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The Grip of It: A Novel

The Grip of It: A Novel

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The Grip of It: A Novel

valoraciones:
3.5/5 (40 valoraciones)
Longitud:
254 página
3 horas
Publicado:
Aug 1, 2017
ISBN:
9780374716073
Formato:
Libro

Descripción

Finalist for the Chicago Review of Books Fiction Award, Dan Chaon's Best of 2017 pick in Publishers Weekly, one of Vol. 1 Brooklyn's Best Books of 2017, a BOMB Magazine "Looking Back on 2017: Literature" Pick, and one of Vulture's 10 Best Thriller Books of 2017.

Jac Jemc's The Grip of It is a chilling literary horror novel about a young couple haunted by their newly purchased home

Touring their prospective suburban home, Julie and James are stopped by a noise. Deep and vibrating, like throat singing. Ancient, husky, and rasping, but underwater. “That’s just the house settling,” the real estate agent assures them with a smile. He is wrong.

The move—prompted by James’s penchant for gambling and his general inability to keep his impulses in check—is quick and seamless; both Julie and James are happy to start afresh. But this house, which sits between a lake and a forest, has its own plans for the unsuspecting couple. As Julie and James try to establish a sense of normalcy, the home and its surrounding terrain become the locus of increasingly strange happenings. The framework— 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 painful, grisly bruises.

Like the house that torments the troubled married couple living within its walls, The Grip of It oozes with palpable terror and skin-prickling dread. Its architect, Jac Jemc, meticulously traces Julie and James’s unsettling journey through the depths of their new home as they fight to free themselves from its crushing grip.

Publicado:
Aug 1, 2017
ISBN:
9780374716073
Formato:
Libro

Sobre el autor

Jac Jemc is the author of My Only Wife, a finalist for the 2013 PEN / Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction and winner of the Paula Anderson Book Award, and A Different Bed Every Time. She has been the recipient of two Illinois Arts Council Professional Development Grants, and in 2014 was named one of 25 Writers to Watch by the Guild Literary Complex and one of Newcity’s Lit 50 in Chicago. She recently completed a stint as the writer in residence at the University of Notre Dame and currently teaches at Northeastern Illinois University and StoryStudio Chicago, as well as online at Writers & Books and the Loft Literary Center, and she is the web nonfiction editor for Hobart.

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The Grip of It - Jac Jemc

Zettel

PROLOGUE

Maybe we move in and we don’t hear the intonation for a few days. Maybe we hear it as soon as we unlock the door. Maybe we drag our friends and family into the house and ask them to hear it and they look into the distance and listen as we try to describe it and fail. You don’t hear it? It’s like a mouth harp. Deep twang. Like throat singing. Ancient. Glottal. Resonant. Husky and rasping, but underwater. Alone in the house, though, we become less aware of it, like a persistent, dull headache. Deaf to the sound, until the still silence of ownership settles over us. Maybe we decide we will try to like the noise. Maybe we find comfort in it. Maybe an idea insists itself more easily than an action.

Maybe we make eye contact with the elderly neighbor next door. He watches through his window. The moving truck pulls up. We freeze on that odd instant.

Maybe Julie’s foot breaks through a plank on the front porch when she steps outside to phone her father to let him know we’ve arrived safely. Maybe the board breaks months later while we’re enjoying the weather with a glass of lemonade. Maybe we fix it right away. Maybe we ignore it for a few months. Maybe we try to convince ourselves that we should get settled before worrying about any repairs. Maybe I make one of the hidden basement rooms into my darkroom. Maybe I start taking photographs of everything: of the stain on the wall and of Julie putting away the mismatched dishes in the cupboard, and of the neighbor emerging onto his front porch and retreating almost immediately.

Maybe the neighborhood children ring the doorbell. Maybe it’s some faulty wiring. Maybe that faint chiming is something else entirely—a thing we will only recognize later. Maybe something as simple as a doorbell deserves our dread occasionally. Maybe we’re foolish to stay calm for as long as we do.

