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The Grip of It

The Grip of It

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Shortlisted for the Chicago Review of Books Fiction Award 

Finalist for the Goodreads Readers' Choice Awards in Horror

Preliminary Ballot in the Novel Category for the Bram Stoker Awards


"I mean this in the best possible way: Jac Jemc gives me the creeps. The Grip of It deserves a spot on the shelf beside Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, Henry James's The Turn of the Screw, and Mark Danielewski's House of Leaves -- not only because it is a masterful haunted house story, but because it, like its literary predecessors, is elegantly written, psychologically rich, and damn terrifying."

            -- Benjamin Percy, author of The Dark Net, The Dead Lands, Thrill Me and Red Moon 

"The Grip of It is a stunning, smart, genuinely creepy page-turner that I couldn't put down. It's got depth, thrills, twists, and great writing. I'd recommend this novel to anyone. One of the few haunted house stories that sticks the landing."

           -- Jeff VanderMeer, author of the Southern Reach trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance), Borne and City of Saints & Madmen

"Jac Jemc's novel gets into your brain from the first page,  then steadily gasses you with a sense of growing dread.   The Grip of It is a beautifully built scare ride,  and also a surprisingly moving and trenchant portrait of married Millennials.  It held me in its grip and squeezed."  

           -- Dan Chaon,  author of Ill Will, Await Your Reply, and You Remind Me of Me

"Quick and haunting, stark and unsettling, every page of this novel is a shingle laid over the dark heart of a couple in quiet crisis. Take shelter!"

           -- Amelia Gray, author of IsadoraThreats, Gutshot, Museum of the Weird, and AM/PM

"A horror story, a love story, an astute exploration of the unreliability of thought and perception, Jac Jemc's brilliant and moving novel challenges and enlightens on every page. I couldn't put it down."

           -- Stephen O'Connor, author of Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings




- Entertainment Weekly

"The novelist weaves insidious, lyrical prose into a chilling take on a marriage's implosion and sets it in a haunted house whose inhabitants hold as many secrets as the structure itself."

- O: The Oprah Magazine

"Not only do these woods seem to inch closer and closer to the house every day, but...mysterious bruises appear on their bodies, a creepy old neighbor spies on them, eerie writings appear on the walls, and more. Cliches? Of course they are, but that doesn’t mean this novel still won’t scare the shit out of you."

- W Magazine

"Purchase a night-light before reading. And maybe some pepper spray." 

- Marie Claire

"The suspense builds relentlessly in short, lyrical chapters...As chilling as it is evocative."

- Chicago Tribune

"Absolutely fantastic."

- WBEZ, Chicago Public Radio

"Shivery and smart. A book that brings the legacy of Henry James into the modern world with great effect."

- Kirkus Reviews (Starred)

"Short chapters bounce between James’s and Julie’s perspectives, and as the author ratchets up the tension, the reader eagerly follows. The conclusion is the perfect cap to a story full of genuine frights."

- Publishers Weekly (Starred)

"For connoisseurs of the “new weird” and literary/psychological horror à la Mark Z. ­Danielewski’s House of Leaves and ­Marisha Pessl’s Night Film.”

–Library Journal (Starred) 

"A masterclass in psychological horror. A cerebral haunting in book form, a page-turning, suspenseful read that will stay with you long after you’ve finished it." 

- Electric Literature

"Jemc explodes all the haunted house clichés."


"Told in a luxuriously looping style that examines experiences from two points of view, this seemingly typical haunted house tale takes some very unexpected turns. Jemc has created a frightening world that feels both impossible and altogether too real. Prepare to read this in one sitting and think about it for days to come."

- Booklist

"I recently devoured Jac Jemc’s The Grip Of It in a little under two days. I’ve never read much horror fiction, but I can’t imagine it gets much better than this."

- AV Club

"It’s the kind of story where it feels familiar and yet, you have no idea what’s coming. Just a dynamite book."

- The Seattle Times

"You may find “The Grip Of It” keeping you awake at night, not because it's a traditional horror novel but because Jemc effortlessly weaves threads of reality and the abstract into an unsettling lens that distorts perception itself."

- The Oklahoman

"Simply put, we need more books like this, books that allow us fear without forcing themselves on us with a two dimensional ta-da."

- Vol. 1 Brooklyn

"That distance—the distance between what your relationship feels like on the inside and what it looks like to the outside observer—is the space Jac Jemc productively exploits to some mighty frightful ends in her new novel, The Grip of It."

- The Stranger

"It’s a wonderfully unsettling and terrifying book written beautifully. To all the ravenous fans of the horror genre looking to devour a smart, creepy, and well written book, this is one that once you start, you won’t be able to put down."

