It Will Just Be Us, a horror novel by Jo Kaplan (who has also published stories and novels under her maiden name of Joanna Parypinski), presents us with a chilling, supernatural mystery which also brings light to the family dynamics of those who live inside the haunted manor. The story of Wakefield Manor, a sprawling mansion built at the edge of the Great Dismal Swamp in Virginia, is revealed to us through the narrative of Samantha ‘Sam’ Wakefield. Sam lives in the manor with her alcoholic mother Agnes. Both of them have become accustomed to seeing the specters of former residents replaying the events from the manor’s past, including shades of their own younger selves. Other than their tendency to act as reminders of unpleasant events from the past, these ghostly replays are harmless. Things change, however, when Sam’s pregnant sister Elizabeth moves back into the house with them to get away from her controlling, estranged husband Donovan. Elizabeth is often quick tempered which has caused her and Sam’s relationship to go through many highs and lows over the years. Unlike her mother and sister, Elizabeth does not see these reenactments of past events.
Previously, these spectral manifestations have never been able to interact with Sam or her mother, but the arrival of a shadowy boy who has no face proves to be different. This specter is new and the things she sees it doing are cruel and murderous. Who is it? Where did it come from? And, why does it seem to follow different rules than the others?
There are many more twists and turns to unpack here, including a terrifying supernatural force that haunts the swamps, a dark room in the manor which has remained locked for years to protect its grim secrets, and more. The writing is top notch; it’s lyrical while remaining easy to read. The story draws you in and keeps you invested in both the characters and the deliciously spooky plot. This is a superb haunted house story and with this being my favorite sub-genre of horror, I’ve read a lot of them. There’s good reason why the filming rights for it have already been optioned. This novel gets my highest recommendation!
Jo Kaplan’s Website: https://jo-kaplan.com