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In The Night Wood

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In this contemporary fantasy, the grieving biographer of a Victorian fantasist finds himself slipping inexorably into the supernatural world that consumed his subject.

American Charles Hayden came to England to forget the past.

Failed father, failed husband, and failed scholar, Charles hopes to put his life back together with a biography of Caedmon Hollow, the long-dead author of a legendary Victorian children's book, In the Night Wood. But soon after settling into Hollow's remote Yorkshire home, Charles learns that the past isn't dead.

In the neighboring village, Charles meets a woman he might have loved, a child who could have been his own lost daughter, and the ghost of a self he thought he'd put behind him.

And in the primeval forest surrounding Caedmon Hollow's ancestral home, an ancient power is stirring. The horned figure of a long-forgotten king haunts Charles Hayden's dreams. And every morning the fringe of darkling trees presses closer.

Soon enough, Charles will venture into the night wood.

Soon enough he'll learn that the darkness under the trees is but a shadow of the darkness that waits inside us all.

214 pages, Hardcover

First published October 1, 2018

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About the author

Dale Bailey

123 books136 followers
Dale was born in West Virginia in 1968, and grew up in a town called Princeton, just north of the Virginia line. His stories have appeared in lots of places—The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Amazing Stories, Sci-Fiction, Lightspeed Magazine, and various anthologies. Several of them have been nominated for awards, and “Death and Suffrage,” later filmed as part of Showtime’s television anthology series Masters of Horror, won the International Horror Guild Award.

In 2003, Golden Gryphon Press collected his stories as The Resurrection Man’s Legacy and Other Stories. Two novels, The Fallen and House of Bones, came out from Signet books around the same time. A third novel—Sleeping Policemen, written with with his friend Jack Slay, Jr.—came out in 2006. He has also written a study of haunted-house fiction called American Nightmares.

He lives in North Carolina with his wife and daughter.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 599 reviews
Profile Image for John Mauro.
Author 5 books394 followers
May 25, 2023
My complete review is published at Grimdark Magazine.

In the Night Wood is an ingeniously written Gothic horror novel by Dale Bailey, which serves as both a tribute to classic Gothic literature and a unique, riveting story in its own right.

As the novel opens, the narrator, a boy named Charles Hayden, is strangely captivated by an obscure fairy tale, also called In the Night Wood, written by the enigmatic Victorian author Caedmon Hollow.

The story jumps ahead to Charles at graduate school, where Caedmon Hollow is the subject of his doctoral research. During a late-night study session, Charles literally bumps into the love of his life, Erin, at the university library. As fate would have it, Erin is a direct descendant of Caedmon Hollow. Charles promises to give her a “happily ever after,” and six months later they are married.

Fast forward another ten years, and Charles has lost his job as an English professor at Ransom College. Even worse, Charles and Erin’s only daughter, Lissa, has perished in an unspeakable tragedy. Their marriage is broken, and Erin is abusing prescription drugs to numb her pain. Charles and Erin move from America to the English countryside, where she has inherited the Hollow family estate.

Alongside the Hollow House is a dark forest curiously like that described in Caedmon Hollow’s fairy tale. The locals repeatedly warn Charles and Erin not to explore the woods, since people get lost there and never return.

Charles tries to overcome the grief of losing his daughter by throwing himself into his next academic project: an authoritative biography of Caedmon Hollow. He discovers many lost writings from the mysterious author, including a peculiar cipher that becomes a focal point of his obsessive research.

However, Charles is also haunted by the ghost of his dead daughter and by frightful images of the Horned King, the legendary fae king from Hollow’s fairy tale. The nightmarish images are shared by Erin, but the couple cannot bring themselves to discuss what they are seeing.

Meanwhile, a local girl has gone missing and is presumed dead. Four girls with similar names—Lissa, Lorna, Livia, and Laura—also share common physical features and a common story. Or perhaps a common curse?

As In the Night Wood progresses, it becomes unclear whether Charles is learning the truth about the seemingly inscrutable Caedmon Hollow and the real-life origin of his fairy tale, or if he is just descending deeper into madness.

In the Night Wood exudes classic Gothic horror elements while keeping the writing and story fresh for modern readers. The traditional Gothic motifs are here—a foreboding old mansion, eerie visions, and unexplainable supernatural events—all accompanied by a pervasive sense of dread.

Frankly, the beginning of In the Night Wood is a little shaky. The time jumps in the early chapters occur rather abruptly, but in the end they serve an important narrative purpose. The story improves dramatically as the novel progresses, especially in the second half. Overall, In the Night Wood is an excellent read and highly recommended for anyone who loves Gothic horror.

Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,733 reviews14.1k followers
November 8, 2018
3.5 Unbearable loss and grief, a failing marriage, a literary obsession bring Erin and Charles to the dusty Manor that Erin inherited from her ancestor, Caedmon Hollow. A Victorian children's novel, the only work that Caedmon would leave before he committed suicide, stirs a fascination in Charles, one he hopes to turn into a worthy dissertation. There are, however, more things than can be rationally explained, in the woods behind the house.

