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

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

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?

Read some great reviews from our Preview readers here:

This novel is described as ‘tense and terrifying’. Tense is accurate. Terrifying not so much. Thought-provoking, yes. Whilst reading I was taken back to times I found myself alone in my childhood home or my current home, and those creaks and pops that come out of nowhere, intensifying the notion that we are not alone. These noises make us sit still, alert, and listening for the next sound of the house talking to us, telling us something. It’s just the house settling, the sun on the tin roof, the wind through the cracks……but it really could be so much more. I was grateful for the short chapters of this novel. Allowing me to reflect on Elsie and the person she must be, the feelings she must harbour. Is she tiny? She must certainly be strong. Strong of build and strong mind. Was she lonely, no. Is she clever, yes. To be so connected to a home to want to live in it unseen from its occupants and the wider world is all the comfort she needed. To have that comfort and protection interrupted by Trause, made me anxious for Elise and anxious for what have the boys done. I loved the last three chapters – The End, In the Morning and Memento. All three giving the reader insight into the lives of the characters as they go on and grow. The visual clarification that the girl in the wall may be your ghost, but also a living, breathing being capable of love and compassion. I’m glad I got to read this novel and will be sharing my experience with my brother and sister. We didn’t have someone living in our walls but we sure did freak ourselves out believing we did. – Sharon, QLD, 5 Stars

What a fascinating book, I loved it. From the very beginning, I was seduced to keep reading as each chapter provided me with greater detail so I just wanted to read more. Houses are living beings and all have stories to tell, who hasn’t heard their house talking to them in some way. As children, we all learn noises that our homes make and live in fear of these sounds and unusual silences. We similarly know where all the great hiding and safe places are when we need to escape. Through the eyes of teenagers Eddie and Marshall the blurred lines of reality and imaginary are examined in an enthralling way. The story leaves nothing to chance, there are some heroin’s to make Elise’s existence virtuous and of course what would we do without at least one evil villain. Elise, such a tragic course of events that leave her grappling to find her place, her belonging. Anyone who reads this book will relate their own experiences in some way, how will it touch you? – Kerry, VIC, 5 Stars

We’ve all heard creaks and groans in a house that we ignore. What if something or someone was really there, living quietly, hidden from view. Is it imagination? Is it real? Is it possible? A.J.Gnuse paints a full picture of a rundown home with an unwanted intruder living in the walls. Eleven-year-old Elise lived in the home with her parents before the accident that made her an orphan. She escapes foster care, to the home that keeps her memories. The Mason family call the same house their home now, so Elise has to hide. She knows every creaky board in the old fixer-upper to avoid and how to slip quietly into the walls unseen. Nothing lasts forever and Elise makes mistakes that Eddie Mason and his overpowering brother, Marshall notice. When items go missing and food disappears, the brothers turn to each other to find a solution. Should they be afraid? Should they tell their parents? Is their solution a much worse idea? Definitely a book I couldn’t put down. I loved the descriptions that filled my heart with fear as Elise fought hard to stay where she felt she belonged. A brilliant debut novel that I loved. – Helen, QLD, 5 Stars

A.J Gnuse has written a magical and imaginative debut with Girl in the Walls. I certainly haven’t read anything quite like this before. We meet Elise, who is the sole survivor of an accident that killed her parents. With nobody nearby to take care of her, she is sent to a foster home. Elise doesn’t even last one night. Instead, she finds her way home. To Elise, the house she lived in with her parents evoked happy memories. Understandingly, she doesn’t want to let these memories go. She feels safe there. So, she sets up camp in the walls, only emerging when it’s safe to meet her daily needs. Elise shares her home with the Morgan family. The youngest son, Eddie can sense Elise. Pretty soon, so can his elder brother Marshall. Their parents don’t believe them. The brothers think she’s a threat. But, can you evict someone that doesn’t exist? Girl in the Walls is certainly one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. I honestly didn’t think that I would love it as much as I did. You’re in for a treat readers! – Bec, QLD, 5 Stars

What a great read and concept for a book. Although the book starts out slow the storyline picks up the pace by a quarter of the way through when the plot starts to spiral and really reveal itself which kept me reading and had me hooked by halfway. The book has mystery and suspense yet also grief and loneliness. I loved the deep and descriptive narrative, how the scenes and scenery were set with pictures forming in my mind of the girl, the house and the Mason family. The Girl in the Walls had me thinking what if, why and how the human psyche works and gets affected by what happens and what’s around us. Highly recommend The Girl in Walls it goes deep in more ways than one. – Simone, WA, 5 Stars

Tracy Sedgewick WA Not my usual genre but devoured it within a day. It drew me in and I could not stop until I reached the end which did not disappoint. Cannot wait to read another by this author. Definitely another author on my to-read list once more are written. Such a way with words that evokes feelings and investment in the characters written. Fabulous read. – Tracey, WA, 5 Stars

