήταν η ορφάνια τους και η γλυκιά αμαρτία της νιότης τους.

Κι όμως μιλάμε δυστυχώς για μια αληθινή ιστορία τρόμου και ψυχασθένειας -σκληρότητας και βασανιστηρίων.

Πολυτάλαντος ή διαταραγμένος σε σημείο πνευματικού οίστρου και δημιουργίας ο συγγραφέας ξεκινά την αφήγηση τοσο όμορφα και ειδυλλιακά με υπέροχες εικόνες καλοκαιρινής ξενοιασιάς σε κάποιο προαστειο της Αμερικής σε μια συνηθισμένη γειτονιά.

Εικόνες σαν όνειρο προβάλλονται η μια μετα την άλλη περιγράφοντας την καθημερινότητα παιδιών και των οικογενειων τους με γλαφυρό τροπο και αφήνοντας μια ευχάριστη και οικεία αίσθηση στον αναγνώστη- που να ξέρει ο άμοιρος τι φρίκη και σοκ θα δεχτεί στις επόμενες σελίδες.

Έχω δει εκατοντάδες ταινίες τρόμου. Έχω διαβάσει πάρα πολλά βιβλία σκοτεινά φρικιαστικά σοκαριστικά.

Η διαφορά εδω είναι πως ο αναγνώστης πρέπει να αναρωτηθεί τι συμβαίνει με την άβυσσο της σκοτεινής μας ύπαρξης και την διαταραχή της ανθρώπινης ψυχής.

Γιατι; Για έναν απλό λόγο. Τα κίνητρα και οι λόγοι για ολα αυτές τις φρικιαστικές και απάνθρωπες πράξεις, για ολα αυτά τα γεγονότα που σου κόβουν την ανάσα και σε συγκλονίζουν έχουν θύμα ένα κοριτσάκι και θύτες μια ψυχασθενή ή ανώμαλη ή συνειδητοποιημένη η οποία επηρεάζει και βάζει στο "παιχνίδι" τους ανήλικους γιούς της και σχεδον όλη τη γειτονιά.

Οι λόγοι όμως και τα κίνητρα καθαυτά δεν αποσαφηνίζονται δεν ξέρουμε γιατι όλοι αυτοί αντιδρούν τοσο κτηνώδη και απάνθρωπα.

Επομένως πρέπει εμείς να ερμηνεύσουμε αυτό το σκουλήκι στην ψυχή της ανθρώπινης φύσης. Και να αναρωτηθούμε μπορεί να συμβεί οπουδήποτε στον οποιονδήποτε;;

Εδώ ειναι η ειδοποιός διαφορά που κάνει τον συγγραφέα "ιδιαίτερο" αλλα και αναμφισβήτητα άρρωστα ταλαντούχο. Δεν έχει κανένα θέμα να περιγράφει σκηνές βίας και πόνου χωρις να σε κάνει να νιώθεις αβολα,δεν τις λογοκρίνει, σε αφήνει απλά να ζεις τον εφιάλτη.

Δεν ξέρω αν μπορεί να διαβαστεί απο όλους πάντως εμένα με ταρακούνησε.

Καλή ανάγνωση.
Πολλούς ασπασμούς.
Profile Image for Tracy Robinson.
482 reviews143 followers
May 24, 2022
I get this feeling when there’s something important I know I’ve forgotten, or when I sense that something is gravely wrong in my little world. It starts slow. I’d call it butterflies in my stomach, but that implies things much more light-hearted than what I speak of here. As I worked my way through this novel, completely enveloped in the world created by Ketchum, it began. Very lightly. In fact, it was only on the second day of reading this book that I even noticed.

Today, as I made lasagna for my family, I kept reading. I’d pause every now and then, check on my kids who were playing Monopoly in their room. They were fine. I read more. The feeling was stronger - it started to pull at my guts like it does when I’ve really messed things up somehow or have neglected something major. Texted my husband and mom - all was well. I felt like I was losing my mind. Everything was fine, but this sense of “wrongness” lingered and grew. It still didn’t sink in why. I kept reading, things were grim in the novel, but it wasn’t too bad....yet.

Then I got it. Somehow, before I’d even reached the most horrific parts of this novel, this story had wound itself in my depths, in my subconscious, and I honestly think my mind and body were warning me on the most primal level. Fight or flight, maybe, and it wanted me to bolt. Or help. But I didn’t. It urged me to DO SOMETHING, but of course, I couldn’t. I couldn’t save her. I couldn’t tell anyone and get her help. I couldn’t make David help her. I couldn’t help David. And this inability to act, to only be a spectator to the most horrible acts of depravity (all the more so because these actually happened), was absolutely wrenching.

Am I glad I read this book? No, and yes. There’s still a heavy “thud” in my guts. I still feel the urge to check on my people, to make sure all is well in every nook and cranny of my little life. I do know this - I want to get my hands on everything else Ketchum has written.

