Review - The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum

The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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…

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