Maybe I hear a sound and Julie doesn’t. Maybe sometimes Julie cocks her ear and says, What was that?, and I haven’t heard a thing. Maybe it’s possible to become deaf to something, to block it out. Maybe it’s not there for both of us to hear at the same time. Maybe we should remember our fear of the undercurrent when we go to the beach. Maybe we should stay inside and tell each other stories that are further from the truth. Maybe we should share something genuine for once. Stories from the deep, honest pits of us. 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?

1

THE REAL ESTATE AGENT, with his waxy hair and perma-smile, keeps stopping to listen, waving his hand, saying, That’s just the house settling.

We think the house seems more than settled and wonder why he’s calling so much attention to the sound and look at the handsome dark wood trim and how many closets are hidden within closets and we stare out the picture window at the woods butted up against the backyard and we probably wouldn’t have heard a thing if he hadn’t mentioned it.

But we do hear a noise, and now that we’re listening, it is unsettling how much it sounds like moaning, but not the bellow of someone in pain, more like an incantation, some sort of ritual snarl.

So we look at each bedroom carefully, hoping to be proven wrong about this place, hoping to find something that convinces us the house is not, in fact, exactly what we’ve been seeking and we ask the agent if we have to worry about crime living so near the woods and he explains that the woods are bounded on the other side by a beach and there is nothing to be afraid of but waves, and we smile politely but, in our minds, we think, A wave can overwhelm and a wave can take away.

We snag on that, but the agent barrels forward, hustling us to the unfinished basement and pretending not to hear the sound in an obvious way and he disappears around a corner and we follow him, only to find him gone.

James and I look at each other, concerned, until a section of the wall spins around, and there stands the agent, face plain, matter-of-fact, saying, Secret compartments. There are several of them in this room alone.

He emerges and squats down, lifting up a three-by-three section of flooring to reveal a small, finished crawl space below us, an empty concrete cube, and he reaches above his head and punches up a drop tile to expose another pocket above, lit well, plaster painted a clean, pale blue, and then I reach high above my head, trying to push against other tiles, but they all stick firmly in place.

Why? I ask.

"Well, the previous owner seems to have been a bit of a homebody, he says. We’re not sure of the original purpose of the rooms, but they do make for a ton of extra storage space."

I squeeze James’s hand and he squeezes back because we have this way of feeling the same about the unexpected, and I know, like me, he is excited about the secret passages, this being one of the places where we are seamed together, just one instance where we twist in the same spot, mirroring each other and meshing at once.

A stain stammers on one of the walls, a wet grayish blotch, like new papier-mâché edged in black, and I ask the agent about it, and he says, Water damage, from a leak at the top of the foundation, but it’s been fixed.

Another crush of our hands together, and we wind our way back up the stairs.

The agent asks us what we think and we don’t actually need time to decide, but James is doing a great job of remembering my instructions. We will not act too eager. We will hide our excitement until we are alone and can take our time to discuss with reason and measure. We’ll think about it, I say. But we’ll let you know soon. We know how quickly a place like this can disappear.

Ah, yes. Of course, the agent says. No rush. You’ve got my number.

In the car, James says, "I don’t think that house is going anywhere. No rush? That’s unusual in real estate, right? Especially when it’s so cheap. People should be crawling all over each other to get this place. I know foreclosures can take some time, but No rush? That seemed weird."

I had the same thought. I say we make an offer right away, but we lowball it.

You’re speaking my language, he says. "Underestimation is my middle name."

I tell myself not to discredit my husband’s ability to predict the odds, that I’m trusting my own instinct, not his. I tell myself we can win even if he agrees with me.

2

MONTHS BEFORE, Julie and I sat in our apartment in the city. We sprawled on the couch. She rested her feet across my lap. I gripped her bare kneecap. I watched a baseball game with the sound turned off. Julie read. She shifted her leg away and I startled at the reminder that we’d been touching. We fit together effortlessly.

