Ania Ahlborn’s Brother astounds in limited Suntup Editions, and both the visceral, chilling work of horror and the incredible physical manifestation of the book from Suntup are reviewed here.
A short summation of the book review of Brother is that it is a brilliant novel and work of art.
And Suntup Editions crafted it into palpable art for book lovers to grasp in-hand.
Few tales really grab you, wringing your stomach repeatedly, like Brother does.
Here is the story synopsis as seen on Suntup Editions’ website, Suntup.press, and the review continues below:
Brother is the terrifying tale of a family’s disturbing traditions, and of one brother’s determination to break free from all he has ever known. In a crooked farmhouse off the beaten path and miles away from civilization live the Morrows. A band of eccentric recluses, the family keeps to themselves so as not to be questioned by local police when girls go missing from the side of the highway. But nineteen-year-old Michael Morrow is different. He derives no pleasure in the screams that echo through the trees.
Michael pines for a life of normalcy and to see a world beyond that of West Virginia. In the nearby town of Dahlia, Michael meets Alice, a pretty girl working at a record shop. He is immediately smitten, but his family is all too eager to remind him of the monster he is.
Hailed by critics as “impossible to put down,” Ahlborn delivers all the guilt, guts, and gore of family drama as Michael fights to attain the life he longs for. [credit: Suntup.press]
Both the story itself and the hardcover books are inspired.
From the opening screams, and the lack of surprise at those screams, Brother has you.
Ania Ahlborn’s Brother transcends all kinds of fiction genre labels, as horror, suspense, psychological thriller, and gore converge, and that is part of what makes this work so damn good.
Ahlborn seizes on the psyche of nineteen-year-old protagonist, Michael Morrow, to tell her bone-chilling tale, and he is utterly compelling.
Michael is a walking dichotomy: he is both full of dread and hope, seemingly gold of heart and yet a part of humanity at its most hideous; his brother Reb takes jabs at Michael being slow in the uptake throughout the book and yet Michael shows signs of swift insightfulness; he is a romantic at heart and extremely naïve, despite seeing atrocities the likes of which few can imagine in their nightmares and the self-hatred he has for being a part of them.
The setting is the 1980’s in the rural wooded country of West Virginia, and the fervent characters that live there are primarily seen from the point of view of Michael Morrow.
And seeing through that lens makes for an endlessly intriguing, albeit disturbing, voyage.
You only have to start the book to find yourself jumping at the sound of Mama’s voice.
Michael is woken to the sounds of a young woman in distress, but what is immediately striking is that it is the sound that it is alarming to him.
He abhors the sound, but he is also so familiar with it that he is numb to the frantic plea.
The gravity of the future murder is there, and he is upset but oddly removed from her, even as he feels for the young woman’s plight.
Michael more bemoans the fact that he needs to be ready to rise from his bed in the middle of the night and do Mama Morrow’s bidding.
When the young woman gets loose and flees through the trees, trying desperately to escape, you cannot help to get out of breath yourself as the vivid view from under the trees and the inner monologue of Michael draw you in.
He is the fastest runner among the Morrows, and so he must do as his adopted family commands: catch the girl so Mama can have her way with the young woman before she is literally butchered so the Morrows can make steaks and other things from her.
Michael does not want to be a part of it.
But he is so frightened of what Mama will do if he does not comply, he cannot see that he has any option but to obey.
He cleans up afterward and slices up and stores the cuts of meat.
It is as it has always been at his adopted family’s farmhouse.
The Morrows saved him from an abandoned home, and he was put into the keeping of his older brother who likes to be called Rebel, or Reb.
Reb has bullied Michael for so long, incessantly, that the reader jumps whenever Reb looks Michael’s way or says anything.
The brother terrifies him to the point of paranoia that is justified and the verbal abuse is truly just the smallest glimpse into the wickedness that the eldest son of the longtime cannibalistic family, the Morrows, brings to the story.
As Michael’s brother mixes truths and lies and starts to take his little brother to meet girls – not to scout for more victims, but to get them both dates – the horror of a twisting narrative full of insanely painful and blood-spattered experiences warps the psychological reality of a young man yearning for normalcy.
