Girl in the Walls

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Pub Date 18 Mar 2021 | Archive Date 31 Dec 2021
4th Estate, Fourth Estate

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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?

She doesn’t exist. She can’t exist.

‘A uniquely gothic tale about grief, belonging and hiding in plain sight’ Jess Kidd, author of ...

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ISBN 9780008381042
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Average rating from 237 members

Featured Reviews

This was great! So different to my 'usual' type of book and also so different to what I expected but both in wonderful ways. I was very much expecting a Sarah Water's/Susan Hill ghost story here. I have to say to begin with I was a bit disappointed that this wasn't what this story was, BUT I couldn't put this book down. I stayed up waaaay past bedtime (Which with a teething 10 month old really is saying something!) to devour this book. It was full of atmosphere, anticipation and intrigue! Loads of mystery and just the right amount of exciting surprises! I think this will be so perfect for my bookshops market. Totally different to anything I've read recently and I'm glad because I loved it!

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This story was not like any other book I’ve ever read. Totally different and it felt quite weird and almost creepy. Even so, I couldn’t put it down. It’s actually so well written it was not predictable in any way. I really couldn’t decide how it was going to go. Sometimes I couldn’t really decide whether I thought the girl was real or not!
When the Traust man arrived, it became very dark and a bit scary. What was going on with him!!! Some kind of real weirdo he was.
I’m still a bit undecided about whether or not the girl was real or even a ghost and the end left me totally up in the air. An
excellent book for being so very different.

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Thank you to the author, publisher and Net Galley for the digital advance reader copy of this book in return for my honest opinion.

This was a great book to read over a bank holiday weekend as I was able to immerse myself in it rather than read a few chapters here and there. Elise is a shadow, a ‘something’ seen out of the corner of the eye, a figment of the imagination. She’s living in her family home. Unfortunately a different family from her own lives there too...

Eddie is an awkward boy who lives in his family home with his older brother and parents, who are determined to restore this old ‘fixer-upper’ to its former glory. His older brother is determined that Eddie should act his age rather than like a scared little kid.

But that’s easier said than done when things are moved in the house by something unseen, when he feels like someone is sharing their home with them. But that can’t be true. Can it?

The reader is drawn into Elise’s wraithlike existence from the outset, and I found myself holding my breath at times as she watched the family from her hiding places in the walls and cupboards. When Eddie’s brother realises that all is not as it seems, he seeks advice from outside sources and risks inviting in more than he bargained for.

As someone who lives in a solid brick house over 120 years old, I found the idea of someone living in the walls rather fantastical at first. But then I stumbled upon accounts where it has actually happened, such as the case of Daniel La Plante, a murderer who terrorised a family in Townsend, Massachusetts whilst living in their walls. It made me appreciate A J Gnuse’s tale all the more. I would have liked to have learned more about a gap in Elise’s life but equally it’s sometimes good to be left to fill the blanks in yourself.

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I loved Girl in the Walls. I thought I wouldn’t get into it at first but the story captures you and takes you on a fantastic journey of hopefulness, sadness interwoven with fear for the main character and some thrilling twisting turns to the book. A captivating read and I thoroughly recommend.

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I had expected Girl in the Walls to be a gothic thriller, perhaps with ghostly goings-on in the vein of Sarah Perry or Laura Purcell, and was very pleasantly surprised to discover this is a literary thriller, whose story leaps off the page and demands to be read to its conclusion.

While reading, I could easily imagine this book in movie form. Elise is a young orphan, returned to the house she considered her true home, though as another family now lives there, she survives by secreting herself in the walls.

Her occupancy does not go wholly unnoticed: Eddie, the younger of two teenage boys, often thinks he sees someone from the corner of his eye. An awkward boy, he wonders if the presence is a figment of his overactive imagination. Until his boisterous older brother confesses that he's noticed things too.

I truly don't want to share any more of this fast-paced plot. Suffice to stay that events unfold which spiral out of control and put the lives of all the main protagonists in danger. A.J. Gnuse has created a terrific plot which keeps readers gripped right through to the last page. I don't think I've read anything quite like it!

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Girl in the Walls intrigued me with its blurb.



Perhaps not one to read when you're alone in the house.

Do you ever feel like there could be someone, something lurking in your house? Strange noises, items moved or perhaps lost?

A spirit or something a lot more real.

Elise (the main character) is a girl, who lost her parents in a car crash and instead of choosing to go into care, opts to find her way back to her old home.

This is where she lives, in the walls, hidden from view.

Quiet, patient, waiting for opportunities during the day to come out of hiding. To eat, drink, to pretend like she's living a little.

The story was cleverly executed.

Haunting at times.

Scary to think just how little we know about our own homes, those spaces beyond the walls that we can't see, forget that they exist.

Girl in the Walls is a unique tale, when reading it felt almost poetic.

For a book where actually not a great deal happens, I felt compelled to keep reading, the protagonists way of describing things was extremely emotive.

A slow burner that draws you in with each sentence.


And the ending, satisfying, necessary.

Left me with a smile.

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When I saw this book on NetGalley I knew I needed to read it. The storyline sounded fascinating and the title itself reeled me in.
‘Girl in the walls’

It’s a very descriptive read and i felt I could really picture the scenes. It felt like I was watching a movie in my head as the scenery really came to life with how well it was described.

It isn’t my usual go to genre of book but I really enjoyed it. The characters were likeable and I really enjoyed getting to know them. It was quite a slow paced book, you it’s one you really need to sit and read thoroughly to appreciate it.

