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In the House in the Dark of the Woods

3.32  ·  Rating details ·  5,969 ratings  ·  1,298 reviews
"Once upon a time there was and there wasn't a woman who went to the woods."

In this ingenious horror story set in colonial New England, a woman goes missing. Or not missing–perhaps she has fled, abandoned her family. Or perhaps she's been kidnapped, and set loose to wander in the dense woods of the north. Alone and possibly lost, she meets another woman in the forest. Then
Hardcover, 218 pages
Published October 16th 2018 by Little, Brown and Company
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Susan Try "The Beast Is an Animal" by Peternelle van Arsdale. It has a similar feeling though not as dreamlike. Maybe also look up Neil Gaiman's "The Ocean …moreTry "The Beast Is an Animal" by Peternelle van Arsdale. It has a similar feeling though not as dreamlike. Maybe also look up Neil Gaiman's "The Ocean at the End of the Lane" which has the same surreal vibe. (less)
Miss Bookiverse The art was done by Corinne Reid, the overall cover design by Julianna Lee.

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.32  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,969 ratings  ·  1,298 reviews

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Sep 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
a24’s the witch mixed with grimm’s fairytales vibes. i am lost but i liked it!!
Oct 31, 2019 rated it really liked it

"I help those I can. Those who stray into the wood and deserve helping."

"Do I deserve helping?"

"Of course you do, poor thing. How could you even ask?"

"It seemed easy to ask."

"You are tired."

"Some I saw this day were not helped."

"Not all deserve it. And need to be shown they don't belong here. That it is no longer their woods. Not anymore."

i did not like this book until i loved it. it was that quick a reversal.

it can be roughly divided into two sections: before y
Lala BooksandLala
Apr 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Book 25 of 30 for my 30 day reading challenge.
Diane S ☔
Will. Leave this unrated as I will not finish after 50%. Have no idea what is going on and find I don't care enough to continue. For a while I was intrigued by the strangeness, but then it just became tiresome. ...more
Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
I told my man I was off to pick berries and that he should watch our son for I would be gone some good while. So away I went with a basket.

What drove me to read this book was the blurb from Brian Evenson, an author I admire, who described it as "wonderful, luminous and sly", and called it "a stunning contemporary fairy tale". And it's true - from the very first sentence we are transported into world that seems familiar at first, but soon begins to unveil itself in new, strange and disturbing way
Nov 24, 2021 rated it liked it
This book is a dream, captured on the page.

For some readers, that will be magic. The witchy, stream of consciousness anti-structure. The new twist on archetypal fairy tales. The imagery of a scream caught in the throat. A woman lost in the woods. The catharsis of transformation.

For others, it will be bewildering, bordering on nonsensical. You know the feeling when a child tells a story, and never gets to the point? Or when someone tries to tell you about their dream - except this one is 214 pag
Strange read....confusing narrative....difficult to find a focal point or become interested in a character or direction of plot. Almost called it quits a couple of times. Gave it my all though re-reading pages and chapters bc of enticing book summary depicting witchcraft in colonial New England, but a no-go and a long 224 pages for me. Honestly, no clue I was even in colonial America.

Thank you NetGalley and Little Brown and Company for the arc in exchange for my honest review.

Apr 08, 2019 rated it did not like it
Absolutely Bizarre. I’m not quite sure what this all was supposed to be. Historical? Puritan/Colonial Witchcraft? Psychological horror?

It started off similar in style to Hansel and Gretel going off into the woods fetching berries and so this woman gets lost and the forest gets dark and looming and she’s thinking of “her man” and her son. All right, I got that far, but then....

The story turns abruptly and constantly, into nonsensical, confusing thoughts and actions, such as those one might exper
Sep 17, 2021 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
If the Grimm Brothers and Nathaniel Hawthorne met at a bar, got fall-down drunk and decided to write their own version of Alice in Wonderland, the result would look something like this.

First, ignore the book blurb; the blurb is bullshit. Maybe there was another draft of this book and the blurb was based on that. Most of that stuff isn't in the book at all, and a lot of it was just implied. It paints a very different picture of the story than the one we got. It also isn't horror, psychological o
I'm developing a bit of a habit of reading books about witches and primeval woodland magic. In the vein of traditional, heavily symbolic folk tales about the sonorant evil that lives in the deep forest, this story is about the unstoppable transformations that happen to women when they leave their hearths. Here be magic birds, killer swarms, tepid wells, glamor magic, hags, and the blackest magic of all: memory.

