In the House in the Dark of the Woods
"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. The eerie, disturbing story of one of our perennial fascinations--witchcraft in colonial America--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.
Claire Nozieres manages the translation rights for In the House in the Dark of the Woods
Like Richard Hughes' In Hazard or Arthur Machen's The White People, Hunt's In the House In the Dark of the Woods tells a dark story brightly, leaving the reader to see and sense the things that the protagonist isn't saying, and maybe can't even acknowledge. A wonderful, luminous, sly tale that orbits around a very grim core, growing darker and darker as it goes. A stunning contemporary fairy tale.
In this Colonial New England–set example of literary horror from the ever original author of the award-winning Neverhome, a Puritan woman leaves her home—voluntarily or not—and is shown wandering a dark woods. There she encounters near-human wolves, a ship made of bones, and a well resonant with screams, evoking witchcraft’s place in America history. Maybe the evil is in her?
What a beguiling story of grief. What a delightful story of what can and cannot sustain us. We’ve all been lost in the woods, potentially of our own making. I found this book riveting, surprising, and, not inconsequentially, unmooring.
Borne along by his lyrical writing, the narrative moves from foreboding to fear to the psyche's awful freight and finally to horror.
At the heart of In the House in the Dark of the Woods is a "goody," "deary," and terribly unreliable narrator. But it's her uncertainty, her unpredictability, and the unreliability of her character and impressions, that keeps this book's readers turning the pages ... Here's one that holds and rewards your attention, and might keep you up at night.
Bank Street Books
In the House in the Dark of the Woods is a thrilling, magical tale that straddles two worlds: the harsh, at times grim, reality of Colonial New England, and the imaginative, shadow world from which the oldest fairy tales are woven.
Laird Hunt renews our collective fear of the archetypal woods, reimagining the dark realm of ancient nightmares as a place of irresistible wonders and horrors. Spun like a fairy tale, the novel carries us along in a current of intoxicating dread, bearing witness to one woman’s dream-like journey of the soul. Like her, we are lost, possibly forever, to its spell.
The chilling elements build slowly rather than coming as sudden shocks, and Laird’s almost soothing tone makes the surprising twists all the more frightening. This dark fairy tale will make even seasoned horror fans shudder.
The language and mystery will bind your thoughts: an addling hex of a book.
[A] beautifully delivered example of literary horror ... this atmospheric book still absorbs like the best dark fairy tales and will leave readers chilled to the bone.
Hunt's accomplished prose creates the atmosphere of possibility and danger that lurks in the best fairy tales, where anything can happen but everything has a cost. Highly recommended for fans of that amorphous border between fantasy, horror, and literary fiction.
Booklist (starred review)
...takes off at a full gallop
and never looks back...[Hunt] has fashioned an edge-of-the-seat experience more akin to watching a horror movie. Don’t go in the cellar! Don’t eat that pig meat! Darkness is everywhere. So prepare yourself. This is a perfect book to read when you’re safely tucked in your home, your back to the wall, while outside your door the wind rips the leaves from the trees and the woods grow dark.
New York Times
In this engrossing scramble of fairy tales, a woman goes berry picking in the forest and becomes lost in a tangle of dark archetypes...The book’s greatest strength is striking, sensual prose: the air “seemed made of black butter” and a heart is “a shout in a fiery room.”
This extraordinary piece of hallucinatory brilliance… A supercharged fairytale with an atmosphere I will never forget…
The novel’s visions linger long after the book has shut, just as much as the spirit photograph taken all those years ago in Raynham Hall.
A blisteringly spooky ride... filled with startling characters and images... frightening and mysterious, weaving threads of folklore and hints of America’s Puritan witch-hunting past into something new and compelling.
‘A suspenseful, threat-filled story of witchcraft… Hunt’s eerie, sensual sentences are nothing short of incantatory.
Biblical imagery combines with the sing-song rhythms of fairytale to build an incantatory prose out of mostly single-syllable words. The result is a blunt, forceful poetry, entirely suited to a tale – and, in fairytale, a genre – that blends a catalogue of dangers with a celebration of female agency.