Review: The Apartment by S. L. Grey
on October 4th 2016
A high-concept psychological chiller about a troubled married couple on a house swap from hell. An Anchor Original.
Mark and Steph live an idyllic life with their young daughter in sunny Cape Town until one day when three men in masks violently break in. Traumatized but physically unharmed, Mark and Steph are unable to return to normal and are living in constant fear. When a friend suggests they take a restorative vacation abroad via a popular house-swapping website, it sounds like the perfect plan. They find a nice artistic couple with a charming apartment in Paris who would love to come to Cape Town. How could Mark and Steph resist the idyllic, light-strewn pictures, and the promise of a romantic getaway? But once they arrive in Paris, they quickly realize that nothing is as advertised. As their perfect holiday takes a deadly turn, the cracks in their relationship grow ever wider and dark secrets from Mark’s past begin to emerge.
Deftly alternating between two complex and compelling narrators, The Apartment is a terrifying tour de force of horror, of psychological thrills, and of chilling suspense.
Looking for a fantastically creepy book to start off October? The Apartment by S. L. Grey may be just what you need. It is a haunting tale told through alternating perspectives from husband and wife, Marc and Steph. Both have been traumatized and then things start to get …. creepy.
I’ve read Sarah Lotz’s The Three and Day Four and loved them both. This is the first time I’ve read one of the books she co-authors with Louis Greenberg under the pen name S. L. Grey. It definitely did not disappointed and makes me think twice about house swapping for vacation.
Marc and Steph’s relationship is definitely in need of work. In addition to dealing with the house invasion, Marc also has a traumatic history involving his first family, before he met Steph. So, when the opportunity arises to “get away” and take the honeymoon they never had, they leave their young daughter behind and head to Paris hoping this will get them back in touch with each other, make everything good again.
Unfortunately, once they get to Paris, they encounter one problem after another, and their romantic, relaxing time away starts to feel more like hell. The apartment is nothing as advertised, in a virtually abandoned building (the only resident being a woman living up stairs, who like as not, is a squatter. The relationship issues they had before arriving seem to be compounded rather than resolved. And amid it all, things get creepier and harder to explain.
The alternating perspectives are interesting as this couple, at least at times, seems to be growing apart rather than closer. The different perspectives make you question if either narrator is fully reliable. From one perspective you may question the sanity of the other. From the other perspective, you may wonder what supernatural forces could be in play. It is a book where you question everything and trust just about nothing.
My only slight criticism while reading this was in the beginning of the book, the amount of emphasis and reinforcement that was directly used to let the reader know how traumatized this couple was by a recent home invasion. It almost felt overly dramatic (I’m not trying to trivialize it, I just felt the level of emphasis actually dampened the level of drama, at least for me). It wasn’t major, but I wonder if a little more showing, a little less telling for that one tiny aspect of the book could have been effective without repeating reminders about their traumatic event. But it wasn’t something that deterred my enjoyment, so I would consider this a minor thing.
I don’t know about Louis Greenberg (I have yet to read his solo work), but I am convinced Sarah Lotz doesn’t want her readers to be comfortable on vacation or holiday. First planes in The Three, then cruiseships in Day Four, now house swapping in The Apartment … all have new level of creepiness!
The Apartment is fantastically haunting and shuddersome, making it a great choice of book to set the mood as we head in to the fall season, prime time for all things creepy, supernatural and haunting.