The Apartment by SL Grey book review

House-swapping is a terrible idea in SL Grey’s creepy ghost story The Apartment

A house swap goes horribly wrong in this latest chiller from SL Grey (aka excellent South African authors Sarah Lotz and Louis Greenberg). Having explored shopping malls and underground bunkers, the duo are back with a tale of grief, insanity and the dangers of taking a chance on unrated Air BNB users.

Literature professor Mark and his aspiring writer wife Steph are still reeling from a home invasion that sent their already delicate sense of stability into a tailspin. Mark’s friend Carla suggests a holiday in Paris and a house-swap means that they can’t use their lack of finances as an excuse. Leaving their daughter Hayden with Steph’s parents, they head to Paris but the dark, musty, moldy apartment isn’t exactly what was advertised.

They try to make the best of it, but a series of strange occurrences cause old wounds to re-open…

The Apartment starts with its couple in a fragile place and slowly nudges them towards the edge, and over it. As their stay in Paris gets more and more unsettling (weird neighbour, screaming cats, buckets of human hair), Mark begins to dwell on the memories of his late daughter, forcing Steph to wonder if he’s grieving or losing his mind.

The sinister apartment building and its single tenant are gleefully horrid, as Grey blends Stephen King family drama with J-horror ghosts and grief to great effect, and the growing sense of tension is nicely punctuated with genuinely horrible shocks.

For all the scares, however, there’s a real focus on character that gives the book an emotional weight: the baggage that these two carry with them is what keeps them in this tragic tailspin. Fast-paced, gripping and scary, this is a ghost story that keeps you locked in until the final page.