The Horror Honeys: Hardcover Honey's Book of the Week!

Hardcover Honey's Book of the Week!

Come Closer by Sara Gran 

There are certain books that really get under your skin and stay with you years after you read them.  For me, Sara Gran's 2003 novel “Come Closer” is one of these.  I don't use the term “under your skin” by accident here – this slim book centers on perfectly average Amanda, a happily married young architect, who lives with her husband, the blandly affectionate Ed, in a chic industrial loft in an undefined city that feels a lot like Chicago.  Amanda and Ed are young, healthy, and in love, so when things in Amanda's life start to seem off-kilter, they don't take much notice at first.  Until, eventually, off-kilter becomes tragic.

With the entire book coming in at less than 200 pages, it shouldn't be a surprise that things get off to a quick start in the first few pages, wherein Amanda's boss finds profanity and abusive language in a proposal of hers – she is able to laugh it off as a possible prank, but leaves the office wondering how such a thing could have happened.  That night at dinner, as she starts to share the workplace mystery with Ed, they notice a tapping sound in the kitchen.  Unable to trace the sound, they assume a mouse must be skittering around behind the walls somewhere, and despite their phalanx of efforts to trap and kill said mouse, no rodent is ever caught and the tapping continues.  Not only does it continue, it gets worse.  And oddly, it disappears when Amanda is at a conference on the West Coast and Ed is home alone, but continues unabated when Amanda is home and Ed is traveling.

Soon after the tapping begins, Amanda and Ed begin to fight.  Not terribly and not all the time.....just a little bickering a first, Amanda not knowing that things will soon escalate.  The night that Ed comes home several hours late for a Valentine's Day dinner and the fighting reaches new heights for them, Amanda dreams of a red ocean with darker red sand, and a beautiful raven-haired woman who comes out of the ocean and asks Amanda “Can I stay with you?” - Amanda writes “yes” in the sand and the woman writes her own name in the sand.....Naamah.  For those of you who are too busy to Google, Naamah is a biblical name with several references, including being the second wife of Adam. And there is at least one reference to her being a demon succubus.  

Amanda's life after this dream starts to twist and turn in ever more troubling ways.  She takes up smoking again.  When she orders a book called Design Issues Past and Present for work, she is mistakenly delivered a book called Demon Possession Past and Present instead.  When she takes the “Are You Possessed By A Demon” quiz inside, which includes statements like “I hear strange noises in my home, especially at night”, “I have urges to hurt or kill animals and other people”, and “I have unusual new thoughts, or hear voices in my head”, she scores a 4 out of ten.  That night, she dreams of Naamah again.   Things continue to get weirder – Amanda is detained for shoplifting, a dark crimson lipstick she wouldn't normally dream of wearing, she finds herself stopping in at bars near her office and losing hours there with inappropriate men, her road rage, and her irritations with Ed are reaching dangerous crescendos.....and the next time she takes the quiz, she scores a five.  On a beach vacation with some married friends, Amanda finds herself in the water near a struggling swimmer, where she experiences the desire to pull the girl under rather than out of the water to safety.  

The psychic she sees is unable to help, her therapist seems to think she is being silly by asking for assistance, a church leader she visits works up a completely inadequate “depossession” (“we don't use the e-word around here”), and all the while her murderous urges are growing.  This is a one-day read that will twist inside your brain the next time you find yourself snapping at your spouse, or day-dreaming about kicking the person standing too close behind you in the supermarket line.  

Hardcover Honey's verdict: Five bloody bookworms out of five for this memorable tale.