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Grandfather's House

By: Jon Athan
Length: 6 hrs and 3 mins
Categories: Fiction, Horror
4 out of 5 stars (14 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

After a prank lands him in serious trouble, Malcolm Hernandez, a 16-year-old boy, is shipped off to live with his grandparents while his mother attempts to save him from expulsion and criminal charges. Malcolm believes the stay will be easy - a vacation with milk and cookies and tales from the past. His hopes, however, are shattered when he bumps heads with his grandfather, Ronald O'Donnell - a stern, violent man with a sinister past.

Ronald plans on disciplining his grandson in order to "save" him from himself. He is not afraid of abusing him, either. He will physically, emotionally, and mentally break him.

Jon Athan, the author of The Abuse of Ashley Collins, invites you to stay at grandfather's house to witness true human horror.

Warning: This book contains scenes of graphic violence, including violence towards children. This book is about abuse - emotional, physical, and mental. This book does not contain any explicit sex scenes, but it does discuss sexual abuse. This book is not intended for those easily offended or appalled.

©2018 Jonathan Sixtos (P)2019 Jonathan Sixtos

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

In Order To Build a Man, You Must First Break Him

Malcolm, like so many others, has grown up with no respect for himself, his peers, or his elders. In a last ditch effort his mother turns to her estranged father for help. Not sure exactly what Malcom’s mother knew about her father, but Ronald takes this task very seriously and definitely believes in corporal punishment as a consequence for breaking rules. As you can imagine, the consequences get ratcheted up quickly and to unbelievable heights. By the time you get to the end, which played out a bit predictable, you are ready for a shower and maybe a hug.

I felt like the book had two parts, the first being the setting of the stage and the introduction to the rules and consequences for breaking those rules. The second was just an all out torture story and the conclusion. I personally really liked the first part. I thought that it was the most tense as you weren’t quite sure where things were going to go and as Malcom test the boundaries, I was on the edge of my seat saying “no, don’t do that you idiot”. The suspense of waiting to know what was going to happen next was keeping my blood pressure pumping. I thought that the humiliation and less degrees of torture were much worse in the first part. The second half of the book I kinda lost that feeling. At a certain point torture is torture and the different forms, described in detail, just become so over the top that it seemed unrealistic and became almost silly. I think of it like I do internet speed, at the low end twice as fast is a big deal, but once you are blazing away doubling really doesn’t have much impact.

Many books like this solely focus on how well they describe this single act and get the reader into the scene such that they make you nauseous or force you to take a break. Shock factor is the main focus, and just like horror movies today, the building blocks have already been set and each new movie needs to push the boundaries of staying one step above what is acceptable and mainstream. That point being, I think this had decent characters. Absolutely unbelievable, outside of Malcom, and often doing just B movie type stuff, but I really liked the them. Malcom in my view needed discipline. I think had he caught on to that early on the story could have been very different. I liked that in the end I truly believe that he got to where he needed to be and will never go back. I went from having no remorse for him to complete remorse.

Ronald and Babs are the true focus in my mind. While we never really know what the root cause of their psychotic behavior was, we learn what the triggers are that set them off. Their actions were absolutely twisted and it takes a truly imaginative person to come up with them. I really think Babs was my favorite, her ability to be the nice old nurturing grandma one moment while also being a psychotic drone of Ronald the next was incredible. I think her psychological torture was much greater than the physical torture done by Ronald. She really was the sickest one because she clearly was broken the same way Ronald tries with Malcom, and in the end she was just another Ronald wrapped in grandma’s clothes.

Harry Williams III did a good job with the narration. I thought he had a good narration voice and read the story with a good cadence and provided the right inflections to add tension and bring the characters to life. I really liked his character voice for Ronald and thought that he sounded quite realistic and added to his overall character. Wasn’t really a big fan of his voice for Malcolm. I didn’t think it really fit him as well as it should have and his whinny voice while being tortured just made him sound whiny and not really like someone being tortured.

I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the author, narrator, or publisher.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • timj26
  • ontario canada
  • 09-05-19

Loved it

Jon athan is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to extream horror
A war veteran grandfather uses military style torture to break his trouble making grandson
Not only are the characters disturbing so are their backstories
Great narration and a nice nod to my favorite Ketchum novel the girl next door highly recommended
I received a free review audiobook and voluntarily left this review

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

John Athan never lets me down!

At my request, I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Once again, I am satisfyingly entertained, disgusted, and horrified by another of John Athan’s books. This guy isn’t afraid to take a story over the edge. Even his milder tales could make a grown man blush. A+

If you’re into sadism and gory disgust, look no further; this is your book. Everything that happens could totally happen in real life. Athan isn’t afraid to cook up the most uncomfortable of scenarios.