For those who haven’t read it - please check all the trigger warnings provided by so many of the reviews of this book before beginning.
Profile Image for Johann (jobis89).
628 reviews4,255 followers
November 21, 2018
"My mom says Meg's the lucky one," he said. "My mom says she got off easy."

In 1950s suburban America, two teen girls are left in the care of their aunt following the death of their parents. The story is told through the eyes of David, the boy who lives next door and who is witness to the escalating abuse and torture that these girls endure at the hands of the aunt and the rest of the children in the neighbourhood.

First of all, I need to explicitly warn potential readers that this book is very graphic and detailed, and it is NOT for the faint of heart. That being said, I can categorically state that this is the most brutal, disturbing, upsetting, traumatising book that I have ever read. I did not enjoy reading this book, it made me angry, upset, and downright incredulous that people are capable of such inhumane actions, because this is not just some sick and twisted idea that Ketchum came up with, it is based on a true story. For those who are not familiar, this case is based on the murder of Sylvia Livens at the hands of Gertrude Baniszewski and her children/kids in the neighbourhood. I read up on this case after finishing the book and somehow the events that actually happened are even worse.

Ketchum's writing in this is not flowery and beautifully written - it is full of short and abrupt sentences that just cut right to the chase. And this suits the type of story that he is trying to tell and the reaction that he is trying to provoke. And boy, does he succeed. It's not an easy read by any means, at times I just wanted to shut the book and throw it in the bin - but it's also an important book, because these things DO happen. People DO torture children (and adults for that matter). But at the same time, in the light of such acts of violence and human depravity, we need people who will act out against it. Granted, not everyone wants to read about it, but I think it's something we all need to be aware of. Sometimes not doing anything is almost as bad as those taking part in such crimes.

David is an interesting character, we learn everything that happens through his recollection of events. Although he never actually partakes in any of the abuse, is he complicit because he is aware of it, even though he is only a 12 year old boy? At times I just wanted to scream at him to tell someone, to tell his parents, but he goes through a range of different thought processes - from not thinking he's doing anything wrong as he PHYSICALLY isn't doing anything, to considering the fact that maybe Meg deserved it, to getting mixed up with his pre teen sexual angst and curiosity. The girl who bore the brunt of the abuse, Meg, is heroic in my eyes. She endures abuse and torture that you cannot even fathom, and yet she manages to hold onto her dignity - no matter how much they try to take it away from her. Any opportunity where she is close to giving in, all they need to do is threaten her sister and Meg will endure whatever they put her through. How I cried for this young girl.

Rating this book was tough, as I cannot say I "enjoyed it". However, I found it hard to stop reading, and it evoked such a strong emotional reaction in me that can only be gained from solid writing and a well-executed story, with empathetic characters (in this case, Meg and her sister). It's a powerful book, one of the most powerful I've ever read, and Ketchum has achieved exactly what he set out to do: to horrify. 5 stars.
Profile Image for Gabriel.
441 reviews585 followers
December 19, 2022
El segundo libro del año que me ha dejado mal anímicamente con tanta maldad descarnada sin ton ni son.

Es un libro sucio, inhumano, abrumador, despiadado, asfixiante, brutal, perturbador, atroz, violento, crudo, intenso, sádico, enfermizo, estremecedor, desalmado, desagradable, insano, oscuro... y que conste que podría seguir dando adjetivos calificativos y ninguno de ellos sería con una connotación positiva. El pozo en que te puedes sumergir con esta historia es con toda seguridad impactante y terriblemente duro, no deja indiferente ni a una roca.

Pero sobretodo, es un libro para perder la fe en la humanidad. Las cosas que pasan en este libro y que son basadas en un caso real ocurrido en Indiana son de lejos absolutamente terroríficas e indignantes y aunque el autor se tomó sus licencias creativas no deja de ser lo mismo: una situación turbia y escabrosa que sucedió, que sucede y que puede seguir sucediendo.

Los personajes son el epítome de la maldad cruda y lo que aquí pasa nada tiene que envidiar a la realidad porque esta última es mil veces peor. Ruth me parece terrorífica y los niños con su ambigüedad moral aún más, sin embargo, a mí la única pregunta que me queda sobre ellos (sacando a Ruth porque a ella si que le comprendo su pensamiento de mierda) es la siguiente: ¿Hay una respuesta para aquellos actos tan deleznables por parte de los niños? ¿Su maldad y sus deseos de hacer daños son focalizados por la falta de afecto y una familia estable en todos los sentidos? ¿O muy por el contrario es algo innato en ellos más allá de ser naturalizado por esa mujer aberrante? Puede ser cualquier opción y no dejaría de ser igual de impactante.

El libro me ha dejado tan anonadado que me duró casi dos meses ya que tenía miedo de seguir leyendo desde la mitad en adelante, me era imposible no querer parar cada tres o cuatro párrafos porque me daba pavor saber lo que pasaría a continuación con Meg y Susan. En todo caso, es fuerte, muchísimo, pero podría serlo más de no ser porque el autor ha sido inteligente para no hacer de esto una novela morbosa y explícita sobre temas tan delicados como el maltrato, el abuso y la violación infantil hasta su desenlace.

