The Grip of It by Jac Jemc *Review*

Thank you so much FSG Originals for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!  A quick read, The Grip of It, delivers spooky events and an ending that makes you question everything.  I had high hopes for this story, but unfortunately I walked away slightly underwhelmed.  I rate this 3 out of 5 stars.

Goodreads Synopsis

A chilling literary horror novel about a young couple who purchase and live in a haunted house. Jac Jemc’s The Grip of Ittells 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.

My Experience

This story had some great moments of classic haunted house story spookiness.  The strange incidents happening to James and Julie became increasingly weird as the book went on.  What were those drawings?  The weird passageways? Who is this old man? Was that a ghost?  As the reader we are left wondering whether the characters were actually going crazy or if the house was genuinely haunted.  I also enjoyed that the book was short so the story was easy to get through in a few hours.

The writing style however was not for me.  There were long winded paragraphs where characters thoughts would go on for lines at a time and not help further the story in any way.  The run on sentences were more of a distraction than anything.  There were also no emotions or descriptions in the writing either.  Some people might love this type of writing, straight forward and disconnected. For me, I like to know the details of everything and the emotions to be able to paint a picture and feel how the characters feel.  Too often I was confused from chapter to chapter on whose point of view I was reading.  James and Julie had no personality difference and it made me not connect to these characters in any way.  They also acted in a way that when weird things would happen nothing came of it, as if “oh this just happened” “oh well”.  I understand this was probably meant to make the story be ambiguous.  To me there were just too many questions left unanswered and loose ends not wrapped up that it was more of a “what was the point of what I just read?”, rather then “I think they were crazy/the house was haunted and heres why..”.

Overall, The Grip of It did not grip me in the way I was hoping it would.  It was definitely worth the read, especially because it’s currently October and who doesn’t love some creepy haunted house vibes.  Since it was very PG on the horror it’s a great read for those who don’t want to be scared too much but still want to enjoy a quick haunted house story!

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