Review: Palmetto by Ania Ahlborn

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Unavailable but here is a link to other Ania Ahlborn books: Amazon


Kim Devland nearly has it all. A great marriage. A baby on the way. All that’s missing is a house–one idyllic enough to fill the Norman Rockwell-shaped spaces in her mind. So when Kim’s husband, Eddie, books a property tour of a home Kim has been eyeing online, it’s love at first sight.
Far too expensive for them to afford, Kim and Eddie, make an offer anyway…and score the deal of a lifetime.
The house is suddenly theirs, and Kim sees it as destiny.
The house is where they’re supposed to raise their baby, joyful and free and full of nothing but the best memories. But homes–especially the perfect ones–are never what they seem. Before Kim and Eddie are even moved in, something begins to squirm beneath Kim’s skin.
Something portentous. A warning. Don’t buy this house.
But she ignores her misgivings.
As if sensing its mother’s foreboding, the baby begins to squirm beneath Kim’s skin as well. Twisting. Writing. But Kim ignores that too.
Blinded by the idea of storybook happiness, Kim barrels headlong into a dream that quickly proves to be anything but and unwittingly seals her family’s diabolical fate.

Paying homage to Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby, Ahlborn’s Palmetto takes the classic story of wanting it all and asks: how much would you sacrifice to have what you desire? And, watching your dream become a waking nightmare, how loud would you scream?


Palmetto is the second limited edition book from Thunderstorm Books that is an exclusive through the Night Worms subscription box. I was not family with Ania Ahiborn or her work, but I did love the beautiful red cover and the short length. 

The story is new house horror. Kim and her husband Eddie are expecting a new baby. This means that their current dwellings are too small for their expanding family. Even though this house is seventy-five thousand dollars above their budget, Kim and Eddie decide to do some window shopping. While there, Kim opens the master bedroom, sees an old woman in the corner of the dark room, and the woman says that they should just try to get the house, that you have to sacrifice for what you want.

The sacrifice is that the house is invaded by flying cockroaches. Palmetto bugs start appearing and Kim becomes obsessed with trying to get rid of them. Bugs and cockroaches do not creep me out as much as Kim, who throws up more than once when she finds bits and pieces of palmettos in various parts of the kitchen. I gave her the benefit of the doubt when she was pregnant, because pregnancy gives you some unexpected triggers, but it does not lessen once the baby is born. This obsession becomes detrimental to Kim’s relationships with her husband and child, and eventually things fall completely apart. 

I don’t think the execution of this novella is very good. It leaves more questions than answers, and though sometimes this is great in a work of fiction, in this case it does not make sense. I know that this is a limited edition, and it is not readily available to readers, but this does not sell me on reading more of her novels. 

*The Big Spoiler Part*

Most of the reason why this does not work for me is because there is no real conclusion. At some points in the story, Kim wonders if Eddie even sees the cockroaches, and if she is imagining all of these things, including the woman who was there at the house showing. Kim is not convinced that she is even real. In the end, there is no inkling either way to a conclusion on this. If Eddie would have come home and found the palmettos everywhere or nowhere at all, it would have gone far to conclude the tone of the story. As it is, there are no answers. A return of the woman at the very end would have done wonders as well. She was the one who mentioned that there will be sacrifice, so she should have come back to receive it. At the end of the novella, I felt more irritated than satisfied.

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