He sentido también mucha impotencia, rabia e indignación. Pero sobretodo tristeza con ese final desgarrador. Yo es que nunca jamás en la vida confiaría en alguien que de pequeño hizo tantas cosas inhumanas. No me cabe en la cabeza ver a ese tipo de personas pagar una condena tan corta y luego que estén por allí, en la calle como unos adultos "civilizados" tan campantes. Creo que si un niño de pequeño está tan corrompido por ese nivel de salvajismo y violencia, imposible que se desarrolle algo diferente a futuro.
Profile Image for Evgnossia O'Hara.
102 reviews194 followers
Want to read
May 15, 2018
I've seen the movie a couple of days ago. It gave me nightmares. I don't think that I have the courage to read the book. I'm pretty sure that it'll drive me insane.
Won't happen any time soon.
Profile Image for Leeanne ☽ ◌ ☾.
204 reviews52 followers
September 23, 2022
I actually had to recover from reading this book, before I could review it, and I felt as though I’d been left on the spin cycle of a washing machine, after reading this tough, heartbreaking, emotional, tragic story, which is based on the real life torture and murder of 16 year old Sylvia Marie Likens by her caregiver, and her kids, including some of the children from the local neighbourhood.

While reading this, I googled pictures of Sylvia and her abusers, and was angry and upset to see what these monsters had done to this innocent child, who in the book is called Megan, who despite at the beginning of these tragic events told the local sheriff what was happening, but was completely ignored.

Jack Ketchum was a true literary genius of our time, and doesn’t hold back with describing the horrific abuse this sweet, recently orphaned girl, endured!! I don’t think anyone could have taken this story and had an impact such Jack did with this book! He makes the reader feel as though they are in the room experiencing everything with Megan. It’s truly terrifying!

I worked for Children’s Services for nearly 14 years, and have seen/read/heard truly horrendous abuse inflicted on children by adults, and other children, but this has left a huge hole where my heart was and I truly hope this poor angel, is now at peace!! 🙏🏼

There have been two movies made, based on the Sylvia Marie Likens story, The Girl Next Door which is from JK’s book, and is just as brutal, and An American Crime.
Profile Image for Maciek.
558 reviews3,271 followers
October 8, 2015
The most horrifying thing about Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door is that it is based on a true incident - horrendous abuse, torture and eventual murder of the 16 year old Sylvia Likens in 1965. Sylvia's parents, carnival workers who moved often, left her and her sister in Indianapolis under care of their acquaintaince, Gertrude Baniszewski. Baniszewski was paid to care for the girls, but as the payments were late she began to abuse the young girls, focusing the torrents of her anger on Sylvia. Details of this abuse are too horrible to recount, but what is horrifying is that Baniszewski openly encouraged her own children and those of the neighbors to indulge in tormenting Sylvia on their own, imprisoning her in the basement. Although Baniszewski's daughter, Paula, would not only brag about it in public but also beat Sylvia in front of the neighbors, nobody did anything to stop it or help her in any way - Sylvia eventually died from her extensive injuries.

I did not know about this before I read the book - in fact, I approached it without knowing anything about it. I have only read one novel by Jack Ketchum before, Off Season, which is a visceral, gruesome horror novel featuring a tribe of cannibals and some very unlucky vacationers somewhere in remote woods in Maine (the same state where Stephen King lives and sets most of his work). Although it has plenty of intense and graphic violence, Off Season lacks pretty much everything else, which made it a rather disappointing reading experience for this reader.

The Girl Next Door is a much better book, because in it Ketchum does what he didn't do in Off Season - develop a proper build up and characters, and establish tension which lasts almost all throughout the novel. The narrator of the novel, David, writes it down as a recollection of events which happened a long time ago, when he was growing up in a small town. Although David is a successful financier on Wall Street, he has two failed marriages behind him already, and is at the eve of the third - he is filled with sadness, regret and guilt, haunted and gradually destroyed by events which took place thirty years ago.

To an outsider, David's childhood was a relatively normal experience of a young boy growing up in a small town in the 1950's. Although he can see that his parents have marital troubles and knows of his fathers's affairs, he has a circle of friends who live right next door to him - the Chandler boys who live with their mother, Ruth. Their father left the family for another woman, leaving Ruth alone to take care of the three boys. Everyone at the street loved to hang out at Ruth's place - even though she kept her boys in line, she also gave them beers and let them enjoy themselves; David and his friends felt good at Ruth's place, because it was a place where they could be themselves, and feel natural - in David's case more so than at home. Although David does not consider his childhood to be special in any way, there is no suggestion that he is unhappy - he camped with his friends in a real tent, listened to Elvis on a record player, smoked cigarettes and drank beers in secret. In another life his childhood recollection would be much more in tune with the novel's idyllic opening image: a young boy lying down next to a clear brook in a picturesque forest, catching crayfish on a bright, sunny day.

