A Review of House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski

Will Navidson is a world-renowned photojournalist who has spent most of his life chasing events that lead him to be away from his family a good majority of the time. He buys a new house and starts a documentary as a way to prevent his family’s collapse. This book is a scholarly text which analyzes the film created by this family. It is titled the Navidson Record. Will documents their lives upon buying and moving into a new house. Everything goes well at first, until the house begins changing, and something sinister may be lurking in the darkness.

Though written as a scholarly analysis of the events of the Navigon Record, it’s describing events unfolding in front of a hi-8 video camera and feels very much like a found-footage horror film. It jumps from different cameras to catch other people’s responses to the same scene.

There are three appendices at the back of the book and the copious footnotes have you constantly cross-referencing. Though this makes the reading slow, it also allows for more interaction with the text. At one point you even have to decode a letter this also makes the, obviously fiction, novel feel very real. And I encourage everyone who reads this not to ignore those footnotes or appendix because you could miss future references and valuable information.

The footnotes are actually written by two different people who have both watched The Navidson Record and read the analysis. It chronicles their reactions and the affects the film text have had on them.

I really liked this book. It kept me up when I read at night because it gave me the creeps. The element of the unknown and what lies in total darkness is something that terrifies me. The analysis breaks up the film with different theories and formulas that try to explain what’s going on in. This left me hanging on for more.

Some of the history and psychology they try to attribute to the film and some of Johnny Truant’s long-winded rants feel like they go on too long but it was never so much to make me feel I was being pulled out of the story.

This is probably not a book for someone who doesn’t like a lot of information as it’s not a linear storyline. But if you are someone who enjoys more bizarre storytelling, this is the book for you. I give it a Solid 5 out of 5 stars.

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