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Honeysuckle & Pain

(The Familiar #3)

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  893 ratings  ·  117 reviews
The exciting and radical literary event continues with Honeysuckle & Pain, the third episode in the multi-volume novel from the universally acclaimed, genre-busting author of House of Leaves.

In The Familiar, Volume 3: Honeysuckle & Pain, Xanther, the 12-year-old girl at the center of our story, discovers a new inner strength as the world around her begins to shift inexorab
Paperback, 880 pages
Published June 14th 2016 by Pantheon
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Average rating 4.36  · 
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Ian Scuffling
2017 Update: The series really comes into its own at this point, rewarding the reader's diligence and astute reading. Payoffs aren't in service of the reader, but rather, expand and complicate the mysteries yet-unfolded.


The magical mystery world of simulations and simulacrum via Mark Z. Danielewski gets its third--and most satisfying--volume in Honeysuckle & Pain, which expands (and contracts) the 9 characters' lives from the previous entries and their unexpected connections. In true TV Ser
May 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I feel like Danielewski really hit his stride in this third book. The characters start to overlap more and you can see the threads being woven together. I have no idea how he is going to sustain this for 27 vols. but I am fully in for the ride. By the time the series is complete I will need a dedicated bookshelf for it.

Xanther continues too fascinate. The final 2 chapters of this were some of the best so far. Keep em coming Mark!
Jul 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
This shit is hitting its stride.
And I'm into it.

It's going to be interesting to review this as it goes to 27 -- reviewing episodes as opposed to a complete text; since I don't really read series, it's something I'm not used to here. So -- what can I say about Volume 3?

It was beautiful, in ways the previous two weren't. It was suspenseful, and strange, and haunting, in ways they weren't and in ways that reminded me of House of Leaves for the first time in the series. It was intense, and the
Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
When I reviewed Volume 2, I said that these books are more like chapters of a novel than books (except for the fact that they are 840 pages long). And Volume 3 confirms that. What we are getting with The Familiar is 27 chapters, each 840 pages long.

There is therefore a limited amount that you can put in a review. After all, you would not write a review of each chapter of a book, and that is effectively what you are doing when reviewing each book in this series.

The 9 stories continue to develop.
Loring Wirbel
Jun 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
In the music industry, there is an occasional curse of the recently signed newcomer band that runs out of good ideas before its second album, the dreaded "sophomore slump." More recently, reviewers have talked about the existential angst that seizes some bands around their third or fourth album, calling into question the band's vision and musical intent. With a planned 27 volumes in The Familiar series, Mark Z. Danielewski could go through many more Maslow stages than sophomore slump or existent ...more
Mar 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
By the time we begin Honeysuckle and Pain, a reasonable amount of time has passed since that One Rainy Day in May. If you've yet to pick this series up, then in your head, you must be thinking, "Well, by now the hype must be winding down. At 880 pages per volume, it must be losing plenty of steam."

You'd be dead wrong.

Honeysuckle and Pain is the most action packed volume yet. Like the youngest of three siblings coming into its own, Volume three shines where the first two hid in shadows. Where we
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
I am now a confessed Series Junkie. Can't wait for #4 and trolling the nets for a release date for #5.
Mattia Ravasi
Jun 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Video review:

