Gillian Flynn, author of “Gone Girl,” presents a modern take on Henry James’s classic ghost story, “The Turn of the Screw,” with a woman who details her unique experience as a hand-job specialist in the back of a psychic’s shop called “Spiritual Palms.”
The narrator, who is never named, retires her hands due to carpal tunnel and starts working as a psychic in the front of the shop. This 62-page novella follows the disturbing tale of the narrator’s customer, Susan, and her haunted house with potentially haunted elder son.
It’s up to the reader to decide what’s true and what’s not, which is reminiscent of James’s novel in the sense that it is rarely clear which details are truth or fiction.
This comes into play when the narrator hears two different stories from Susan and her eldest son which don’t line up, and she must choose who to trust, with her life on the line.
This novella has witty humor that fans of Chuck Palahniuk would enjoy. “You didn’t want any orgasm yelps from the back when a lady was telling you how her marriage was coming apart” (16).
Flynn combines sex, love and horror in a way that can only be considered comical in how accurately she represents life.
This wit keeps most aspects of true horror at bay and more surface level, so readers won’t worry about feeling squeamish. The humor tends to add to the intrigue of what’s going on; the narrator goes along with Susan thinking that there’s no real ghost, but numerous signs say
Flynn manages to pull the story full circle for the narrator in a way that doesn’t seem possible, but it takes the narrator on a path that brings her right back to where she was as a child, though she plays the grownup role now.
“The Grownup” displays a mastery of wit that will surely charm its reader and captivate them into the thick plot of whether ghosts are real or not.
It’s a fantastic afternoon read or a quickie before bed for readers who have a hard time fitting reading into their lives.