Jul 27, 2023
House of Leaves Book Review
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski is a story within a story within a story, but far more complex than that. It may give you nightmares, make you cry, totally un-impress you, or scare the you know what out of you. It will change your life.
A quick summary of the novel: The Navidson family moves into a house. The father, a photojournalist, takes video of their move into a new location. The video quickly turns into a documentary about the house’s supernatural qualities. Zampano, the blind recluse, finds the documentary and starts to write a book about it. Truant, the junkie, finds Zampano’s book and makes his own notes.
So, there you have the story within a story within a story. Along the way, you’ll find that the word “House” is always written in blue text (if you get the color version of the book), which is the least of the creativity involving typeset. Some pages are written upside down and backwards, while others may contain a single word, or perhaps no words at all. I can guarantee you’ve never read a novel quite like this one.
I recommend this novel to everyone. Not everyone Natalia’s Bookhouse will like it. In fact, most people won’t get through it. Some will think it’s brilliant; some will think it’s a waste of paper. Regardless of which, it will change their lives and their way of thinking, at least for a little while.
The thing about House of Leaves is that it’s not an extraordinary novel at first glance. It appears to be an attempt at avant-garde style. It’s a story inside of a story inside of a story that often doesn’t make sense. It’s filled with unreliable narrators (the drug addict, the blind recluse, and the madly obsessive photo-journalist), endless footnotes, lengthy descriptions and visual tricks. It appears to be an author trying way too hard to do something new.
But it gets under your skin. It scares you when you least expect it. It takes your world and tilts it just a few degrees off-center, just enough to give you an odd disoriented view of the world around you.
After finishing the novel, I wanted to run and hide. Seriously, though, I was relieved when it was done. This was not an easy read. It took me several months, and I had to take breaks from it.
House of Leaves left me feeling disoriented and disconnected. I’m writing this book review one year after starting the novel. Two weeks ago, I had another nightmare about the House. This is probably the most difficult book review I’ve ever had to write, but I need to write it. This book changed my life, and though I want to share it with others, my review comes with a warning. Odds are, it will change your life, too, and you might not like it.
Mark Z Danielewski is an American author and an academic who studied English Literature at Yale.
People equate this novel with the film, The Blair Witch Project, and I’ve found that the reactions to the novel are similar to those of the film. Either you think it is totally new and it gives you the creeps, or you think it’s the dumbest thing you’ve experienced in your life. For me, House of Leaves is one of the scariest books I’ve ever read. I’ve had two nightmares in the year since I started reading it, and I expect to have more.