Thursday, May 2, 2013

Review: House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

Published March 7th 2000 by Random House (first published January 1st 2000)


"Years ago, when House of Leaves was first being passed around, it was nothing more than a badly bundled heap of paper, parts of which would occasionally surface on the Internet. No one could have anticipated the small but devoted following this terrifying story would soon command. Starting with an odd assortment of marginalized youth -- musicians, tattoo artists, programmers, strippers, environmentalists, and adrenaline junkies -- the book eventually made its way into the hands of older generations, who not only found themselves in those strangely arranged pages but also discovered a way back into the lives of their estranged children.

Now, for the first time, this astonishing novel is made available in book form, complete with the original colored words, vertical footnotes, and newly added second and third appendices.

The story remains unchanged, focusing on a young family that moves into a small home on Ash Tree Lane where they discover something is terribly wrong: their house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.

Of course, neither Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Will Navidson nor his companion Karen Green was prepared to face the consequences of that impossibility, until the day their two little children wandered off and their voices eerily began to return another story -- of creature darkness, of an ever-growing abyss behind a closet door, and of that unholy growl which soon enough would tear through their walls and consume all their dreams."


I had House of Leaves on my to-read list for a long, long time but never got around to picking it up. I either never had the funding or it wasn't available in the library but it just so happened my roommate actually had a copy and was kind enough to loan it to me. I wasn't disappointed -- I was enthralled by this book; the pages were beautiful, the format was unique, the story was absolutely bizarre. This was my kind of book!

This book is probably one of very, very few that actually made me have some really weird dreams and often enough as this book was a long read. Reading it becomes intense and disorienting and requires a lot of time but the effort is well-worth what waits within the pages. There's lots of puzzles and things to sort out in the book. For example, the cover itself a blueprint of the House. It's an extremely challenging read -- but not in terms of the language it uses. Sometimes you need to flip the book upside down, on it's side, turn back pages and so on and so forth. The journey this book takes you on is quite fun, but trust me when I say that you can only go through it for x amount of time before you need to put it down. The formatting of the book sets the emotional roller coaster for you and captures what the House is doing to the characters. Or is the House just reflecting on the characters?

I should make mention that House of Leaves isn't just telling one story, but two main stories with one story affecting the other. Both stories seem to play a lot on obsession and the entire book plays a lot with symbolism, metaphor and references to history and literature.

What I really love about this book, most of all, is witnessing how human the characters were in such a fantastical story, especially in how their relationships were with each other.

This book is a lot of terror, mystery, adventure with a splash of romance. This should be read when you have a lot of time on your hands and is definitely for a more mature audience. If you're a night reader, I don't suggest reading this after sunset. No, seriously, don't do it. If you're feeling for something vastly different from your average book and love a good puzzle, this book is absolutely right in your ballpark.

Rating: 5/5 Bookworms

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