Book review: The Grip of It by Jac Jemc⁠


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.


I went into this one with such low expectations, that while I still found it an underwhelming read, I probably enjoyed it more than most for the simple fact I had such little hope for it to start with!⁠

This had a lot of different horror tropes thrown into it, from the haunted house and the creepy neighbour, to a crumbling marriage and hinted at mental health issues. It tried to cram so much in and never committed to one storyline.⁠

This is one of those books that’s very ambiguous, which is something I normally enjoy in books, however, in this one absolutely nothing is wrapped up or concluded. Considering the number of different plot lines, with none of them having any kind of ending this book feels really incomplete.⁠

The writing in this one only adds to ambiguity by being really airy and dreamlike in style. However, I did find some of the imagery really creepy and at certain moments I was properly spooked. ⁠

This wasn’t a completely disastrous read for me, I enjoyed some of the horror aspects and it ticked off Wisconsin for the #50states50horrorbooks challenge – always a plus! There was definitely potential here but it missed the mark on so many things, leaving it as a ‘didn’t love it, didn’t hate it’ kind of read for me.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Book Details:

Pages: 288
Edition Published:
Genre: Horror, Fiction,
Goodreads Av. Rating: 3.24

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