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Tuesday, 29 March 2011

From House of Leaves to The Prince of Mist

Well, this is it, my final blog entry concerning House of Leaves. My final overall review.

Firstly, the plot and set-up of the book. I'll admit, Danielewski hit on a really interesting idea for a story set-up: a house that is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside, something that is incomprehensible to most people. Unfortunately, the way the story was actually told put me off a bit. Firstly, there was the use of an academic text to tell the story with: while this puts an interesting intellectual perspective to it, it is very emotionally distancing and I found it very hard to identify with the characters that were supposed to be the main focus of the novel; I personally found Johnny Truant to be the only really engaging character, if only because he isn't presented through a filter as such. Secondly, due to the academic nature of the format, there were quite a few chapters that I felt the book could have benefited without, simply because they were boring or because what they were trying to get across could have been communicated in a much more concise way.
Secondly, the characters. I felt that the characters were for the most part well-constructed, with a variety of personalities that worked well in combination. I did feel however, that the main character Navidson was made stupider than perhaps was believable: I appreciate that he's used to danger through experience of war zones, but even so there is no real reason why anyone would be stupid to explore something that has eaten his twin right before his very eyes.
Overall, an interesting story idea that was let down slightly by the odd format and some of the overly stupid behaviour of the central characters.  3/5.

So, that's House of Leaves finished, now on to the next book that I'll be reviewing. From now, I'll be reading and reviewing The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Having read the previous two books of his that have been translated into English and loved them both, I'm seriously looking forward to this. Here's the blurb as a basic preview of what I'll be reading:
"1943. As war sweeps across Europe, Max Carver's father moves his family away from the city, to an old wooden house on the coast. But as soon as they arrive, strange things begin to happen: Max discovers a garden filled with eerie statues; his sisters are plagued by unsettling dreams and voices; a box of old films opens a window to the past. Most unsettling of all are rumours about the previous owners and the mysterious disappearance of their son. As Max delves into the past, he encounters the terrifying story of the Prince of Mist, a sinister shadow who emerges from the night to settle old scores, then disappears with the first mists of dawn . . . . "
Overall sounds pretty good, and not on the mind-screw level of House of Leaves. Again, thank you for following my progress through House of Leaves, I hope you enjoyed my reviews and I hope you will join me in perusing The Prince of Mist as well.

Signing off,

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