A Mesmerising Gothic Debut: Read our Review of Girl in the Walls by A.J. Gnuse

A Mesmerising Gothic Debut: Read our Review of Girl in the Walls by A.J. Gnuse

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?

Written with grace and enormous heart, Girl in the Walls by debut author A.J Gnuse is a captivating and suspenseful coming-of-age novel about carrying on through grief, forging unconventional friendships, and realizing, little by little, that we don’t need to fear what we do not understand.

The novel follows eleven-year-old orphan Elise, as she hides within the walls of her former family home, watching the house’s new residents, the Masons, carry on with their lives. Though this might sound creepy, Elise is anything but; she’s intelligent and resourceful and perceptive and kind, and my heart ached for her as I followed her story and watched her grapple with the loss of her parents. Layer by layer, Gnuse slowly peels back the mystery of Elise, revealing how she came to be hidden with the walls of the Mason’s house – and what compels her to stay there.

Another standout feature of the novel is the house, which is almost a character in itself. Inspired in part by his own family home, Gnuse vividly brings the house to life, complete with creaking floorboards and hidden spaces. It’s the perfect setting for a gothic novel, and I was mesmerised by Gnuse’s detailed descriptions of the old house – so much so that I found myself re-reading particular passages out loud, which is always a sign that you’re in the hands of a capable and skilled storyteller.

Exquisitely written and highly original, Girl in the Walls is a powerful and haunting story of belonging and loss, perfect for fans of contemporary gothic fiction or readers looking for something a little different. It’s hard to believe that this is only A.J. Gnuse’s debut – it’s so remarkably done. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this author going forward.

Reviews

Your Preview Verdict: Girl in the Walls by A.J. Gnuse

Review | Preview

22 March 2021

Your Preview Verdict: Girl in the Walls by A.J. Gnuse

    Eerie and Beguiling: Read an Extract from Girl in the Walls by A.J. Gnuse

    Review | Extract

    16 March 2021

    Eerie and Beguiling: Read an Extract from Girl in the Walls by A.J. Gnuse

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        Publisher details

        Girl in the Walls
        Author
        A.J. Gnuse
        Publisher
        HarperCollins
        Genre
        Fiction
        Released
        03 March, 2021

        Synopsis

        '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?
        A.J. Gnuse
        About the author

        A.J. Gnuse

        A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, Adam Gnuse received an MFA in fiction from UNC Wilmington and was a 2018 Kenyon Review Summer Workshop Peter Taylor fellow. His short stories have been published, or are forthcoming, in GuernicaThe Los Angeles ReviewNew SouthPassages NorthThe Potomac ReviewThe Wisconsin Review, and other magazines. Girl in the Walls is Adam's first novel.

        Books by A.J. Gnuse

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