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Book Reviews of House of Leaves

House of Leaves
House of Leaves
Author: Mark Z. Danielewski
ISBN-13: 9780375703768
ISBN-10: 0375703764
Publication Date: 3/7/2000
Pages: 709
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.

3.5 stars, based on 155 ratings
Publisher: Pantheon
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

27 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

myhotstylist avatar reviewed House of Leaves on
Helpful Score: 13
took me 6 months to finish but it was well worth it. I wished they would make a movie out of it. Its an amazing book. It changes the way you read novels, and does to closets what "psycho" did to showers. A great read. Everyone should experience House of Leaves.

Basic Story:
A party animal, drug using, tattoo artist finds a novel written by a blind man that died. He types it up to publish and gives the blind man the credit for it. The novel is about a man whos house is larger on the inside than it is on the outside. A closet appears from nowhere and it leads into a vast void dark place that appears to be a mansion within the house. It has stairwells that groan, a spiral staircase that goes down forever, long winding hallways with hundreds of empty rooms, and its all pitch black. They make several trips in there to explore it, and get lost for days at a time.

The books jumps back and forth between the man typing the novel and the novel story itself. The man typing the novel ultimately goes insane.

There are end notes, pages printed backwards (need a mirror to read), some parts with one or two words per page, pages with print in sprial form. Even the end notes have end notes. Some end notes are 2-10 pages long, they reveal more of the story, so dont skip them! All of the words "house" are printed in blue text.

This is a truely one of a kind book! Anyone who is a fan of the song by "Poe" called "Hey Pretty" will appreciate the book especially on page 88, where the spoken words of her song are printed. MArk Danieleski is Poe's brother! The book he wrote inspired her song! ... Kyrie suggested we go for a drive in her new 2 door BMW coupe...... we slipped into her bucket seats and she took over from there....

Another neat aspect of the story, is the writers' mother, who is locked up in a looney bin. She writes him letters, which can be decoded (by you the reader) to reveal a secret message shes trying to send to him. It was truely one of the most disturbing messages Ive ever read. I wont tell you what its about, so you'll just have to see for yourself. These letters also spawned the second book by Mark Danielewski, called The Whalestoe Letters

I highly suggest this book to anyone over the age of 18. Contains adult language and a lot of adult content. But like I said, its a great book, Definitely a keeper IMO. Even though its been almost 10 years since i read this book, I will never forget it, and neither will you..........
kben avatar reviewed House of Leaves on + 10 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 9
House of Leaves is not s standard novel. Perhaps the literary equivalent to the Blair Witch Project, House of Leaves presents a story within a story, disguised as truth.

The actual text of the book reads as a manuscript, with footnotes by Johnny Truant, the guy who found the aforementioned manuscript in a dead man's apartment. The manuscript itself is about a documentary film about a house that measures larger on the inside than on the outside.

In short, it's a lot of information to process.

The brilliance is not just in the layers, but in the presentation. The actual layout of the letters on the pages play a huge part in the impact of the story on the reader.

If anything, Mark Z. Danielewski does something so utterly smart, so perfect in helping preserve the need for books, real tangible books: He's written a book that cannot be adapted to film, because it's the experience of reading that makes House of Leaves what it is.
Rev avatar reviewed House of Leaves on + 95 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
This is a story about a strange house. This is also the story about Navidson, a Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist who moves his family into the strange house. This is also the story of a documentary filmed by Navidson about his family moving into the strange house. This is also the story of House Of Leaves, a book written by an old blind man, a book about the documentary of the family that lived in the strange house. This is also the story of Johnny Truant, the person who finds and restores the book written by an old blind man about a documentary of the family that lived in the strange house, and does so at the risk of his own sanity. It is all of this, and so much more.

House Of Leaves is not a book for the passive reader. With two major plot lines running almost simultaneously throughout the book, and several more scratching the surface at various points, this is a book that demands your full attention, both while you are reading it and for weeks to come afterwards.

There isn't much that can be said about the intent or message behind House Of Leaves, for there are too many to list, and the list is constantly changing. This is a book that demands to be read twice, with the threat of a third looming in the distance, and no doubt it will read differently each time. Indeed, this is the kind of book that reads you. As multi-layered as the house on Ash Tree Lane itself, it will earn a permenant place on your bookshelf, no doubt well in reach.
perryfran avatar reviewed House of Leaves on + 1174 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
What an amazing piece of work! I finished reading this last night - at least I think I am finished. I say I think I am finished because one could study this labyrinthian book for years and not be sure everything was read and comprehended correctly. A very multi-layered book with several stories woven together in bizaare fashion to form a mind-boggling journey into fear/love/mystery/insanity??? I'm still not sure what this all meant but it was quite a journey getting there. Was the "Navidson Record" an illusion of the editor, Johnny Truant (who seemed to stretch the truth here and there) or did it all come from the mind of the old man Zampano? This was sometimes like reading a textbook with all the footnotes and references (both real and unreal).

