TITLE: It Will Just be Us
AUTHOR: Jo Kaplan
RELEASE DATE: September 8, 2020
PUBLISHER: Crooked Lane Books
GENRE(S): Contemporary, Horror, Supernatural, Family
Thank you to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for my DRC in exchange for my honest review.
Sam Wakefield’s ancestral home, a decaying mansion built on the edge of a swamp, isn’t a place for children. Its labyrinthine halls, built by her mad ancestors, are filled with echoes of the past: ghosts and memories knotted together as one. In the presence of phantoms, it’s all Sam can do to disentangle past from present in her daily life. But when her pregnant sister Elizabeth moves in after a fight with her husband, something in the house shifts. Already navigating her tumultuous relationship with Elizabeth, Sam is even more unsettled by the appearance of a new ghost: a faceless boy who commits disturbing acts—threatening animals, terrorizing other children, and following Sam into the depths of the house wielding a knife. When it becomes clear the boy is connected to a locked, forgotten room, one which is never entered, Sam realizes this ghost is not like the others. This boy brings doom. As Elizabeth’s due date approaches, Sam must unravel the mysteries of Wakefield before her sister brings new life into a house marked by death. But as the faceless boy grows stronger, Sam will learn that some doors should stay closed—and some secrets are safer locked away forever.
Through the winding halls and endless closed doors of Wakefield Manor, the sprawling house built in its enormity by Mad Catherine Wakefield, is full of ghosts. Generations of Wakefield spirits roam its three floors, showing you snippets of memories past. That is just the way of the house and the current inhabitants, Samantha Wakefield and her mother Agnes are so completely used to it that watching these flickering moments have just become part of their normal everyday life. Besides, these were their ancestors so there is no fear… in the daylight hours anyway.
When Sam’s sister, Elizabeth bangs on the door one night in the middle of a storm, her hair and clothes soaked and her belly protruding, they bring her inside. She is very vague with details, but announces that she has left her husband, Donovan and is moving back home to finish out her pregnancy.
With Lizzie in the house now, Sam is telling us, through her haphazard way, what is going on in the house and in their lives now as well as bits of interspersed information about the past, like her tumultuous relationship with her sister and her mother, what growing up in this house was like, and all of the stories she has pieced together about the manor’s and surrounding swamp land’s history through the reel of the house’s memories she has seen in all her years of living here.
When Sam becomes plagued by the visage of a cruel young boy who seems to love tormenting animals and people alike, she begins to feel the new shift in the house, a shift that is brought on by the arrival of her sister and her unborn son, Julian.
There are so many depths to this story and the history Jo Kaplan has created surrounding it. The immense swamplands on the back of the property hold so many strange and terrifying myths. Rich in history, these lands once held liberated slaves who took to the swamplands for a safe place to live out their stolen freedom. But the swamp has it’s own scary tales. These mingle with lore of the old house until it as all tangled together like the vines that snake from the acrid swamp marshes.
This was everything I look for in a horror novel. It was truly scary. I read it in the middle of the night, in the dark of my bedroom and found myself actually scared. Like didn’t want to leave the safety of my bed and didn’t dare go right to sleep afterward for fear of having nightmares.
The one great thing about the horror genre is that it is the one genre where you do not need a happy ending. You almost come to expect the ending to be unsatisfactory. This book ended just the way I wanted it to, honestly, the way I could already tell it was going to. Samantha was a great narrator, even though she was not always trustworthy or straightforward. You are being told the story from her mouth, from her perception and she isn’t always a great judge of character. This was absolutely wonderful and I will recommend this book to horror lovers and people looking for a fully comprehensive haunting tale.