Overwhelmingly atmospheric, In the House in the Dark of the Woods is a modern masterpiece that swept me up and stole my heart. The story is told with luscious prose and has a fairy tale like feel, but instead of centering on the hero’s journey, the story feels like the origins of a great hero.
The story follows Goody, a good wife that finds herself lost in the woods after picking berries. The narrative feels like a fever dream, a fantasy tinged with poison that steadily becomes more alarming as Goody finds herself tangled up in the mystery and the magic of the woods. Even when everything seems dandy there is this urgent sense of danger with each person that Goody meets.
“The honey was delicious, heavy gold with marks of comb and only here or there a leg or wing or who knows what else had been pulled into the trickling swamp.”
This book was also a masterful historical piece about the New England Goodwives of Colonial America. The Puritan religion was extremely restrictive and difficult for women of the time period. The fear of witchcraft was pervasive and there are hints of witchcraft and madness throughout this novel. Not all wives are good, and not all witches fly on brooms and stir cauldrons, but the irresistible temptation of magic can be found in the darkest reaches of the human heart.
I absolutely loved this book and it was definitely my favorite read of 2018.
Title: In the House in the Dark of the Woods
Author: Laird Hunt
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: October 16, 2018
“Once upon a time there was and there wasn’t a woman who went to the woods.”
In this horror story set in colonial New England, a law-abiding Puritan woman goes missing. Or perhaps she has fled or abandoned her family. Or perhaps she’s been kidnapped, and set loose to wander in the dense woods of the north. Alone and possibly lost, she meets another woman in the forest. Then everything changes.
On a journey that will take her through dark woods full of almost-human wolves, through a deep well wet with the screams of men, and on a living ship made of human bones, our heroine may find that the evil she flees has been inside her all along. In the House in the Dark of the Woods is a novel of psychological horror and suspense told in Laird Hunt’s characteristically lyrical prose style. It is the story of a bewitching, a betrayal, a master huntress and her quarry. It is a story of anger, of evil, of hatred and of redemption. It is the story of a haunting, a story that makes up the bedrock of American mythology, but told in a vivid way you will never forget.