This was true until it wasn’t. I had made a series of small mistakes. I insisted that none of it had affected her directly. I had only gambled away the money in my private account. I had not touched our joint nest egg or her personal savings. It’s only a matter of time, though. What if we leave the city? Julie said. I could feel her desperation in the suggestion. She was willing to try anything. I wondered what I’d done to deserve such devotion. We could buy a house, get a fresh start. You won’t be tempted to visit your old haunts. We’ll have some security.

I paused. What I said next was true, but it felt like the farthest I could stretch. I can imagine that. Let’s look into it. I watched a new energy course through her. Julie had not heard maybe. She had heard yes. She pulled her already-messy blond hair into a loose knot as I’d seen her do so many times before washing the dishes. Julie, with her pragmatism and will, started imagining what she might like to do somewhere else. She had a job title that meant nothing to people outside her office. She worked in product development. She decided what to manufacture and how quickly. I wrote code for start-ups, but it was sloppy work. I repaired holes in the code with duct tape. They triggered breaks elsewhere in the structure. I gambled with a similar flare. I made outlandish bets. Sometimes I took intentional losses because I got tired of playing. The therapist said I tired out on the anticipation. He said gamblers play until they lose because they want to feel something, not necessarily a win.

We talked about the sort of place we’d like to go: another city, another country, somewhere more remote. We didn’t want to live in the middle of nowhere, but we could stand a smaller menu of everyday options. We readied ourselves for a place where we’d get to know the business owners and ask about their children. I liked watching the goofy grin stretch her full lips thin and wide, the way her sleepy eyes lifted, when she said, We can offer our leftovers to the neighbors. I couldn’t help but smile back. It was such a silly, simple thing to visualize. You’re okay with a small town? Julie asked.

I said, If we check out a town and it feels like it will be an endless trip through airport security, maybe we look somewhere else. They can’t all be bad, though. We agreed to stay close enough that we could return to the city whenever we wanted to escape.

"Maybe we shouldn’t do it if we’re talking about our home as a place to escape from," Julie said, screwing her mouth up with worry. I laughed, though. The matter was settled.

Julie hunted for jobs a couple of hours away. She found an opening at a company where an old classmate of hers worked. Julie emailed me opportunities in the same area. I told her I wanted to find a house first. Once we knew where we’d be based, I could focus on where I’d push off to each day. I watched those three little half-moons form between her brows as she clicked from the Help Wanted page to the real estate section.

*   *   *

We find the house quickly. Buy it from the bank. Cheap. I commit myself to finding gainful employment so that we can make the move. We drain the joint account on the down payment. I’ll need to pay my half on everything else to be sure we stay above water. In a town this small, only a couple of jobs match my skill set. On my way back to the city from an interview, I stop at our new home. It stands at the end of a cul-de-sac, bordered on the east by the woods. The houses across the street are modest, maybe two or three bedrooms at most, nicely mown lawns. No bikes or scooters left in the driveways. The next-door neighbor’s home looms big and Victorian like ours. It needs paint and some woodwork. Ours has been better kept up. The street is quiet, peaceful. I remind myself it is the middle of the day.

I forget and then remember to turn my key the wrong way in the door. The lock has been installed backward. I wonder if this is something I will get used to. Maybe I will become an engaged and invested homeowner. Maybe I’ll clean and repair things I’ve ignored as a renter.

The entryway fits two people at most, with a built-in mirrored hat-and-umbrella stand positioned across from a mirrored closet door. Standing here between the reflections, I watch the small hall extend out in a prism on both sides. I realize Julie had been right. I should have gotten a beard trim and a haircut before the interview. I hope the project manager I’d spoken to didn’t think the same.

Beyond the entrance, the living room waits, warm and inviting. I lift a window seat to find nothing at all. I pull at the glass door of one of the library cabinets. It sticks, making a clashing cymbal of sound when it finally budges free.

The living room winds around a wall into what we’ll set up as the dining room. Dark wood paneling blends into a heavy-based hutch. We are most excited about all the furniture already built into the walls. It means we won’t need to acquire as much to make the transition from our small apartment.

