House of Leaves
Mark Z. Danielewski
I don’t read a lot of horror fiction. I went through a phase in high school, Stephen King and the like, but generally I like (at most) slightly atmospheric period ghost stories. BUT — one of the scary books that has always stuck with me, since I read it about ten years ago, is Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves.
It’s hard to describe this book without the summary getting too convoluted or giving away really cool reveals, but suffice it to say that it’s not really a horror story. It’s comprised of a few different, interweaving storylines that tangle and even occasionally sort themselves out. But the elements that are scary are, to me, very scary.
At its most basic, House of Leaves is a book about a house that’s bigger on the inside than on the outside. And this ain’t no cheerful TARDIS skipping around space and time and getting into shenanigans. This is an ageless place where rooms appear and disappear at will, where the cavernous depths of it seems to go on forever. The house is a place where you can get lost and never come out.
This aspect of the story is told so chillingly that I remember my first reading of it I was forced to put down the book and take a break. It might not be the most horrific thing you’ll ever read, but in terms of atmosphere and sheer brilliance it takes the cake for me.