The woods and the brook are both the opening of the book, and the end of David's childhood: this is where he meets Meg Loughlin, whom he declares to be the prettiest girl that he ever saw. David is smitten with Meg, and confused by her - she is older than other girls that he knows, and his feelings towards her are different. He longs and yearns for something when he sees her, but doesn't exactly know what; Ketchum manages to capture the butterflies of youthful infatuation in his net - David learns that Meg is a distant relative of the Chandler's, and that she will be moving in with them together with her younger sister, Susan, after they both lost their parents in a car accident. The accident left Meg with a scar, and Susan crippled - unable to walk without her crutches. David is even more impressed with Meg as a survivor: he manages to overcome his shyness and ask her to go to the local carnival with him, where they share several sweet and memorable moments. In another life, these moments could develop into a beautiful romance; here, they are a prelude to a great tragedy.

The problem with novels based on real events is that we know what will eventually happen, and it is no great surprise when it finally does. This is also the case with The Girl Next Door, but does not ruin the book. Ketchum does a very good job with establishing a slow buildup, with proper foreshadowing in all the right places. The specter of horror hangs over the book, and when it finally descends it begins slow, but quickly becomes almost unimaginable. The fact that The Girl Next Door was inspired by the murder of Sylvia Likens does not cheapen it, or make it exploitative - Meg is not Sylvia, and Ruth is not Gertrude. There have been hundreds, if not thousands, of such cases all over the world

There are two big Whys in this book - why did Ruth begin abusing Meg and her sister? Was she jealous of her youth and beauty, which painfully reminded her of her own age and hardships which tore away at her looks? Did Meg remind her of her husband, who ran away with a woman who could have been her? Did she think that her boys might become interested in Meg more than they were in her? Did she not want her authority questioned, both as a parent and a woman? I think this question is not adequately answered - but then again we see Ruth only from David's perspective, and although he sees her at her house he mostly spends time with her boys, and does not live with them. David acknowledges that he does not understand why she did what she did - destroyed a young girl.

The other big why regards the Chandler children and David - why did they participate in the abuse and grew increasingly more ferocious, and why did David do nothing to stop them and stood idly by? How could the Chandlers horribly abuse and torture Meg, and at the same time go on with their lives as if this was a perfectly ordinary thing to happen?

Although David does not take part in the abuse of Meg, he does not do anything to stop it or tell his own parents - until it is too late. Besides Meg and Susan who are both obvious innocents, David is the only decent character in the entire book - yet he is not without his flaws and desires, which he himself acknowledges: he peeps on Meg with the other boys, waiting for her to undress in her room, and when she doesn't even show up he is furious - and begins to hate her for it, as if she disappointed him, owed him her nakedness. When he does see Meg naked and in captivity, he is overcome with desire to touch her.

His saving grace is that he doesn't touch Meg, but his condemnation is that he doesn't stop others from touching her, and doing worse things. Of all the youths in the book, David is the only character who is at first taken aback by Meg's treatment, and eventually sees what is happening to her as something terribly wrong. He is the only boy who sympathizes with Meg, and who feels ashamed at what is happening and his own role in it - but this knowledge, or conscience if you will, makes him even more guilty than those who took part in her abuse. The Chandler children did it all under the watchful eye of their mother - if she would order them to stop, they would stop immediately. If she'd forbid them from hurting her, they would not hurt her. But Ruth did not only not stop her sons from torturing Meg, she actively encouraged it and took part in it herself. David acknowledges that this torment was Ruth's show - her presence hangs above them like a ghost, even when she is not in the room with them. Although Ruth set a series of rules which would justify the abuse -as much for the boys, as for herself - these rules eventually collapsed together with her sanity, and all the bets were off. Still, even then, she watched over everything - and everything was possible because she allowed it to be so.

Should we hate David? Condemn him for not helping Meg, not telling others about her torment? It is easy for us to be outraged, even furious with him, by being entirely removed from his position and enriched by hindsight. Could David possibly know what would happen to the sweet girl he first saw at the brook? David does not have anyone to talk to - he understand that talking to other kids is pointless; although they knew that something was happening at Ruth's house - some vaguely, others with specific detail - not a single one of them had any opinion about it. It was like a force of nature; there was no point in discussing something that can't be influenced.

In fact, it was not the torment that was a force of nature, but the fact that it took place under the watch and guidance of an adult. In the small, suburban community in the 1950's, adults controlled all aspects of lives of children: adults were the ultimate authority, and what they said could not be questioned. This was the social order on which many today look fondly upon: children wouldn't even dare to challenge the actions of their parents and other adults, and corporal punishment was not only openly accepted but actively encouraged. This was the whole point of it: kids were supposed to be punished by adults; they were supposed to be subservient to them, and obey them unquestioningly. Parental love was not supposed to be easy and selfless, but exactly the opposite. It was supposed to be tough love, which would adequately prepare children for many hardships which would await them in the world. Kids had to be straightened out, made into proper men and women. At one point David acknowledges that kids belong to their parents, "body and soul... we were just kids. We were property".

David is conflicted. If Ruth is an adult, a parent of his best friends and now a parental figure for Meg, then who is he to judge that what she is doing is wrong? How can he know that what she is doing to Meg now will not turn out to have been right in the future after all? He still feels attracted to Meg, but Ruth and her children are his old friends, who were always good to him. In a memorable scene, David sees Meg approach a police officer to complain about her mistreatment. Along with the other kids who witness the scene, David feels a sense of betrayal - how could she tell on them, and to an adult? - and peculiar, scared excitement - how could she upset the social order, and tell on an adult on another adult? - but the police officer brushes her away; he is a part of the society, and in this society children do not question their parents, much less tell on them to others. He tells Meg she should think of Mrs. Chandler as her mother, and that her mother would probably treat her the same way. Who's to say?", he asks, and does precisely nothing - for which Ruth mocks and torments Meg later, telling her that she deserves punishment for trying to snitch on her.

Shouldn't snitches be punished? David tries to talk to his father, but he is no good. When David asks his father if it is ever right to hit a woman, he realizes that with his evasive and non-committal answers his father is trying to justify his own lashing out at his mother, which led to the coldness and distance between them. It becomes apparent that David's father does not know his own son, and that David is unable to connect with his father; mostly he feels nothing for him, and if he does feel any emotion it is usually contempt. Later in the book, David tries to tell his mother - but realizes that he cannot; although she is the only person he can tell, he realizes that by his own indifference he also took part in Meg's torment, and is unable to tell this to her. He realizes that he has betrayed Meg, and sees himself as evil - Does he fear that this is how his mother will also see him, or does he fear that this is who he actually is?

We were juveniles, writes David at the end of the book, as if legal classification could offer any explanation. By now it is obvious that this entire writing is not really meant for any reader, but for himself; he confesses to everything that happened now because he did not then, but just as then there is no person who can help him now. He is alone and realizes this, plagued by recurring nightmares of his own failure to act, which destroy his relationships and life. This is where the true horror of this book lies - not description of torture and abuse. They actually are not as graphic as I expected them to be - they are horrific, but Ketchum doesn't focus on them. I can easily see many instances in which this book could have easily turned into simple, schlock horror, but violence is limited to an effective but not overbearing level. The actual horror is the gradually emerging sense of complicity in something terrible - and the fact that David uses as a poor attempt at consoling himself at the beginning, but which makes things infinitely worse: "That it was happening all over, not just at Ruth's house but everywhere."

Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
2,891 reviews10.5k followers
August 11, 2014
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 coming of age horror, like The Body or It. Then it became darker and darker until it was physically wearing me out to read it.

The Girl Next Door is a story of abuse, torture, and helplessness. Like I said, it's a pretty brutal read. Davy is torn between fitting in and trying to save Meg from the progressively more hellish life at Ruth's house.

Ketchum paints a horrifying picture of life in an abusive environment. The book became increasingly more uncomfortable to read because of his skill at depicting the horrors going on in the basement.

In the end, this was a hard book to rate. I thought it was very powerful but I can't say I actually enjoyed reading it past the halfway mark. The torture was too much but I had to see the book through until the end. The most horrifying thing about the book is that it was based on an actual incident.

I'm giving it a four because of the impact the story and the writing had, not because of any enjoyment or entertainment I got out of the story. I doubt I'll be reading more Ketchum any time soon.

Current Kindle Unlimited Savings Total: $115.39.
Profile Image for Fabian.
940 reviews1,542 followers
January 17, 2019
Great, cruel cautionary tale. The type that valiantly finds the Sad in Sadism. This one's about the hideousness of child abuse, about Miserable Psychopaths & their deep punctures that leave nothing but death and devastation behind...

Herein THAT form of evil, which is regularly found, sprinkled, Disneyfied previously in such forms as Cinderella, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Body/Stand By Me, Misery...

Jewels, really, all of them, to our culture. It is a summer idyll worthy of Lord of the Flies (!). And the children come directly from the same mold that made Stephen King's Children of the Corn (but nothing so corny to be found here). & the parents are not as good or sympathetic as we would expect. It is a devastating type of realism that I have not come to expect outside of true snuff-stuff or the superb, undervalued film by Peter Jackson, "Heavenly Creatures." "Girl" is actually pretty terrific.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,414 reviews7,408 followers
October 2, 2014
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

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 becoming wards of the state. Moving into a relative’s house in a quaint little suburban town with safe schools and a neighborhood full of other kids to play should have been the best case scenario for two orphans. Yes, it should have been – but there is a darkness inside the Chandler family home that is brought to light with the addition of two girls to the household.

These are the types of stories you see blips of on the evening news (or massive months-long coverage by “respected journalists” like Nancy Grace or Jane Velez-Mitchell). They are the stories you claim to watch only because you care so much about the fate of the missing/found victim. They are stories that if you follow too closely make you feel like a sociopathic voyeur.

