Written by: William Massa
Coming from a Hollywood screenwriting background, I tend to approach stories from a conceptual standpoint – what is the hook or big idea (the high-concept in Hollywood speak) that drives the narrative and makes it stand out from the pack? Seed by Ania Ahlborn feels at first like it is mining well-trodden territory – on the surface it plays like another possession story. But great writing and effective scares elevate the material.
Ahlborn takes familiar tropes and gives them a new whirl – there are a number of spine-chilling scenes that linger in the reader’s imagination. There is one shock-moment in particular where one of the parents checks on their possessed child early in the novel that really packs a punch. The demon/villain of the piece is also effectively visualized and the moments where we actually catch a glimpse of the dark entity are effectively creepy.
But beyond the special effects, the story is powered by relatable themes that serve as the psychological underpinning for the surface chills and action. The parents of the possessed child are having financial/family issues. The husband is still chasing the dream of making it big as a musician and the romance of a bohemian lifestyle is losing some of its appeal as the financial responsibilities of adulthood become more encroaching. Add some heady familial pressure to the mix with a disapproving mother-in-law, and you have a dramatic powder keg that serves as effective subtext for the spooky goings-ons.
As the novel unfolds, Ahlborn also throws a curveball at the reader and adds a twist that separates it from all other possession stories I’ve come across in my reading. This isn’t an isolated incident but history repeating itself as we learn that the husband was possessed in his youth by the same demon that is now tormenting his daughter. This element adds bit of frustration to the read- the husband never comes clean about his past and how it relates to what his daughter is going through but his reticence ultimately make sense within the context of the tale.
Overall, this is an excellent read, and it is clear why Amazon picked up this indie and optioned it for film – it has horror movie written all over it. Ahlborn recently released The Shuddering which has hit the top of my reading queue and little is known of her newest piece, The Bird Eater, slated for next March but the highly evocative title has my attention. Ahlborn is a new voice in horror, and I’m eagerly looking forward to what she has to say next.
About the author: William Massa is a screenwriter and script consultant. His first novel FEAR THE LIGHT will be hitting Amazon later this month. Visit William on Facebook.