A swinging door opens into the kitchen, filled with ancient yet well-maintained appliances. Julie has already complained that they are bound to cost us a fortune in utility bills.

I head up the stairs. To the right is what will be our bedroom, a guest room, a closet, and the master bath. To the left, more doors: another guest room, another bathroom, the entrance to the attic. I hear a louder humming up here, as if the light were trying hard to reach the hallway. I see a shadow fall through the doorway of one of the guest rooms and feel a surge of fear. I edge toward the room, but find it empty. Relief replaces the dread. Just a bird flying too close to the house, I tell myself.

Out the window, I see the next-door neighbor sitting in his living room, framed by his home. The man sits very still. I lean in with worry. In a moment he turns his head. He looks directly at me, as though he feels my stare on him. I give a quick wave and he shifts his gaze away.

I go home. I get the job. We pack up our life.

We carefully unload our car full of breakables alongside the movers strapped with three times as much as we can carry. As we pause between loads to look up at our new home, the neighbor’s front door eases open with a stiff, loud scrape. The sound draws Julie’s eye. That’s him, huh? she asks, craning to get a better look.

Julie moves to raise her hand, but the door is already closing. She can have a sweet, useless way about her when she thinks it might serve her. After this failure, she sets back to work, lifting the next bulky box and stepping toward the house carefully, her view obstructed.

We show the movers where to put boxes. We stray from room to room, evaluating our purchase again with our new homeowners’ eyes. All of it belongs to us now. I point to the basement wall. The stain has pulled itself wider. I ask Julie if she thinks so, too, and immediately regret it. We stare. The spot seems to inhale a little, lungs expanding.

Could we have thought it seemed smaller because we were so eager? I knew that inspector wasn’t very good, she says. Julie places her hand on the discoloration. It’s dry. She leans her face into the wall. It smells like mold. Chemical, bitter. Do you think a leak might still need fixing? She pushes her nose around with the back of her hand.

I feign indifference. I want to take back the worry I’ve caused.

You’re the one who noticed it, but I’ll call someone to take a look, she says, already annoyed.

I can call someone.

But you won’t. It’s better if we acknowledge that now. She mashes her nose again, trying to stop the itch.

3

WHAT’S THE HURRY? James asks. We’ll be in this house for the rest of our lives.

I prefer to unpack quickly, eager to organize, insistent on accomplishing what I can so I’ll be ready for whatever other surprises need addressing. I don’t know how to relax with boxes around. My instinct is the opposite of what James suggests: I want to revel in the milestone of homeownership and that requires settling ourselves in. James is sprawled on the couch blocking the entryway, propped on one elbow, flipping through his phone. I gather all the packing paper and shove it into a trash bag. I collapse the boxes, and when the racket of my cleanup ends, the sound of the house reminds me of itself again, that ringing hum. "What is that noise?" I ask