The "Navidson Record" part of the book was really quite bizarre and reminded me somewhat of the movie "The Blair Witch Project" with the amateur photography, etc. It went from strange to very strange with some humor thrown in -- I especially enjoyed the jokes related by Tom (Navidson's brother)when he was waiting at the top of the endless spiral staircase. Then there were all the details about house construction, echoes, labyrinths and the minotaur, Jamestown and the group that was lost in the winter, the Pulitzer-prize winning photo of Delial and the vulture taken by Navidson which was based on Kevin Carter's real Pulitzer-prize winning photo, and on and on.

Johnny Truant's story was also very interesting along with the story of his mother in the mental institution (has anyone decoded the letter on page 620?). Like I said, I think I could try to study this book for months, look up more of the footnotes, etc., but I do have other books to read.
reviewed House of Leaves on
Helpful Score: 4
I read the whole thing, cover-to-cover, and was only really enthralled with one of the handful of storylines the author is juggling in this book (the navidson house). I really wish the author spent more time developing more interesting storylines (or expanding on the one interesting one) and less time on making the book nauseatingly pretentious.
Chocoholic avatar reviewed House of Leaves on + 291 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
This is a very complicated book to read. The main story itself is about a family that moves into a house that is much larger on the inside than it would appear on the outside.

Be forewarned, however, this book is not easy to read, and will require patience. It is worth the journey, however. There are a number of different font types used in printing this book, each with it's own separate storyline. There are also a number of languages used, including Hebrew, Latin, French, German, and Braille; translations are provided. As you might have guessed, it contains a (fictional) film narration, within a story, that is in itself within another story. Things can get very confusing very quickly. Also, the text is 'enhanced' with the author's own footnotes and editorial comments. Lastly, the text is printed forwards, backwards, upside-down, and backwards. (It serves to enhance the story and will make sense to you)

If you can get through all of this, you'll find a really interesting, hair-raising story, not for reading in the dark!
AZmom875 avatar reviewed House of Leaves on + 624 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
This is a book that you will want to keep to study and cross reference. It is not a book that you will want to read and pass on. So dont feel bad if it gathers dust on your TBR shelf, cause it will need to go back when you finish it. But then again you never really finish it.

This book is a cult classic, and I am not the target audience. I think this is geared towards those who like to slice and dice and dig deep in to a layered piece of literature. There are discussion boards with questions and answers and essays about this book.

The aim of this review is to help you determine if you want to get in the Wishlist line to get a copy. No, I say click on the Amazon link and buy yourself a new copy. Many people I have ran into have told me that it took them 6 months, to read this book. Or that they have friends who have 3 copies to cross reference items and write in the margins notes. Gasp! Oh the horror, writing in book. See it is that kind of book.

Basically you are going to meet Johnny Truant, who writes the intro. Johnny got a weird book from an old man named Zampano. Zampano's book is about a family in a house in Virginia, Navidsons. The family in Virginia put up video cameras all over their house, and then the house started to grow. The house has long dark hallways that grew one day. You can get lost, and people do. This is a horror story.

So you are reading one story and then you will find pages of a footnotes with Johnny telling his story. and you just get lost in these footnote stories. Then at about page 76 or so it has to skip back and read all of Johnnys letters from his very mentally ill mother in an institution.

There are all kinds of footnotes about research on the Navidson family. Detailed esoteric crap about feelings and relationships that were dissected by the scholarly upper crust who dissect every sliver of the Navidsons taped lives. Pages with one word, pages written on braille, pages written backwards, pages in languages other than English, pages you have to decode. I love a challenge, and I love a good mystery and puzzle, but I really dont care about any of these people. Truant is a mentally ill, drug user who tells flamboyant stories on improve.

There is so much debate about how much of the whole story Truant create, if there was Zampano or even the Navidsons. I think the question is pointless. The whole book is a work of fiction, who cares who created the fiction with the fiction.

I have better things to do with my time. I am not the target audience. I guess I feel like the author is just playing games with all the clues and trickery and I just do not care. I wont spend more time pondering what parts were REAL and which parts were the fabrication of a sick mind.

This book is a better book for hipsters who have time to smoke a bowl and talk about their findings and clues. Or if they dont smoke, then I guess they could do shrooms, or even just drink some coffee. I just dont want to devote that much time to a book. It is a fictitious horror story that is multi layers and in the end doesnt reveal all the answers. The whole book is fiction. I didnt care about any of the characters. I dont even care about this book.

