Demonic possession has always had a place in the collective consciousness. The New Testament holds about 30 examples of it, and many supposedly true stories – the Loudun possessions and the story of Roland Doe – have inspired books and films (Aldous Huxley’s The Devils of Loudun and The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty respectively).
In recent years the phenomenon has received something of a resurgence in popularity, particularly in the found footage genre of horror films – The Blair Witch Project and the Paranormal Activity series were wildly successful.
Come Closer, from 2003, seems to have predicted the popularity of stories in which the main character is the vessel for possession. It’s an interesting twist on a familiar story. We see a woman slowly turn, are allowed into her research process, and of course the first-person violence that usually happens in amongst these possessions.
The main thing the novel lacks is length, or detail. Running to a mere 180 pages, there isn’t much room to become acquainted with the real Amanda. With a touch more foreshadowing, getting to know Amanda in her usual incarnation could’ve made the transformation much more satisfyingly horrible.
This isn’t to say the novel isn’t successful. The relationship between Amanda and her husband is well realised, and her inability to communicate what she’s thinking contributes to the horror. The research is interesting and touches on occult Kaballah texts, discussing Adam, Eve and Lilith.
Overall, Come Closer is a successful horror novel with an interesting take on one of the more intelligent subgenres of horror. With a little more rounding out, this novel could’ve been one of the best of its kind, though for a debut it is promising. Sara Gran has gone on to write several successful crime novels, though hopefully she will one day try her hand at horror again.