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  • (2/5)
    I don't think so...A curious little haunted house story about a husband and wife that move into a new house and strange things begin to happen.If this book was a horror film it would be one of those new, contemporary horror films that has absolutely no musical composition to it whatsoever. Just the dry straight facts. Let me tell you why...This book is written in a first-person style jumping back and forth between the husband and wife's POV and is also written in present tense. You can imagine how monotonous it is to read texts written in such a manner. Another problem I had with the way this book is written is that the chapters are so terribly short (there is literally 92 chapters in a book of only 273 pages) and each chapter alternates between the husband and wife so that just as you are getting into one story it pulls you back out and throws you into a different story from a different point of view. It's very difficult to emerge yourself into the story when it is written this way.The premise and the story of the book were just fine. The ending sucked if I do say so myself.The rest of the issues that I had with the book go into personal issues that I have with the characters being flawed. Like why the hell would they buy a house with water stains and weird secret passages? Why the hell would they stay in a house that is making the wife sick and the husband crazy? They did not decide to leave the house until way too far in the book. I understand finances and all that but when something like this starts to happen you have to wonder. And as I stated before the ending sucked more because it made me absolutely hate the two characters.With everything stated above I don't think I'm going to be recommending this book. I just have too many issues with it.
  • (3/5)
    Julie and James are looking to make a change in their lives. Recently Julie discovered that James has an intense gambling problem and has lost a good amount of his money and their joint funds. In order to save their marriage they decide they need to move. The couple immediately finds a home in a small town going for well below it’s worth and they jump at the opportunity to buy the house. The location, surrounded by woods and ocean, seem like a peaceful transition from an intense city life. As Julie and James begin to settle in to life in their new home they realize strange things are happening within the walls. Strange noises at all times of the day, terrifying drawings appearing randomly on the walls, and a neighbor continuously watching them from his windows are the least of the couple’s problems. Issues quickly escalate to Julie finding unexplainable bruises on her body and James passing out in one location to only wake up in another. The couple must dig in to the background and history of the house and its former inhabitants to gain better understanding, but will their search bring them the answers too late? What is truly happening in this house? Jac Jemc creates a haunted house story straight from the silver screen in THE GRIP OF IT. We are introduced to Julie and James on their adventure of new homeownership and quickly sign up for a roller coaster of bizarre activity. There are instances of strange things happening in the house, around the house, and to each of the main characters. Jemc keeps the reader’s heart racing as she alternates the narration between the couple in short, attention-grabbing chapters. THE GRIP OF IT had all the potential to be a 5-star read for me in the first 3/4 of the book and then Jemc took a turn I wasn’t expecting. Usually I’m a lover of twists, but this one left me a bit puzzled. Without giving away spoilers, I’ll simply say I was left feeling let down from the intense climax the book felt like it was building towards. While Jemc certainly crafted an ending that leaves the reader guessing what to believe, it fell flat for me after the wild ride that was the rest of the novel.
  • (3/5)
    First-time homeownership is supposed to be a dream come true. But in The Grip of It by Jac Jemc, it becomes a nightmare of near catastrophic proportions. James and Julie, a young couple accustomed to the easy distractions and conveniences of urban living, decide to leave the city, where James has proven himself vulnerable to a compulsion for gambling, and start anew. The house they buy is near a small town in a suburban/semi-rural neighbourhood. The forest borders their property and a lake is not far away. Even as they view the house, an issue arises: a mysterious hum or drone that seems to emanate from everywhere at once. But regardless, they make the purchase and move in. Among the first unsettling things they notice is their neighbour, Rolf, the elderly man living next door, who always seems to be watching them out his window. When they approach him, seeking to make his acquaintance, he rudely invites them to leave him alone. Soon after this he disappears. By then the odd occurrences are in full swing: the relentless hum, drawings and stains that appear on the walls, flitting nighttime shadows, oddly patterned bruises that spontaneously appear on Julie’s body. The weirdness extends beyond the house to the forest, where they hear sounds of invisible children playing, and to the lake, where there is a cave with etchings on the walls that echo those found in the house. All through the house they discover hidden rooms and passageways that are not architecturally consistent with