BOOK REVIEW: The Grownup by Gillian Flynn
Paperback, £2.99 GBP
Reviewed by Aly Locatelli
A child who terrorized his little brother and threatened his stepmom. Who told me calmly that I would die. A kid who cut the tail off the family pet. A house that attacked and manipulated its own inhabitants. A house that had already seen four deaths and wanted more.
In true Flynn fashion, The Grownup will leave you scarred for a good few months (if not for the rest of your life). It’s spooky, it’s twisted and, as always, there’s that creepy as hell ‘whodunnit’ aspect that will make you check over your shoulder constantly.
As I said to a friend of mine, this is Gillian Flynn in all her glory but, at the same time, it also doesn’t feel like Flynn. The author gave me whiplash with all of her books: Gone Girl was wonderfully psychotic; Dark Places was wonderfully psychotic and incredibly creepy; Sharp Object was terrifying, sickening and also wonderfully psychotic. So don’t expect anything less when you decide to read this 80-something page short story.
However, it also doesn’t feel like Flynn (as I’d mentioned already) mostly because it’s so short. In a very small amount of space, Flynn managed to concoct a crazy, unbelievable story that raised the hairs on the back of my neck and made me question humanity, but it also felt very rushed by the end. I understand that it had to be, being a short story and all, but I wished that it was a little bit longer… or 300-something pages longer.
But maybe those are the selfish thoughts of an incredibly die-hard fan of the author.
A loud smash came from upstairs. A wail. We ran up the stairs. In the hallway, hanging from a ceiling hook, was a tiny, primitive figure made of cloth. A face drawn in magic marker. A noose made from red thread. Screaming came from Miles’s room at the end of the hall. Nonoooooooo, you bitch, you bitch!
The narrator of the story isn’t your typical, every day tarot-card-reader. In the back of the shop, she also gives hand jobs for a price. It’s a win-win situation, where she keeps women happy by giving them fake and vague promises of the futures whilst married men seek her out for sexual favours.
I didn’t stop giving hand jobs because I wasn’t good at it. I stopped giving hand jobs because I was the best at it.
And it’s in this line of business that she meets unhappy, terrified Susan Burke, a woman who doesn’t quite believe in clairvoyance but has reached the end of her tether. She believes something in the house, something malevolent, is changing her son Miles into a monster. She is scared for her life, and believes Miles will kill her.
Against her better judgement, the main character agrees to go to Burke’s house and seek out the malevolent spirits. Yet, at the house, she realises that not everything is as it seems, and things are worse than Burke had described in the first place.
Things are definitely going to get worse.
Never mind The Grownup being a short story, but I whipped through it in less than two hours. It was frightening, odd, and definitely filled my brain with lots of questions: is it a spirit? Is it a demon? Is it truly something otherworldly? Or is it something darker?
As always, the characerisation was mind-blowing. Flynn creates characters that, against most people’s better judgement, we can relate to. They are flawed, they are problematic, and they have dirty secrets that really shouldn’t be shared. I adored the narrator’s voice, as well as Miles’ odd character, and cemented the idea that no one ever knows what goes on behind closed doors.
If you’re a fan of Gillian Flynn’s other works, The Grownup won’t let you down. And if you haven’t read any of Flynn’s books, I suggest you read this short story, and be prepared to become addicted.
Some other stuff you might dig
About the Author: 21. A reader, a writer, a reviewer and a full-time sloth lover. I am addicted to coffee and my laptop, and love reading especially when it's rainy outside.