Mixing folklore, an obscure novel, and a newly discovered cryptogram, this is an eerily creepy read. The pages are infused with a subtle dread, the slow buildup enhances this mood of darkness. What is real, what is not? Literary allusions in the crptogram and other places, Caedmon uses references from many famous authors, Shakespeare among them, added to the mystery of what exactly Caedmon was trying to say. There is much sadness here, much mystery, some gorgeous prose, and a fascinating look at the darkness within and without. The long tentacles of a history past but not forgotten.

"Maybe , Charles thought, maybe stories held a germ of truth. Maybe if there weren't really any happily ever after to our once upon a times, there could at least be a hard won accommodation to the vicious world, a compromise at tale's end with bitterness and suffering.

ARC from Netgalley.
Profile Image for Char.
1,634 reviews1,487 followers
December 16, 2018
IN THE NIGHT WOOD was my first novel by Dale Bailey but I'm sure it won't be my last!

Within the pages of this dark fiction narrative is a fairy-tale like story, but no "happily ever after" ending is promised. A couple inherits an old manor located in the countryside of England, on the edge of a large, dark wood. Amidst the grief and guilt they feel due to a recent family tragedy, Charles and Erin feel like a move might be the very thing they need. But of course, in true fairy tale fashion, things go horribly awry. Will they be able to start the new life they needed? You'll have to read this to find out.

I'm trying not to give too much away while attempting to impart to you how much I enjoyed this book. There's a mystery about an old tome, (IN THE NIGHT WOOD) and its author. There's a mystery regarding the caretaker, whose job contract binds him to the house itself, not to the people in it. Lastly, (of course!), there's a mystery regarding the deep, dark wood and the creatures that may or may not live there.

While hoping to unravel all of these mysteries, the threads of guilt and grief remain and are woven throughout the fabric of this narrative. At times, the level of grief is so deep it seems like it will drown the lives of Charles and Erin completely.

Lastly, I need to mention the language and beauty of the writing. There are all kinds of literary references, some I picked up on and some I did not. The best part of which is you don't need to be familiar with all of the literary allusions to enjoy this gorgeously written story.

IN THE NIGHT WOOD is a slow burn of a mysterious, Gothic, fairy tale and one I enjoyed immensely.


You can get your copy here: https://amzn.to/2S2Ps2R

*I received an e-ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*
Profile Image for Sandra Uv.
1,044 reviews244 followers
October 15, 2020

“¿Y si el tiempo era una serpiente que se mordía la cola o una rueda que giraba inexorablemente en el eje del destino? ¿Y si lo que fue volvía a ser? ¿y si vivíamos dentro de un cuento que ya estaba escrito?”

En el bosque oscuro ha sido un libro que me ha dejado maravillada. Una lectura sobrecogedora, absorbente y muy oscura. Ideal para estas fechas. ¡Estoy deseando leer más libros del autor!

-Reseña completa: http://addicionaloslibros.blogspot.co...
Profile Image for Helen Power.
Author 12 books465 followers
October 11, 2018
When he was just a young boy, Charles Hayden discovered a mysterious Victorian children’s book called “In the Night Wood”.  Years later, Charles is a failing scholar who is obsessed with the book that so greatly influenced his life. His wife is a distant relative of Caedmon Hollow, the author of "In the Night Wood".  When she inherits Hollow’s home, he moves there with her to run away from their shared tragic past--the death of their six-year-old daughter.  Charles hopes that he can use this opportunity write a biography of Caedmon Hollow.  Digging deep into the past is never a good idea, however, and it quickly becomes apparent that “In the Night Wood” was inspired by the forest surrounding Hollow’s home.  But how much is truth and how much is fiction? 

The writing style is one of the book's greatest strengths, and Caedmon Hollow's Victorian-style house, the woods surrounding it, and the neighbouring town are all beautifully described.  However, I felt that the story somehow managed to feel too rushed, while very little actually happens. The story doesn’t have much substance.   In the Night Wood is quite short, but based on content, it could have easily been a novella or even a short story.

The major appeal factor of this book is that Bailey has created his own legend.  The story of “In the Night Wood” with the horned king and a little girl named Laura--a little girl who is so similar in both name and appearance to Charles' lost daughter.  However, Hollow's book is not quite developed enough to my liking, and instead Bailey pulls from Shakespeare and other well-known writers throughout history for later plot points, including a cipher that Charles must decrypt.

