“This book is not for you.”
House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski isn’t for the faint of heart reader who wants to be catered to. It’s not your typical reading experience, nor does it want to be. If this book were a human, it would be a rebellious, tortured, terrifying human being.
And that’s precisely why we love it.
A young family, an award-winning photojournalist, his wife and two kids, move to a house on Ash Tree Lane. Only their house is larger on the inside than it is in the outside. There’s a abyss hidden inside, a creature of darkness, and it threatens to consume them all.
Now, that’s one part of the story. To explain everything that occurs in House of Leaves is…pretty much impossible. There is so much going on in this book, it would take an eternity to explain every bit of it. Flaw? Perhaps. Intriguing? Completely.
House of Leaves is addicting, to say the least. This book has the most loyal cult following you’ve ever seen. Mystery, suspense, conflict, terror, love and doubts—this book has it all. If ever you wanted to read a spooky story that made you discuss life itself, this is the book you’ve been waiting for.
House of Leaves has a cult following for a reason: it’s complex. There’s vertical footnotes, scribbles, several plot lines, and a ton of notes. So, no, it’s not like a normal reading experience at all. What some readers do is use color-coded sticky tags, and place those on each page, highlighting what connects with what, and so on. Hence, some copies of House of Leaves look like they have a rainbow popping out of the side.
That means this book isn’t for just anyone. You get what you put in. If you work hard to grasp at everything going on, you just might love the book. You just might become part of the cult following. On the other hand, if you want a normal reading experience, one without upside down text and overlapping typewriter lettering, then you should opt out.
This is the perfect book for fall, Halloween, or any other cold time of year. But don’t let that stop you from reading it beforehand either. It’s creepy, complex, and rewarding. Not for the faint of heart, House of Leaves seeks to be dissected, rather than merely read. It isn’t trying to please most people, and isn’t trying to be anything more than a conflicting, addicting rendition of a terrible experience.
And that’s what makes this book such a goldmine. The fact that more it’s than a book, it’s a project for the reader. It must be analyzed and inspected. It craves to be understood, but it doesn’t impose. Instead, it warns that the book is not for you.
If you’re a reader who enjoys the taboo, loves the spookiness, and craves for more than a typical reading experience, then House of Leaves may just be the book you’re looking for.