the building’s outward appearance. James and Julie suspect a haunting, though neither of them believe in such things. In search of an answer, they begin tracing the history of the house, and discover stories of tragedy and peculiar behaviour involving Rolf’s family. Eventually their mistrust of their own senses leaks into their feelings for each other, and the couple’s relationship sinks to its nadir when they begin suspecting each other of playing a clandestine role in this series of strange events. Jemc’s unnerving narrative is psychologically astute and genuinely spooky. The many brief chapters are narrated alternately by Julie and James in evocative, staccato prose, a strategy that ramps up the tension to a fever pitch. With Julie and James both unable to explain what is happening and both behaving not just oddly but sometimes against their own best interests, the sense of dread mounts. In The Grip of It, Jac Jemc has written a smart and creepy page turner in the tradition of Shirley Jackson. It is also a sophisticated novel, one that explores the breakdown of reason when confronted by events that are truly inexplicable.
  • (3/5)
    This book was a pick for my Litsy horror postal book club, and the second in a row that had the theme of a haunted house (this came on the back of the classic 'The Haunting of Hill House', which almost isn't fair, since that book is so well-known, and it was hard not to think of it). 'The Grip of It' was on my radar for a while after I noticed its cover, which is covered in the 'drawings' that show up mysteriously inside the house that the young couple, Julie and James, buy when they move to a small town outside of the city. There are lots of things that mysteriously go on inside the house (or do they?), after they move in, and the couple learns of the family that used to live there (or was it next door?), and they have so many questions that they start to run together...and largely are unanswered. ALL the way through to the end of the book. That was ultimately my biggest problem with 'The Grip of It': not ever feeling like questions were answered. The two main characters were also so similar (and weak, in my opinion), that their perspectives ran together, so the storytelling device of different chapters being their alternating different voices was ineffective. Whether or not this was intentional or not as a device to show that they were becoming of 'one mind' as the house took over, it was very confusing to read as the book continued.I mostly enjoyed the literary prose and new approach to a 'horror' novel but occasionally I was a annoyed with the short sentences, which broke up some very beautiful writing, and very quotable prose.And like most horror stories, the couple, Julie and James do frustratingly keep going back to this house that is obviously causing them to drift apart and for Julie to become ill (ergot poisoning? seizures?), yet the house sells quickly, so even though it seems that in general we have a no-nonsense 'literary' horror novel, we still have these silly tropes that don't make sense after all.And what on earth happened to Rolf? ?Still, I read this quickly, and it was a page-turner, it kept me engaged. It just could've been so much better.
  • (4/5)
    Young couple James and Julie buy their first home, located next to a forest in a small town. Part of the reason for their move from the city is to solidify their relationship, which has been under strain since James gambled away all his own money and a good portion of their mutual account. The house needs work but it's cheap, and they even try to be friendly to the old guy next door who is constantly standing at his window staring at them. At first the couple can come up with excuses for why they hear odd noises, why human-shaped stains appear on the walls and why Julie becomes locked inside the wall of the closet, but when huge bruises cover her body that she can't hide, and then the neighbor disappears, the police intervene.A really interesting story involving quite a bit of disjointed, abstract thinking. The story is set up as a classic haunted house tale, but then the reader is led to a fork in the road- are we to believe it's a haunting or something else?
  • (5/5)
    I got this book as part of the Nocturnal Reader’s Box August haul, and I was so excited to read it. I love me a good haunted house book, and this one promised to deliver something original.Julie and James are your typical couple, who decide to move from the city to the suburbs after some personal troubles. They come across the perfect house at a too-good-to-be-believed price (I’m sure you can guess where we’re headed from here). The house comes complete with mysterious hidden passages and rooms, a creepy neighbor, strange children playing in the woods, trees that slowly creep up on the house, an unmarked grave, and a rotten spot in the basement that seems to be growing in size. As events spiral out of control, it becomes less clear if it is the house or the people living in it who are haunted.This book was so so so much fun! I started reading it at night while home alone (a terrible, terrible idea). I had to stop the book, sleep with the lights on, and then finish it the next morning sitting in a pool of sunshine. There are some truly creepy moments in this book, especially for those of us (like me) who recently bought an older house.The book is told in alternating first-person chapters from both Julie and James’ points of view. Sometimes events overlap, and sometimes what happens seems to be at odds with what the other is experiencing. The tone of the book begins in a fairly straightforward manner, but both Julie and James’ narratives begin breaking down as the story moves along. All in all, the book reminds me of House of Leaves by MarK Z. Danielewski, but without all the superfluous bits that distracted from the story. The Grip of It is a bare bones, scary as hell story.
