Quick note: I let this blog go to waste for far too long. I just don’t enjoy blogging. It’s a sad fact. But you know what I do enjoy? Talking about books and writing. So let’s give this another go. Every now and again, I’ll write something for a series of blogs I’m going to tentatively title Book Bag. These will be reviews of books I’ve either just finished reading or have read in the past but I keep coming back to.
I’ll also talk about writing, but not always in the look-at-me promo sense. I don’t know what that’s going to look like yet. Hang tight and we’ll see.
But, for today, the first entry in Book Bag goes to Jac Jemc’s The Grip of It.
This seemed like a fitting book to start this attempt at this blog’s fifth or sixth life. It’s one of those books that I honestly did not like after the first 50 pages but then realized about halfway in that it had hooked me.
The Grip of It is a wholly unique haunted house story. It’s not the best in this particular corner of the horror genre (I firmly believe Mark Danielewski’s House of Leaves will forever hold that title) but it is right up there. There are similarities in Grip and Leaves, though. Neither is a haunted house tale in the traditional sense…and I know some may even go so far as to say Leaves isn’t even truly a haunted house story at all.
Some may say the same thing about Grip because at its core, the house isn’t really the crux of the story. It’s a novel about marriage and how it’s a relationship that can erode, evolve and deteriorate. When it does play up the haunted house vibes, it does it well, even going so far as extending the haunts to the surrounding environments whether its the forest behind the house, a cave, or some pretty bizarre kids that seem to really enjoy climbing trees. The story is written so well that you sometimes aren’t sure which mystery you want solved first: the one surrounding the house itself or why the marriage of our central characters is in the state it is in.
This book sort of creeps into your head a bit. The chapters are mostly short and abrupt but in a very good way. There are POV shifts that are a little hard to follow but I think the disorientation of it makes the story even more intriguing. Even if you aren’t quite sure who is speaking at the start of the chapter, it often really doesn’t matter…it adds to the deteriorative feel of it all, of making you second guess the morals and methods of the characters as the house starts to affect them in their own separate ways.