Great Reads brings you book reviews on teen books that parents will love from such great young adult authors as Garth Nix, Clare Dunkle, DJ Machale, Stephanie Meyer and many more.

Friday, August 11, 2006

"House of Leaves" by Mark Z. Danielewski

Chances are, you've never heard of this book. Why? I don't know. It is one of the most imaginative, scariest novels I've ever read and will mess with your head in more ways than one. How I found "House of Leaves"reminds me of how the video tape gets passed around in "The Ring". My sister borrowed it from someone, I borrowed it from her and then had to buy a copy so she could finish it. I could scarcely put it down, and yet I had to because it scared the crap out of me. It is NOT a book for anyone under 18. And it's not that it is filled with gore, but it is just creepy. It weighs in at 700 pages, and it is NOT a quick read by any means. Some of the story is told out in different colored footnotes, poems, letters (and some of those footnotes you go to find don't exist in the book, some are written out backwards, there are hidden messages in the's insane and AWESOME!)

So what is it about?

From's weekly:

The plot is fairly simple. It starts with a young man named Johnny who finds a manuscript in an old man's apartment. The manuscript, The Navidson Report, was written by a blind man, Zampano. As Johnny starts reads it, he starts to break down in psychosis, and the Navidson Report is genuinely spooky. Johnny's sanity often comes in question throughout the book (did he really find it, is he writing it, does it even exist?) and it feels like you are reading something that really happened.
In the Report, Pulitzer Prize-winning news photographer Will Navidson and his girlfriend move with their two children to a house in an unnamed Virginia town in an attempt to save their relationship. One day, Will discovers that the interior of the house measures more than its exterior. More ominously, a closet appears, then a hallway. Out of this intellectual paradox, Danielewski constructs a viscerally frightening experience. Will contacts a number of people, including explorer Holloway Roberts, who mounts an expedition with his two-man crew. They discover a vast stairway and countless halls. The whole structure occasionally groans, and the space reconfigures, driving Holloway into a murderous frenzy. The story of the house is stitched together from disparate accounts, until the experience becomes somewhat like stumbling into Borges's Library of Babel. This potentially cumbersome device actually enhances the horror of the tale, rather than distracting from it. Less successful, however, is the second story unfolding in footnotes, that of the manuscript's editor, (and the novel's narrator), Johnny Truant. Johnny, who discovered Zampano's body and took his papers, works in a tattoo parlor.

Johnny's story is just as nuts, and you will question his sanity many times. But this is one of those books that you have to read, with many lights on, and it will haunt you for years to come. The book has also spawned various websites that will help you decode the book's secret messages. that I've told you about it...the creepy girl won't come get me!

As a sidenote, the singer Poe is Mark's sister, who wrote a song called "Angry Johnny" ("Johnny, angry Johnny, this is jezebel in hell") right around the same time that this came out. Coincidence? I think not...

No comments: