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The Girl Next Door

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  27,552 ratings  ·  2,903 reviews
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 in ...more
Paperback, 370 pages
Published June 1st 2005 by Leisure Books (first published December 1st 1989)
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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
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Mario the lone bookwolf
Mar 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
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
Sadie Hartmann
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, e
Tracy Robinson
Nov 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Edward Lorn
May 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
There's going to be some personal information in this review. If you feel uncomfortable reading about child abuse of a sexual nature, you might want to skip this one.

The Girl Next Door was one of the first Leisure paperbacks I recall buying. I don't know what I was expecting, but what I got was a kick in the teeth. This book is brutal and unapologetic. And, in my opinion, Ruth is one of the scariest characters to be found within the pages of the book. What makes this all the more terrifying and
Johann (jobis89)
Jun 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
"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 gr
Evgnossia O'Hara
May 15, 2018 marked it as to-read
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.
Dan Schwent
Aug 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 co
Apr 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Aug 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2014
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 t
Oct 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 (!).
Paul O'Neill
Feb 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
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.

Elizabeth Sagan
Dec 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 i
Nov 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, own, dark, 2020, real-feel
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
Paul Bryant
Apr 02, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
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
Bark  |  Ladies Of Horror Fiction
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
Jack Jordan
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 ver
Jul 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5/5 stars. This is the hardest time I have had reviewing and rating a book. Down the road I'll likely post a video review when I can summarize my thoughts a bit better. At face value, part of me felt like this was simply torture porn that I didn't want to pick up. BUT after reading interview with the author I think the book is deeper than you would guess at face value. It questions what we would do if we were a child in a similar situation and the depths of human depravity. If you're okay with ...more
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
Jun 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
I struggled like hell. Not because it was a book not deserving but of the graphic written details made harder knowing it’s based on a true story.

I did google some of this and was appalled.
My heart was ripped out, bile came up in my throat yet, I couldn’t put this horrific book down.

To say it was good.......not in the way you’d want me to say it.
Do I recommend it.
Most definitely no.

It takes a hard stomach to digest this.

Trouble is, it’s horrifically true.
Amber Rose
Sep 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
Dec 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Warning: This novel, based on a true-crime story is heartbreakingly sad and extremely difficult to read. I haven't been able to get it out of my mind nor will I forget this innocent young girl who endured such painful and unspeakable acts of abuse and torture while tied up, in ways you won't believe, gagged and starved.

These sick, sick people. Those who knew or watched and did nothing for weeks on end; how could they? They are just as guilty as the monstrous aunt.


Shelby *trains 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. ...more
So, I sit here wondering... What is it that makes one devour a book like The Girl Next Door? Because, I have to say, I didn't just read it. I had to work hard to get my eyes off its pages. So, given that it is by no means pleasant but on the contrary disturbing as hell, not because it's scary or gruesome in a splatter-y kind of way, but due to its very subject which is totally real and possible, what sort of perversion was it that kept me hooked on it? Just before I reached the middle was when I ...more
Disturbing, gory, disgusting and really messed up. Scary because things like this really do happen. You keep reading for the same reason you slow down to look when there is a car accident. Nothing scares me more than psychotic sociopaths.
Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, historical-fic
3.5 stars

Wow - this wasn’t an easy book. In fact it was brutal.

You know those car accidents you see that are just really bad and you can’t look away? This book, for me, was much like that. I spent much of my time being flat out horrified and not in a ‘horror movie’ type way. I was sickened and disgusted by the characters and actions in this book. In fact my first instinct is to hate it.
Buuuuut the book very much did what it was supposed to do — it made me feel. And feel a LOT of things.

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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,

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