This book takes you into the torture chamber and insanity that you know exists each time you see another story like that of Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus. It’s a book that totally goes there with a no holds barred attitude about what could happen if a young girl was placed in the home of a complete nutter. The author breaks every barrier of what is “okay” to write about, but does it so well that you can’t stop turning the page. EVERYTHING that is horrible and taboo is covered in this story, so don’t say you weren’t warned if you decide to pick it up. As for me? I’m going to go finish the rest of my “forgetting medicine” now . . .

Profile Image for Ron.
380 reviews86 followers
November 1, 2020
This is the scariest book I've ever read. No supernatural here, but it is full of monsters. Far too real, and completely upsetting because what happened was a reality for this young girl, a girl who deserved nothing but love from the people who should have found it easiest to give. It didn't make sense. What they did. Or why. How could it?
”Like some other species all together. Some intelligence that only looked human, but had no access to feelings. I stood among them swamped by otherness. By evil.”
While reading, I wanted to walk through the pages and reach out to this girl. Save her. Take her and her little sister away from this place, this horror. Since I could not, I wanted to cry, or scream in the least. The story is that visceral. Parts are not even fully explained here. As David, the boy next door and our narrator expresses,
”There are things you'll die before telling, things you know you should have died before ever having seen. I watched and saw.”
David then, besides being the storyteller, is also a voyeur in the acts, if not complicit by not intervening. Seeing through his eyes, Ketchum makes us feel as if we are the same.

Meg, the girl. This book brought about so many feelings. But near the end of the story, I found it hard to picture the things they had done to her. I didn't want to, and so I put it behind. I wanted only to see the spirit in her that remained standing, even after continuously being beaten down. She stood more for her little sister, than for herself, and that astonished me. She is also beautiful. That's how David saw her. In a crazy way, it is also the explanation for why the others hated her. But the beauty I'm talking about is on the inside, beauty they could not see. Or maybe they did and it had scared them, so they tried to take it away. Even more, she is strength. Stronger than these people could ever be or know. And she is light, shining right through them.

As difficult as this story is to read, it must have been more difficult for Ketchum to write. That's how it seems to me in reading his afterward. The true story it was based upon kept coming back to him, so he wrote. Not since Off Season, had I written on a subject this grim...But this was about child abuse. He softened some of what happened, but not too much. If too much he'd be ripping off those real live kids who are abused every day.
Profile Image for Elizabeth Sagan.
234 reviews2,086 followers
December 10, 2017
I honestly don’t know how to rate this book. One star? Five stars? Throw it away? Is it a great book? Is it a pile of shit?

There are a few stages of reading it:

1. Oh, great, it drew me in from the first page, that’s great.
2. Interesting character development. So logical. Great introspection.
3. Oh, the tension is building even in the smallest scenes.
4. Oh, shit is starting to happen. I can’t put it down.
5. This is so great. It sends a great message. All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. Always step in for what is right. Don’t be a coward. When you don’t participate, but watch, you’re equally guilty.

And then you reach a certain point when you’re like: why am I reading this book? Why would anyone write a book like this? What am I getting from this book?
Nontheless, it’s a great book.

P.S. The main character is equally guilty. And I have no sympathy for him.
Profile Image for Mariana.
388 reviews1,670 followers
May 16, 2021
Necesito ordenar mis pensamientos y recuperar un poco la fe en la humanidad antes de escribir esta reseña.
Profile Image for Paul O’Neill.
Author 3 books172 followers
February 23, 2017
Check out all my reviews on my blog page:

All hail the king of horror. No one makes me squeamish quite like Ketchum.

To my horror, half way through the book I realised that it’s loosely based on the true story of the tragic Sylvia Likens. The story is about two teenage girls who are left in the care of their aunt after a horrible accident. It tells the story of the escalating abuse both of them suffer at the hands of their aunt and her children.

The story is told through the view of David, who finds the abuse compelling as well as horrific and tells the story of his struggle with it as he comes to terms with what is really happening.


The book is short and the writing is crisp. It does its job, moving the story along nicely.

I thought the use of older David looking back at the events, commenting on them whilst flashing back to the past was very effective. The events clearly play a huge part in his later life and as he reflects as older David, it only adds to the emotional side of the story. So here’s my check, overdue and overdrawn. Cash it in hell…

Ketchum does an excellent job of making you hate Ruth, the evil aunt. I can’t remember a character I’ve hated so much.

Final thoughts

I don’t agree with this being categorised as a ‘crime thriller’. To me, it’s very much a horror.

I can’t really say too much more without giving anything away. Ketchum is a must read for all horror fans. This, and Off Season, are fantastic and horrifying. You know you’re doing well when Stephen King answered the question “Who’s the scariest guy in North America?” by saying “Probably Jack Ketchum.”.

