Sara Gran is a contemporary crime fiction author and creator of the acclaimed Claire DeWitt private eye series. However, at the beginning of her writing career, she wrote a terrifying little horror novel called Come Closer that genre fans haven’t stopped talking about since its 2003 release.
Our narrator is a yuppie architect named Amanda, and weird things are starting to happen. A written proposal she hands to her boss has a cruel, vulgar, and insulting sentence at the top that Amanda didn’t write or doesn’t recall writing. She’s also hearing scratching noises throughout the urban residential loft she shares with her doting husband.
Of course, things escalate. Plates start flying from the cabinets and car keys begin to disappear from their home. All of this is definitely slow-burn creepy, but the true first nail in Amanda’s mental coffin is when her imaginary childhood friend Pansy begins visiting again in her sleep. Anyone who reads horror fiction or watches scary movies knows that imaginary friends are Never A Good Thing.
Astute readers will also recognize at this point that this is not a haunted urban condo story. It’s a haunted (or worse - possessed) Amanda story. And, man-oh-man, does it get scary. With each unnumbered mini-chapter vignette, the tension escalates. This is underscored by the fact that Amanda is telling us the story of her own possession. Like a heroin user sliding into addiction, all she feels at first are the addictive good vibes while the people around her are forced to bear witness to a woman becoming irrevocably unhinged.
It’s been a long time since a work of fiction rattled me as much as Come Closer did. The way the insanity/possession gently escalates over the course of the novel’s 176 pages was masterful and the pages fly by as the author ratchets up the intensity. Some segments were tough to read, but I defy you to look away. I haven’t read Gran’s mystery fiction, but if it’s half as good as her horror, she’s a unique talent to watch. Highest horror recommendation.