• The Girl Next Door

  • By: Jack Ketchum
  • Narrated by: Jack Ketchum
  • Length: 7 hrs and 13 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (1,624 ratings)

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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 listeners say about The Girl Next Door

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    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.

67 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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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.

32 people found this helpful

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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.

31 people found this helpful

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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.

18 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Unjustified child torture porn with a narrator click clacking something in his mouth

Do you like a detailed description of children being beaten? How about detailed descriptions of their nipples and panties? Young boys talking about naked women? Little girls beaten bloody for no reason with no savior? How about a narrator constantly clicking and clacking like he has a hard candy in his mouth? If you love all these things I have GREAT NEWS for you. If not, don’t waste your credit like I did

16 people found this helpful

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This is child torture porn for pedophiles.

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Sadistic pedophiles.

Has The Girl Next Door turned you off from other books in this genre?

I don't understand what this "genre" is.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Jack Ketchum?

Jerrod from Subway?

What character would you cut from The Girl Next Door?

All of them except for the victims.

Any additional comments?

I don't understand who this book appeals to except for perhaps a bunch of pedophiles who get off of reading about little girls getting stripped naked and beaten. I don't know if there were ever physically raped in the sense of actual penetration because I had to stop in the middle of the book. However, at least Meg was violated in every way that I can think of.

This is seriously the most disgusting thing I've ever read or listened to. If you took Mommy Dearest and had it written by a sick, pedophile sex offender, then I think this would be close to the end result. The non-stop abuse, at least a bit past the midway point where I stopped listening, was overly graphic and perverse. The fact that all of these kids seemed to be pulled so easily into the most extreme sadistic behavior indicates to me that the author of this book is quite mentally ill. Not in the "twisted" dark imagination that you would use to describe King, or Koontz, but in a way that a sexual predator would think. Anyone, even in fiction, that would think that a group of little boys would so easily and anxiously participate in the torture and sexual about of another child has no understanding of real children. If he had confined this to one single abuser then sure, but four or five that are all brothers and neighbors?

I am by no means a prude. I am extremely liberal when it comes to literature and its darkest forms. I can not fathom what anyone was thinking when they published a piece of child porn trash like this. Like making of point having to be very descriptive of little boys pulling down the panties of a little girl and watching, with delight, as their mother whipped her with a belt. Or the lengthy and detailed description of an early teen's naked breasts and pubic area.

Again, I get those authors who write horror go to dark places sometimes for their stories, but this was just... This is just child torture porn. Plain and simple.

This is a story that one would expect to find available on the Dark Web, not Amazon.

I wish that I had my money back only for the fact that I shudder at that thought of helping fund the existence of an author who I honestly suspect, possesses the mentality of a sexual predator. That's a harsh thing to say, I know, but unless he's interviewed convicted pedophiles or other sexual predators, it must have been born in his own imagination.

And I find that idea to be more disturbing than the book.

12 people found this helpful

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A LOT of wet mouth and throat noises

i have never been so grossed out by the sounds of a narrator! gross. really gross

10 people found this helpful

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  • Kd
  • 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.

10 people found this helpful

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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..

8 people found this helpful

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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 well narrated considering it was the author doing the narration.

8 people found this helpful

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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

6 people found this helpful

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  • 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."

4 people found this helpful

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  • Sad Sack
  • 07-31-20

Not for faint-hearted

This is a wonderful novel with depth and high interest. Well read by the author.

But it is brutal. Definitely look for a review/synopsis first and decide if it’s for you. The descriptions are graphic and painful to hear.

2 people found this helpful

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  • D
  • 03-19-20

Thrilling

My favourite book I have read this year. But I never want to read it again.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Angelique
  • 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.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Frankie G
  • 10-14-20

disturbing

I absolutely loved it but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't horrible, the more I read the worse it got but the more I was engrossed.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mrs F
  • 10-12-20

This book

This resembles the true crime story of Sylvia Likens and her sister, in fact , I am 100 percent certain that just a subtle few changes made it a work of fiction .

Tragic and scary and worse still, a true story bar nothing

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Sam
  • 10-08-20

Disturbing look into the pain of the abused.

Shocking, disturbing, compelling and completely engrossing. to imagine the pain that the abused suffer. very nearly brought me to tears.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mr Grady
  • 08-02-20

Harrowing and devastating but well worth a listen

A study in what the absence of good does to a person and the community as a whole. The titular girl is an astonishingly courageous character. She is the very best of us.

1 person found this helpful

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  • A Prince Tavira
  • 04-11-20

A harrowing glimpse at abuse

An important but upsetting listen. It shows the depth of human cruelty and those who shape it. Will definitely longer with fears and questions for any listener, but an accomplished portrayal based on true crime.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amanda
  • 01-26-22

Heart wrenching

I knew this story would hurt, but it went beyond just hurting. There were parts I struggled to get through, especially knowing it is based on the true story of Sylvia Lykens, that a lot of the horrible things really happened to this poor girl. But I did get through it, and it will stay with me forever, as has Sylvias story. However I couldn’t give the story five stars, how can a story like this be called good. It is a good book but the story is painful.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-15-21

Grotesque

This book is well written and narrated but the subject matter (the true origins)is so gruesome that it doesn’t justify a fictional based story.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-07-21

This will tear your soul out

How can someone become so evil?

A terrifying tale that will leave you sick, scarring your minds eye.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ronnie Smart
  • 12-04-19

A must read.

This is an excellent novel, and it is read wonderfully by the author. The characterization and setting are richly drawn, and entirely believable. The novel is disturbing and violent, but it has depth and humanity within it.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • 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.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • 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.

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