But that is ok cause this book doesnt care about me. I know, I know, all the cool kids are reading it. But I was never very cool. If you read it and feel bad cause you dont feel like you fit in with the cool kids, come join the rest of us who read books that actually have an ending. Some happy, some sad. We will save you a seat, and half caf, soy latte with a caramel drizzle and a muffin low fat of course.
reviewed House of Leaves on + 8 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
This book defies so many conventions of every other novel I have ever read. It is profound and maddening and brilliant all at the same time! It took a conscious effort to read this book as it doesn't have a simple block of text on every page that normal books do, but this book is far from normal. Reading it was like climbing a mountain of madness where every page was a step towards the peak, and once I reached the top I was finally able to look back with a new found perspective on life and the fragility of the human condition. This is a mountain you never really climb down from, and a part of this book stays with me to this day.
reviewed House of Leaves on + 12 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
It has taken me quite a while to develop a review for this and I still don't really know where to begin. i guess the most obvious is a good place to start. Would I recommend it? Absolutely! Even if it's a trip you don't happen to particularly enjoy or understand, it is still a crazy and worthwhile trip.

I don.t really get it. I don't think I'm at the level of complete misunderstanding that a lot of readers of this book are, but I don't feel like I completely understand it - in fact, I don't think it's possible to completely understand it - and that frustrates me. I like to understand. I like to take a long journey between the covers of a novel and have all my questions answered by the end of the story. House of Leaves does not do that. House of Leaves laughs in your face when you suggest that, maybe, you would appreciate it if it would do that.

I feel that I could make this review either ridiculously long, filled with pointless tirades on the things I liked, disliked and didn't understand, but I don't think anyone would get much out of that, so I'll end with this. This is a book you're going to have to read to believe.
socosummer avatar reviewed House of Leaves on
Helpful Score: 2
This book ruined the last three months of my senior year of high school in the absolute best way ever. I still have nightmares about things (closets, my purse, the new apartment) being bigger on the outside than on the inside - you'd have to read it to understand, but it's a sensation I find both liberating and terrifyingly claustrophobic.

If this book doesn't drive you a little bit more insane every time you read it, then you're simply not paying enough attention. An intoxicating blend of multifaceted characters, subtle tonal nuances that may mean everything or nothing to the story as a whole, and some straight-up weird typography, House of Leaves inspires a visceral reaction from the reader that is unexpected yet life-altering.

I have now owned four copies of this book - the last two I have given away to dear friends, because this is the gift that keeps on giving, no matter how unnervingly so, and my most recent copy is peeking out from under my bed.

The first one? Well, I could have sworn I put it on my bookshelf when I finished it, but...
reviewed House of Leaves on + 7 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
In my opinion, it seems like the author was intent on writing a book that was totally different from anything else ever written...but so much so that the content suffered. Useless footnote after footnote; 1 1/2 pages of a footnote that lists names only, random things here & there. I get it that it's supposed to be a pile of papers & research thrown together in a book along with paranormal stuff but it's a little too ridiculous.

If it was just a book that contained the story line of the family in the house, it probably would've been captivating & more interesting. Instead, the whole book was trying too hard to be different.
exm8000 avatar reviewed House of Leaves on
Helpful Score: 1
House of Leaves is a pretty remarkable WORK of fiction, neat even. Hurray for Danielewsik.

But as a READ, it's a presumptuous self-involved burden way not worth your time.
reviewed House of Leaves on + 6 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Beautiful, horrible, lyrical, terrifying, and nonsensical, House of Leaves truly is a classic in every sense of the word. The narrative, stylistic formatting, and the stories themselves (because it refuses to be contained to one tale) all combine to make an unforgettable book.

You find yourself trying to unravel the mysteries of the book just as Johnny Truant is. It is presented in such a way that you can't help but try to examine it; House of Leaves invites exploration, like the Navidson house. You can't help but ask questions.

Complicated, intense, and riveting, this is a five-star book— and it's worth your money to buy it, or your time to wait for it.
BrightGirl avatar reviewed House of Leaves on + 4 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
The story itself was amazing and really provocative. I love the idea that the house was bigger on the inside than the outside and that there were actually two books going on at the same time. I loved that it had a creepy vibe and that it made me measure my rooms just to be sure.
However, the end just kind of dawdled off at the end of the actual story and did not have as big an impact as the idea of the story warranted. Also, all the extraneous internet bullshit with the poems and (sometimes extremely) loosely related content tacked after the end was pretty worthless.
I would definitely recommend it, though. Just skip the Appendix.
WhidbeyIslander avatar reviewed House of Leaves on + 687 more book reviews
If the premise fascinates you (a house that has areas of it not apparent to an outside view) but want a more straight-forward story, look into The Haunted Woman by David Lindsay.
thunderweasel avatar reviewed House of Leaves on + 147 more book reviews
There's little to say to describe House of Leaves. It can't be described. It covers every genre - horror, suspense, mystery, romance, sci-fi, historical, and endless others - and in the same breath, it covers none of them. I suppose that's the attraction to such an expansive story as this.