This is a great debut from A.J. Gnuse. Right from the chilling prologue, by the unknown J.T., ‘The Girl in the Walls’ hooks the reader in. I found this book haunting, and although some parts of the book are certainly scary, it left me with an unexpected feeling of sadness. Cancel all of your plans – you will want to read this book in one sitting! – Anne, VIC, 5 Stars

This was such a unique story with a brilliantly created haunting, gothic atmosphere. I loved the sense of place evoked by the house and it was the perfect setting for a great cast of characters. Elise was so endearing and I really felt for her, her desire to stay in her family home and the lengths she went to remain hidden. I loved brothers Eddie and Marshall, who now live in Elise’s family home. I enjoyed their different reactions to the presence of Elise in the house and also how their sibling relationship grows and develops. Jonah Traust was perfectly wicked and a great villain. The short chapters created a fast-paced tension, which had me on the edge of my seat, and Elise’s manoeuvres in the walls had me very attuned to the slightest noise! I really enjoyed this well-written, engrossing debut. – Sharon, VIC, 4 Stars

I was expecting a novel about ghosts and spirits and was surprised to find that wasn’t the case with Girl In the Walls. A gripping read right to the end, I found myself wanting Elise to reveal herself, while at the same time wanting her to stay hidden and safe. The author describes the house so beautifully with its creaks, groans, hidden spaces and walls within walls, that it too feels like it is alive. A great thriller, that had me listening for sounds in my own house, I would recommend it to other readers for sure. – Kristie, NSW, 4 Stars

I received this book as part of #BRPreview. I am not usually a gothic novel reader so was initially apprehensive. The story ticks all the boxes when it comes to the conventions of a Gothic novel but it is not Frankenstein. This is American Southern Gothic literature; something quite different. The setting is in the months leading up to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. At first, I wrestled with the premise of a young girl living inside the walls of her old home while a new family lived there. As she climbed up and down inside the walls like a spider monkey, I was mentally sputtering “Preposterous!”. But I have lived long enough now to know nothing is impossible. Once disbelief was suspended, I had a fine old time, scaring myself silly with the “monster” who inevitably shows up. This book is a triumph on many levels: the writing, the characters, the pacing. I loved the short little chapters. They helped ease me into the story and made me feel I could dip my toes in carefully. A big thank you to all who brought this story to life. So many important ideas to think and talk about. Great job! – Alex, QLD, 4 Stars

Slow to commence, but gaining in intrigue, this book is a fabulous Sunday afternoon read between eating grapes and naps. A sweet book worth the read. – Stacey, WA, 4 Stars

Absolutely enjoyed this book. I was expecting something very scary, bordering on horror. I wasn’t disappointed in the least. Was captivated from the first chapter of another clever and well-written book. Touching on subjects such as grief would be hard to write about and bring to life someone’s story. Well done Gnuse. – Annette, NSW, 4 Stars

The book is a disturbing read, and an original take on dealing with grief, loss, growing up and coming to terms with change. Houses are usually depicted as solid places of safety and security, but the house that’s central to this novel is a metaphor for the emotional turmoil being experienced by Elise and Eddie, albeit for very different reasons. Never the sturdy and reliable safe haven both characters imagine and want it to be – something always needs fixing – as the walls of the house are shattered, so are the walls Elise has built around her grief, and those autistic Eddie has constructed to protect himself from the outside world. Elise’s coping strategies are hiding, maintaining stillness, and staying quiet as she struggles to come to terms with the trauma of loss, but her tactics living as she does, and for so long, stretched my credulity. The story successfully weaves nature, books, myths and legends and friendships, leading neatly, if predictably, to the moment when the villain makes his entrance. Short chapters help maintain page-turning momentum. The book is an enjoyable read, if not one I would normally select. – Anne, TAS, 3 Stars

A fascinating book to read. Very easy reading with short chapters. A little intimidating sometimes glad I wasn’t in the house alone after some chapters. Loved most of the characters the girl and boys. A type of book hard to put down and wanting an outcome but then not wanting it to end. Could be a great movie good luck to the writer for that to happen. – Jim, QLD, 3 Stars

It is very rare for me to not give a book a go, but at 50 pages I could not continue reading this book. I was under the impression when I applied that this was a mystery and thriller which I enjoy. It is comprised of short chapters and seems to be going nowhere, so I have stopped reading. Life is too short to waste time on average books. I read widely, being a librarian (95 books last year) and this is the first time I have received a book to review. I will be more selective in the future as to what to apply for. Thank you Better Reading for the opportunity to read this book but it was a big miss for me. – Janine, VIC, 2 Stars

Girl in the walls lost me in the first ten minutes. I couldn’t get into the story, and all I kept reading about was a cat. There was no storyline. I’m sorry but I found this book completely boring and stopped reading it after chapter three. Even my husband put it down after fives minutes of reading. Thanks for the opportunity for letting me review this book. Keep going A. J. Gnuse, great try. – Josephine, VIC, 1 Star

Reviews

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

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

    Review | Our Review

    16 March 2021

    A Mesmerising Gothic Debut: Read our Review of 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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