She doesn’t exist. She can’t exist.
‘A uniquely gothic tale about grief, belonging and hiding in plain sight’ Jess Kidd, author of Things in Jars
’Those who live in the walls must adjust, must twist themselves around in their home,
stretching themselves until they’re as thin as air. Not everyone can do what they can.
But soon enough, they can’t help themselves. Signs of their presence remain in a house.
Eventually, every hidden thing is found.’
Elise knows every inch of the house. She knows which boards will creak. She knows where the gaps are in the walls. She knows which parts can take her in, hide her away. It’s home, after all. The home her parents made for her. And home is where you stay, no matter what.
Eddie calls the same house his home. Eddie is almost a teenager now. He must no longer believe in the girl he sometimes sees from the corner of his eye. He needs her to disappear. But when his older brother senses her, too, they are faced with a question: how do they get rid of someone they aren’t sure even exists?
And, if they cast her out, what other threats might they invite in?
When I began to read Girl in the Walls, I wondered why anyone would want to live in a house without anyone knowing, or it was even possible. I knew all about hollow walls and the spaces in the attics and cellars, but how would someone survive, having to eat and drink in secret?
I loved how Elise listens to everything and how she finds comfort in knowing what is going on around her. The way that old clock with all its different sounds helps her to keep track of the time.
This story made me more conscious of the noises in my own house, all those noises we usually ignore, telling ourselves it’s just the building settling or the timbers contracting.
Elise’s story is devastatingly sad but beautifully written, describing the desperate lengths a child will go to find a safe place. Elise’s story grabbed hold of me like the poor lost child she is, insisting that I stay with her and read every word.
Jonah Traust, a villain in handyman’s clothing, obsessed with the notion that houses have secret occupants, terrified me as he hunted for the mystery presence in the house. I was on the edge of my seat as he systematically homed in on the poor child.
Elise is determined to stay hidden when the levee breaks after a storm and flood waters attack the house. Traust perishes, battling on in his search, and I could breathe again.
I worried for Elise. How would she survive if the house did not?
This story is both terrifying and upsetting. The fate of Elise, this helpless child, will haunt me for a long time…