House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski was on a list of 20 scariest books I recently found online. Many of them I had read and agreed to the assessment, so I decided to explore the rest of the list. House of Leaves is an unusual book, really two stories in one. The introduction tells of a man who discovered a chest full of writings by an old man who died under mysterious circumstances. The writings tell of a strange house where the inside is bigger than the outside.
The main part of the book chronicles this house and the writer’s explanations. There is a door in the house which should lead nowhere but instead leads to long corridors and labyrinths. Part of this story is told in simple narrative but other parts of it are an analysis of what may be happening in the house written as a scientific paper.
The second story is about the man who discovered the writings. While his take includes some of what he goes through assembling and interpreting the papers, most of it is about his exploits with drugs, sex, and halluciations. This section is shown in footnotes and written in a colloquial fashion.
My favorite part of the book was the narrative about the house and the people who lived there, but the rest of it was so tedious, I could not finish the book. I struggled to read 150 pages out of 528, not counting exhibits and appendices.
House of Leaves is certainly a unique book, in its writing style and composition, but I didn’t find it scary in the least and was not going to read another 378 pages to find out if it ever became scary. I would not recommend this book.