SPOOKY READS - The Grip of It by Jac Jemc
Jac Jemc released a horrifyingly creepy novel last year and I've been wanting to read it ever since. This month I finally got it from the library and dived in.
Julie and James are a married couple who come with their own baggage. James has a crippling gambling addiction and Julie can be a "yes" person and a control freak. To get James away from his triggers and try to start over, the young couple purchase a house in a small town. The house is big, slightly decrepit and sits between a forest and the ocean. They get the house for a steal. But right away odd things start happening - noises all night long, heavy breathing, and the couple keep finding mysterious hidden spaces. The town itself keeps very tight lipped about the history of the house.
Their neighbor is just as creepy. An old man that lives alone and spends a lot of time just watching them through the window. A mysterious stain appears on the wall, Julie starts waking up covered in bruises, and James is losing hours at a time.
The couple fight to fix their relationship, fix their house, and solve the mystery of what's really going on in this small town.
Jemc has created two beautiful and damaged characters with this book. They are so realistic and so relevant to this day and age. I could very easily relate to Julie and saw a lot of myself in her. While James has some problems, you still root for him as he makes mistake after mistake.
What Jemc has also done is create a story so terrifying and sly that you don't realize how much it has creeped under your skin until you put it down.
Each chapter jumps back and forth between James and Julie's POV. And as the chapters progress, the narrators became less and less reliable causing paranoia in your own self. As the house ramps up its haunting you feel haunted yourself.
The depictions of the haunting are so real and terrifying. One description particularly took me off guard as one of them awakes in the night to find bodies torn to shreds in their kitchen. The ever creeping bruises on Julie are so innocent yet horrifying and the forest moving ever closer creates such a sense of claustrophobia.
Overall, Jemc has pulled off a near perfect horror novel. It reminds me so much of the great classics like The Haunting of Hill House or The Woman in Black. But set in the modern day. I highly recommend this novel if you're looking for something chilling to bring you to the end of summer. Or something to put you in the mood for the spooky season.