10 February 2021

Girl in the Walls


By A. J. Gnuse
Literary Fiction

My Review

A tragic car accident claims the lives of Elise's parents, making her an orphan at 11 years old. She's placed into foster care but runs away — returning to her childhood home where she felt safe and happy. But the house has new owners, the Masons, and needing to hide, she conceals herself inside the walls

The Mason boys, Eddie and Marshall, sense a presence within their home; a figure creeping among the shadows while the family sleeps. Elder brother Marshall researches the phenomenon online and exchanges emails with a man who claims he can rid the house of its unwanted guest. Little do the brothers know what they're getting into and what the consequences will be.

Girl in the Walls is a beautifully written book which deals with loss and grief in a highly originally way. You can't help but be moved by it. However, the story is slow-paced and not at all what I expected. Billed as a 'gothic tale', I wasn't prepared for its contemporary setting. I envisioned flickering candlelight and bumps in the night but what I got was Pop Tarts and Raisin Bran. Yes, I was little disappointed. By 60% not a lot had actually happened.

Whilst I enjoyed the wonderful writing and the gradual bonding of the brothers, I felt bogged down by the weight of a story that took such a long time to go anywhere.   

Book Source: Review copy from the publisher
My Rating ⭐⭐⭐

Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Fourth Estate (1st April 2021)

The Blurb

She doesn’t exist. She can’t exist.

Elise knows every inch of the house. She knows which boards will creak. She knows where the gaps are in the walls. She knows which parts can take her in, hide her away. It’s home, after all. The home her parents made for her. And home is where you stay, no matter what.

Eddie is a teenager now, almost a grown-up. He must no longer believe in the girl he sometimes sees our of the corner of his eye. He needs her to disappear. But when his fierce older brother senses her, too, they are faced with the question of how to get rid of someone they aren’t sure even exists.

And, if they cast her out, what other threats might they invite into their home?

The Author

A native of New Orleans, A. J. Gnuse received an MFA in fiction from UNC Wilmington and was a Kenyon Review Peter Taylor fellow. 

His short stories have been published in Gulf Coast, Los Angeles Review, New South, Passages North, Potomac Review, and other magazines. His debut novel, Girl in the Walls, will be published by Fourth Estate and Ecco in 2021. 

He lives in Texas.

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