“Seed” by Ania Ahlborn

Another review! Maybe one day I’ll get this ‘regular book blog’ thing going properly…

So, this book was a mistake. Not a bad book, don’t get me wrong, but a massive mistake on my part.

Let me explain. I read mostly paper books, because I borrow them from the library. But I do have a Kindle, and that means at times I read things on there which I downloaded some time ago. Very rarely do I remember anything about the books, like the blurb or why I downloaded them — and of course, it’s harder to flick through to see what they’re about when they’re eBooks.

So, yesterday evening I settled down to read Seed by Ania Albhorn, because the cover was cool, not having any recollection of what it was about (not even genre), and found that I’d made a mistake.

It was horror, a genre I rarely read for one very simple reason: I’m a pathetic wee beastie who can’t cope very well with scary things, because my overactive imagination means they don’t leave me alone for days afterwards. And I was reading it late at night, in my creaky Victorian house which keeps me up often enough anyway. Yeah.

seedI didn’t particularly enjoy this experience. Some people may like being frightened, in which case, this is a very good book. If it set out to scare me to the point where I wouldn’t go to bed until two in the morning and wouldn’t be able to sleep once I did, it succeeded.  If the idea was not to be able to forget the grotesque and gruesome way it ended, it managed that too.

I wouldn’t say it was the most beautifully written book I’ve ever read, as some of the writing was more functional than lovely. That said, there were some very evocative descriptions, and the way the mood was created contributed to how much this book FREAKED ME THE HELL OUT.

Did I mention that I was freaked out yet? I think I may have mentioned that.

I don’t want to give away too many plot details, but this book involves the creepiest of horror tropes: a six-year-old being possessed by the Devil until she commits acts of unspeakable evil. Now, I’m way better around children than I used to be — working with them at my old ballet school and with the local library means I no longer view them entirely as alien creatures. But they’re still… concerning.

And that’s when they’re not possessed. When they are, they are terrifying.

That said, this book does feature one of my favourite tropes for any genre, which is when somebody doesn’t remember their past, and then finds out that they did something awful and everything they thought they knew about themselves is a lie because they’re actually a monster. It’s a more interesting variant on finding out they’re literally a monster (like Marvel’s Loki), as they have to live with choices they don’t recall making.

Yeah, I don’t know why I like that so much. But it’s a good trope, and I’ve used it a couple of times.

I don’t know how to rate this book. In terms of how much I enjoyed it, it should get around two stars. I was gripped for completely the wrong reasons — I thought maybe finishing it would make it easier to sleep, but it didn’t. I read an entire book to try and block it out, a YA novel that wasn’t in the least bit scary, but that didn’t help.

In terms of how good it was, it should get a higher rating than that. It wasn’t mind-blowing, but it was atmospheric and gruesome and did what it set out to do, which was to scare me. At least, I assume that’s what it was trying to do.

So I guess I’ll average it and say that I’ll give it three stars. I wouldn’t particularly recommend it, if you want to sleep any time soon (seriously, I’m a sensitive soul and this thing triggered my anxiety, so I was feeling really quite unwell and uncomfortable for some time afterwards). Then again, if you like horror and enjoy that sensation, I guess you could go for it.

Small possessed children, dead animals, forgotten pasts, and a violent ending — not exactly a cheery beach read, nor the thing to get you through the night in a creaking house. But maybe you’ll like it more than I did.

Rating: ***

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