When in a haunted house…

18096151_1683294305017574_44884077267491225.jpg Yes, this is a photo of a corner in my house. No, it’s not haunted. At least, not as far as I know….

  33866519.jpg     Title: The Grip of It

Writer : Jac Jemc

Publisher: FSG Originals

Publication Date: August 1st 2017

Rating: 5 stars

 “But what if those buried, fetid stories are the ones that have bubbled to the surface? What if they’re right there, balanced on the edge of our teeth, ready to trip into the world without even our permission?”

And what if you have practically no idea what the bloody Hell you’re actually reading, curled up in your sofa, and yet you cannot help being hypnotized chapter after chapter? Because this is what happened with “The Grip Of It”. This book does grip you and leave you wondering and when you reach the last page, you’re still uncertain but you know you’ve enjoyed the journey. This is how I felt about the novel that kicked off my Halloween reads.

James and Julie are our protagonists. A young couple that decides to leave the big city and start a new life in a small town and a new house. They want to mend certain unhappy choices of the past and look to a cleaner, more innocent future. Their house, however, is anything but innocent. It seems alive, inhospitable. So far, there is nothing groundbreaking in the plot, the virtue of this novel isn’t its originality but its powerful writing. This book is like a good ghost film that we watch again and again, always closing our eyes, hiding behind a pillow when confronting the same jumpscares we have come to know by heart.

After a striking Prologue, we enter the heart of the action right away. The narration is told in both James’ and Julie’s points of view, in Present tense, like a voice -over. The chapters are like snippets from the couple’s life in the house. The foreboding images are plenty. There is the constant presence of woods and waves, the earth and the water elements, both risky, symbolic and powerful. Voices of happy children can be heard, but they’re not seen. Ever. In fact, the town seems almost deserted and the few residents admit that there is something amiss but are unwilling to get involved. The forest surrounding the house seems to move closer, somehow. There is a constant humming noise, there are cracks, drawings on the walls appearing out of nowhere and an old, weird neighbour who may be an intruder.

James and Julie are very sympathetic characters, flowed and realistic. The phenomena largely affect Julie, as is often the case in supernatural occurrences where it seems that the female characters are more susceptible to the presence from the world beyond our own. I can’t begin to tell you how sorry I felt for her and I believe James was a fine equivalent to her strength, no matter his flaws. And there were many. Connie, on the other hand, is insufferable. A nosy hysterical who pretends to be interested in Julie’s welfare. Why does every mystery seem to need an irritating, prying,  busybody? I think we’d be much better without their ghastly presence.

I can’t say more and I fear I’ve already said too much. What is so engaging, even frightening if you like, is the psychological effect of the haunting. The book passes beyond the supernatural thriller and becomes a psychological observation. Yes, at certain times, it becomes a bit repetitive and unnecessarily wordy, but overall it is a very satisfying effort. In my opinion, this is everything “The Upstairs Room” wasn’t….

‘Till next time!