House of Leaves kept me, at the age of 27, from sleeping after I finished the book and had to turn on every single light in my room in order to fall asleep.
This is by far the most disturbing and unsettling book I have ever read, and it’s one of my very favorites, but it will be a long time before I pick it up again, if ever.
“Is it really that scary?”
To a more sensitive reader, perhaps. Horror is my favorite genre, so I’m probably not the right person to ask.
The first time I really thought, “Ohhh snap…” was at the introduction of the dimensions of the house. Bear with me. It’s not really a spoiler, and I truly despise spoilers; I wouldn’t do that to you, dear reader. Ready?
The inside of the house measures larger than the outside of the house.
Think about that. Or don’t, if you brain is beginning to hurt.
Once I realized that’s what the book was getting at I promptly closed the book, blinked a few times, then reread the page I was on about three times.
Then there’s the typography of the book. College students, beware — there are footnotes galore, and I know for some that may well be one of the most frightening parts of the book! Towards the end, the type gets…interesting. I won’t even try to describe it to you, dear reader, that you’ll need to see for yourself.
Oh, and this was Danielewski’s first novel. Yeah, I almost abandoned my writing dreams after learning that tidbit.
This book is truly one-of-a-kind; one of my favorite reviews of this book describes it as “insufferably postmodern, maddeningly hip, and utterly in love with itself.” It would seem that folks love to hate and hate to love this book.
The Guardian recently published an article about House of Leaves, and the following paragraph stood out to me not only because it revealed to me that there’s a House of Leaves book club, but because of the personification of the book:
“Dreebs Thornhill is a moderator of the House of Leaves book club, a Facebook group with more than 7,000 members and counting. She agrees with Danielewski’s personification. “House of Leaves is a living, breathing thing,” she says. “It’s one of those things you can’t relax with until you’ve discussed it with someone else.”“‘House of Leaves changed my life’: the cult novel at 20,” the Guardian (4/2/2020)
If you’re looking for a light read, this is absolutely not for you. Drop it right now. However, if you seek a complex and intellectual title, I highly recommend House of Leaves.
Approach this book with an open mind and no expectations, and maybe in a well-lit room before the sun goes down? Just a suggestion.
Only happy reading.