I didn’t particularly enjoy this book. Charles Hayden is a most despicable main character. He hasn’t learned from past mistakes. He cheated on his wife, and on his daughter’s birthday, his “secret birthday gift” to his now six-year-old daughter was that he was going to break up with his mistress. What a wonderful present. You’re too kind .  This would all be fair, but in present day he’s almost cheating on his wife again with another woman, another scholar with a similar name. He didn't learn from his mistake, which would also be okay, if he learned his lesson before the book ended.  He didn't. There’s no “I should have learned” moment or time when karma comes to bite him in the ass.  He doesn't get his comeuppance, which makes an unlikable character such as this one inexcusable.  He's also sexist, not only the way in which he views his wife, but in the way he views other women. The female scholar he works with on Hollows' biography is said to have her "prickles" because she won't allow him to patronize him.  He likes her despite her "prickles".  Ugh!

Throughout the story Charles Hayden reflects on his daughter’s tragic death and how he feels responsible. The way he says it makes you think that he isn’t actually responsible, that it’s just an inflated level of survivor’s guilt.  A way for Bailey to make an unlikable character have some substance.  Then it’s revealed how the daughter actually died. Charles is 100% responsible for her death, which makes his woe-is-me attitude even more disgusting.  In the plot line of the story, a local child has been kidnapped.  Charles doesn’t react beyond how you or I would react to the thought of someone else’s child being kidnapped, despite the fact that he literally went through the experience of losing his daughter less than a year before. He should have had empathy for the parents of the missing child. He should have--at the very least--had it remind him of his own lost daughter and bring him to shed a single tear down his cheek. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure Charles is human.

The unlikability of Charles Hayden is exacerbated by the fact that his wife, Erin, isn’t well fleshed out. She’s grieving her lost daughter. That’s basically all we know about her. She doesn’t do much else except for wonder if her husband is cheating on her again once they move to Caedmon Hollow’s home.  It’s actually mentioned at one point that Charles can’t leave her because he needs access to the house she inherited. I repeat, "Ugh".  

This book has numerous intellectual discussions; however they’re mostly about things I’ve heard about a million times before--quotes like “Murder most foul” by Shakespeare, a definition of “automatic writing”, the story of Oedipus, and a brief mention of Occam’s Razor, to name a few.  

In the Night wood

I recommend this book to those who want to read a book with a lot of literary references and a strong sense of place--the old Hollow House is beautifully described, as is the dark and treacherous woods that surround it.  If you do decide to read this, try not to let an extremely unlikable main character who doesn’t grow or get what’s coming to him interfere with your enjoyment of the story (like I clearly did).


*Thank you to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Netgalley for the advanced reader copy*
Profile Image for Jenny (Reading Envy).
3,876 reviews3,049 followers
October 12, 2018
Now that the weather is finally turning gloomy, you might be looking for an atmospheric read. Look no further! This book blends folklore, English countryside, mysterious books, missing children, and a wood that beckons....

I enjoyed Bailey's short stories that I also read this year, and I may have a slight preference for those because they were more along the lines of dark fantasy and sometimes humorous, always full of humanity. Sometimes I felt trapped in this book because it gets a bit circular, and you know that the characters are doing dangerous things and the author is just going to make you watch it happen! But that's part of the overall tone of the novel that is so effective. Some of the characters feel more like archetypes than individuals, but again, that suits the book too since there is a layer in it of another book, also called In the Night Wood.

At the heart of the story is a damaged marriage, with both people destroyed by grief with an added undercurrent of infidelity that hasn't even started to be dealt with. That may be the greater horror in the end.

(I marked this little part:)
"They were silent then, listening to the sound of their marriage calve around them, like a glacier, like sea ice, as fragile and as cold.
'Pass the salt, please,' he said."
Profile Image for Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede.
1,938 reviews786 followers
February 7, 2019
In the Night Wood is just the kind of book I like to read. A story about a married couple who move to a new house. A house that the wife has inherited. A house with secrets and surrounded by an ancient oak forest. A forest that is so deep that you can get lost in it...

Now I had the pleasure of both listen to the audio version and reading the book. I think I preferred listening to the book which could be because John Banks did such an excellent job. As for the story itself. It's perfectly OK. However, I found myself wanting to like the story more than I did. Books like this one are actually the ones I find the hardest to review because there is nothing wrong with them more than I just can't seem to love the story. I wasn't annoyed with the characters, the death of their daughter is tragic and I felt for both Charles and Erin. I actually found the story within this story to be the most fascinating thing. A fairy tale with an unhappy ending.

One thing I want to say about the book is that it didn't bore me at least. It was a good book to listen to when I worked and that is a good sign. I kept on wanting to find out the truth about the forest. I would definitely recommend the book if you like modern gothic thrillers. I can see how the right reader will love this book. I just wish that the story had grabbed my attention more than it did.

I want to thank the publisher for providing me with an ecopy through NetGalley for an honest review!
Profile Image for Judithrosebooks .
475 reviews1,465 followers
November 17, 2020
Cuando comencé a leer el libro no esperaba encontrarme esta historia.

Debo reconocer que al principio el libro se me hizo pesado y me costaba mucho avanzar. Realmente la historia era bastante plana y me costaba avanzar por el hecho de que no ocurrían demasiadas cosas además el libro se centra mucho en la pérdida de la hija del matrimonio. Además me ha fallado un poco que está ambientado en la actualidad y a la vez hay cosas que parecen de otra época.

