“I watched the house. It watched me back through long, baleful windows.”
If you peruse my bookish scribblings on the regular, you’ll know that should you hand me anything written by my favourite of favourites, Gillian Flynn, I’ll be a most blissfully content little bookworm. And while The Grownup is a mere 65-page tumble into Ms Flynn’s dark literary conjurings, it is a very satisfying one indeed.
A young woman, dabbling in the fine art of faking psychic intuition (and moonlighting as a sex worker, on the side), is approached by a woman named Susan Burke, who is convinced that the Victorian mansion – aptly called Carterhook Manor, a name bound to delight anyone fond of dwellings cloaked in mystery – she shares with her family, is possessed by a malevolent entity. Even more troubling, the house seems to influence her 15-year-old stepson, Miles in a peculiar way. Miles is the type of cold, calculated teenaged boy you dread encountering in a dilapidated hallway even more than you would a little girl ghost. Our initially sceptic protagonist is equally uneasy about both his strange behaviour towards her, as well as his seemingly unperturbed attitude towards the unnerving occurrences within the manor. And once she learns the truth about the mansion and its current inhabitants, in a most delicious twist, she finds herself entangled in a set of very unique circumstances.
Besides her excellent writing, Flynn has a talent for creating characters that are particularly devious, damaged or emotionally stumped. In this novella, just like her books, I deeply enjoyed her diversely damaged cast: the neurotic mother and wife, the lady drifter looking to make a quick buck and unafraid to exploit others or herself, and then the addition of Miles. Creepy, creepy Miles.
This story had me goosebumpy and chewing a thumbnail to the quick, long before the final page. A highly recommended read.