15 June 2013

Review: House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

Published: 7 March 2000 by Random House

Pages: 736 (paperback)

Genre/s: I have no fucking idea

Source: Own library


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.

My Thoughts

If you are interested in seeing what the book looks like, I ramble almost coherently and show it in the video.  What I actually thought of it is in the text below.

I first heard about House of Leaves during a group discussion on Goodreads about 'strange' books.  Someone told me House of Leaves was a freaky wierd book that scared the hell out of her, so I was instantly interested, and ordered a copy a few weeks later.

The first thing that I thought when I opened the mail was 'oh shit, what I have I gotten myself into?' because even though I read my fair share of big books, this one is HUGE.  700+ pages may not sound like that many, but it's the size of a city phone book.  I was tempted just to tuck it into the bookshelves with every intention of reading it 'one day', until peer pressure got to me, so I sat down one Sunday afternoon and started reading.

This book is everything - it's horrible, fantastic, boring, exciting, intriguing and frustrating all at once - there are times that I couldn't stop reading, and times when I wanted to throw it against the wall.  It's disjointed yet coherent, intriguing yet bland and in the end, I enjoyed it much more than I did during some parts of reading it.  And considering that this is Mr. Danielewski's debut novel, it's certainly an epic undertaking that is pretty flawlessly executed.

I didn't find it particularly scary, although some of the things that the characters experience is enough to make you crack out the measuring tape, and the mental health of Johnny Truant who puts together the book itself is more than questionable, it was mostly the range of emotions that I went through when reading it that will really stick with me.

I'm combining my written review with a video review mainly so I can show you what the inside of the book looks like, and also to expand upon the synopsis a little further, but in short I thought that the lay-out and use of font really added an extra dimension to the story - even if I was at serious risk of a sprained wrist.


  1. This book sounds awesome and absolutely weird. Added it to my TBR list (:

    1. It's SO wierd - but I'm glad I read it!

  2. This sounds interesting and creepy although the page length does put me off a bit. 700 pages is hard to sustain unless the story is rock solid. Think I'll add to my TBR as a if I ever come across it book I'll pick it up.

    1. I wouldn't even really say it HAS a plot to sustain. I can't even explain it!

  3. I tried to read this one once, Kat, and I got about halfway through and then for just some reason, I stopped reading it. It's not that it was bad, because it was actually really intriguing and very creepy to me, but it was such a large undertaking and I guess I just had not prepared to make that kind of commitment. But I do own it and I will try it again someday. You are a bad-ass for finishing because this is on many lists of most difficult reads of all time!

    1. If I'd stopped and read something else, I wouldn't have gone back to it to be completely honest - and I read it in huge chunks at once.

      I was SO proud of myself for finishing it LOL!

  4. I have had this book for years but I have not read it yet....

  5. I have also had this book for many years and while it is looks to be a serious case of mind fuckery, I can never seem to pick it up. I think the size definitely has a lot to do with it. It's nice to see someone review it though, because it isn't a book you will find on most blogs. I am glad to hear that is was "all things" and worth reading.

    1. You know, it was my boyfriend that peer pressurised me because HE was intrigued!

  6. I read House of Leaves during a summer interning far away from home and everyone I knew. It freaked me the hell out. It's also the only book I can think of where I diligently took notes throughout that wasn't school reading.

    Totally accurate review.

    Leslie @ Working for the Mandroid

  7. *applauds you*

    I read 300-400 pages of this and DNFed because I COULD. NOT. DO. IT. Seriously, you know I never read that much and DNF, but I was bored to dears. The concept was cool and the formatting, but there was SO much unnecessary info. I wanted to beat myself to death with that stupid heavy book.



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