It's more of the same, and by now I'm sure we all know whether we're in for the full ride. I could mention how some treads need to move faster and I can't stress highly enough JingJing's need to be fucking erased from my life, but the important point is that I'm totally hooked.
Jonathan Pool
Dec 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american-lit
Volume 3 of Mark Danielewski's literary "first season" is a continuum of the events and characterisations we have been introduced to in volumes 1 and 2 of The Familiar.
There's only so much that a reviewer can write about a literary work specifically designed, like a TV Box set, to be developed slowly and gradually. The unique presention of the book itself, it's weight, the chapterisation, the shifting typefaces, font size and the layout of text are unusual, unique, but that becomes accepted nor
Blaine  Wajdowicz
Jan 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When done absolutely properly, it's almost always fun to watch while authors working with multiple narratives uncurl their wires, twisting them round each other, spots where they all cluster and spots where they seem incomprehensibly far apart. Waiting till the story turns the light bulbs on so that the rest of us can finally see it. For the first time in this series, I felt like I was watching this happen.
(I mean, it's Mark Z Danielewski so the wires are spread, like, PRETTY far- but it's star
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have totally fallen for this series. For the structure of the books, the images, the internal monologues, the narrative constructs, but most of all for the incredibly beautiful characters and at its center the Abrahims. From wise and humane Anwar, to self doubting yet still asskicking mom Astair, to the mean twins Freya and Shasti still beautiful in their innocence yet indulging in tag team tormenting of their big sister, to above all Xanther, who is the epicenter and still point on which all ...more
Mar 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"What's this one about?" A co-worker asked me.

"The girls is trying to come up with a name for the cat."

His eyes and brain struggled against each other from rolling/not rolling.

"But it's an amazing journey. Really." I struggle for words to explain the series as frankly, I'm just starting to figure out what I'm reading myself.

I offer up my copy of #1 and he cautiously accepts.

This isn't a series for the summer reader. Switching from Singlish to Spanglish to Ameniaglish (?!) is work. Jingjing's
Sean Rabun
Jun 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Keeps getting better. And I still keep skipping Jingjing.
May 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
NOTE: Publication has stopped at book 5 in this series. I still think it is absolutely worth diving into. Not only is it different in terms of any book I have ever seen, it's filled to the brim with tension and characters that don't fit the typical formula. Inclusion is very strong here. The author is currently working on other avenues to finish the story.

After the explosive finale of the last book, I was itching to dive into this one to see what happened next! Just like the others, this is more
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I am running out of complimentary words to describe Mark's work. The guy is completely original, unique, a genius, and I can only shake my head in wondrous disbelief at the complexity of his books.

I feel lucky to read his words.
Mar 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Soon I will do a proper review of the series so far (through volume 4) - or really less of a review and more of a pleading to seekers of strange art that pushes not just artistic, or literary boundaries, but personal, intimate boundaries. The world of The Familiar is wonderful and daring full of hypercolor and hyperobjects and I can't do it much justice in this short review outside of saying - READ THESE BOOKS. In 500 years these books will still be enchanting in the way William Blake's works ar ...more
Sep 08, 2019 rated it liked it
This review will likely contain spoilers

So there I am reading Volume 3 of The Familiar, having so far fairly enjoyed the story being told. I spent the 600 or so pages up to this point reading about how the cat doesn't have a name yet and how Xanther keeps attempting to find one, and being so close to the end, I decided I would go ahead and purchase Volume 4. I go onto Amazon and see Volume 4 is on sale, and I buy it. Out of curiosity, I checked out Volume 5 to see if it too was on sale. I learne
Jul 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
In this volume, we see still more connections appearing between what started as fairly disparate characters. Because he appears more in this volume, I have come to appreciate and enjoy Schnork as a character, even if his place in this grand tale has yet to become apparent. His laws about driving have me feeling a kinship with him. Once again, the Jing Jing sections are the worst parts of the book for me as the speech pattern is so bizarre (even if perhaps accurate to the character's ethnicity) a ...more
Jul 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Part 3 of 32 (or 36), and I'm not sure the reward is worth wading through 800+ pages each volume. I love how Mark Danielewski (a) is brave enough to attempt something like this and (b) plays with the text in the way it is displayed BUT to me this series needs to start moving at a quicker pace to keep me hooked. Each volume does develop the story but, with each volume being so long, I would hope to see more forward motion at the end of each. Both with volumes 2 and 3 I haven't felt that. I am not ...more
Tim Greydos
Jun 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The slow convergence of plots continues, but the main thread of Xanther and her family continues to stand out, as the changes being caused by "The Little One" become more apparent. Bit by bit, the world being built by Danielewski is coming into focus, and sticking with his unique way of telling this story continues to payoff
Jan 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Still amazing, but feeling a bit slow.
Feb 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
To MZD: oh, please, don't stop.
Aug 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
It remains to be seen how things go from here, but I believe this series is beginning to hit its stride here. I'm all strapped in for the ride ahead.
Keith Long
Apr 07, 2019 rated it liked it
I keep reading these because House of Leaves is one of my favorite books, and I like fifty year sword as well- but I don't know if I recommend this series. This is the best of the first three books .

