Book Review: The Grip of It

THE GRIP OF IT | Jac Jemc
08.01.2017 | FSG Originals
Rating: 3/5 stars

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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.

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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.

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?

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I am feeling unusual, not in a way that I can explain, but preoccupied with the sounds the house is making and unnerved by the space that fills each room and surprised by how quickly I’ve become accustomed to the wilderness surrounding us, but more than the combination of all of this: I feel like I’ve turned a full circle inside myself, like I am due to unwind, like I am a spring coiled tight, waiting.

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.

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