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The Apartment by S. L. Grey

The Apartment

by S. L. Grey

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636188,983 (3.17)1



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Not as good as Sarah Lotz's standalone novels, but still tense and interesting, maintaining that perfect balance between supernatural and realistically plausible. ( )
  jen.e.moore | Jul 20, 2017 |
Typical haunted house/apartment novel. Plenty creepy but a bit predictable. ( )
  antrat1965 | Apr 7, 2017 |
Review from Tenacious Reader: http://www.tenaciousreader.com/2016/10/04/review-the-apartment-by-s-l-grey/

Looking for a fantastically creepy book to start off October? The Apartment by S. L. Grey may be just what you need. It is a haunting tale told through alternating perspectives from husband and wife, Marc and Steph. Both have been traumatized and then things start to get …. creepy.

I’ve read Sarah Lotz’s The Three and Day Four and loved them both. This is the first time I’ve read one of the books she co-authors with Louis Greenberg under the pen name S. L. Grey. It definitely did not disappointed and makes me think twice about house swapping for vacation.

Marc and Steph’s relationship is definitely in need of work. In addition to dealing with the house invasion, Marc also has a traumatic history involving his first family, before he met Steph. So, when the opportunity arises to “get away” and take the honeymoon they never had, they leave their young daughter behind and head to Paris hoping this will get them back in touch with each other, make everything good again.

Unfortunately, once they get to Paris, they encounter one problem after another, and their romantic, relaxing time away starts to feel more like hell. The apartment is nothing as advertised, in a virtually abandoned building (the only resident being a woman living up stairs, who like as not, is a squatter. The relationship issues they had before arriving seem to be compounded rather than resolved. And amid it all, things get creepier and harder to explain.

The alternating perspectives are interesting as this couple, at least at times, seems to be growing apart rather than closer. The different perspectives make you question if either narrator is fully reliable. From one perspective you may question the sanity of the other. From the other perspective, you may wonder what supernatural forces could be in play. It is a book where you question everything and trust just about nothing.

My only slight criticism while reading this was in the beginning of the book, the amount of emphasis and reinforcement that was directly used to let the reader know how traumatized this couple was by a recent home invasion. It almost felt overly dramatic (I’m not trying to trivialize it, I just felt the level of emphasis actually dampened the level of drama, at least for me). It wasn’t major, but I wonder if a little more showing, a little less telling for that one tiny aspect of the book could have been effective without repeating reminders about their traumatic event. But it wasn’t something that deterred my enjoyment, so I would consider this a minor thing.

I don’t know about Louis Greenberg (I have yet to read his solo work), but I am convinced Sarah Lotz doesn’t want her readers to be comfortable on vacation or holiday. First planes in The Three, then cruiseships in Day Four, now house swapping in The Apartment … all have new level of creepiness!

The Apartment is fantastically haunting and shuddersome, making it a great choice of book to set the mood as we head in to the fall season, prime time for all things creepy, supernatural and haunting. ( )
1 vote tenaciousreader | Jan 4, 2017 |
OMG. I am so upset. Instantly, I gravitated to this book due to the summary. It had me so intrigued. Yet, I have to say that this book is a major letdown. When I first started reading this book, it was alright. I was a little lost because the story started after the events of the break in had happened. So Mark and Steph were dealing with the aftermath. There was already tension between Mark and Steph. Even though I did not know them well I got this instant vibe about Mark that turned me off to him.

When Mark and Steph went to Paris I thought "Ok, now the story is going to begin". No, I was wrong. The strange events that happened to Mark and Steph were such a bore that I think I slept. It was apparent that I was not going to get a scare from reading this book; even a goosebump. I skipped to the last chapter of the book and was glad I spent no more time on this book. ( )
  Cherylk | Nov 18, 2016 |
Mark and Steph live happily in a nice house in South Africa with their daughter Hayden. Their peaceful life is marred by a home invasion that ending with stolen items but no physical injuries. The psychological harm has taken its toll and the family no longer feels safe in addition to hidden resentments that cropped up as a result. Steph is desperate to get away and heal, so she jumps on the chance to do an online house exchange for a week where she and Mark stay at a delightfully quaint French apartment and the French couple stays in their house. When they arrive, it isn't quaint, but empty, shoddy, and home to vagrants. They also feel a more sinister presence, but don't have the money to stay anywhere else. They will wait out the week. What's the worst that could happen?

When I heard about this book, I was excited that Blumhouse Productions is getting into horror. The studio can be innovative and creative, but their films are overall hit and miss. Anyway, this story has a lot of good things going for it. The family could be any middle class family that struggles financially and suffered such a psychological and monetary blow in the home invasion. A lot of people can relate and I found them mostly sympathetic until they started falling apart. The structure of the narrative alternates perspectives between the couple in every chapter, sometimes backtracking or leaping forward in time. The type of nefarious presence used is interesting and not well defined. Even after reading the story, I couldn't tell you specifically what is was. The rules governing it were unique and made sense. The decision to cut away from the violence made the book more compelling and allowed the reader to make what happened as gruesome as they could imagine. Only in one instance was it a little confusing to the plot.

My biggest problem with the book is Steph. So many wives in horror books and films are stereotypical, unsympathetic shrews. I'm not sure if it stems from the misogynistic view of marriage that these women were awesome and then turned horrible after giving birth and a few years of marriage. It's gross. Anyway, she is simply awful. She has a deep seated resentment of Mark's behavior during the robbery. If he had fought back like she wanted, one or more of them would have probably died. She doesn't have empathy or patience for his extended grief over his daughter's death from a previous marriage. He has problems getting close to Hayden because of his grief and Steph takes offense instead of being understanding. She attributes his behavior to hatred or resentment, creating this bizarre imagined conflict between the two. I assumed she didn't know about his grief by her behavior, but then she mentions it and I lost all sympathy for her. The entire situation is her fault because she didn't thoroughly research a place in Paris or ensure the one she chose had some reviews first. On top of this other moronic behavior, Steph completely avoids voicing her concerns or feelings until they explode out. All of this could have been avoided with some honest conversations and good research. Steph is the real villain of this whole piece.

The Apartment started out as very promising, creepy horror. The writing is pretty good and engaging, but it totally falls apart with Steph, the most infuriating character to read about. It's a disturbing trend in films that mothers and/or wives are unsympathetic shrews that only serve to make the main male characters look better and have understandable resentful feelings towards her. Other than that, the book has an interesting concept in an unspecified nefarious presence with its own rules. It never becomes over explained and I like the mystery surrounding it. It would be easy to write a completely different book about the same presence. I would give Blumhouse Books another chance even though I had some real problems with this one. ( )
  titania86 | Nov 5, 2016 |
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