Ruined by Reading

House of Leaves

Posted in Book Reviews, Horror by M on October 6, 2008

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski tells several different stories. It all starts when Johnny Truant’s friend calls him over to the apartment of Zampanó – and old man found dead, seemingly of natural causes, with a few suspicious details. While cleaning out his apartment, Johnny finds a manuscript that forever changes his life. It’s a book Zampanó wrote analyzing “The Navidson Record” – a documentary that doesn’t exist, complete with a plethora of sources and footnotes, many of which also do not exist.

“The Navidson Record” tells the story of Navidson, a famous photojournalist, and his family who move into the peace of the suburbs. However, things aren’t as peaceful as they had hoped. Overnight, a closet appears in the room he shares with his longtime girlfriend, Karen. When Navidson sets out to measure the rooms, he discovers that the inside is a fraction of an inch bigger than the outside. Until it starts to get bigger. Then comes the appearance of the hallway. It appears in the living room and it should lead to the back yard, but it’s endless and lightless.

Navidson has three well known adventurers explore his hallway, but things go terribly wrong and the house fights back. Navidson becomes obsessed with what lays inside the darkness, and it destroys his relationship with Karen for some time.

Johnny’s story is told by himself, added to the footnotes. His life spirals out of control. He becomes obsessed with the story of the house, even though he can find no evidence of it being real. He feels something stalking him, waiting in the shadows.

House of Leaves is a work of art. Danielewski’s style of writing and his imagination is beautiful and unique. My favorite thing is how, at times, the text reflects what’s going on in the story. For example, if the walls of the hallway are getting bigger, the text gets more spread out. Half of the story is in the font and the text.

This book’s genre is horror, although it’s by no means a blood and gore fest you might expect, or a vampire or ghost sci-fi book. Yes, the house if horrifying, but the real horror to me is the human reaction and how each and every one of us would have looked into the darkness, with the same obsessive desire to see something and the desperate need to find it. Books and movies don’t usually scare me, but I found this book to be terrifying which is a very good thing.

I feel like I’m missing something, though. Like I failed to connect the pieces and I’ve missed the deeper meaning, so if anyone could enlighten me that’d be great. But, there’s nothing I don’t like about this book and I would recommend it to everyone. I read it because someone had recommended it to me and I’m glad I did.

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One Response

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  1. Veens said, on October 8, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    I actually like the story :)
    I might get it!

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