It Will Just Be Us by Jo Kaplan

Posted On 10 September 2020

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My Five Word TL:DR Review : Seriously, ‘in your face’ ghosts


If you like gothic ghost stories and you’re not easily distracted by somewhat flowery prose then It Will Just Be Us is the perfect book for you. Not going to lie – this one give me a little bit of the hebejebes at certain points in the book and if you like your ghost stories to be ‘real’ ghost stories as oppose to hints and shadows then look no further.

This is a story told by Sam Wakefield who has returned to her ancestral home after suffering a late night attack that left her scared to be alone. Wakefield House is a large sprawling mansion that sits on the edge of a swamp. It just sounds utterly delightful doesn’t it! This is a house with a long and troubled history, a history that slowly reveals itself through the snippets of the past that constantly play out in the rooms and corridors. Sam’s sister Elizabeth also returns to the home following matrimonial discord and Elizabeth brings a different and unsettling presence into the home in the form of her unborn child.

So, many years ago I had the strangest book that I was absolutely fascinated with. It was a book that tried to explain strange phenomena – such as spontaneous combustion and ghosts (amongst others). The reasoning behind ghost sightings was roughly along the lines of snatches of the past being captured almost in the same way that a photograph captures a moment. These images then replay again and again. I kind of like this notion I must admit, it gives ghosts a less intimidating aspect somehow if you believe them to be akin to replays rather than entities with their own free will and the ghosts of Wakefield House start out in much the same way – however, don’t be deceived – the ghosts here are about to be disturbed by a new presence and things are about to turn very ugly.

It Will Just Be Us may not be reinventing the wheel here, it has echoes of Hill House in the way that Wakefield House seems to have no rhyme or reason to the layout, it’s a confusing mess of rooms sprawling and almost seeming to change position giving it a confusing aura. It reminds me a little of We Have Always Lived in the Castle in the way that the Wakefield family stand removed from everyone else, the other people in town whisper about them and in fact their notoriety seems to know no bounds. And, it even gives me vibes of The Shining, what with the mother and Sam having the ‘sight’ and with the constant appearance of figures from the past going about their daily business as though they’re still alive. Yet, in spite of these similarities it stands on it’s own two feet very well and manages to conjure goose bumps on a rather frequent basis – all I’m going to say is ‘the faceless boy’ *shudders*.

I’m trying, as you may have guessed, to be elusive here and not give too much away. Basically, whilst this starts out in a very curious and yet apparently harmless style it quickly becomes evident that everything is going to go horribly wrong and pretty soon, any misgivings that I might have had about the writing style had simply fallen to one side, abandoned, as the plot sucked me in.

In terms of criticisms – like the audience at a Christmas pantomime, I seriously wanted to shout out at Sam sometimes. She seemed to make some screaming blunders that I couldn’t fathom out – but I guess that was intentional to show that she was panicking and not thinking straight. And, like I mentioned, this does have a very descriptive style which takes a little getting used to at first, but once the story pulls you in it feels incredibly appropriate somehow.

I have to say I had a good time with this, it give me the chills, my curiosity was piqued and I read it fairly quickly because I was always keen to read just one more chapter to find out what was going on next.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks. The above is my own opinion.

Rating 4 of 5 stars


11 Responses to “It Will Just Be Us by Jo Kaplan”

  1. waytoofantasy

    This sounds like the perfect read for Halloween. I’m trying to read some ‘spooky’ books next month–will keep this one in mind! Great review, Lynn. πŸ™‚

    • @lynnsbooks

      It has a classically creepy feel to it – probably the writing which is a little bit old fashioned. I liked the style though, it somehow added to the story and made it feel like the house and setting were trapped in their own little bubble, like time hadn’t really caught up with them.
      Lynn πŸ˜€

  2. Tammy

    I’ve been curious about this, it sounds like a perfectly creepy Halloween read!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yes, it would work well for Halloween when you’re just more in the mood for creeps and chills and a little unbelievable or outrageous goings on.
      Lynn πŸ˜€

  3. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I certainly haven’t forgotten about this one, so glad you got to get to it before me! I always trust your judgment on these gothic types of books, and it definitely sounds worth checking out!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I think the old fashioned style of writing might put some readers off a little but I got used to it fairly quickly and was just sucked in by the house and the past. Then things shift a little and the creep factor stalks in. A bit crazy in parts but definitely a gripping ghost story.
      Lynn πŸ˜€

  4. pagesandtea

    Hill House, The Shining, a creepy mansion on the edge of a swamp? I’d not heard of this book before now but inevitably I’m going to have to add it to my TBR list aren’t I?! The faceless boy you mentioned reminded me for some reason of that really tall ghost in the tv series of Hill House, he was really creepy too πŸ˜€

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yes, the faceless boy is scary without doubt. I actually think you would like this, you have to get used to the writing style which feels almost old fashioned in some respects but I don’t think that will be an issue for you and there are plenty of ghosts and gothic(y) goodness.
      Lynn πŸ˜€

  5. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    You have totally sold me on this one, starting with the description of an ancient house sitting on the edge of a swamp: what could go wrong with that? πŸ˜‰
    With such a premise I could easily forget the flowery writing and the sometimes-foolish characters and enjoy the ghostly apparitions…
    Thanks for sharing!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I actually really enjoyed it – it had the creep factor and it was kind of fascinating, plus, I’m something of a fan of old fashioned style writing that may seem a little verbose in modern fiction.
      Lynn πŸ˜€

  6. Looking Back at 2020 : The Ghost of Books Past | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] It Will Just be Us by Jo Kaplan – a lovely gothic ghost story – with very ‘in your face’ ghosts […]

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