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Publisher's Summary

Suburbia. Shady, tree-lined streets; well-tended lawns; and cozy homes. A nice, quiet place to grow up. Unless you are teenage Meg or her crippled sister, Susan.

On a dead-end street, in the dark, damp basement of the Chandler house, Meg and Susan are left captive to the savage whims and rages of a distant aunt who is rapidly descending into madness. It is a madness that infects all three of her sons and finally the entire neighborhood. Only one troubled boy stands hesitantly between Meg and Susan and their cruel, torturous deaths. A boy with a very adult decision to make....

©1989 Dallas Mayr (P)2016 Tantor

Critic Reviews

" The Girl Next Door is alive...it does not just promise terror but actually delivers it.... It's a page-turner." (Stephen King)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    350
  • 4 Stars
    216
  • 3 Stars
    81
  • 2 Stars
    32
  • 1 Stars
    45

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    384
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    179
  • 3 Stars
    54
  • 2 Stars
    21
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    25

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    188
  • 3 Stars
    91
  • 2 Stars
    24
  • 1 Stars
    53
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Truly disturbing.

I read this book on a whim. I chose it from some random Top 10 list on a random Web site. I am both pleased and truly disturbed. This story takes the childhood fears used to evoke emotions in IT and adds the twisted, soul burning torture caused by human failings and adult manipulation to bring us face to face with the possibility that we might all have been monsters.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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

A Horror To The Core

Before you pick up this book, you got to ask yourself, why you like horror. You need to know where you draw the line or do you have a line? If you have a line, I guarantee this will cross it. The first two hours read like a coming of age story, that could have been written by Ray Bradbury. I was sucked in and then slowly things start to happen. Unlike many other horror novels, it does not involve ghosts, aliens or something out of the woods or swamp. The monster is a mom and the victim is a child. As another reviewer mentions, just as you think it gets to its worse, it gets worse. I have never read anything as awful (five stars) as this. With a couple of hours left, I found myself wishing it was over. I hoped the book would end and the last two hours was a preview, added short story, author interview, anything but more torture. It did not end. Ketchum is a great writer which makes this even more terrific. With many horrors, you have that certainty that the story is made up, fake, impossible. Ketchum's realistic writing scares the hell out of me.

49 of 56 people found this review helpful

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

Beautiful and Disturbing Tribute to Sylvia Likens

What did you love best about The Girl Next Door?

I loved the perspective we are given as we see this girl going through hell. Instead of it coming from her perspective, it is from the perspective of a hesitant child being pressured into taking part in her torture.

What other book might you compare The Girl Next Door to and why?

It reminds me of Cannibal: The True Story of the Maneater of Rotenburg. Because although one is more true crime and the other more fiction, they both paint a fictionalized version of the situation around a certain person or character.

What does Jack Ketchum bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

He puts the perfect tone to everything, it gives the perfect atmosphere to the whole experience. No matter how bad it gets he doesn't let up on how he speaks and goes about the story.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

There actually is a film for this book. The tagline is "In this town, murder is the neighborhood game." But I'll come up with my own. "Say no to peer pressure."

Any additional comments?

This book is not completely fiction as some may believe. It is based on the Sylvia Likens case back in the late sixties. A young girl who was neglected, beaten, and tortured by a family she was given to to be taken care of. The story itself is fictionalized but based closely on the case and is very well done.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Kd
  • CLINTON, MS, United States
  • 02-04-17

Horrors that human do

This is a horror story with no supernatural foes just the all-too-human and frighteningly common human variety. This story is not for everyone AT ALL. And it is one that is hard to listen to and hard to turn away from. I almost missed an 8am doctor's appointment because I couldn't go to sleep while listening which resulted in me staying up all night. I listened to it nonstop until the end. I was both relieved and still unsettled when I finished the book. And maybe that's the point. Life is not easy. And for some people it's hell, absolute hell, literally, in every possible way. This book does too-good-a-job at reminding its listeners that we should stop looking for the boogey man in the form of a non-human, a supernatural being, an immortal monster, etc. and notice those monsters who look just like us, our neighbors, our families, our leaders.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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

Shocking..

