“The novel begins as an eerie meditation on grief, family dysfunction and things that go bump in the night. But about halfway through, Gnuse’s masterfully crafted slow burn ignites into a hair-raising thriller that is as unnerving as it is unexpected.”
- Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"Strange, outré—this remarkable debut novel is both of these and more... Gnuse has done a brilliant job of making the implausible plausible and of creating characters, especially Eddie, who are simply unforgettable. The Louisiana setting is evocative and a marvel of verisimilitude. The sui-generis result is haunting and, like the characters, unforgettable."
- Booklist (Starred Review)
“A grieving, orphaned girl lives inside the walls of the last place where she felt love in this disquieting coming-of-age story. . . A.J. Gnuse's first novel, Girl in the Walls, gathers a damaged, plucky tween and an angst-ridden family and throws a hellacious storm at them, but still lets a little hope peek from behind the darkest clouds.”
- Shelf Awareness
“Girl in the Walls poses the question — how well do we really know where we live? . . . Gnuse tugs the seemingly insignificant into the spotlight and holds it there. He makes the forgotten and easily brushed away threads of the story crystal clear, while entwining a narrative of growing up and learning to live with, while not clinging to, trauma. It is a story focused on the psychological without prescribing itself as such; it entertains while providing a mirror to analyze the fears that make us leave our lights on just a little bit longer each night.”
- Southern Review of Books
"Clear your calendar. Once you start reading Girl in the Walls, you won’t want to do anything else. Read it first for the thrill ride. Then read it a second time, slowly, to savor language that drips and swells with the terrifying beauty of a Gulf Coast hurricane. A riveting, astonishing, and flat-out gorgeous debut.
- Nina de Gramont, author of The Last September and The Christie Affair
"Ever been deep underwater, holding your breath, wondering if you will make it to the surface? OK. Remember that famous scene in the movie, Wait Until Dark? Remember that feeling while reading 'The Tell-Tale Heart?' Remember the evil character in the movie, No Country For Old Men? Remember the most terrifying nightmare you’ve ever had? OK, so now: Here’s your book, Girl in the Walls, by A. J. Gnuse. It’s really scary, and literary to boot, going way down deep, and way up high. Gnuse’s first novel says that he is the real thing, out of the gate. May the race be long, with many more novels. But he will be hard-pressed to out-do Girl in the Walls."
- Clyde Edgerton, author of The Night Train and Killer Diller
"Gnuse's debut is bold and compelling, subtle and sublime, with writing so good that you're torn between racing ahead and lingering. I found myself holding my breath and never wanting to leave, despite the darkness. A uniquely gothic tale about grief, belonging and hiding in plain sight."
- Jess Kidd, author of Things in Jars and Himself
"From her place inside the walls, the heroine of this enthralling novel describes and grasps the world outside--a place so naturally beautiful and terrifying she fears and longs to re-enter it. This is a book about grief and childhood, about the glory of the physical world, the flight patterns of birds, about how it feels to be locked inside time, and inside the beautiful body and inside a bustling, heartbreaking family. I've never seen a young writer burst onto the stage with this much holy brilliance and vivacity."
- Rebecca Lee, author of Bobcat and Other Stories and The City is a Rising Tide
"From the very first page, I was gripped, chilled, and intrigued. This is an utterly original read that kept me at the edge of my seat and tugged at my heartstrings, all while making me fall in love with the beautiful Louisiana landscape that is so wonderfully portrayed. I can’t wait to see what A. J. Gnuse writes next!"
- Caroline MacKenzie, author of One Year of Ugly
"Girl in the Walls is as much about willful Elise, who haunts her childhood home after losing her parents, as it is about the two boys who are afraid of her. Gnuse deftly explores the challenge of boyhood, the cost of appearing brave--of 'manning up.'"
- Maria Reva, author of Good Citizens Need Not Fear
"Gnuse is a writer of vision, who builds up his novel like the most exquisite music box. It plays out perfectly, and will leave you entranced long after its covers are closed."
- Ali Shaw, author of The Trees and The Girl with the Glass Feet
"Tense and terrifying, with echoes of Shirley Jackson, Girl in the Walls is a spectacular debut. An elegant meditation on grief, love, and family, this truly extraordinary novel is a page-turner with deeply imagined characters, and A. J. Gnuse’s prose is as sharp and precise and muscular as any I’ve seen."
- Elizabeth Wetmore, author of Valentine