First, I get that the work is "experimental" and meant to mimic the concept of a television show, but I cant help think: this is a three book series (max) that's being dragged out over many more volumes by an author that is more concerned with typesetting than he is story. In other words: I wish he
Daniel Williams
Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Familiar shows no sign of slowing down. As I finished Volume 2, I was unsure of how Danielewsi could top it, but he has with Volume 3. Storylines are beginning converge and questions piled ontop of each other in a delicious, albeit, mysterious medley. Whether you read for just the plot or delve deep into the allusions and puzzles this book will not disappoint.
Andy Jacobs
Jan 12, 2018 rated it liked it
In Volume 3 the nine storylines finally begin to coalesce into something puzzling and spooky.
Feb 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Volume 3 slows down a bit after the frantic hunger of book 2. But Danielewski digs deep, and calls forth even more poetry and meaningful thinking from our characters (the only drawback to it would be a slight feeling of dissonance from certain characters -- which at this stage in the game is probably working more toward development than contradiction, but it did surprise me a bit). In addition to the poetic thinking, we get a deeper sense of connectivity and eeriness, strange coincidences and th ...more
Dec 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This series is getting better and better. It's amazing how easy it is to find back into the story after waiting for a few months for the continuation. Xanther’s storyline is developing extremely great and I even feel growing closer to those characters I didn’t like too much so far, like JingJing or Shnork.
I couldn’t help getting goosebumps from time to time when the story took another unexpected turn (what’s up with those Xanther disciples for example?). I am so eager to read the next book, the
Chris  - Quarter Press Editor
Jul 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Already, at this point, if you're into this series and pressing on, you know what to expect: more gorgeous writing, more WTF, more word art, more Xanther, more cats--and all of it is fantastic.

Of the three volumes out so far, this one read the fastest for me. Danielewski has taken further liberties with his layouts, creating a new form of poetics and pacing for a novel. I love it and am completely jealous in that so few writers will have the opportunity to "waste" the space of a page on one word
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MZD's The Familiar: September 25-30, pages 642-880 1 7 Sep 14, 2017 01:16PM  
MZD's The Familiar: September 19-24, pages 476-641 1 2 Sep 14, 2017 01:15PM  
MZD's The Familiar: September 13-18, pages 342-475 1 3 Aug 29, 2017 07:01AM  
MZD's The Familiar: September 7-12, pages 202-341 1 3 Aug 29, 2017 07:00AM  
MZD's The Familiar: September 1-6, pages 1-201 1 4 Aug 29, 2017 06:59AM  
MZD's The Familiar: Chpt. 2 "Xiomara" Xanther 1 6 Jan 06, 2017 05:17PM  
MZD's The Familiar: Chpt. 1 "wings" JingJing 1 8 Jan 06, 2017 05:03PM  

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Mark Z. Danielewski is an American author best known for his books House of Leaves, Only Revolutions, The Fifty Year Sword, The Little Blue Kite, and The Familiar series.

Danielewski studied English Literature at Yale. He then decided to move to Berkeley, California, where he took a summer program in Latin at the University of California, Berkeley. He also spent time in Paris, preoccupied mostly w

Other books in the series

The Familiar (5 books)
  • One Rainy Day in May (The Familiar #1)
  • Into the Forest (The Familiar #2)
  • Hades (The Familiar #4)
  • Redwood (The Familiar #5)

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