I didn't want to like this audio but I did.. It was heartbreaking. It was well written and read. It goes into dark places that should never happen but it does. I have a daughter who is turning 15 in 2 days.. Know what Meg went through makes me want to protect my own daughter that much more. Beware, you'll probably be crying by the end..

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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

Sick

This book was hard to listen too. Scared me right out of bed and made me sick to finish it. I jumped from chapter 39 to 44 I could take the abusers details any more.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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

Difficult to rate

Because of subject matter. Very dark and definitely not a summer read. The book seems very familiar to me but, I cannot place it. It is well done although morbid. If I had known it was going to be so depressing, I would not have purchased it. Definitely something you cannot listen to on a speaker if you have people walking around. Actually will narrated considering it was the author doing the narration.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Greg
  • Woodbury, MN
  • 05-21-16

A slow burn: Dark and enjoyable

This book (loosely based on a true story) is very well pieced together and works on a few different levels. The writing is even paced and the characters make sense.

Like a horrific car accident seen in slow motion there is nuance to the way in which destruction occurs. This book revels in that deconstruction.

Not for everyone and even more chilling when you read the real life account.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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

i wonder too

went in looking for something dark and disturbing to keep my attention. I recieved that on top of great story and even greater characters. Ketchum captured the innocence and the idea of how a childs mind works wrapping it into a slow moving car accident (no pun intended) that is impossible to look away from. This book makes you feel gross, but you also leave with something greater than the obvious themes it is going for. Vaguely reminded me of 'the long walk' for indirect reasons i cant put my finger on, maybe its just the vibe and how it comes off(in a good way). 9 out of 10

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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

TRIGGER WARNING

Honestly, this book is kind of difficult to listen to, especially for those sensitive to psychological, physical and sexual abuse of children. Despite it all, I kept coming back because I wanted to follow the story. I ultimately wasn't able to finish the book, and I can't say I enjoyed it, but its definitely compelling.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mrs T Harris
  • 11-20-17

Harrowing

This book was a page turner indeed. But at the same time so disturbing I didn’t want to hear anymore but like the characters I couldn’t resist to see what was going to happen next. I found my self thinking about what was happening I. The story while doing chores even when I was painting my kitchen! Couldn’t get it out of my head

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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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 07-30-18

I am in tears after this book.

A book that will haunt you for a long time. Very upsetting. It was really difficult to finish.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 09-18-17

Not for the faint hearted

Truly heart breaking especially when you find out the story is based on true events

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Liam
  • 04-11-17

Horror?

While The Girl Next Door certainly deals with a truly horrific subject matter, to simply label it and file it neatly under the heading Horror would be an injustice.

While the book is unrelentingly horrific in deed and subject matter, the deeper point for me as a reader, that pushes it out of the realms of pure horror, is the challenge it offers.

Some reviewers have talked about dangers of peer pressure as the key theme. I feel that that does not go to the heart of the message. For me, Ketchum's almost matter-of-fact and sometimes even dry relating of the facts, pushes the question of responsibility not only onto those who took part, but also on those who failed to act. This by extension includes the reader himself. This challenge is poses might well be summed up by a quote attributed to Edmund Burke :"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • mandy
  • 04-19-17

far fetched

liked this book till half way through, found it got to far fetched for me cant really say why without spoiling it

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Attila
  • 05-13-18

Very sad story

At times it gets nearly as gruesome as Saw. The true horror however comes from reminding yourself its based on a true story while you listen to the situation get worse and worse. Not recommended for the faint hearted.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Librariasaurus
  • 03-08-18

This did not sit well

I struggle with this one. It is disturbing. More so because it is based on a true story. The writing wasn't overly masterful but the content keeps you coming back in a weird perverted way.