One microcosm of beauty from this story comes as a girl that Michael likes lends him a record of The Cure from the store she works at, and when he listens to it his entire soul erupts in happiness and his mind opens as it has never done before.
And then things go horribly, horribly wrong as his sister begins to dance and loses control.
*SPOILERS END HERE*
The grit in the writing is so real your hands feel scraped as you put the book down.
To take such a narrative to ever-increasing emotional highs and lows over the course of a detailed terrain, a world built to entrap the reader in its dangerous twists, is sensational.
This book is not for those who are squeamish at the sight of blood, and be warned you may find yourself choked up, nauseous, cheering, and crying all within a short span while reading.
For fiction fans, and in particular horror fans, you may have a new favorite book and author on your hands.
Brother feels as though it really happened, and that scares the hell out of me.
There is no escape from one’s brother . . . Or is there? But the cost . . .
Suntup Editions Numbered State Of Brother Is One Of The Closest Examples Of A Physical Book Possessed By A Story
While I am sure the Suntup Editions lettered edition of Brother by Ania Ahlborn is also a fantastic work of art that emanates the dark tale, this review now shifts its focus to the fine press signed and numbered state.
What Paul Suntup has conjured for Brother is nothing short of remarkable.
The cover is like a fine cigar wrapper, smooth and yet full of a crinkly texture and its colors of brown and black produce a one of a kind effect for each book.
I have never held anything like this book in my hand!
The cover boards were constructed by Andrea Peterson, and each is formed via a custom handmade Walnut rag cotton paper has been coated with black walnut dye from the trees of the print artist’s own homestead.
Some softening and shellac seal the walnut and then standing bright amongst the deep tones are the title and author’s name in two hits of foil stamping.
I treasure this book.
The slipcase is heavy, hard, like acacia hardwood, and not only protects but beautifully represents the toughness from the work it encompasses.
Moving to within the pages, the endsheets are Hahnemühle Bugra and have a great feel to the palm and the paper is off-white and also excellent in the hand.
On top of the finest book design a fine press can deliver – from the chapter headings to the font and all of it – Brother features six full-color illustrations by World Fantasy Award winner Samuel Araya.
And these images conjure up a surrealistic quality that is unique and combines the weird beauty with the horrific intensity of Brother.
I cannot understate two things here:
The cover alone seems to project the novel within and is a special rare book collectors will pine over.
Two: because Suntup Editions decided to give a great book that had only previously been available in paperback a hardback en masse there were 500 copies made and signed of the numbered state of Brother and amazingly enough, because most of Suntup’s numbered books are limited to 250 or less, there are a few copies still available for sale here: https://suntup.press/brother.
Since nearly all of Suntup’s books have sold out, and most do at the hour of pre-sale (the last in less than three minutes), this fantastic edition of Brother is an anomaly ripe for the taking.
The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read BROTHER! And if you can read the Suntup Editions numbered state)
Here is an unboxing video done by our local professional unboxer Jeff Terry if you want to get a feel for what it is like to open up A Suntup Editions box and behold Brother in HD video:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Born in Ciechanow Poland, Ania Ahlborn has always been drawn to the darker, mysterious, and morbid side of life. Her earliest childhood memory is of crawling through a hole in the chain link fence that separated her family home from a large wooded cemetery, where she’d spend hours among the headstones, breaking up bouquets of silk flowers so everyone had their equal share.
Ania’s first novel, Seed, was self-published. It clawed its way up the Amazon charts to the number one horror spot, earning her a multi-book deal and a key to the kingdom of the macabre. Eight years later, she has published ten titles. Her work has been lauded by the likes of Publishers Weekly, New York Daily News, and The New York Times. [credit: Suntup.press]
Illustration © 2019 by Samuel Araya. Brother Limited Editions © 2019 by Suntup Editions*. Brother © 2015 by Ania Ahlborn. Limited edition photography by Paul Michael Kane as credited in captions; the unboxing video is by Jeff Terry; the remaining photography is by R.J. Huneke. Read more about The Contributors to the review article here. *[BROTHER Suntup Editions First Edition Release Date: January 2020; the novel Brother was originally published in paperback in 2015.]
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“Ania Ahlborn’s Brother Astounds In Limited Suntup Editions” was written by R.J. Huneke for The Forgotten Fiction.