Gripping from the very beginning. A little lull about 20 min or so in, but it picks up nicely and just keeps getting better until the very end.

About the details.. Malcom is a kid who likes the attention that comes with being a trouble maker. When his hardworking single mom is out of options, she drops him off at her parent’s house. Parents she hasn’t associated or spoken with for years. Malcom’s nerve and endurance are put to the test when his grandfather, with the help of his crazed obedient wife, decides to “make a man out of him” to correct his troublemaking ways.

My advice? Listen to this book alone or put in some headphones unless you’re prepared to have an awkward conversation with the people around you. I myself have a high tolerance for disgust and even I cringed a few times with this one. It’s that good.

If you’re a sicko who loves an outrageously horrific story, jump right in. This one will not disappoint!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Gruesome!

It's gory, it's nasty- it's amazing! The grandfather reminded me a lot of Walt Kowalski from the movie Gran Torino. The Narrator also did an awesome job. If you're into books that make you cringe and make your skin crawl- check this author out! This is my 2nd audiobook I've listened to by Jon Athan, he blows my mind every time!


I was given this free review copy audiobook on my request and have voluntarily left this review

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Does get very disturbing

I really did enjoy this story, but wished it said more about what happened after. It is very disturbing knowing that these types of things to happen, and worse in some cases to people. I do wish the ending told a little bit more about what happened afterwards, for me it felt like it was left hanging in the wind. I was very much upset at the mom throughout the entire book even before the most disturbing parts happened. I don't think that just anyone would be able to handle listening/reading this book, so if you can't handle stories about abuse then this really isn't anything you should read/listen to.

"I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review."

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Psychological, physical, emotional abuse and triumph

I will be honest this book made me cringe, angry, cry but most of all root for the underdog. This book is well written but fair warning the words are graphic and the abuse traumatic. I received this audio book upon my request and I am voluntarily leaving my honest review.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

OK for what it is.

First let me say this 'low' review is NOT because of the abuse/etc in the story that is warned about. Possibly the reason that DIDN'T bother me more was because there's very little character development. I simply didn't care what happened to him in the story. It's established he's a trouble maker, and has a healthy attraction to girls and that's really about all we know about the main character. I didn't feel like he (or anyone else) was developed enough to care about what happened to them on more than a superficial level.

The performance does try to make up for what the story itself was lacking. Mr. Williams did what I think was a fantastic job given what he had to work with. I did hear the emotion in his voice, the strain and such, it would have been visceral and probably VERY difficult to get through this book for me if I had come to care about the characters. Well done to him.

I received a copy of this book at my request in exchange for a fair review.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Crazy Evil Grandparents

This was a deeply disturbing book about Malcolm Hernandez who got into trouble in school by using a squint gun on teacher and Mother sends him to his grandparents Ronald and Barbara O’Donnell to avoid him from going to juvie or expelled. She warns him her parents are racist and strict disciplined and was disowned by them from marrying a Mexican and to follow their rules and would be back to get him in 2 weeks. Malcolm never expected how crazy and tortuous they could be, you have to listen so you know what happens. Author is one very sick puppy with a vivid wild imagination but great with disgusting/twisted/repulsive writing. . Recommend to those who like offensive horror as well as his books Dr Sadist and Lovesick. I received a free review audiobook and voluntarily left this review Thank you

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Equal parts shocking, disturbing, crass, and crude

As advertised, this is a story chock full of disturbing material not appropriate for younger, or otherwise sensitive, readers. But for me it seemed aimed more toward disgust and shock value than true horror.

It is definitely true that the quality of the narrator will make or break an audiobook, and unfortunately that is one area where this book could have been a lot better.

In fairness, Harry Roger Williams III has a good array of voices, a number of which feel genuine. Unfortunately, the main character sounds about 11 rather than 16 and not one of the female voices is remotely believable.

The larger issue, though, is the narrator's tempo. His reading was extremely slow while also being clipped and full of random pauses that forced me to listen at double speed to even make it tolerable.

I'm afraid I might not be giving the story a fair rating, as the narrator did sour the experience somewhat.

However, let's start with what the story does well.

While generally sparse on details, the book gives a good sense of atmosphere and most of the characters behave consistently with their backgrounds, though I have to admit to some disbelief on the part of the main character.

Probably the main thing this book does exceedingly well is shock. Within a few minutes the events depicted enter into shocking territory and it rarely lets up throughout, all the way to the end.

Although sparse, the character development is strong. Each of the major characters (sans Claire, who we know literally nothing of) has a clearly defined personality and back story that, while unbelievable at times, is well formed and consistent.

That said, there are a number of problems here.

