I have read two great haunted house novels this year. The Grip of It is one of them. (Without consulting my reviews, can anyone tell me what the other is? If you get it right, there isn’t a prize . . . except my undying love and admiration.) A dazzling, poetic, and challenging work, this is a literary masterpiece that deserves to sit on the shelves with the classics.
James and Julian have stumbled across a large, beautiful house for an excellent price — and they take it. The house gives them the change their marriage needs. But this house isn’t right. Impossible rooms and corners and corridors exist . . . and there are ghosts in the trees . . . and just who is that strange old neighbor who keeps staring out his windows at the couple?
Jac Jemc deals in dread. This is a novel of quiet, mounting terror — the scares don’t come from onscreen horror, but the anticipation of the horror. Jemc keeps her cards close to her chest and knows how to dole out just the right amount for maximum effect. And for me, as a reader, that works best. I don’t like to be shown. I don’t like for the author to hold my hand. I have a working and vivid imagination, and the scares it can conjure up are more effective than anything Jemc could have written. You see, this novel doesn’t give answers. If you like your haunted house novels to end with everything wrapped up nicely, you’d better move along. The Grip of It is a puzzle, and I suspect I will get even more out of it upon rereading.
A grim and despairing novels of haunts and a dissolving marriage, this thing pushed all my buttons. If you like to be teased and challenged by your scary fiction, give this a go. As for me, I will be checking out this author’s past novels as soon as possible.