The Grip of It by Jac Jemc (um, can we talk about this author’s BA name for a second?) was another horror novel that came in my August Nocturnal Reader’s Box. I was excited to read this one, because the synopsis made it seem like a solid haunted house story. Since I’d never read one of those, I was eager to see what it would bring to the table.
A chilling literary horror novel about a young couple who purchase and live in a haunted house. Jac Jemc’s The Grip of It tells the eerie story of a young couple haunted by their new home.
Julie and James settle into a house in a small town outside the city where they met. The move—prompted by James’s penchant for gambling, his inability to keep his impulses in check—is quick and seamless; both Julie and James are happy to leave behind their usual haunts and start afresh. But this house, which sits between ocean and forest, has plans for the unsuspecting couple. As Julie and James try to settle into their home and their relationship, the house and its surrounding terrain become the locus of increasingly strange happenings. The architecture—claustrophobic, riddled with hidden rooms within rooms—becomes unrecognizable, decaying before their eyes. Stains are animated on the wall—contracting, expanding—and map themselves onto Julie’s body in the form of bruises; mold spores taint the water that James pours from the sink. Together the couple embark on a panicked search for the source of their mutual torment, a journey that mires them in the history of their peculiar neighbors and the mysterious residents who lived in the house before Julia and James.
Written in creepy, potent prose, The Grip of It is an enthralling, psychologically intense novel that deals in questions of home: how we make it and how it in turn makes us, mapping itself onto bodies and the relationships we cherish.
a haunted house, a mysterious neighbor, and a past that needs to be unravelled
This story revolves around a couple who has moved into a home that is much more than they bargained for. As the eerie happenings unfurl, the couple is left questioning their own sanity as well as their partner’s. The emotional and physical stress of the home ultimately threaten to tear the couple apart.
This horror novel explores a more emotional side to horror than other similar stories tend to. I quite enjoyed that aspect of it, especially since the story is narrated alternately by the husband and wife. As a reader, you’re wrapped into their emotions and you’re left wondering what is real and what is simply imagined.
As you read this book, you feel like you’re watching a movie. A lot of the creepy features you experience are those that are used in horror films today, and it makes for a familiarly scary read. There are a ton of scenes that left me feeling quite unsettled, and when I read horror, that’s exactly what I hope for.
My only complaint is that the last quarter of the book (or so) got a little convoluted. Things got a bit confusing, and there were a few too many questions that I felt were inadequately answered. When everything came to a close, things were just a tad bit too open-ended for my taste.
Read this one if you enjoy fun haunted house stories. Bonus: it’s a quick read!
Have you read a haunted house story before? Would you recommend it?