While there isn't so much a "story" in these pages, there is rather an unquantifiable
Lark Benobi
Using traditional fairy tale elements, Hunt tells a story that starts with fairy-tale calm and rapidly descends into madness and horror.

The novel strongly recalls the work of the great German Romantics, in a way I never would have guessed a modern author could evoke. One of my favorite reads of all time is Der blonde Eckbert by German Romantic author Ludwig Tieck. Hunt's short novel exploits channels of feeling that are probably instinctive in us humans, such a fear dark places and of unknown e
Over the last couple of months, I have been allowing my reading choices to be influenced a lot more by others - doing buddy reads and group reads, and reading based on friend recommendations - and it's been a (mostly) positive experience. Some have been duds, but some I've really enjoyed, like this book. Which is a little surprising to me, because by all accounts, I should be in the NOPE camp on this one, seeing as how I'm generally not a fan of weirdness for the sake of weirdness.

But something
Sep 15, 2021 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
In the House in the Dark of the Woods by Laird Hunt starts out interesting to give you some Blair Witch vibes as the world around you is being built. It’s written in a rather unique way that at first takes some getting used to but eventually just leaves you confused and debating if you even want to finish this book after getting a few chapters in.

The characters are confusing and this book suffers from not having a definitive path towards what exactly makes this a horror book. Do we have witches
Leslie Ray
May 11, 2020 rated it it was ok
If there is a meaning or message in this strange and peculiar story, I missed it. At first I thought it was almost like a macabre Alice in Wonderland with Goody (which is the only giveaway that this was in early Puritan New England), wandering into the woods instead of down a rabbit hole. Is it truly madness she has descended into or is she been lured by a witch or witches? I don't really care. The writing is good but just being bizarre (i.e. a flying ship made of human skin) doesn't hook me if ...more
Ashley Daviau
Apr 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book just absolutely blew me away! It is fabulously dark and sinister and at certain points I could feel the hair on my arms rising and it was the most delicious feeling. The story starts off seemingly innocent and almost like a fairytale but the descent into darkness and horror happens quickly and it swept me right off my feet. I was anxiously turning the pages, my mouth in a permanent “O” as I was reading, simultaneously fascinated and horrified. I wasn’t expecting to fall madly in love w ...more
Jessica Sullivan
Oct 23, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2018-read
Update: I want to clarify that this book is definitely objectively better than 1 Star. But I still hold that my experience of reading it was so disappointing that I’m sticking to this low rating.


I have no idea what I just read. Obscure fiction works for me sometimes, but this was just too much. I couldn’t wait for it to end and I’m so glad to be done with it that I can’t even be bothered to write a full review. The writing itself is good, but I hated the experience of reading this so much.
A quick horror trip with nostalgic feels of a Grimm fairy tale encased in mysterious, dream-like darkness. My stubborn brain struggled a bit with the writing style at first, but eventually relaxed enough to enjoy the themes and symbolism the story brought forward. The main plot and character aspects left a bit to be desired in regards to how fleshed out I personally prefer things, but this short novel was still an enjoyable read overall.
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
We read this one in two sittings. It's quite unlike many things we've read before. It is definitely not for the faint of heart or stomach. It is also somehow remnant of witch tales we grew up with. That's what we really loved about it. It's spooky, but also curious. ...more
I had a conflicted reaction to this book, most of the details of which I describe below within spoiler tags since, in my opinion, this is a book best read cold. On one hand, I found it at times compulsively readable, which in these days when I often struggle to read for more than 15 minutes at a time is something to be thankful for. On the other hand, the book irritated me with what felt like its barrage of stylistic affectations. And then there was the premise, which Hunt slow-reveals in bread- ...more
Jul 21, 2022 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2022-reads, horror
Actual rating: 2.5 stars

