Review: The Grip of It by Jac Jemc

cover for the grip of it by jac jemc
© FSG Originals, 2017.


A chilling literary horror novel about a young couple who purchase and live in a haunted house. Jac Jemc’s The Grip of Ittells the eerie story of a young couple haunted by their new home.

Julie and James settle into a house in a small town outside the city where they met. The move—prompted by James’s penchant for gambling, his inability to keep his impulses in check—is quick and seamless; both Julie and James are happy to leave behind their usual haunts and start afresh. But this house, which sits between ocean and forest, has plans for the unsuspecting couple. As Julie and James try to settle into their home and their relationship, the house and its surrounding terrain become the locus of increasingly strange happenings. The architecture—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 bruises; mold spores taint the water that James pours from the sink. Together the couple embark on a panicked search for the source of their mutual torment, a journey that mires them in the history of their peculiar neighbors and the mysterious residents who lived in the house before Julia and James.

Written in creepy, potent prose, The Grip of It is an enthralling, psychologically intense novel that deals in questions of home: how we make it and how it in turn makes us, mapping itself onto bodies and the relationships we cherish.

via goodreads


Here we are about a week after I finished reading The Grip of It by Jac Jemc, and I’m still not quite sure how I feel about it. I expected something a bit more horrifying and, though it certainly has a sense of urgency to it, it lacked the final answers that I enjoy so much in a haunted house novel.

The characters of The Grip of It are millennials, and apparently, we do not worry about our jobs. What I mean by this is that Julie and James, our main characters, are stereotypes to a fault and this bothers me. It bothers me because their behavior, in response to their house’s issues, does not reflect proportionately upon my generation. James more or less walks out of his job and doesn’t bother getting another one, whilst Julie shows up at her workplace inappropriately. I suppose this isn’t something that should bother me so much and might have slipped past my radar entirely if it weren’t for the blurb on the back cover of the book. If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you’ll know I abhor stereotypes. Especially those that do not truly represent a group of people. /rant over

The story itself isn’t horrible, but it’s not really anything new either. Most of it is driven by the style of writing. For instance, you can clearly feel the differences in Julie and James’s personalities. Julie’s point-of-view contains lots of run-on sentences and has a high-anxiety feel to it–which is the opposite of many of her actions, oddly enough. James, on the other hand, has a lackadaisical feel. As for the haunting? Little is truly revealed as to its origins and very few questions are asked, leaving this book to focus primarily on the characters and how events affect them, rather than the reality of what’s going on. In fact, one might argue that the couple is simply going mad.

I was so excited to get my hands on this books, and just as disappointed and underwhelmed when I finished reading it. I devoured each page waiting eagerly for something to really happen, but in the end I’m left with unanswered questions. This isn’t always a bad thing, but when you’re questioning the book as a whole… well that says something.

Rating: 💀💀

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