Charles y su mujer Erin se van a vivir en una campiña inglesa que él ha heredado, la casa Hallow. Allí empezarán unos sucesos extraños, una casa que esconde una historia llena de secretos y está rodeada por un bosque oscuro.

La mujer no tarda en tener visiones y sueños extraños, Charles por su parte sigue con su investigación sobre el libro que escribió su antepasado En el bosque oscuro. Esa investigación le llevará a conocer unos hechos inimaginables.

Las últimas 100 páginas las he devorado la historia coge ritmo y tienes ganas de descubrir qué es lo que está ocurriendo.

A pesar de que la primera parte se me ha hecho bastante pesada creo que el libro merece la pena por el final. Aún así esperaba una historia muy diferente, con más acción desde el principio y quizás un poco más de fantasía.
Profile Image for Coos Burton.
766 reviews1,298 followers
September 14, 2021

Más fantasía oscura que horror, y sin embargo me resultó una buena lectura. Tiene toda esta onda de cuento de hadas que me gusta, un toque gótico, y una buena carga de drama. No es una lectura muy ligera por esta última cuestión, pero creo que vale la pena tenerle paciencia.
Profile Image for Raquel Estebaran.
293 reviews171 followers
November 12, 2021
Una novela de fantasía oscura con una atmósfera paranormal, una ambientación muy conseguida y unos personajes con una situación personal dramática.

Buena lectura, entretenida.
Profile Image for Gary.
442 reviews185 followers
October 12, 2018
Dale Bailey’s new novel In the Night Wood is assertive with its intertextuality. It begins with two epigraphical quotes, one from Mircea Eliade’s The Forbidden Forest and the other from the Brothers’ Grimm’s “Hansel and Gretel”. A prelude follows that “quotes” its fictitious novel-within-a-novel called In the Night Wood, attributed to the (also fictitious) obscure Victorian writer Caedmon Hollow. The Forbidden Forest is about a man who, after the death of his wife and child, searches for his estranged mistress in the forest where they had met years before, and the quote refers to “the existential necessity of listening to stories and fairy tales.” Those familiar with “Hansel and Gretel” will understand the context Gretel’s tearful lament “How are we to get out of the forest now?” and recognize its interrelation to the Eliade quote. Then, as though its thematic architecture still lacked sufficient clarity, the passage from the imaginary Caedmon Hollow novel is also about a frightened little girl lost in a forest, informed by an enchanted oak that her “Story is rich in coincidence” and “is not a happy Story” (the capital “S” in “Story” is the author’s). It is unsurprising that Bailey’s novel turns out to be a self-reflexive fairy tale involving the tragic death of a child, marital infidelity, little girls lost in enchanted forests, is full of coincidence, and is not a happy story.
That story, a dark fantasy flavored with historical metafiction, begins when young Charles Hayden steals a copy of the forgotten children’s novel “In the Night Wood” from his grandfather’s library. His pilfered copy disappears not long after he reads it, but Charles grows up obsessed with the book and its author. Years later, literary grad student Charles meets Erin, a direct descendant of Caedmon Hollow. They fall in love, get married, and have a daughter, before the novel jumps another decade into the future. Erin is the next living heir to Hollow House, Caedmon Hollow’s ancestral home, and the couple uproot their American lives to live there when the previous, childless heir passes on. A lot has happened in the intervening years. Their marriage is now in ruins: Charles had been having an affair with a colleague, and their daughter Lissa died in an accident as the affair came to light. A trickle of clues suggests there is a relationship between those two circumstances, the result being that Charles is now on sabbatical from his university position (it is clear he will not be welcome back) and Erin, addicted to prescription drugs, cocoons in her grief.
Charles hopes to write a biography of Caedmon Hollow to resuscitate the author’s reputation and his own. Living in Hollow House, with its proximity to Eorl Wood (the purported inspiration for Hollow’s novel) offers all the inspiration and incentive he needs. He may even find the biographical information he needs in the nearby village of Yarrow, whose unofficial historian, Silva, takes an interest in his project.
Charles discovers there might be more to Hollow’s infamous novel than its reputation as a simple allegorical fairy tale suggests. A local girl, around Lissa’s age at the time of her death, has gone missing. Erin, in her drug-induced haze, is sketching bizarre likenesses of the Horned King, the villain of her ancestor's novel. Charles keeps seeing vague, human-like figures near the wood that seem to blow away with the wind, and the more he digs into Hollow’s past, the more real-life correlations to its fantastical allegories surface.
This premise has all the makings of a solid, atmospheric dark fantasy. Bailey’s silvery prose, plush with descriptive embellishments and perceptual insights, evinces an appropriate Victorian-ness. These attributes also slow the story down. The narrative’s progress stalls sputters for two thirds of the book, stretching out or repeating the same dramatic beats. Erin grieves and regresses and grieves and regresses. Apparitions of the Horned King and Lissa appear and disappear. Charles’ will-he-or-won’t-he attraction to Silva goes nowhere, except that her daughter Lorna reminds him of Lissa so he wants to spend more time around her. Things pick up when the novel finally opens its box of secrets for the final act, but Bailey lets Erin out of the fridge too late for us to care, then stuffs Silva into it in her place.
Stories always work best when the plot, no matter how meticulously devised by the author, progresses from a believable set of choices made by the characters. In the Night Wood often feels as if the characters make choices pre-ordained by the needs of the plot. The opening epigraphs do more than just set the tone and lay out its themes, they direct its inclinations and formulate its path, striving to manufacture layers that only end up weighing it down.
Profile Image for Juli.
1,879 reviews474 followers
November 2, 2018
Charles Hayden is watching his life and his marriage go down the drain. An Affair. His daughter dying. He and Erin have just drifted apart. Then his wife inherits the Hollow family home. Hollow House. Maybe the house, the money, the new start will make everything ok? Charles and Erin don't realize that Hollow House and the Eorl Wood surrounding it hold dark secrets. Very dark secrets.

