Book review by Ren Zelen
Amazon is trying its hand at the movie business. Two-year-old Amazon Studios has optioned its first horror movie, buying the film rights to an e-book, the Southern gothic thriller, “Seed,” by Ania Ahlborn.
Released in 2011 as a self-published title, “Seed” reached the top of Amazon’s bestselling horror list by ‘nothing more than word-of-mouth’, according to Amazon spokespersons. The horror novel was re-released in 2012 after Ahlborn restructured particular plot points with the help of input from fans and added another 6,000 words to the manuscript.
The news of Amazon buying the film rights broke as, coincidentally, I was about halfway through reading the e-book. I can understand why Amazon decided to pick-up this particular story. It lends itself to the visual image, exuding a seedy, oppressive, Southern Gothic ambience, and offering an ideal opportunity to create a particular nasty and memorable demonic entity and a possessed child. Ahlborn has a kind of proto-Stephen-King, descriptive writing style (and we all know how often that has attracted movie-makers, though with mixed results). I consider King to be a master storyteller, a deft spinner of compelling yarns, and like King, Ahlborn ensures that her characters are developed enough so that we can engage with them and become involved in the drama of their situation.
The story of‘Seed’ concerns Jack Winter, who had disorienting childhood encounters with a particularly tenacious and vicious demon and has spent his life running from it. Years later, he thinks that he is safe, until a car accident reveals that the demon has tracked him down. But this time, it doesn’t just want him. It wants his youngest daughter, Charlie.
The concept of a demon travelling through the bloodlines of a family is fairly original. The pacing of the novel is well done, building gradually but relentlessly to a disturbing climax. The author does keep you hooked and wondering how the story might resolve itself.
There as aspects of the book that give it away as a self-published debut. Ahlborn tends to rely on basic similes for descriptive passages – something is too often‘like’ something else. She doesn’t always check her facts. For instance, she talks about a picture of a man standing next to a B-52’s propellers (B-52’s are jets). She also makes reference to the child Charlie singing Cheap Trick’s“Cherry Pie” into her hairbrush (I believe the song was done by Warrant). To be taken seriously as a writer it’s important to have a way with words and descriptions but it also helps to take a few moments to do your research. Perhaps due to the ‘padding out’ aspect of the re-published story, it appears that a large part of the backstory is summarized by one minor character who is inserted into the story and apparently exists for no other reason than to provide us with this service.
Despite these niggles, as a retelling of the old ‘demon-child’ theme, it is a good yarn and is told in a compelling manner with dark undertones. I enjoyed reading it. Most pertinently, I thought it delivered a couple of ominous messages for all parents: chances are, no matter how we run, the past will repeat itself in our kids—for better or worse. It also examines a situation sadly not unknown in our world, one where parents begin to fear their own children.
I will look forward to the movie, if done properly it could be rather excellent. Unpolished it may be as yet, but Ania Ahlbourn has a gift for storytelling and I await her upcoming second novel (The Neighbours) with anticipation.
R. H. Zelen (website | Twitter) is a writer of the sci-fi ‘Hathor Diaries’ (now on Kindle) web serial ‘Pitchfork Red’ & short stories. Literature post-grad, enthusiast of music, movies & science.
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