  • (4/5)
    Want a creepy thriller read before Halloween? This is it! A young couple's relationship—and sanity—is tested after moving into their new (and surprisingly cheap) home in small town Wisconsin.My one complaint was that the author left a few ends untied (though perhaps this was intentional to leave the reader wondering like the main characters), but the plot and suspense of the book are worth overlooking its flaws.
  • (4/5)
    The first 100 pages or so of this novel really freaked me out - I was worrying about the book when I wasn't reading, which is a rarity. I'll go so far to say that it bothered me, and I had to read further to settle my mind. The last third or so of the book was unsatisfying, and the ending really felt like the author just folded up the tent and walked away. Four stars for the creepy beginning and making my skin crawl.
  • (3/5)
    Having marital troubles, Julie and James buy a new house in a small town in order to start over, and weird things start happening immediately in this ambiguous haunted-house story.This was an odd book. Part of it is the author's choice of point of view: first person, present tense, but alternating between the two main characters. I never had trouble following these switches, but the POV made all the events of the story so immediate that the characters, and the reader, never get a chance to step back and really figure out what's going on. It also results in some rather silly sentences, such as "I contort." There are a few very nice startle scares toward the beginning of the book, but as things get weirder, we never get a sense on what this unknown menace is trying to do, which doesn't really give us, as readers, a stake in what happens to these two characters. I often welcome ambiguity in stories of the paranormal, but there needs to be a solid core to wrap that ambiguity around. In the end, these two characters seem let off the hook a little too easily, and they slip away without offering a satisfying explanation for what we've just read.
  • (4/5)
    Julie and James are looking to relocate due to James' financial ruin and gambling problem. They find the perfect inexpensive yet large house, perfect to start over in. It's too good to be true because weird things start happening in their house and increase in severity as times go on until their lives are completely disrupted. What is causing their problems: a nosy neighbor, a ghostly presence in their house, or just them?The Grip of It is a suspenseful novel that has elements of a haunted house but never defines what's wrong. Julie and James are a young couple reeling from James' bad decisions and struggling to trust each other. That initial fissure in their relationship makes them quick to turn on each other when things go wrong. The weird events start with a strange sound with no apparent cause. They search around for the source to no avail. Bruises appear on Julie's body more and more often, looking deep and severe with no apparent cause. The couple sees children playing in the trees that no one else can see. A terrible smell fills their home and any water from the faucets no matter how clear it looks will fill their mouths with green mold. One day, they wake up with childish drawings all of their wall and both of them denying having done it. Both disbelieve each other and attempt to go one with their day to day life.Threats come from outside as well in an odd, elderly neigbor who watches them from his window constantly and then lets himself into their home despite rebuffing their efforts to be friendly. When they are on the cusp of calling the police due to his home invasion, he disappears. The police eventually look at the couple with suspicion for their conflict with him as well as their failure to disclose earlier problems at their home. James doesn't help things by staying home from work for weeks on end without letting anyone know and gets fired. He tries to research the history of the house and does reveal that their neighbor used to live there with his family with a tragic death and a dark secret. Sometimes when he discovers something like a hidden room with a cot obviously lived in, he seems to forget it the next day and does nothing about it.The Grip of It ramps up to a fever pitch and then ends perfectly. No revelation come out and the reason behind all the craziness is never defined. No psychic comes in to tell them what's wrong and they have no idea how to fix it. I believe it's a combination of the supernatural and their real life conflicts that were never resolved from before their move. The story is told in alternative points of view between Julie and James, highlighting their distrust of and frustration with each other. Although it doesn't really resolve, it feels like it doesn't have to. I enjoyed the journey through this story.
  • (3/5)
    2.5/5 really, i thought it was alright, but the writing style wasnt my cup of tea.
  • (4/5)
    I loved the premise of this book and borrowed the audio from library because it sounded so good. The Grip of it delivered!

