Release Date: 9/2/2011
What can I say about Kelli Owen? She's a short, spunky thriller/horror author with opinions, according to her Twitter account, but she's more than that. She's also a cute, quirky, amazingly intuitive gypsy with the heart of a 12 year old girl... and I don't just mean in a jar on her desk! Kelli is a phenomenal writer, with years of experience that show through with crystal clarity in the way she weaves her tales. She has said herself that she's not a horror writer, but a writer who employs horrific elements in her work. I've read some of her other stuff including her debut novel, Six Days, Waiting Out Winter (Also available in ebook format), which was my first exposure to her work, as well as pieces of hers in Shroud and Dark Faith. One of Kelli's greatest skills as a writer is setting the scene - breathing life into an atmosphere so deep and all encompassing that you can smell the dirt, feel the breeze, and hear the whispers all around you. The Neighborhood is certainly no exception. In it, Kelli Owen imagines a world in small town Neillsville - a town that's striking in its familiarity and haunting in its subtle brutality. It is a town like many others, filled with the sort of characters one would expect - The bus driver, the busybody neighbors, the kindly old lady, mothers and fathers and teens and children, all of whom are seemlessly woven together in the fabric of an altogether captivating - and absolutely horrifying - story. The Neighborhood is a bit of a departure for Kelli - it is a lot scarier and in a sense more terrifying because it hits so close to home. Who among us hasn't experienced the overactive imagination of a child in one way or another and wondered, even if just for a moment, if maybe it weren't just imagination?
My strongest criticism of The Neighborhood is that there simply wasn't enough of it. I kept feeling like the characters weren't done telling their story and that the 105 pages in which it was told just didn't do them justice. It definitely left me craving more... and wondering where John got the fingertip...
In short, The Neighborhood is a great, if quick, read. I'd highly reccomend to anyone who likes things dark, unsettling, and maybe just a little too close to home for comfort to pick up a copy. And while you're at it, check out Kelli's other works. She's sure to become one of your favorites. Mark my words, kiddos - Kelli Owen is going places.
I give The Neighborhood 3.5 sparkly purple severed fingers out of 5.