Short Take: “Come Closer,” Sara Gran

Pros: What an intriguing take on possession!
Cons: The pacing is a bit off
Rating: 4 out of 5

Sara Gran’s novella Come Closer brings us into the lives of married couple Amanda and Ed. Ed is in finance; Amanda is a successful architect. One day, a proposal that Amanda drops on her boss’s desk turns out to be filled with insults. When she goes home, a weird tapping sound starts up in the loft she and Ed occupy. She takes up smoking again almost accidentally, starts becoming crabby and picking fights, and then loses time. She takes a quiz for likelihood of whether a person is possessed or not, and her score keeps increasing with each time she takes it. She decides to seek out help, but the particular demon that’s after her may be too strong for any help that’s out there.

The one real problem I had here was with the pacing. It seems to be uniformly quick and even, lacking the variation that makes for real surprises and rests and so forth. I feel like the emotional impact of the story could have been greater if that issue was fixed. Also, the fact that Amanda spent a long time not fighting what was happening to her robbed the story of some of its potential tension.

I love the fact that this is a possession story free of any trappings of Catholicism. The typical exorcism story steers these tales in a specific direction, and by avoiding that entirely this one remains fresh and interesting. I found myself wanting to know even more about the mysterious demon haunting Amanda. There also seems to be quite a population of demons walking amongst us, and that’s an intriguing bit of world-building!

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