This is a hard book for me to rate. I didn't mind the prose (other readers seem to hate it) and the story consistently kept my full attention. However, by the end of this book I was feeling a bit lost. There is clearly supposed to be some meaning tucked into this little book, but I have no idea what the author was hoping to convey to the reader. There were too many ideas and not enough pages to make any of them clear. I didn't have a bad time reading this book, but it was
This was so deliciously strange and unexpected and somehow both visceral and dreamlike. It really reminded me of the folktales recorded by Franz Xaver von Schonwerth in the mid 19th century- because they were never modernized and sanitized in the way that the Brothers Grimm tales were, they maintained certain qualities that I think this book captures really well. There is this sense of a world with an entirely alien set of rules outside the realm of any normal human logic. The hapless humans cau ...more
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-faves, horror
If you like The Blair Witch Project you will like Robert Egger’s The Witch and if you like The Witch you will love In the House in the Dark of the Woods. I found it consuming, disconcerting and bizarre. That olde English folklore atmosphere with its riddles and sing songs got in to my head and tapped into some kind of primitive, ancestral fear. I love witch horror with all my heart. If it’s done well it is extraordinarily frightening. This book set a precedence with the way it conjured up a grot ...more
Bill Hsu
Nov 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
One of my favorites of 2018 so far. The leisurely fairy-tale narrative keeps slipping. Questions are posed and shrugged off. Like in this delicious exchange:

"Once upon a time there was and there wasn't a woman who went to the woods... Now why did she go?"
"Why did she go?"
"Why did she go and what did she do?"
"Went down to the stream and took off her shoe."
"And before that?"
"Set off from her house in a bonnet blue."
"Now tell me, what did she rue?"
"What did she rue?"

I don't come across many nove
Alisa (worldswithinpages)
Felt a bit disorganized and rambling which made it hard to follow. The idea behind the story was promising, but the execution was a bit lackluster.

Thank you to Little Brown for the free copy and a chance to review!
Feb 08, 2020 rated it liked it
In the House in the Dark of the Woods by Laird Hunt combines fairytale elements with horror, and possibly witchcraft, for a tale that is both captivating and sometimes confusing.

I think going into this novel without knowing anything will definitely enhance the experience, so I will keep this overview and my review short. The story follows a colonial woman, who answers to Goody, as she is lost in the forests of New England. Once there, Goody meets several strangers including Captain Jane, Eliza,
Sometimes your girl here likes to read some random horror. Horror is, somehow, soothing for me, whether it's a quality horror movie or a horror novel. Bring it on, bring it on, bring it on. The better quality, the better. I'm not into torture porn or whatever it is the kids are calling it now. I don't care how gory a movie could be - gore does not equate quality, in my opinion. Bring on weird shit, though, I don't care, I like something that makes me wonder what I just saw or read.

This falls int
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
It was slight, and as such it was not a bad reading experience. It took me a while to cotton on to where it was going. But even when I did, I didn't fully get the point. It's eerie and atmospheric, but ultimately too vague to be satisfying. ...more
This was not for me.

It seems to be a dark fantasy similar to Little Red Riding Hood or Goldilocks where a young maiden gets lost in the forest and ends up in an old lady’s house. Only that’s all that happens for the entire first half of the book- maiden stares at old lady, maiden eats stew, maiden stares at pig, maiden goes to sleep, maiden stares at garden, maiden sits in chair. For over 100 pages.

I almost tossed the book aside but decided to push through this little slog when finally somethin
Sarah Ames-Foley
This review can also be found on my blog.

I honestly have no idea what this book was trying to accomplish. It starts off as a lighthearted fairytale of sorts and turns into...? It alternated between dry and confusing, sometimes both. There was one point where I thought I genuinely liked it and thought it had a great ending -- until I realized I had only hit the 75% mark and had to muddle through to the true ending. This had the potential to say so much about abuse and trauma, which I thought was
Dec 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
This confused me. A lot.

I thought it was beautifully written and had such a cool, creepy atmospheric setting… but I don’t know if I fully understand what happened in the story. Or really what the central message was.

I guess maybe give it a try if you want some beautiful writing, women going missing in creepy forests, dark magic, and a colonial New England setting.

I definitely loved the journey of reading this… but I’m still too confused by this book to give it a super higher rating.
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Laird Hunt is an American writer, translator and academic.

Hunt grew up in Singapore, San Francisco, The Hague, and London before moving to his grandmother's farm in rural Indiana, where he attended Clinton Central High School. He earned a B.A. from Indiana University and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University. He also stud

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