What happened next, was the basement…
Profile Image for Eliasdgian.
407 reviews104 followers
July 2, 2018
Αρνούμαι να βαθμολογήσω με συμβατικούς όρους (δεν μου άρεσε/μου άρεσε/ήταν φοβερό) ένα βιβλίο που αφηγείται την απόλυτη κτηνωδία, με τρόπο τόσο ωμά ρεαλιστικό, που σε πνίγει, που πρέπει να σταματήσεις το διάβασμα για να πάρεις μιαν ανάσα, που όλο θες να φωνάξεις "σταματήστε γαμώ τον Θεό σας" και δεν σου βγαίνει η φωνή. Αν ποτέ βάλω τις σκέψεις μου σε σειρά, αν μπορέσω να γράψω μια δυο σειρές για το πιο τρομακτικό/βίαιο/φρικτό βιβλίο που έχω διαβάσει μέχρι σήμερα, θα επανέλθω.
Profile Image for Nark.
593 reviews771 followers
January 16, 2023
✦ read this book at your own risk.
✦ this is one of the most disturbing books ever written, no doubt about it. the fact that it's based on a true story is what makes it even more horrific. the real case is absolutely insane and so fucked up. truly one of the sickest examples of human depravity and cruelty.
✦ reading this book was a very unsettling and heartbreaking experience, and it only kept getting worse with every chapter. i don't think i will ever forget some of the details from this book.
Profile Image for Michael || TheNeverendingTBR.
448 reviews149 followers
February 6, 2022
This is one of the most brutal books I've ever read.

He's a very good writer, his style reminds me of early Stephen King.

He takes his time developing the characters and then puts the one we care about through hell, which is why this particular book is so controversial I guess.

I wanted to throat punch 95% of the characters. If you've read it, you'll understand.

I've given it three stars because it was a difficult read due to the subject matter.

I couldn't read it again.

I'm looking forward to reading more from this author though because like I said, he had talent.
Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,177 reviews9,205 followers
June 21, 2011
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 his home street. To the house next door, in fact!

I'll give you the gist of the whole thing so you can see that this is another book you don't need to read, which since they've made a movie of it, is also a film you don't need to see. The time I'm saving you all!

The story is based closely on the Sylvia Likens case, which I hadn't heard of, and now I have, and I wish I hadn't. So anyone with any desire to maintain their delusions of common decency and humanity should look away now. Sylvia was 16. Her parents were carnies, always moving, always parking the kids with relatives. In this case they parked her and her sister with an acquaintance, no more than that, called Gertrude Baniszewski who lived in Indianapolis and had a whole bunch of her own kids and was dirt poor, an asthmatic, a depressive, and as it turned out, deranged. Sylvia very quickly became the concentrated scapegoat hate-figure for this sadistic woman. But more than that, Gertrude encouraged her own sons and their punk friends to join in with the torment. It took them a few months to torture Sylvia to death. They were reasonably creative. No one in the merry group of torturers told anyone in authority, neighbours didn't notice a thing. When Sylvia died one of Gertrude's daughters finally freaked out and dropped a dime otherwise I guess we would never know. The whole family was rounded up and Gertrude was given life. She got out in 1985 and died in 1990.

JK introduces an explanation of Gertrude's psychology (in his novel she's called Ruth Chandler) which is that she was a pathological hater of young women because they tormented her with their innocence and prettiness to such a pitch that she had to hand out lessons in how the world really is, what sort of suffering women have to endure, how they're all really sluts, and so forth. So something must have occurred in her own life to drive her to this pitch of malignity, clearly. It's clear to me that the right people never go to therapy :

Patient No 1 : I keep having flashbacks to when my mother used to give me cheese sandwiches for my school lunch when she knew I hated cheese.

Therapist : Okay, that's it, get out of my office.

Patient No 2 : I have all these fantasies about chopping guy's heads off.

Therapist : Do you think that's because your mother gave you cheese sandwiches when you were a kid?

Patient No 2 : That's right doc - I didn't remember that until just now - this is a real breakthrough.

Therapist : We're doing great work, Jeff. I'll see you next week - and remember - no more dismembering young gay men!

Patient No 2 : (grinning somewhat shamefacedly) Aw, okayyyy...

Er - back to the book. So this story is a horrible one, but it has so many resonances, (leaving aside the mythical older-woman-seeks-to-destroy-younger – this cruelty rings and chimes and vibrates down through the centuries past the Countess Bathory all the way to Snow White and Cinderella and beyond). But take Stanley Milgram’s famous electric shock experiment, which was inspired by the Eichmann trial, and sought to investigate how regular ordinary people would inflict terrible pain and suffering on other humans because someone in authority told them to – simple as that. A guy tells you to turn up the dial to 500 volts and zap the wrongdoer, and you know this will seriously injure him, but hey, the guy asking you to do this is wearing a white coat, and you’re in a laboratory, so sure, turn the dial and hear the guy scream! We can connect that with Christopher Browning’s brilliant investigation of who actually shot all those Jews in all those Polish forests – his book is called “Ordinary Men” – of course, because that’s who it was. And on a more Girl Next Door level, I remember the movie River’s Edge (1986) in which some 16 year old guy kills a 14 year old girl and brags about it to all his friends and takes them to see the body. After a few days one of them called the cops. That was based on a real case too. Oh, of course, there’s “Whatever Mother Says” which is very similar to the Girl Next Door and which I reviewed already. There's a pattern I'm seeing here.

