The grip of it

Jac Jemc, 1983-

Book - 2017

"A chilling literary horror novel about a young couple haunted by their newly purchased home Jac Jemc's The Grip of It tells 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, which sits between lake 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 room--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 Julie 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, inhabiting the bodies and the relationships we cherish."--

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1st Floor FICTION/Jemc Jac Due Oct 16, 2023
Horror fiction
Psychological fiction
New York : Farrar, Strauss and Giroux 2017.
First edition
Physical Description
276 pages ; 19 cm
Main Author
Jac Jemc, 1983- (author)
Review by Booklist Review

Julie and James are experiencing some marital troubles. Nothing too overwhelming, but bothersome, just the same. Deciding a change of scenery is in order, they leave their busy city lives and buy a rambling Victorian on the edge of a forest in a tiny town. Chalking up the noises and oddities to new-home jitters, Julie and James are sure that the extra storage space and small-town charm will work their magic and look forward to settling into their new lives. But when James finds himself in a neighbor's home, unsure of how he got there, and Julie starts discovering large, frightening bruises all over her body, their new home begins to feel less cozy and decidedly threatening. Told in a luxuriously looping style that examines experiences from two points of view, this seemingly typical haunted house tale takes some very unexpected turns. Jemc has created a frightening world that feels both impossible and altogether too real. Prepare to read this in one sitting and think about it for days to come.--Ciesla, Carolyn Copyright 2017 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

The latest from Jemc (A Different Bed Every Time) is a haunted house tale that toys with the hallmarks of ghost stories-a young city couple moving to a small town, a curmudgeonly neighbor, a spooky legend-to create an exhilarating and unsettling literary page-turner. After settling into their new home, James and Julie discover it is riddled with secret rooms and passageways. Soon thereafter, drawings appear on a bedroom wall, noises keep them up at night, and bruises appear on Julie's body. Despite their efforts, they can't get in touch with their realtor, who has vanished from existence, and the woods that line their backyard-full of children playing in the treetops-appear closer to their house each day. A local bartender tells James about the troubled family who previously owned the house, and while snooping around the neighboring home of a secretive old man, the couple discovers a life filled with tragedy and premature death. From here, Jemc settles comfortably into the couple's increasingly paranoid and disturbed thoughts. Short chapters bounce between James's and Julie's perspectives, and as the author ratchets up the tension, the reader eagerly follows. The conclusion is the perfect cap to a story full of genuine frights. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by Library Journal Review

As reward for our labors, we expect home to provide sanctuary, comfort, and familiarity. Despite ambiguous town chatter regarding the strange, apparently tragic history of their new home, James and Julie settle in, concerned only by elderly neighbor Rolf's voyeurism. Day by day, though, the house consumes their attention and nerves: odd-sized "secret spaces"-as difficult to enter as exit-are discovered. Molds and stains appear at once patterned and discontinuous. A sporadic humming tone, not always heard by both, is unfindable. Are the woods growing closer or receding? Is someone getting into the house and moving things around? Even the clock can't be trusted, with bizarre dilations and compressions of time. The marriage, previously troubled by James's gambling, suffers, but the couple vow solidarity. The second-person point of view charges the narrative with jagged energy, and in the end, we learn that people are more haunted than any house. Jemc (My Only Wife; A Different Bed Every Time) reconfigures the haunted-house story to reflect current anxieties and their violation of formerly intimate spaces and relationships. VERDICT For connoisseurs of the "new weird" and literary/psychological horror à la Mark Z. -Danielewski's House of Leaves and -Marisha Pessl's Night Film. [See Prepub Alert, 2/20/17.]-William Grabowski, McMechen, WV © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Kirkus Book Review

A psychological spook story in the best high literary tradition.Julie and James are a happenstance couple. They met after James answered Julie's Craigslist ad and married after he singled himself out by being the only one who kept calling. In spite of their haphazard beginnings, their marriage is a loving one, and the two are so well-suited they seem to "fit together effortlessly." This holds true until Julie discovers that James has developed a gambling addiction and hidden it from her. In an attempt to rebuild their relationship and remove James from the locus of his compulsion, the couple buys a moldering Victorian manse in a preternaturally tranquil small town outside the city where they met, find new jobs, seek out new friends, and trade their urban lifestyle for the domestic thrills of first-time homeownership. At this point, as should be expected by anyone familiar with the haunted house tale, things quickly fall apart. The house emits an untraceable humming sound and is filled with architecturally improbable hidden rooms. The borders of the nearby woods seem to draw nearer and nearer to the back door, and the woods themselves echo with the games of unseen children. An unnerving next-door neighbor, spontaneous bruises that spread across Julie's skin, childlike drawings that appear on the walls, and James' periodic descent into fugue states set the stage for a read-in-one-sitting, sleep-with-the-lights-on book; however, the real scare in this truly haunting novel stems from the way Jemc (A Different Bed Every Time, 2014, etc.) keeps the psychological tension of Julie and James' relationship taut. Telling the story from alternating perspectives, Jemc reveals Julie's and James' growing distrust of each other and themselves even as she manipulates the novel's language to reflect the evolution of what is either psychosis or possession. Shivery and smart. A book that brings the legacy of Henry James into the modern world with great effect. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.