The book begins with a lengthy intro covering a man named Johnny Truant's discovery of an old man named Zampano's hefty pile of writings, describing in-depth the mysteries behind a documentary dubbed The Navidson Record. The improbabilities behind the documentary send Truant into an obsessed state, causing him to slowly lose his mind. Truant's slow progression into insanity is tracked through Leaves, as is the explication on The Navidson Record by Zampano; Truant's story, including his past recollections, odd wanderings and crude adventures with the female species, are tracked in elongated footnotes, while Navidson remains the center of the story.

Most would think this Navidson Record is some alien-infested Area 51-infiltrating piece of horror work. Not so. The documentary is really quite simple to follow: Will Navidson and his family discover that the new house they have moved into does not have equal indoor and outdoor dimensions. Try as he might, Will's measurements always differ by 1/4". But once his brother Tom gets into the mix, the measurements change. A door that wasn't there before appears on a wall. And the hallway becomes an endless crypt, containing secrets only those who dedicated their entire lives to the dark chasm would have a modicum of chance of discovering. And those secrets are at the top of Will's priority list. Besides, who wouldn't be fascinated by a staircase that takes three days to descend?

Danielewski has a wicked, yet completely thorough way of uncovering the stories of each of his characters. Will's is first covered through his wife, Karen; hers are through her present and future actions. Truant's is found in many ways: through his own expansive, but oftentimes incorrectly recalled, memories; through additional elements in the book, like his mother's letters to him when he was young; and through his screwed up priorities involving booze, drugs and sex.

Progressing through two stories at once can confuse, but it is foremost fascinating how the numerous tales are intertwined. Zampano's and Truant's multiple references to historical poems & books and a variety of news articles and writings authenticate the story, making the existence of such a house believable and real. Almost makes you wonder if its own Ash Tree Lane really does exist...
MKSbooklady avatar reviewed House of Leaves on + 944 more book reviews
This is one of those complicated, rambling pieces of writing that I cannot follow to save my life. It's listed as a horror book, but the only real horror is the book itself.
reviewed House of Leaves on + 2 more book reviews
This was one of the most complex, and best, books I have ever read. It took a while to get into it, but once there it holds you and lets your imagination run loose and wild as you explore the book and tale. It is not a basic simple book, so be ready to put a bit more effort into this, it is well worth it.
paisleywings avatar reviewed House of Leaves on + 232 more book reviews
Very complex book of stories. I say this because there is more than one storyline going on. I don't mind this, but this book is difficult to read. It wasn't scary to me, more confusing than anything else. Honestly, I didn't finish it but I've kept the book for a time when I can absorb it and appreciate it more.
reviewed House of Leaves on + 11 more book reviews
What a crazy book! Entirely different and unique-made reading an "experience" again.
reviewed House of Leaves on
This book is a literary phenomenon. It demands an interaction between the reader and the novel that brings the book to life. Be warned that after experiencing this book it will be nearly impossible to read a conventional linear storyline that most other books offer.
reviewed House of Leaves on + 51 more book reviews
Definitely one of the creepiest, get-under-your-skin books I've ever read (and I've gone through all the classic King/Koontz novels.) A reporter writes a manuscript about an odd story he investigated: a family moves in to a house, but the inside measurements don't quite match the outside ones...perhaps something to do with the extra rooms that keep popping up out of nowhere? the strange (growling) noises the house makes? This story is "enveloped" into another involving the editor of this manuscript and his misadventures...told mainly in footnotes. Very interesting reading, if you are open to alternate forms of storytelling. I loved it!
reviewed House of Leaves on + 17 more book reviews
I couldn't get into this book, and I've yet to finish it. I think there too many things going on at once in this book.
reviewed House of Leaves on + 14 more book reviews
Cool idea, got to page 300 something and gave up. Just couldn't connect. Alot of people rave about this book though.
susieqmillsacoustics avatar reviewed House of Leaves on + 1062 more book reviews
Strange book. There are many things I liked about this book, but I am left with a few issues with it, as well.
romeo avatar reviewed House of Leaves on + 334 more book reviews
Blah, Blah, Blah

That's what it's like reading this book. It's horrible! The only good thing about this book is The Navidson Record. The rest should have been thrown in the trash and if I had not paid $20 for this book, that's exactly where it would be. There's nothing interesting about this book. The Navidson Record would do well as a stand alone book, the rest is horrible. JMO

reviewed House of Leaves on + 17 more book reviews
Interesting and unique concept but just too "out there" for me.