This story unfolds like a deep, dark, demented fairy tale. An old house sitting in the middle of the deep, dark woods. Legends about disappearances, murder, The Horned God. And an ancestor that wrote a strange, mesmerizing novel about the woods before killing himself. Visions of a dead little girl. What a creepy, awesome story! I loved it! I started reading the book on Halloween night and it ended up being a total binge read. The story sucked me right in and kept me reading until the end.

Dale Bailey has written many short stories and several novels. In the Night Wood is the first book by Bailey that I've read. I enjoyed this story so much that I'm definitely going to read more of his work. I like his writing style. He doesn't hit readers in the face with roaring monsters and jump scares. The horror in this novel was more subtle...more chilling...the sort of scary that sneaks out of the woods at night and waits at the end of your bed while you sleep. I'm definitely reading more by this author!

The cover art for this book is just awesome.

*I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.*
Profile Image for Selena.
488 reviews309 followers
September 16, 2018
I received a free e-copy of In The Night Wood by Dale Bailey from NetGalley for my honest review.

A tale about a couple, who is grieving the death of their young daughter. They move to a remote estate in England that the mother inherits, to escape the reminders. Some very strange and eerie things begin to happen. The couple begins to see thing. Are they really seeing these thing, creatures or are they so grief stricken they are seeing things. A very dark, eerie fantasy.

Profile Image for Malice.
261 reviews30 followers
February 8, 2022
Este libro es más bien una fantasía oscura, antes que un libro de terror. Así que no sucede nada realmente terrorífico. Siento que la historia y la narración se queda a medias y tampoco hay mucho misterio que desentrañar.

La atmósfera y los escenarios fueron lo único más o menos bien logrado, pero no fueron suficiente para hacer al libro más entretenido, así que se queda en 2.5 estrellas.
Profile Image for Bandit.
4,509 reviews454 followers
October 10, 2018
I’ve actually read Dale Bailey before. Ages ago. I vaguely recall an old paperback, liking it. But the main reason I wanted to read this book was the title/cover/description combination promising a dark fairy tale. I love fairy tales and dark is absolutely the best variety of them. And so this was one. A fairy tale for adults. About two adults who move to a great old manor in a pastoral England to try to get past the death of their young daughter only to discover the nearby woods just might be darker and scarier than a mere collection of trees. It’s a near perfect Victorian gothic premise and although it takes place in the present, it may very well have been a timeless tale. There is a mysterious Horned King (a very traditional English wood being) awaiting, nay, expecting a sacrifice. There is a bibliomystery (I can never resist those). There is a family drama. Quite a lot in such a slim volume that definitely doesn’t read slim. And yet the star of the show here is the writing, Bailey’s hauntingly atmospheric narrative spellbinds the reader, spirits them away into a place on the very edge of madness where supernatural and natural comingle in such a way as to make mere mortals seem like playthings. The character writing is also terrific, the quietly dissolving marriage of Charles and Erin, with him trying to manage his guilt with a project of discovering the secrets of the family he’s married into (yes, there’s even a cypher) and her giving into the overpowering grief and sliding into something of a chemical coma with interludes of obsessive drawing…it’s a relationship a real as it is devastating. But really this is a story about a book, a book that once brought Charles and Erin together, a legendary children’s story that really isn’t for children, and the terrifying truth behind its inspiration. Of course, it can just be read as an allegory about grief and forgiveness, but it’s so much more fun to go the fairy tale way. Sad, lovely, eerie…this was a thing of beauty, particularly for anyone who’s into psychological mindtwisters. Might not sing for everyone with its meditative pace and Charles’ questionable moral character, but personally I enjoyed it tremendously. And it’s a good October read too. A literary dark fantasy with a distinctly scary undertones. Great read. Recommended. Thanks Netgalley.
Profile Image for Ellie.
575 reviews2,112 followers
December 29, 2020
An evocative gothic fantasy with the most incredible atmosphere, In The Night Wood has my favourite things: a strange, dark wood and a mysterious old house. Also, secrets and many literary allusions. All these factors make me a little bit biased.

