Firstly: Many thanks to my wonderful roommate Ameni for lending me this book. Please do not take anything that follows as a lack of gratitude for your recommendation or a slam on your taste. This is definitely a well-written book, and I highly respect your taste in horror. Also, regardless of what follows, please do not feel bad. I assure you my current state of creepin' heebeejeebees will pass, and I will be right as rain tomorrow. :-)
That said, I want to start this review with a caveat: this will not be my most well-written review ever. I've just put the book down. While I could not bring myself to take a break from reading it, I needed copious amounts of wine to see myself through to the ending. That is because Sara Gran's Come Closer gives a fictional (yet hella convincing) first person account of the one thing guaranteed to scare me out of my brainpan: demon possession.
Hey, don't laugh! As I've mentioned elsewhere, ghosts are essentially harmless. Zombies are slow (unless they're RAGE infected, but I figure you'd get used to having to fight even those suckers off after a while), vampires can be dispatched of with garlic and pointy wood. Demon possession is another matter. It starts off subtley enough, its symptoms innocuous or vague enough to be explained away by a plethora of alternative causes. Once any connections are made to possession, the victim is pretty much screwed. Much like those obscure, almost-impossible-to-diagnose-yet-gruesomely-deadly diseases that are the reason I don't read science magazines anymore.
And it's not that you've been eaten or beaten or gnawed on or had "boo" whispered in your ear. Like the weeping angels in the Dr. Who episode "Blink," human-possessing demons rob you of your life and yourself without technically killing you. Once past the point of "aaaaaand now you're fucked," the victim is forced to share his/her body with an evil entity, watch all the hope and happiness of his/her old life slip irrevocably away, and accept the consequences of unspeakable actions commited by the entity that's decided to stake its claim on him/her.
Not that I actually, you know, believe in any of that stuff. Of course not. Heh-heh. How silly that would be...So what if I'm visiting a new church on Sunday? An agnostic can go to church if she wants to, right???
Okay, so needless to say, this book scared the crap out of me. So much so that I skipped the usual 24 hour period I usually give myself to mull a book over before writing about it. I want any and all thoughts I'm having about this book out of my head now, so I don't have to think about it ever again. You hear that, scary thoughts??? You're not welcome 'round these parts! Git! Scram! Shoo! You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here!
Sorry. Back to the book. I found the first-person aspect refreshing, and deeply moving. I face->palmed every time she rationalized or laughed off an odd occurance that clearly spelled D-E-M-O-N to the reader. At the same time, Gran makes these occurances banal and seemingly innocuous to make the reader question all the times they've acted out of character, shrugged off an unexplained noise in their home, spotted things out of the corner of their eye that seemed to vanish as soon as they were noticed.
Gran ratchets up the gut-wrenching factor of her story by adeptly juxtaposing the narrator's genuinely sweet nature, her good intentions and love for her husband, with the awful actions she commits under the demon's influence. As the story escalates, the narrator's sense of helplessness, that her body and soul are no longer her own, that perhaps nothing can help her, evokes a heartwrenching pathos to accompany the fear. As readers, we feel her life slip away from her with each chapter. Near the end, she lists many of the hopes and dreams she once carried that now seem irretrievably lost.
There's probably much more I should say, and what I have said could probably have stood to be much clearer and more coherent. But as I mentioned before, I'm in coping mode. I've had wine, and all I want is to get these thoughts out and to not have to revisit them anytime soon. This is why I like my horror campy. If you like to be genuinely disturbed, saddened, and haunted by your horror, this book should be right up your alley. For my part, Come Closer tops the list of Best Books I Never Ever Want To Read Again. (Really, Ameni--It was a really impressive book and I appreciate you lending it to me!) Never ever again.