In the House in the Dark of the Woods
Author: Laird Hunt
Length: 5.5 hours
Narrator: Vanessa Johansson
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Original Publication Date: 2018
Genre(s): Horror, Fantasy, Adult fiction
“Once upon a time there was and there wasn’t a woman who went to the woods.”
In colonial New England, a woman is collecting berries for her son and her man. She ventures into the woods, but winds up getting lost. Or did she run away, abandoning her family? Or was she taken into the woods, now trapped and unable to leave? Try as she might to leave, she always finds herself back in the woods. Back at the house in the dark of the woods.
You may be thinking, wow, what an elusive synopsis, Alyssa, this sounds so mysterious and creepy. It is creepy, I’ll give you that. And mysterious, yes, but more in an ambiguous “this doesn’t make sense” kind of way. And the synopsis is vague because I’m not quite sure how to summarize this little novel. Plus, if I even try to say anything about the plot, it won’t make sense. Because the novel doesn’t really make sense.
In the House in the Dark of the Woods is a short novel told in first-person POV from the perspective of a Puritan woman. Right away, the story is incredibly vague. The woman has no name, nor does her family (“my man,” “my son”). Her location is not named, nor is it described in great detail. The woman goes into the woods (on accident, on purpose, who knows) and meets strange people: Captain Jane, Granny Something, Eliza (the only character to have a real, concrete name), and various others. She experiences…strange things, all while supposedly trying to get home, but to no avail. The chapters flash back and forth between the present and the woman’s childhood, which often muddled together for me. But maybe that’s because my attention span was hanging on by a thread.
It’s all very strange. But strange doesn’t always mean good. I love weird stories. Stories that people normally don’t like, or don’t understand. I love creepy stories with a fairytale vibe. So I thought this would be right up my alley. But this? This story is just… I don’t know. It never really made a whole lot of sense to me. It seemed very pointless and tiring for the most part, and I just wanted it to end. I was hoping it was one of those stories that was confusing and weird, and then the ending connected all the dots and it all came crashing to an epic conclusion. This is not one of those stories, at least not for me. It felt like one of those shitty B-movie Netflix horror films that are gory and weird and creepy but altogether awful.
Honestly, I don’t recommend this novel. It was way too ambiguous for me. Not solid enough. Too flighty. It was creepy, and the writing was very poetic and interesting, but there are far better written and far more entertaining creepy books out there, friends. But if you give this a go, and finish it, and it understand it, and love it, please get in touch with me and explain it all to me. I even Googled “someone explain the house in the dark of the woods” and all I got were book reviews of people praising the story and not a whole lot of explanation going on. So yeah, holler at me if you like this, because I genuinely don’t get it. If you like creepy, ambiguous, fairtytale-esque stories that don’t make a lot of sense, you’ll love this. It just wasn’t for me.