I might have enjoyed this one even more had I liked the characters better (they're not overly easy to empathise with, admittedly), but considering I almost unhauled this, I'm glad I didn't and found the time to read it.

> 4.2 stars
Profile Image for Renee Godding.
611 reviews573 followers
May 7, 2019
"It was haunted, of course, Hollow House. But they were all haunted; Erin and Charles, Harris, Mrs Ramsdon too. And although mr Ramsdon sins and failures and regrets, like those of Anne Marrow or Dr Colbach, have but glancing significance in this story, they were each of them protagonists in other tales, with their own dramas, their flights of joy and their plunges into sorrow. Once upon a time, no life too humble, no event too insignificant: every story is a ghoststory."

A very interesting concept that I can best describe as "The Shadow of the Wind meets The Haunting of Hill House", that was great in some parts, but mediocre in others. I really loved the portrayal of a grieving couple, alternating between drifting towards and apart, after the tragic death of their daughter. I loved the way the rich and gloomy setting blurs the lines between fairytale monsters and ghosts of their pasts. For all that I might have given In the Night Wood 4 or even 4.5 stars.
Despite this, I can't escape the feeling that something was missing here. I can't quite put my finger on what it was, but I just couldn't love it as much as I would have wished. All in all, I feel like I enjoyed it in the moment, but I don't see this sticking with me for years to come.
For that reason 3 stars: good book, but not as great as I was hoping.
Profile Image for Alyse.
45 reviews18 followers
September 23, 2021
Should have DNF'd

I almost stopped reading this a few times. I should have. It was not good. The prose was ok. But this was not good. Charles is maybe one of the worst people to exist. Definitely the worst in the book. I think we're supposed to feel sorry for him. But I don't, cause he's terrible.

Also, if you're looking for an example of how incredibly difficult it is for men to write women and girls (most men usually have met women and girls in the real world, right...?), this is a great book to venture upon. All the women and girls in this book existed only as they related to Charles' arc and were wispy husks of real characters. In fact, most had identical names (presumably so Charles could remember who was in which category in his ensemble). All six year old girls looked the same, and were named Lissa, Laura, Lorna, or Livva (when Livva's name was revealed, my eyes actually rolled out of my head, out the door, and far away). All women Charles wants to bone are named Silva or Syrah.

I'm so mad about this book. It took me way too long to read cause I didn't want to and I could've been reading a few other things all this time.

Should've DNR'd

Profile Image for Jesus Flores.
2,004 reviews38 followers
February 12, 2022
En el bosque oscuro

El tema me parece interesante y la forma como lo combina con la mitología del bosque y el rey cornudo está bien.
Ya que se deja del juego de “te oculto cosas obvias” para crear un misterio que para nada, el libro agarra bien su ritmo y se vuelve ligeramente interesante.
Lo que sí, me pareció que en partes la redacción simplemente no, párrafos con un estilo terrible.
Aparte difícil empatizar con el protagonista.
Creo que debió darle un poco de más al lado de la historia de Erin

2.5 stars
Profile Image for Emi.acg.
461 reviews134 followers
February 18, 2022
Pues nada que hacer no pude conectar con este libro. No me gustó y no hubo caso que lo hiciera. Se me hizo terriblemente aburrido y pucha que me molesto el personaje principal.

Profile Image for Carlos.
588 reviews289 followers
June 27, 2018
3.5 stars for this effort by Dale Bailey. I found myself getting immersed into the setting the author created in this book , i could see the trees , the old house and even the bar itself, this book had a sense of the ethereal in it so I enjoyed that part. But scenery a book does not make and I felt that while the story started strong it kept losing more and more complexity as it went forward and by the end it had lost any foundation that it had on the beginning . Great effort but felt flat towards the end .
Profile Image for Lucía Cafeína.
1,514 reviews175 followers
October 23, 2020
Nada que ver con lo que esperaba: una historia oscura paranormal/fantástica.
En cambio, es una historia sobre el duelo, y la forma de las personas para sobreponerse, o no, a ese dolor, que se me ha hecho bastante cuesta arriba.
¿Lo mejor? El desenlace, pero no ha conseguido salvar el libro para mí.
Profile Image for Silvia G.
86 reviews3 followers
December 8, 2022
Un libro dentro de otro libro, lleno de folclore y mitos victorianos, y rodeado de un bosque oscuro que no augura nada bueno. Una pareja estadounidense se muda a un casoplón que acaban de heredar en un pequeño pueblo inglés en mitad de la nada y rodeado de un denso bosque. La muerte de su hija pequeña ha dejado al matrimonio destrozado y el hecho de vivir alejados de todo en una mansión enorme sin apenas dirigirse la palabra hace que el ambiente sea todavía más angustiante.

