The Grip of It (2017) – Jac Jemc

I threw a google search into the system lately for best haunted house books, and scariest books and garnered a nice list of novels I would be keen to read, The Grip of It falls into the haunted house category and it’s a solid, and quick read.

With a story that gets under your skin and creeps you out, we join James and Julie a couple that are trying to stay connected, to be together in their relationship, and in an attempt to do so leave the troubles of the city behind for a nearby small town, and a strange house that in typical cliche fashion is incredibly affordable, and hasn’t sold.

Things are immediately unsettling as the house has a plethora of hidden rooms, passages, and hideaways, almost impossibly fitting into their new home. There are glimpses and hints of something even as strange stains and child-like scrawls and figures appear on the walls, and unusual bruises appear on Julie’s body.

As the couple’s relationship decays, almost in sync with the happenings in the house, the pair begin to keep things from one another, not sharing strange moments, impressions, thoughts or feelings. They no longer connect, and begin to imagine that the other isn’t what they appear.

Add to that a strangely gruff neighbor, who won’t stop watching them, strange children playing amongst the trees of the property and stories alpenty about the old house it’s enough to keep the reader on edge.

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The narrative bounces between James and Julie, allowing the reader to experience their subjective reality, and even as spooky things occur, it’s also troubling when their perceptions don’t always jibe.

It’s a very enjoyable read, that I knocked out of the way in less than a day, and was completely unable to put down. I loved the way Jemc tells the story, relating strange occurrences in an almost offhand way which makes them all the more shocking.

And I love that other options are given as reasons. There are possibilities that maybe its not real, but not everything fits into the rational explanation box (at least not without a little forcing).

The story is engaging, and the characters of James and Julie are relatable and realistic, making the strange haunting(?) that much more frightening.

I highly enjoyed this one, and happily recommend it to anyone looking for something a little different, and one that will creep you out, get under your skin, and stay with you even after you’ve turned the last page. Will James and Julie make it? What’s really going on? And what secrets lurk in the strange house?

What are some of your favorite haunted house or scary books? I’m always looking for something I’ve never heard of, and will creep me out.

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