In the House In the Dark Of the Woods by Laird Hunt – A Book Review

When browsing the “new” section at my local library, the cover to In the House In the Dark Of the Woods demanded my attention. Admittedly, I’ve never head of the book nor it’s author–Laird Hunt. Anyway, I read the inside cover, which sounded very interesting, and decided to take a chance on it.

In the House In the Dark Of the Woods is a brief, strange, even confounding read. It takes place during colonial times and features a woman who gets lost while walking in the untamed woods. She wants to return home to her young son and overbearing husband, but simply can’t find her way. She eventually meets a series of women, all of whom seem both helpful and dangerous. They also each wield a dark, supernatural aura–for though they each claim to want to assist the woman in finding her way, they never quite agree on what exactly “way” means.

Hunt brings you a book incredibly detailed in some facets, yet frustratingly vague in others. Like being lost in the woods, the reader stumbles around in this book quite a bit as though searching for a clearing. However, nothing is particularly clear with In the House In the Dark Of the Woods. 

Due to its brevity, I found In the House In the Dark Of the Woods an interesting,  fun read. It certainly kept me alert as I endeavored to make sense of it all. Hunt is a talented writer who executes some beautifully constructed passages. His descriptions are consistently easy to imagine, and the dialogue he provides is unique to each character. The plot, however, is not quite so discernible, but I suspect that’s the point.

In the House In the Dark Of the Woods is certainly worth your time if you’re interested in a fast, unusual read that feels “literary” but smothers itself in the arcane.

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Are you in need of a new epic series? Try Dr. Nekros, a trilogy described as Moonlighting meets The X-FilesKindle: https://amzn.to/2JUqte2 or NOOK: http://bit.ly/2JTFXm1

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Haunted: Tales Of the Grotesque by Joyce Carole Oates – A Book Review

I really looked forward to reading this collection of short stories.  I love well-crafted, gothic tales, and from what I’d heard, Oates, an author I’d never before read, is something of a master.  Sadly, nothing about Haunted indicated as such.

First of all, I’m all for leaving a story off in such a manner that the reader has to work a bit to connect the dots.  However, if the author does not give enough information for the reader to conceptualize a logical ending, well, what’s the point?  Oates started each of her stories interestingly enough, but then they trailed off into oblivion with the ending coming abruptly and disappointingly. 

Secondly, I found Oates’ style in this collection to be careless at best.  Her sentences lacked punctuation to the point that they were sometimes indecipherable.  There were moments when her sentences didn’t even make sense.  While this sort of thing is common in experimental writing, Haunted did not strike me as hoping to achieve an experimental tag. 

I will say that the most enjoyable aspect of the book for me was the afterword.  Here Oates went on an impressive, fascinating, and well-written explanation of what gothic writing is, who its masters are, and what purpose it serves.  Really, really good stuff.

Haunted has not turned me off from Oates.  I’ve heard too many good things about her to avoid giving her a second chance.  However, for me, she’s got a great deal of ground to make up.