Todo empieza con un libro encontrado hace décadas, un cuento infantil siniestro, y tirando poco a poco del hilo, se va descubriendo una historia real que incluye niñas desaparecidas y seres mitológicos que te engancha y no puedes soltar hasta descubrir qué es real y qué no. Uno de los libros de terror que más me ha gustado este año, por la capacidad de crear una atmósfera gótica y oscura con un misterio de fondo que quería descubrir. Se lo recomiendo incluso a los que no son muy fans del terror, el rollo true crime que tiene puede que les guste.
Profile Image for Lu❤an.
105 reviews41 followers
November 3, 2020
Sabía que me iba a gustar porque una de mis películas preferidas es de mi adorado Tim Burton y es sleepy hollow y es muy parecido ambientación oscura y siniestra y una historia bien construida, no le puedo dar menos estrellas
Profile Image for Pop Bop.
2,475 reviews101 followers
April 8, 2018
Cernunnos Would Approve

I very much enjoyed this, but I do think this is the kind of book you have to adjust to and make allowances for as you read it. Allow me to explain.

We start out dark, creepy, and full of portent. As a youngster our hero, Charles, comes across a copy of Victorian Caedmon Hollow's strange and eldritch children's book "In the Night Wood". This disturbing book not only informs and dictates the flow of the rest of the story, it completely establishes and ordains the path of our hero's life. It is no accident that he later meets and marries Erin, the only surviving distant relative of Caedmon Hollow. So far, so good. This looks like it will be creepy fun, because something dark is afoot.

Then, in quick order, we have an infidelity that shatters the marriage, coupled with the death of the couple's only child, (which shatters their minds), coupled with the fortuitous news that Erin has inherited the abandoned Hollows ancestral home in the dampest, creepiest, weirdest primeval forest in the gloomiest part of Yorkshire. Oh boy, you think, let the madness and creepiness begin. This feels like it could be an amped up version of "Turn of the Screw" meets "Don't Look Now".

But, for a while the book goes over the top. Everything is Gothic. We drive through a Gothic village on a Gothic road and turn on to a narrower Gothier road and go through a Mega-Gothic wood in order to turn on to a Meta-Gothic driveway through a Super-Gothic forest. Charles even drives the car in a Gothic sort of way, (squealing tires, stiff braking, slipping on the leaves). It all becomes so much that you start to smile a little at how Gothy-Mac-Gothface it's getting.

That said, don't give up. Sure, Erin becomes a drunken/drugged neurasthenic cipher. Sure, Charles is a depressive guilt-driven walking exposed nerve ending. Sure, dark references to how their child died become tedious after the twentieth vague hint. But, just as you decide the story has become all handwringing and atmosphere, it takes off. NO SPOILERS, but suddenly we have a neat mystery, the Celtic mythic background to the tale comes into focus, our hero grows a bit of backbone, the other characters start to play their roles, dark things begin to happen, there are visions and dreams and apparitions, we shift times and dimensions as we walk in the encircling Woods, and Caedmon Hollows' madness and the curse that has come down to Erin begin to poison everything. Yes!

So, the writing is taut, economical and evocative and well serves the material except for some flabbiness about Charles' guilt trip. The settings and the atmosphere are top notch. The clever mystery and the play between reality and fantasy were unexpected bonuses. The narration sometimes gets a bit meta and too knowing, but that actually added a bit of welcome counterpoint to the tale. The same goes for the interesting passing references to other books and fantasy sources. This ended up to be a wildly entertaining treat.

(Please note that I received a free advance ecopy of this book without a review requirement, or any influence regarding review content should I choose to post a review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)
Profile Image for Jim.
2,569 reviews138 followers
September 23, 2021
i want to give this story four stars, but then i thought some more and decided not to... i enjoyed the book quite a lot as a fiction, but then i began to realize how insidious was the skeleton of the thing i was holding... so... what i liked then the rest... great pacing, kind of a thriller/mystery/fable... good sense of small town life...enjoyed the quasi-historical aspects too... i felt the book would have done well to add drawings, as there was a lot of them mentioned/described in the text... OK, the ugly... the adult females in the text are all vehicles for Charles' amusement, libido, and "concern": Erin is, of course, beautiful/attractive (generally so) AND is interested in the geek/nerd/shy Charles OF COURSE; Syrah is all about sex and lust, a cover for the things Charles can't/won't ask his wife to do (um, Janus-faced bedroom/kitchen thing); Silva is smart AND sexy; Merrow is just eye-candy in places... then the girls of the tales: victims, objects, helpless... lots of borrowed 'old white guy' literature name-dropping... this book reinforces fo me why we need more fiction (amongst loads of other things ) from female authors... i don't particularly care if you agree or not, but when so much of what is referenced, whether it be actual books or the worlds created by those books, is by white males one can see how tiny the world seems, how circumscribed and pale (pun fully intended)... there are so many voices we need to hear to start filling in the gaps, to color the narratives, to broaden our world beyond such a limited and fearful view of The Other (women, people of color, LGBTQIA, etc.)... so while this book has its decent bits, it hardly breaks any new ground, in fact just runs over old tracks and repeats old concepts, and does little to expand the world of literature or the world around us... it is high time we let those previously denied a voice to speak/to explain/to tell their own stories, not just be objectified sex-fantasy characters in one long White Male history...
Profile Image for Liis.
569 reviews107 followers
March 14, 2019
Not going to lie- I totally requested this book based on 2 things: the cover #hearteyes and the title. I am so easy to engage sometimes! haha… General fiction doesn’t often find its way to my reading list, so naturally- slightly afraid at how this was going to turn out. But, In the Night Wood turned out to be one of those books that takes the description “atmospheric” to another level!

