Look at this book in the photo. The grip of it ironically. It wouldn't even stay closed flat which may have been more appealing for the photograph. The cover page is completely ajar because I carried this book everywhere with me. It captivated me and had my complete attention where I cracked the spine, folded it back so many times as a way to seek reader-comfort from this twisty and terrifying narrative. As the last page was closed, I am still thinking about what I just read.
"The blankness of her eyes has filled her entire face. The Julie I know is nowhere to be found. A fire is lit inside her. I try to take her hand again. She rips it back. She shoves my shoulder, I stand and step away from her. Her strength startles me."
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.
This is an incredibly well written book. What I thought, in the beginning, was the story of a house haunting turned out to be something far more deeper in context. What I found most interesting about the two main characters, James and Julie, is the way in which pieces of their personality; of who they are begin to take shape in this house in the form of a dark entity. Julie - who has a type A personality; very controlling, and James who is polar opposite of her - a loose cannon with a gambling problem see the worst part of themselves by way of what the house reveals to them.
They are trying to make sense of a new life which I think makes this story so unique. Jemc seems to delve more into their emotional instability accompanied by some sort of haunting rather than a haunting causing it which makes this such an ambiguous story. During James and Julie's descension into "madness", I liked the relationship maintained between her and Connie, Julie's oldest friend and college roommate. She is snarky and a bit sarcastic and tries to understand and help Julie make sense of her "delusions". Connie's voice in the story was subtle but powerful at the same time. She's the friend every woman needs to have; open and honest. She knows there is something amiss but needs Julie to get a grip on reality which neither James or Julie could do with ease.
One of the more interesting characters in the story was Rolf the very creepy neighbor who stares at James and Julie often from the window of his home. He disappears for awhile and returns in the later half of the story. I had difficulty figuring out exactly what he represented in the story, but I feel like that is what Jemc wants for the reader; to interpret these events and characters in a number of ways. Something tragic happened in that home before James and Julie moved in and Rolf is aware that the same darkness that plagues James and Julie, plagued the previous family. I think Rolf, although I didn't find much explanation about him, is plagued himself with the same darkness that blankets the woods and lake where they live. He's a watcher.
In reading several reviews after finishing this book, it seems a lot of readers were not pleased with the open ended aspect of it, but that is why I enjoyed it. A quarter of the way through the story there is mention of asbestos in the house which I thought maybe made Julie extremely sick and causes some sort ofneurological dysfunction. Therefore causing her delusions, but as I kept reading I realized that there were still drawings on the wall of the house that were unexplained. Most likely drawn by the children of the family that once lived there. I still can't figure out if it is a combination of both. This is what makes this story intriguing. There seems to be quite a few unanswered questions about this couples grip on reality or lack thereof.
"There is still a chance that everything might be true, that we both might be filled with scars and substances that cause our synapses to fire inefficiently, that cause us to make decisions that are unwise and fantastic, and believed, but that is not to say that the world outside our minds is reasonable."
I definitely recommend this book especially if you are seeking a non traditional psychological thriller. The only factor stopping me from giving this book a full five stars is the that is was a bit slow for me in the beginning.
My rating: 4/5