    This audio follows Julie and James as they buy a new home to begin their fresh start. Almost immediately, creepy things begin to occur. Their new neighbor only adds to the uncomfortable atmosphere, not to mention the stories of the townspeople. When mysterious bruises begin to appear on Julie's body, they both have to admit there is some kind of problem, but how are they going to deal with it? You'll have to read this book to find out.

    I loved how the chapters alternated between the viewpoints of James and Julie. This worked very well on audio with two narrators. I also enjoyed the slow burn of the stories and how the characters reacted to each occurrence, though at one point, I will admit to just yelling at my phone, "it's time for you to move out!!" Surprisingly, I liked the ending too, which is where almost all haunted house stories fall apart for me. I thought it believable and reasonable. What more could I ask? Oh, I know! More Jac Jemc, please!

    Highly recommended, but beware, this is quiet, creeping, chilling horror. Not in your face, blood everywhere type of horror and to that I say, Bravo!
  • (2/5)
    I don't think so...A curious little haunted house story about a husband and wife that move into a new house and strange things begin to happen.If this book was a horror film it would be one of those new, contemporary horror films that has absolutely no musical composition to it whatsoever. Just the dry straight facts. Let me tell you why...This book is written in a first-person style jumping back and forth between the husband and wife's POV and is also written in present tense. You can imagine how monotonous it is to read texts written in such a manner. Another problem I had with the way this book is written is that the chapters are so terribly short (there is literally 92 chapters in a book of only 273 pages) and each chapter alternates between the husband and wife so that just as you are getting into one story it pulls you back out and throws you into a different story from a different point of view. It's very difficult to emerge yourself into the story when it is written this way.The premise and the story of the book were just fine. The ending sucked if I do say so myself.The rest of the issues that I had with the book go into personal issues that I have with the characters being flawed. Like why the hell would they buy a house with water stains and weird secret passages? Why the hell would they stay in a house that is making the wife sick and the husband crazy? They did not decide to leave the house until way too far in the book. I understand finances and all that but when something like this starts to happen you have to wonder. And as I stated before the ending sucked more because it made me absolutely hate the two characters.With everything stated above I don't think I'm going to be recommending this book. I just have too many issues with it.
  • (3/5)
    Lyrically written, but there seems to be some essential stages of character development missing. I had trouble believing that there would be such a rapidly oscillating transformation on a new-ish couple (albeit a young-feeling one). There was a lot of this that made sense to me: in any early relationship, there is a level of permeability that can cause a good deal of doubt and trouble. I also really hate it when the bulk of blame in a story is laid on drugs, even if the consumption was inadvertent (as it certainly was in this case, if the tales of mold/ergot poisoning are to be believed) and the introduction of the drugs is mysterious and unexplained.
  • (4/5)
    I don't think any book has terrified me as much as this one did.
  • (3/5)
    Jemc’s eerie novel has many of the classic horror and suspense elements that would attract any “haunted house” devotee looking for an innovative approach to this well-worn subject. The book’s jacket description promises that The Grip of It contains “palpable terror and skin-prickling dread,” and claims that Jemc’s approach is both novel and “meticulous.” As a long-time fan of all things creepy, I was really looking forward to reading a unique spin on a favorite theme. I was riveted for the first few chapters, and I appreciated some of Jemc’s clever turns-of-phrase. Julie and James are introduced as sympathetic characters, but their likeability wanes as they make increasingly nonsensical decisions. It detracts from the enjoyment when the reader feels compelled to start rooting for the evil entity because the “heroes” seem so clueless.
    As the novel progressed, I also began to feel as lost and mystified as the protagonists. I needed to go back frequently and re-read sections to determine which character was narrating a given chapter. Any built-up suspense dissipated quickly in the face of needless repetition and florid descriptions. I kept reading in the hope that at any moment some fantastic and horrifying event would clarify the intentions of the author and provide a satisfying, well-earned conclusion. Unfortunately, there was no cathartic twist to reward me for all the work I was doing to get through to the end. The Grip of It began with great potential, but failed to follow through on its promises of innovation and excitement.
  • (4/5)
    Creepy and atmospheric, but the central conflict didn't do much for me (I'm just not a huge fan of failing marriage stories) and I found the ending too wholly open to be satisfying.