Charles and wife Erin are in deep mourning after the death of their young daughter. So, when Erin inherits the Hollow House in England, Charles sees this as an opportunity to start over and start something new. Erin’s forefathers include a writer of a book that many say they would not let their children read and that book as well as the author has been a fascination (of sorts) in Charles’ life. It is so, that Charles approaches the chance at a fresh start with optimism, whilst Erin follows in a daze of medication.

New start it is, yes, but not what one would have expected. Not only is Hollow House and the whole estate shrouded in mystery, the truth of what happened to the couple’s daughter and why remains hanging over the married couple through guilt and blame. With a slight air of supernatural, everything seems to be linked- grief, depression, visions of a horned figure and horrible dreams… Following the good pace upon expertly placed words, I found myself at a shocking yet satisfying ending.

There’s no denying that the writing style is a perfect fit for delivering a story such as In the Night Wood. It made me question sanity, reality and truth. The writing truly, wonderfully pulled me in and delivered an enjoyable, even though a gloomy, story full of characters who are all wrapped in mystery.
Profile Image for Gafas y Ojeras.
238 reviews191 followers
November 26, 2020
Cuando uno se adentra en la lectura de un cuento tiene que dar por sentado que ante sí se abre un mundo lleno de terribles criaturas que están ahí para llevarte a la oscuridad. Mundos tenebrosos que esperan a que te pierdas en el camino y cuya finalidad dista mucho de la de acogerte para tu bienestar. Lobos, brujas, duendes, criaturas siniestras...se acercan a seducirte ofreciéndote aquello que más deseas pero que, en realidad, esperan a que aparezca la oscuridad para revelarte sus verdaderas intenciones.
La historia que nos narra En el bosque oscuro es uno de esos cuentos y se enorgullece de serlo. Nos cuenta la vida de una pareja unida por la fascinación de una de esas fábulas que les atrapan desde un comienzo y que originará en ellos una vida de ensueño en el que vivirían felices para siempre. Pero no siempre los cuentos tienen un final así y pronto les llegará la tragedia para examinar si el amor que existe entre ellos es tan fuerte como pensaban.
Así nos plantea Dale Bailey un paseo por dos mundos oscuros que están más unidos de lo que en un principio aparentan. Uno de ellos fascinante, lleno de bosques tenebrosos con árboles que se retuercen a tu paso y criaturas de leyenda que anhelan acercarse al mundo de la luz mientas que, por otro lado, nos baja a una realidad devastadora en la que la tristeza y la culpa suponen una infatigable trituradora de sueños.
Y es que, aunque toda la novela se centra en mantener el misterio que envuelve la creación de ese peculiar cuento que une a nuestros protagonistas, en descubrir cuanta verdad se esconde tras sus páginas y en borrar las líneas que separan la realidad de la fantasía...en realidad la historia se va oscureciendo poco a poco mientras vamos comprobando lo destrozados que están los personajes por dentro.
Eso tiene sus riesgos porque el juego que el autor te propone no termina de definirse, alternando entre una historia de fantasía a otra dramática sin decantarse por ninguna de ellas. Claro está que desde el comienzo de la novela ya te va advirtiendo de eso, de que todo lo que lees no deja de ser un ouróboros en el que tu mismo, como lector, formas parte del juego. Habrá quien se pierda en esos mundos tenebrosos y otros se quedarán en la no menos oscura realidad. Pero si solo te aferras a uno de ellos, te quedas a medias.
Eso no quita que en todo momento la historia te seduzca por sus tramas y, sobre todo, por la ambigüedad de sus personajes, pero al final todo parece muy precipitado y, por qué no, muy de fábula. Al fin y al cabo el autor advierte desde el inicio que nos encontramos en uno de esos cuentos que tanto nos gusta. Pero no siempre un beso puede devolver la magia.
Profile Image for Bookworm.
948 reviews130 followers
January 14, 2022
3.5 stars Haunting and atmospheric. A dark fairytale.
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