Title: The Grip of It
Author: Jac Jemc
Number of Pages: 276
I really wanted to like this book. It had SO much potential, but I think this kind of story really needs a strong pay-off and I didn’t see that here. It just kind of… ended. I closed the book feeling confused and angry.
Julie and James are a young couple who move into a new house and discover a disorienting space full of changing rooms and weird smells. I really liked the surrealism and the ‘off’ feeling the characters immediately experience, but I was less impressed by their refusal to leave when they’re both suffering hallucinations and Julie gets mysterious bruises all over her body. They give all these reasons why they don’t want to leave but it just seems like lazy writing. This house is ruining your lives, your marriage, and your sanity. Are you really going to worry about how inconvenient leaving would be financially?
Neither of the characters were likable and I didn’t really feel like I got to know them at all. James is more or less defined by his history of problems with gambling and Julie is written as a perfectionist but comes of as an irritating nag. I didn’t care about them. They could have both been eaten by the house and I can’t say it would have devastated me. The main thing that I did think worked about this novel was the creepy atmosphere and the sense of discomfort and disorientation. I think the author could have done so much with that and a lot of the individual scenes were really, really good. They almost made me wish I could give this a higher rating. But the ending. Ugh. That ending.
They dig up some information on the haunting. They do absolutely nothing with it. They sell the house.
(END OF MILD SPOILERS)
Seriously. I had all of this author’s books on my to-read list but I think I’m going to give them a pass. It wasn’t that it was badly written (the prose was actually very solid,) but a story should have a conclusion that makes the reader feel happy that they put in the time and effort. The Grip of It feels unfinished, like the author forgot to give it a proper ending or a reason to care.