**** - Girl in the Walls
GIRL IN THE WALLS
She doesn’t exist. She can’t exist.
’Those who live in the walls must adjust, must twist themselves around in their home, stretching themselves until they’re as thin as air. Not everyone can do what they can. But soon enough, they can’t help themselves. Signs of their presence remain in a house. Eventually, every hidden thing is found.’
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 calls the same house his home. Eddie is almost a teenager now. He must no longer believe in the girl he sometimes sees from the corner of his eye. He needs her to disappear. But when his older brother senses her, too, they are faced with a question: how do they get rid of someone they aren’t sure even exists?
And, if they cast her out, what other threats might they invite in?
‘But people who go missing, they don’t always disappear.’
The idea of someone else living in your house unawares has become an urban legend and a bit of a creepy pasta, but it does have its roots in some creepy real-life stories! In the author’s notes at the end of Girl in the Walls, AJ Gnuse writes that he created Elise as a way to comfort him when hearing odd noises around his home. Although Elise is probably the nicest person you could hope to be unknowingly sharing your house with, this book certainly made me happy I live in a small flat with no gaps between the walls or dark corners for someone to lurk in! From newly freed jailed exes to convicted felons I think given the choice I’d rather have sweet Elise in my walls as well – she is young, quiet and respectful but it’s still a creepy situation.
Girl in the Walls is actually a story about trying to deal with grief and moving on with your life. Elise’s family die in a car crash and with nowhere else to go and no-one to turn to she instead returns to her family’s home to be around her childhood roots. It’s very touching and melancholic in places and it’s written very beautifully. It does feel a little like it drags in parts but then the action builds up with the introduction of JT. I was perhaps expecting more of a horror element of this book (I kept waiting for the twist that Elise had been dead all along or something) but actually it’s more of a human story than a horror.
JT was a scary villain and the idea of him trashing the beautiful old mansion was very sad. I liked that the author says he is the ‘what could be’ for Eddie – someone so obsessed with the idea of people living in the walls that he becomes deranged. I perhaps didn’t get this enough in the writing itself, just from the author’s notes at the end and I felt it needed to become a little clearer when we are introduced to him or in his email chains to the boys. There were a couple of plot holes as well – I understand that Eddie didn’t want to acknowledge that Elise might have been real but when his brother gets involved why do they not set up hidden cameras rather than inviting a stranger into their home? That would have saved a lot of grief! I also really liked the ending (no spoilers!) but I found it hard to believe the change in Elise’s character to just adapt to real life with no support system or base.
Overall, The Girl in the Walls is a hauntingly sad story which made me look at my own house in a completely different way! Thank you to NetGalley and 4th Estate for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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