You’re never going to prevent deranged individuals doing cruel things. But what troubles our sleep and poisons our dreams is that it’s so easy, it seems, for them to get us, average us, friendly us, to join in.

Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,538 reviews33.9k followers
May 6, 2011
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 being a genuine shock to your emotions, except in the most clinical of ways.

More than anything else, it is distasteful that the most authentically written aspect of the book seems to be the narrator's feelings of lust and shame towards the victims (as well as some delusions of empowerment), and that so little time was spent exploring any other emotion--and that includes cruelty, hate, entitlement, fear, pity, and remorse. When I read violent fiction, I'm not at all a fan of torture porn for the sake of it--and to me, neither the writing nor the story in this book were enough to make it any more than that.
August 1, 2016
Οταν ξεκινας να διαβαζεις Κετσαμ ξερεις τι εχεις να αντιμετωπισεις.

Ο Κετσαμ ειναι αυτο που ελεγε ο Βλαδιμηρος Κυριακιδης στις Βαρβαροτητες: Αρρωστια.

Η καθε του λεξη μια σουβλια με πυρωμενο σιδερο στα πλευρα.
Ωμος και συντομος.
Δεν χρειαζεται πολλες λεξεις για να σε σοκαρει.
Ο καθε χαρακτηρας του ειναι ολοκληρωμενος.

Το κοριτσι της διπλανης πορτας ειναι το τεταρτο βιβλιο του που διαβαζω.
Ριγησα, εκλαψα, φοβηθηκα, μισησα, ενιωσα οικτο.
Ενας πρωτογονος τρομος για το πολιτισμενο τερας που λεγεται ανθρωπινο ον, ξυπναει μεσα μου καθε φορα που τον διαβαζω.
Διαβαστε τον συνειδητα, εχοντας πρωτα αποφασισει οτι το μυαλο σας θα παραμεινει κλειστο στις κτηνωδιες που περιγραφει. Διαβαστε τον με παρωπιδες. Ποτε μα ποτε μην πιστεψετε οτι ολα οσα γραφει βασιζονται σε αληθινα περιστατικα (και ας ισχυει).
Ο Κετσαμ ειναι μαστορας στην αποκτυπτογραφηση της ανθρωπινης τρελας. Και δεν εχει ορια. Περιμενω πως και πως το επομενο βιβλιο του στα ελληνικα.

Ο Κετσαμ ειναι σαν την κοκα κολα λαιτ. Δεν εχει θερμιδες αλλα σαπιζει τα εσωτερικα οργανα
Profile Image for Phils Osophie.
183 reviews686 followers
February 6, 2017
Einfach nur erschreckend. Ohne Worte. Überlegt euch zwei mal, ob ihr dieses Buch wirklich lesen wollt.
Profile Image for Laurie  (barksbooks).
1,705 reviews661 followers
January 17, 2018
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 crimelibrary.com), 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 temporarily forget. This is one of the most tragic books I've ever read.

I can't bring myself to pick it back up to read the two short stories that follow "The Girl Next Door".

Okay, I did manage to work up the courage to read the two short stories and of them I enjoyed the last "Returns" (I think?) the most. It tells the story of a dead man's return from the dead for one last visit with his wife and cat. It's a sad story about lack of compassion that will hurt any animal lover's heart.

The other "Do you love your wife?" didn't move me nearly as much and I can't remember much about it at this point.
Profile Image for Tony Valdez.
Author 1 book10 followers
June 29, 2018
If I could give no stars, I would. I found this to be a disgusting, horrific piece of writing with absolutely no point for existing. It is essentially a snuff film. There is nothing redeeming. It is not entertaining whatsoever. It is a pointless, agonizingly brutal rape fantasy and murder of a teenage girl in grotesque detail.

Yes, I'm aware it is loosely based on a true story (which is sad enough), and I cannot comprehend how someone thought it would make for an entertaining story. No plot, point or purpose other than to disgust, shock and horrify. I enjoy thriller/horror content plenty, so please don't take me for a pushover lightweight. I don't shake easy. This shit made me viscerally angry. But if that sounds like your idea of entertainment, then go ahead and read this garbage.
Profile Image for Jack Jordan.
Author 7 books572 followers
November 3, 2015
This is the most fucked up, heartbreaking, traumatising book that I have ever read.

It's four in the morning. I had meant to read a few chapters before going to sleep. Instead, I stayed up all night and finished the book.

It's impossible to like this book because of how disturbing it is, yet it is equally impossible to put down because you have to see how it ends.

The fact that this book is based on true events is the most traumatising - yes, traumatising - factor of all.

Jack Ketchum writes very well. I want to read more of his work, but I fear that The Girl Next Door may have scared me off.

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