Epeolatry Book Review: It Will Just Be Us by Jo Kaplan


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Title: It Will Just Be Us
Author: Jo Kaplan
Genre: Vampire Thriller
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Release Date: 8th Sept, 2020

Synopsis: A terrifying new gothic horror novel about two sisters and a haunted house that never sleeps, perfect for fans of Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle.

They say there’s a door in Wakefield that never opens…

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.

I love Shirley Jackson. I love haunted house stories. Most of all, I love a great ending. Kaplan’s novel delivers all three. This is a gothic tale about an eyesore of a mansion on the edge of a swamp. Wakefield Manor is inhabited by ghostly memories, literally. There’s a twisted spine of a staircase and broken furniture covered in white sheets. Her book centers around a family of women and their conflicts. But this is not about the past. A new appearance—the future—takes center stage, and it’s in the form of a creepy kid.

This is Samantha Wakefield’s narrative, written in first person point of view. Sam, her pregnant sister Elizabeth, and their mother Agnes, reside in the home. They are unafraid, yet unhappy. Kaplan writes that the house is webbed in shadows of the distant past. “I have seen memories here that are too old for me to remember, older even then my mother and my grandmother…”

Sam is privy to apparitions of her younger self and of her ancestors. Sam’s visions are harmless and untouchable… Until the futuristic child enters the picture, a faceless boy, her sister’s unborn baby.

It’s easy to recognize the unapologetic inspiration from Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle. In fact, Kaplan’s story invokes many recognizable character names: Julian, Agnes, Jonah, Clementine, Constance, and Meriday. But don’t be mistaken—this is not a retelling of Jackson’s classic. Kaplan’s fresh prose includes an entity in the swamp, a dark hallway, and a secret locked room. This slow burner lingered in my imagination long after I put it down.

5/5 stars

Available from Bookshop and Amazon.

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