- Heavy Feather Review

"Magnificently unsettling, a tale of haunted places like no other."

- Literary Hub

"This novel feels both familiar and disorienting, and both Gothic and modern — a reflection of Jemc’s masterful talent." 

- The National Book Review

"This contemporary haunting is unsettlingly plausible. Short chapters alternate narrative viewpoints and contribute to the feel of a ritual being played out.  Jemc makes readers ask: What happens when walls go up—in a house, in a relationship? What’s the difference between being trapped and being free? Just as Julie cries about the gap that has formed between the couple, the two find physical holes in the house similarly impossible to bridge." 

- Library Journal "Books for Dudes"

"Forget HGTV's House Hunters—the young couple in this Shirley Jackson-esque contemporary horror story are house hunted."

- Chicago Reader

"'The Grip of It'  left me with the feeling of being gaslighted—made to feel crazy while being manipulated. Was the book really about what I thought it was about? 'The Grip of It' closes with unnerving ambiguity, allowing the reader to imagine the options."

- NewCity

"A dark psychological thriller that effectively uses the destruction within a couple's new home as a funhouse mirror to reflect the emotional disintegration that occurs after trust and honesty collapse."

- Shelf Awareness

"Once Jemc has your attention she never lets go right on up to the excellent ending."

- The Emerging Writers Network

"Intense, enthralling, and downright creepy."

- Hello Giggles

"A taut, but gradually mistrustful narrative full of hidden compartments that absorbs the reader just as the house does its owners."

- Bookshelf

"The prose is clean, the chapters short, and the pacing tight. You could even read it in a single sitting if you wanted, and it’s engaging enough that the decision to do so might end up outside your control. It might just happen, you looking at the clock afterward and wondering where the time disappeared to."

- Heradas Review

"Reading The Grip of It provides many of those wonderfully odd literary experiences, little paradoxes, where a read can trigger delight over the strength and surprise of the writing and also soak a reader in cold dread. It is at once fast-paced and a slow burn that will entertain those looking for a good scare as well as those who like a little literary meat with their bones."

- Spectrum Culture

"The Grip of It by Jac Jemc is everything you wished Jay Ansen’s The Amityville Horror had been: smart, elegantly written, and terrifying."

- Winnipeg Free Press

"Perhaps that is all we can do when faced with the myriad of experiences that unsettle, that linger without explanation: a quiet resolution to fix the crooked frame."

- Zyzzyva

"Jac Jemc’s new book The Grip of It—which oozes with uncertainty, dread and ambiguity—is one of the creepiest things I’ve read in a long time." 

- San Diego City Beat

"My favorite haunted house novel since House of Leaves."

- Chicago Review of Books


Subscription Boxes

Nocturnal Readers: Horror August 2017

Page Habit: Horror August 2017

Powell's Indiespensable (ARC insert with Jeff VanderMeer's Borne), April 2017



Entertainment Weekly: 13 Books to Read in August

Men's Journal: The 7 Best Books of August

W Magazine: 10 Hottest New Books to Read Right Now

WBEZ (NPR) Morning Shift: Books You Should Add to Your Summer Reading List

Nylon Magazine: 50 Books We Can't Wait to Read in 2017

Vulture: 10 Best Thrillers of 2017

Entropy: Best Fiction Books of 2017

Mental Floss: 11 Women Horror Writers You Need to Read

Minneapolis Public Radio: 7 Most Haunted Houses in Literature

BookRiot: Halloween Reading - Definitive Guide to Recent Horror Books

Chicago Reader: Books We Can't Wait to Read in 2017 & Summer Guide Reading List Beach Reads

Literary Hub: 14 Books to Read This August

The Orange County Register: Five Great Summer Reads

Library Journal: Literary Fiction Previews

Chicago Review of Books - 12 Books You Should Definitely Read this August

Chicago Magazine: Six Books to Put on Your Summer Reading List

The Millions: August Preview - Most Anticipated

Tulsa World: Five to Find - Modern Hauntings



The Chicago Tribune

The Barnes and Noble Review

The Rumpus, w/ Anne Valente

Fanzine, w/ Amber Sparks

Southeast Fiction, w/ Chelsea Voulgares

Electric Literature, w/ Martin Seay

Make Magazine, w/ Timothy Moore

Chicago Review of Books, w/ Adam Morgan


Bearded Boy Books

Deltona Howl




Barnes and Noble Readouts

Lit Hub

Two Serious Ladies

Black Candies


Related Reading

FSG Work in Progress - The Shadow Chamber, The Boarding House, The Grip of It

Lit Hub - Books to Warp Your Sense of Reality

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New York Times: Open Book