Book Review: House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

Rating: 5/5

I can’t decide if I loved this book or hated this book. I don’t think I’ll ever have a reading experience like this again.

Book CWs

  • Character Death
  • Animal Death
  • Cheating
  • Sexually explicit scenes
  • Non-trivial reading (as in you’ll need to rotate the book and such to read certain spots)
  • I don’t know how to label this one but the introduction leads you to believe that reading this book will cause you to slowly lose your mind

Premise

Johnny Truant is a self-described unreliable narrator. When his friend Lude tells him about an apartment that has recently become available due to the death of its previous tenant, Zampanò, Johnny moves in.

In Zampanò’s apartment, Johnny discovers a long and developed manuscript that focuses on analyzing a film called The Navidson Record. In short, The Navidson Record is the story of a family who discovers their new house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. Their lives take an unexpectedly dark turn when a door to a cold, dark, and ever-changing hallway suddenly appears in one of their rooms.

The problem Johnny finds with the manuscript is, not only does no such film exists, but those cited in the paper claim to know nothing about Zampanò nor The Navidson Record. Nevertheless, Johnny takes it upon himself to finish Zampanò’s work. He soon finds, however, that the more the writing calls to him, the more he loses his grip on reality.

The book is told via Zampanò’s writing with footnotes by Johnny that often provide the reader with insight into his life. Further footnotes are provided by unnamed editors.

Review (No Spoilers)

I don’t know what really to say about this book except that it is completely bonkers. I started reading this because I was intrigued by the unusual writing style. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, literally just google image House of Leaves and you’ll see pictures of some of the types of pages this book has. What I didn’t know what just how hard it was going to be to read this book.

What I mean by hard is, this book is daunting. It is filled with footnotes upon footnotes and at times will go on huge tangents about things that are seemingly unimportant (though I know they really aren’t). I had to stop more than once and read a different book in order to keep myself from being swallowed by this story.

My thing with this book is I have no idea if I loved it or hated it. There were times when I was super invested in it and then there were times when I was extremely bored. The reason I had to give this book 5 stars is because I absolutely cannot deny that it was amazingly written. I have no idea what type of person could make such a book but I am so utterly impressed. I can’t even begin to imagine how much work had to go into making this masterpiece.

That being said, I don’t think I’d really recommend this book to anyone I know. Like I said, it is very intimidating and I think a lot of people who start this book don’t actually end up finishing it. It’s very dense.

I do want to mention that in order to not spend my entire life reading this thing, I had to basically ignore the fact that its filled with hidden codes. My puzzle-loving brain would have become completely obsessed with discovering every hidden message and I knew that in order to finish, I would have to actively try to not look for them.

I have no idea if I’m going to read this book again. A part of me wants to go back and find every secret this text holds but a part of me wants to never open this thing again.

5 thoughts on “Book Review: House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

  1. This book sat unread on my shelf for YEARS and finally a couple of months ago I had to admit that I would never read it so I got rid of it in my unhaul. I agree that it’s very daunting and intimidating and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it – so I’m impressed with anybody that is able to read it all!

    Liked by 1 person

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