It had a sense of ‘the betrayals’ by Bridget Collins, so If you enjoyed that, you’d definitely like this.

Thank you NetGalley, 4thestate and William Collins for allowing me to read this fantastic book!

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I loved this take on the gothic tale. It was exciting and mysterious and I was intrigued by the concept of this story. Elouise, the girl in the walls, is not a ghost - instead she is grieving for her dead parents and unable to move on - literally. Instead she lives in the tiny spaces a house has and watches the new owners go about their lives. However, she cannot remain undetected forever and this is where the story gets interesting. A fab read.

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I loved this. It was so original and I found myself on both 'sides' - wanting Elise to stay hidden for her sake, and wanting her to be found for the brothers' sake. Great characters and a brilliant premise, with an interesting narrative style to boot.

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I really enjoyed this book. I dont normally enjoy short reads, as I usually feel something is missing. But this book didn't leave me feeling that way. Highly recommend

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“Listen. We know there are people who hide in our homes. They crawl into attic spaces. Tuck themselves behind yard equipment in garages. Flit between the rooms of the house just outside the reach of sight.”

I’ve heard - we probably all have - those almost unbelievable sounding stories about people who live undetected in others’ homes - concealed in small spaces, emerging only when there’s no-one around. Of course, we only know about the ones who were discovered....

She moves through the house like a ghost - almost like a ghost - but Elise is a flesh and blood girl, who after the sudden death of her parents could bear no other option than to return to the large, sprawling southern Louisiana home they used to live in. To the hidden places only she knows. The space inside the walls, the spaces above and below the house. The Mason family, going about their lives, working and renovating the house, have no idea she’s there; only Eddie, a sensitive thirteen-year-old, senses her presence.

There’s an ever present danger of discovery, but there are also dangers which Elise (and indeed most people) cannot begin to imagine, like a man with a violent obsession.

I was a little worried, in the beginning, that the “girl in the walls” was going to prove to be more of a vehicle for Eddie’s story. Thankfully, that proved not to be the case. This is most definitely Elise’s story.

The concept is a fascinating one and in Girl in the Walls, it’s wonderfully brought to life. AJ Gnuse’s writing is beautiful and Elise is a marvellous creation, her existence almost unimaginable and yet fully realised. Her love of Norse mythology - a book, taken and hidden - runs throughout. Eddie and his family are also fully believable characters... and of course the house feels like a character in itself.

Almost unbearably tense at certain points, I couldn’t imagine how it was all going to end, but it proved completely satisfying.

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I've just finished this incredible book and I cannot wait to shout about it!! This is such a gripping story, haven't read anything so intriguing in ages! Loved the plot lines and I thought the characters were really well written and believable. Not my usual genre but I enjoyed it so much, really glad to have seen this and picked it up. Huge thumbs up from me.

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The feeling of being watched; a sound that is barely there; a suspicion of a movement caught in the corner of an eye: objects that disappear or turn up in unexpected places: the elements of a ghost story, maybe, a grisly crime narrative, or a sinister tale of horror? This novel is none of those: I found it impossible to pigeon-hole it into a specific genre. Thirteen year old Eddie and his big brother have those experiences, but most of the story is told from the viewpoint of Elise – the titular girl in the walls.
Orphaned Elise has returned to her former family home, a ramshackle building that she knows inside out, sleeping in the attic and moving around through the walls in the house that Eddie’s family now live in. Only Brody, who spends his time breaking into houses nothing like his own, knows of her existence and they become friends. Eddie’s brother is so spooked by his suspicions that he has discussed it in an online forum, and when the boys are alone one night, a stranger arrives to rid the house of its unwanted inhabitant.
The atmosphere the author creates by confining the action to this oddly constructed house within a house is as suffocating as the stifling Louisiana summer when most of the events take place, with it’s the constant threat of hurricanes and broken levees and the building’s proximity to the river. The impending storm increases the sense of menace and fear for Elise initially generated by the arrival of the stranger.
I found this book totally engrossing in its portrayal of the way Elise slowly begins to confront her grief, and the unexpected events of a plot that depicts a pivotal moment in Eddie’s relationship with his brother. I found it a hugely satisfying read. The only reason I can't buy it for our library is that our oldest readers are 11, but I will be recommending it wholeheartedly to my book club.

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Can you imagine that your home is your world and going out is squeezing out of the crawl space under the floors into the inner house where people live. Elsie has lived in the walls ever since her parents were killed in an accident, it was after all her home. When the family are asleep or out she comes out to find scraps of food and leftovers, occasionally taking a little more. She takes things she needs to survive.
The knocks and creaks, when the family are home are put down to the normal noises a house makes when all is quiet. She knows all the dodgy floorboards and steps. She knows her limits so that the family don’t get too curious. But the youngest boy, almost a teenager has seen her, just that fraction of a second now and again. When his older brother confesses he has seen her too they decide to do something about it.
Believe me, once you have finished this book you will hear every creak your house makes. Elsie, the girl in the walls is intelligent, harmless and lives every day with her own fears. Whereas the boys of the house fear what is in the walls, Elsie fears them finding her. She has nowhere else to live.
The author makes this a highly emotional read, nightmare scenarios and unusual friendships. The unknown is what people fear and at times your mind is your worst enemy. The story never really ventures from those four walls but it is packed with heart-pounding moments that are off the scale. This is a superb debut from this author, definitely one to watch out for in the future.
I wish to thank the publisher and NetGalley for an e-copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly.

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