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The Grip of It by Jac Jemc
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The Grip of It

by Jac Jemc

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Author Jac Jemc describes the house in her book, The Grip of It as having windows that distort the view beyond them. That’s very much how this short novel itself feels. I never quite got a grip (pun intended) on what was happening, nor did the main characters. And that’s the horror of it.

Jemc captures the feeling of coming unglued perfectly. The main characters are a married couple, James and Julie who decide to leave their unnamed city and move to a rambling old Victorian near a lake. They think they’re escaping a difficult time in their lives, for a simpler time and place. They’re charmed by the house’s secret passageways and its quiet neighborhood.

Unfortunately for them, the house does not seem to accept their presence. ... Full review at TheBibliophage.com. ( )
  TheBibliophage | Mar 20, 2018 |
First-time homeownership is supposed to be a dream come true. But in The Grip of It by Jac Jemc, it becomes a nightmare of near catastrophic proportions. James and Julie, a young couple accustomed to the easy distractions and conveniences of urban living, decide to leave the city, where James has proven himself vulnerable to a compulsion for gambling, and start anew. The house they buy is near a small town in a suburban/semi-rural neighbourhood. The forest borders their property and a lake is not far away. Even as they view the house, an issue arises: a mysterious hum or drone that seems to emanate from everywhere at once. But regardless, they make the purchase and move in. Among the first unsettling things they notice is their neighbour, Rolf, the elderly man living next door, who always seems to be watching them out his window. When they approach him, seeking to make his acquaintance, he rudely invites them to leave him alone. Soon after this he disappears. By then the odd occurrences are in full swing: the relentless hum, drawings and stains that appear on the walls, flitting nighttime shadows, oddly patterned bruises that spontaneously appear on Julie’s body. The weirdness extends beyond the house to the forest, where they hear sounds of invisible children playing, and to the lake, where there is a cave with etchings on the walls that echo those found in the house. All through the house they discover hidden rooms and passageways that are not architecturally consistent with the building’s outward appearance. James and Julie suspect a haunting, though neither of them believe in such things. In search of an answer, they begin tracing the history of the house, and discover stories of tragedy and peculiar behaviour involving Rolf’s family. Eventually their mistrust of their own senses leaks into their feelings for each other, and the couple’s relationship sinks to its nadir when they begin suspecting each other of playing a clandestine role in this series of strange events. Jemc’s unnerving narrative is psychologically astute and genuinely spooky. The many brief chapters are narrated alternately by Julie and James in evocative, staccato prose, a strategy that ramps up the tension to a fever pitch. With Julie and James both unable to explain what is happening and both behaving not just oddly but sometimes against their own best interests, the sense of dread mounts. In The Grip of It, Jac Jemc has written a smart and creepy page turner in the tradition of Shirley Jackson. It is also a sophisticated novel, one that explores the breakdown of reason when confronted by events that are truly inexplicable. ( )
  icolford | Mar 10, 2018 |
Creepy and atmospheric, but the central conflict didn't do much for me (I'm just not a huge fan of failing marriage stories) and I found the ending too wholly open to be satisfying. ( )
  jen.e.moore | Mar 7, 2018 |
The only reason this is getting 3 stars instead of 2 is that it was initially so good! Unfortunately the final third of the book (from about the time when Julie jumps out of the window) went completely off the rails. I get that Jemc was trying to do a literary fiction/stream of consciousness style thing but it just really didn't work for me and I finished the book feeling very disappointed that all the potential from the first 150 pages or so was wasted. ( )
  plumtingz | Dec 14, 2017 |
I got this book as part of the Nocturnal Reader’s Box August haul, and I was so excited to read it. I love me a good haunted house book, and this one promised to deliver something original.

Julie and James are your typical couple, who decide to move from the city to the suburbs after some personal troubles. They come across the perfect house at a too-good-to-be-believed price (I’m sure you can guess where we’re headed from here). The house comes complete with mysterious hidden passages and rooms, a creepy neighbor, strange children playing in the woods, trees that slowly creep up on the house, an unmarked grave, and a rotten spot in the basement that seems to be growing in size. As events spiral out of control, it becomes less clear if it is the house or the people living in it who are haunted.

This book was so so so much fun! I started reading it at night while home alone (a terrible, terrible idea). I had to stop the book, sleep with the lights on, and then finish it the next morning sitting in a pool of sunshine. There are some truly creepy moments in this book, especially for those of us (like me) who recently bought an older house.

The book is told in alternating first-person chapters from both Julie and James’ points of view. Sometimes events overlap, and sometimes what happens seems to be at odds with what the other is experiencing. The tone of the book begins in a fairly straightforward manner, but both Julie and James’ narratives begin breaking down as the story moves along. All in all, the book reminds me of House of Leaves by MarK Z. Danielewski, but without all the superfluous bits that distracted from the story. The Grip of It is a bare bones, scary as hell story. ( )
  irregularreader | Dec 8, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374536910, Paperback)

One of Nylon's "50 Books We Can't Wait To Read In 2017"

One of Chicago Reader's "Books We Can't Wait To Read In 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 house, 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 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 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 20 Mar 2017 15:21:59 -0400)

"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 house, 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."-- "A chilling literary horror novel about a young couple who purchase and live in a haunted house"--… (more)

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