Michelle's Reviews > House of Leaves

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
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's review
May 18, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: novels
Recommended to Michelle by: Tadpole
Recommended for: Footnote lovers, Non-linear style lovers, Blair Witch Project lovers
Read in June, 2009

I’m sitting here trying to review this book, and I’m coming up with nothing. I’ve been thinking about it off and on all day.

At this point I’m tempted to just link to Tadpole’s excellent review and call it a day, but I really feel as though I should say something. After all, I loved this book, and I’ve never read anything like it. It’s a heavily annotated version of a heavily annotated version of a “factual” record about a family who moves into a house in Virginia where something isn’t quite right. For some reason, the house expands and contracts, but only on the inside.

***three hours later***

Christ. My review is going to suck. If you want to read a good review, click here:

If you want to read my review, please continue.

When I first started reading House of Leaves, I had nightmares of being trapped inside of creepy houses. I thought if the dreams kept up I would have to stop reading the book, but they stopped after two nights.

I don’t know about you, Goodreader, but when I was a kid, movies about possessed houses or haunted houses scared me shitless. My grandmother used to knit these beautiful multi-colored blankets, and I’d toss them over my head and watch scary movies through the holes. I'd watch all manner of horror movies, but the house movies scared me the most. I guess because of all places, we're supposed to feel safe in our homes.

***one hour later***

Does anyone know what I’m talking about when I say the silence was loud? It’s when your surroundings are so damn quiet it almost sounds like white noise. You can’t hear any cars going by, any people talking or walking, any animals or insects. You strain to hear anything, but all you can hear is the silence.

Anyway, that’s what I felt like when I’d read this labyrinthine novel late into the night. I’d get creeped the hell out and scared to walk down the hall to go to the bathroom (TMI, sorry). I’d be afraid to sleep because I didn’t want the house dreams to return.

The creep factor is even higher when a lot of the book is left up to the reader’s imagination, which it was. For much of the novel, you know there was a house, and you know something terrible happened in the house, but you don’t find out what it was right away.

***half an hour later***

Let’s just say it is rare that I react out loud to a book. I did with this one. I gasped a couple of times and said “Oh my god” a couple of times. Many times I suddenly became aware I was clutching the book.

I can’t write any more other than to say this book was amazing and my review isn’t doing it the justice it deserves. I promise I’ll write a better one when I return from my sojourn in the Gobi Desert.
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Reading Progress

02/19/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-26 of 26) (26 new)

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David Katzman awesome, creepy and experimental book.

Michelle I can't wait to start reading it. If it sucks, I'm blaming Tadpole.

Matt Just make sure to give me the credit if you really like it and end up dropping out of society and wandering the desert for a month or two...

message 4: by Gåry! (new)

Gåry! Good luck with that book.

message 5: by Michelle (last edited May 26, 2009 01:02PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Michelle I'm not very far along, but last night I had two different dreams about nightmare houses.

message 6: by Gåry! (last edited May 29, 2009 02:49PM) (new)

Gåry! I remember it being distinctly difficult to effectively keep up with my progress since I followed the instructions of the book - at times - quite closely. If you're not yet in the thick of it, you'll know soon enough.

Sally I can still completely remember the inside of that house as I saw it at that time. Wonder if it would be the same if I reread it now?

message 8: by KFed (new) - added it

KFed is this any good?

Michelle Yes, it's VERY good. It's creeping me the hell out at the moment. I gotta stop staying up so late and reading it.

Chloe Reading this book made me afraid of the house I was living in at the time. It was a rickety Craftsman that was drafty on windy nights and had more than a few squeaky boards. I hadn't done this since I was a small child, but I read most of the book by flashlight with my comforter over my head.

message 11: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony You didn't tell me about the scary parts. Can I borrow the blanket with the holes in it?

message 12: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim Is this interactive?

Is this why you avoided the horror movies Carrie and I used to watch in Boston? Damn. I would have um... knitted you a damn blanket...

message 13: by Michelle (last edited Jun 18, 2009 07:49AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Michelle Logan, that's funny.

RA, I think this book is too scary for you.

Kim, the footnotes stretch to additional pages and you have to remember where you left off. Then there are footnotes in the middle of pages in blocks and upside down footnotes. There are also exhibits in the back of the book and stuff you have to flip ahead to while you're reading along.

It reminded me of The Blair Witch Project...Have you guys ever seen that movie? There was all this hype about scary video footage that was found and it possibly being real. The book is like that - scary footage of a house that was found.

message 14: by Jen (last edited Jun 18, 2009 07:17AM) (new)

Jen My house is passive aggressive. It shrugs when people enter and then gusts of wind nudge them towards the back door.

message 15: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim footnotes?

Oh, my.

message 16: by Michelle (last edited Jun 18, 2009 08:21AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Michelle Tons o' footnotes. Footnotes to footnotes. Footnotes on other pages instead of where they're supposed to be.

(Did I mention I love footnotes?)

Sherry Jen wrote: "My house is passive aggressive. It shrugs when people enter and then gusts of wind nudge them towards the back door."

The funniest thing I've read today!

message 18: by Matthieu (new)

Matthieu Footnotes? Lame. Vathek and Infinite Jest singularly ruined my interest in reading footnotes.

I still really want to read this!

My house would scare you, Michelle. Hell, it scares me.

Michelle Matt, if you hate footnotes, you will really hate them in this book. They're not always on the page they're supposed to be, and they can stretch on for additional pages.

I love them...it's endnotes I can't stand.

Jackie "the Librarian" Same here - love footnotes, hate endnotes.
I love creepy old houses, too. At least, vicariously.

message 21: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim Footnotes killed Oscar Wao for me... well, one of the things that killed Oscar Wao for me anyway...

Jackie "the Librarian" If you don't like footnotes, stay away from Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. And The Historian, too.

message 23: by Lori (last edited Jun 22, 2009 03:48PM) (new)

Lori If this books is that scary, um, maybe I should pass? I can NOT see scary movies of any kind.

But I do love footnotes.

Michelle It's more psychologically scary than typical horror movie scary. Does that help?

message 25: by Megan (new)

Megan I debated reading this book, but for some reason your review made me want to read it.... probably not the greatest idea since my husband is on deployment and I like to read at night. cheers to things that go bump in the night!


Michelle You should definitely give it a try, Megan. It's a very good book. If you have children or pets you can always drag them into the room with you if you get scared.

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