First, let's talk about point of view.
The author is clearly trying to write an omniscient POV story, but it reads like a third person limited narrative that does a lot of head hopping. It was a jarring read for that reason.

Inconsistent language.
I'm not talking about dialogue here, but narration. Large chunks of the narrative use proper (if not formal) language. Which is fine. But then there are occasional spurts of crass and crude language. That too would be fine, if it was consistent. The occasions don't seem to be related to POV, there are just random moments where crude words are used instead of more proper ones and it's jarring to read.

The "love" story.
Let me just get this out of the way. It's completely unbelievable. I'm sorry, but love at first sight does not exist. That's lust. The fact that the narrative draws a distinction and tries to convince me that two 16-year-olds who've known each other for less than 2 hours are beyond lust and actually in love doesn't just smack of nonsense. It feels like being blatantly lied to. I rolled my eyes so hard it hurt.

The torture/motivations.
I don't have a problem with torture scenes in books. I don't mind graphic violence. It doesn't offend me. However, I do need believable motivations. And while I can get behind a certain amount of what "Grandpa" does, it progresses to a point that defies belief without major signs of insanity. Similarly, I can get behind a certain amount of "Grandma's" actions as well. There is suitable explanation for a lot of it. However, she too progresses to a point that just doesn't work for me. Not with the stated motivations.

Depictions of pain.
These are, in the main, not the least bit believable. The descriptions are much too vague and too distant from the characters. There's nothing here that feels real, or visceral. And there's far too much coherent thought taking place with the amount of pain that should be involved.

Procedural.
Not all of this is a problem. Some of it is very realistic. But some of the police procedure details don't remotely resemble anything that would really happen.

Finally, the ending.
As always, I will endeavor to keep this spoiler-free.
I can definitely see ways this could have worked. Particularly since the author delves into other POVs anyway. But as it's written, the ending is practically the very epitome of Deus Ex Machina. There's no real explanation about how it comes out the way it does, nothing about how or why the situation occurs when it does. And even worse is that there are characters managing physical actions that there is no way they could achieve with the wounds they have suffered. Not without some serious drugs.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

This book packs a punch

I was able to listen to this book for free thanks to a code that I got from the author's newsletter. I have read some extreme horror before as well as one other book by Jon Athan so I was aware of what I was getting myself into.

At least, I thought I did.

I found myself audibly gasping during certain parts of this book and even putting my head in my hands as I realized just how bad things were going to get for the protagonist. I had to stop listening for stretches of time because of how anxious the story was making me but I always went back because I had to know what happened.

I really felt for Malcolm and I like that he wasn't necessarily a likeable character, at least at the beginning.

This book reminded me of The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum. I feel the same way about that book as I did about this one; it was great and I never want to read it again.

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Profile Image for Selina ryles
  • Selina ryles
  • 10-07-19

Not for the faint hearted - A brilliant read

When I started this book I hadnt realised it was by the same author as 'Lovesick' which I have only recently finished. I soon became aware of the link as this authors style is easily recognisable. He is fast becoming one of my favourite authors and I'm eager to sought more of his works . Growing up I loved reading books by richard laymon one of only a few other authors that would break the shock barriers. Of recent times I have found novels to be too predictable and safe, this book definitely doesn't fit within this category. It is certainly not for the fainthearted and contains some stomach churning moments that kept me gripped all the more . I was given this book by the author/narrator in return for an honest and unbiased review

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Elizabeth Frounks
  • Elizabeth Frounks
  • 09-30-19

Horrible and Shocking

If you like stories that leave you disgusted and feeling a little dirty, look no further. Torture techniques are used to 'fix' a trouble child and it is so much that I couldn't read it in one sitting. I was constantly thinking about the characters and it feels real to listen to it. The story feels well developed and the characters aren't simple in their motives, there is a lot to unpack, and I'm still trying to figure out what I want to say but this was something I did enjoy listening to. It is definitely an experience!

*I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Andrew Chapman
  • Andrew Chapman
  • 09-13-19

Unbelievable Violence and Perversion

This is a short and sick listen. If you are willing to suspend your disbelief to get beyond the few illogical plot flaws (a kid becoming so hungry he eats rotten chicken after being in solitary confinement for only a few hours) there is a lot to enjoy with this story. It is entertainingly written. The opening scene in the classroom is brilliant and the protagonist and his grandfather are well drawn characters.

The only thing I would change about the actual writing of the book is that characters are far too often "awed" by things. But that's a small issue really (especially considering the graphic content of the book).

It is violent to the extreme and sexual in a way that is so far removed from erotica it is utterly repulsive. I'm going to leave two words here that may or may not have any relation to the "erotic" element of this sory: grandma's bottom.

There we are. Read at your peral.

I was given this free review copy of this audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.