By the Sea of Blood, She Will Never Leave You

Author: Sara Gran

It starts small. Almost easy to ignore. A tapping in their apartment, a relentless noise that travels and follows her. A noise that goes away when she is out. And then there come the inexplicable circumstances: the memo she wrote that was replaced by a string of obscene taunts towards her boss, her return to smoking, the dreams of a blood red sea at night where a dark-haired woman with fangs lies beside her and promises to never leave.

At first, Amanda dismisses everything as circumstantial. A mouse in the walls. A disgruntled fellow employee playing a joke. Her own marital resentment rising. Memories of a vivid imaginary friend from childhood. But then she gets the book, How to Tell if You are Demon Possessed, and slowly, ever so slowly, she starts to lose herself. First in small portions, moments of absence where she acts without thinking. But then everything starts to gather force. The voice inside her, the changing lifestyle, her disintegrating marriage, and checkmarks in the book beside each escalating sign. Should Amanda seek help or subtly give in to this unraveling, this overtaking?

Come Closer is a short book, yet it is insidious, worming its way into our deepest fears and the slumbering subconscious where waking horrors walk. Amanda is your everywoman; her life is normal. Her angst with her husband (and vice versa) nothing out of the ordinary. And the change is so subtle, the shift something that could easily be discounted, except author Sara Gran slowly cranks up the gas as Amanda, who is on some level aware, refuses to acknowledge the reality of what is happening unit it is far too late.

This is a quick read, but it gets in your mind. The imagery is stark, quick, and as Amanda’s black outs grow, consuming days, the author pulls her psychological punches, the true horror of actions being in what is seen peripherally, what is hinted and guessed. Occasionally we see the shifting horror unveiling itself, especially towards the end, but the true terror here is in the unsaid, the unseen, the inexplicable. It’s never truly gory, but the concept and the destruction are gruesome and intimately terrifying.

This is my first encounter with Sara Gran, but it won’t be my last. Come Closer packed so much into under 200 pages. It’s understated elegance, it’s surreal dirge state of normal days morphing into something with a palpating, putrescent life, is evocative at a gut level. You’ll never hear a mouse in the walls again with quite the same feeling or watch the glowing ember dipping at the end of a cigarette without a certain mortal terror.

– Frances Carden

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Frances Carden
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