NOTE: I'm going to be very giggly and flaily during this review, so I won't be taking much care with spoilers.
Description: In the vine-twisted swamps of Louisiana, the shadows have teeth.
Jack Winter has spent his entire life running from something no one else can see. His childhood is his darkest secret, but after a near fatal accident along a deserted road, the darkness he was sure he’d escaped rears its ugly head… and smiles.
But this time, he isn’t the only one who sees the soulless eyes of his past. This time, his six-year-old daughter Charlie leans into his ear and whispers: "Daddy, I saw it too."
And then she begins to change.
Faced with reliving the nightmares of his childhood, Jack watches his daughter spiral into the shadows that had nearly consumed him twenty years before.
But Charlie isn’t the only one who’s changing.
Jack never outran the darkness. It’s been with him all along.
And it’s hungrier than ever.
My Thoughts: This is a fantastic book, probably the best piece of horror that I've read this year. Ahlborn takes several well-known elements such as creepy children, evil passed from generation to generation, and the particular aura of the Deep South, and puts them together again in novel and terrifying ways. Charlotte is one of the most terrifying characters I've ever met, and most of her creepiness comes about in subtle inversions of normalcy well before she actually becomes violent. (Many reviewers cite the scene with the dog, but it took at least half an hour to get my goosebumps under control after Charlotte and her mother in the girls' bedroom.) One of my favorite aspects of the book is the ambiguity of the evil itself. Is it demonic, or is it mental illness? Jack's mother was emotionally disturbed, but she didn't become violent. Did she and Jack's father pair to brew the perfect cocktail of recessive genes in Jack, which he then passed on to his daughter? If not, what was the deal with the cemetery, where did the evil come from, and what does it want after the book concludes? These unanswered questions would be evidence of sloppiness in another writer, but Ahlborn turns them into the shivery sense that the "game" is not over yet...and that any of us could be meeting Charlotte very soon.