Finished reading House Of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. Very very weird, frightening, thrilling, weird and did I mention weird?
The first thing that gets you is the way it's written. It is set out like a thesis, a man named Zampano has basically analysed a movie that was released called the Navidson Records. Johnny, the protagonist finds all of Zampano's work scattered about and decides to put it together adding his little footnotes as he annotates Zampano's work. Sometimes he goes off tangent and starts talking about his own life.
So the Navidson Records is supposedly a movie released a few years back before Zampano started writing his thesis. Upon its release it sparked a lot of debate and questions on whether it truly happened or if it was just excellent cinema brilliantly executed. It follows a family (the Navidsons) when they move into a new house in Virginia. The father (Will Navidson) decides to video tape his family's day to day life and puts cameras in every room of the house and gives a camera to his wife to record her thoughts (like a video diary) - think paranormal activity here. Things are going along pretty normally, they all adjust to the move etc and then they go away for a weekend only to find when they return that there is a door and a short hallway connecting the master bedroom to the kid's bedroom. They are pretty baffled, it wasn't there before, where did it come from? Will decides to measure the hallway and is even more baffled when he finds the interior measurement does not match the exterior of the house. It's longer. Finding this logically impossible he calls his twin brother (an architect) to check it out - they get sophisticated tools to measure and still find it longer so they call another guy in - it's still longer. Meanwhile, another doorway appears - this time in the living room. When they open this door and peer into what they think is a dark closet, again physically impossible to even be there they know something is up. The wife wants to leave, Will is like 'No let's investigate' and his wife is like 'I'll leave you if you go in there' so he promises he wont but of course in the dark of night (when else would you investigate a spooky closet/hallway that's pitch black and cold as death?) he decides to take a camera and a flashlight and see what's up with this. The closet is no longer a closet, it's this big yawning space of black and he actually gets lost in it for ten minutes or so before he finds himself back in the living room. So finally knowing this thing is ominous he decides to call in three experience cavers (coz that's what you do instead of getting the hell out of there and taking the kids with you) - the cavers after going a little way into this expanding hallway realise that it'll take days maybe even weeks to plumb its depths so they take provisions, food and tents and sleeping bags - flashlights and batteries and of course camera so they can record it. The three cavers go in, they stay in for about a week, Navidson stays in the living room with a radio to contact them. Then things go bad.
I wont expand too much here about that because it's hard to explain and only something that you should read. So Zampano is writing this thesis. Whilst he is, his writing becomes more erratic, according to Johnny (who is only present in the footnotes), there are bits that are scribbled out, bits that are burnt, sometimes its written upside down or back to front or slant ways (told you it was weird), sometimes there's only one word on a page. So Zampano is losing it, you also find that Johnny is losing it whilst he annotating Zampano's work. His life isn't going that well, he keeps picturing his death in pretty gruesome ways, he has hallucinations and he wonders if he is also going crazy.
The ending is quite ambiguous, a lot of unanswered questions and a whole lot of additional material displayed in the Appendix (photos of the house, the hallway, letters, that kind of thing). Danielewski goes out of his way to make this as real as possible - and it works. Sometimes you forget its a work of fiction (at least I did anyway) even though you know its crazy but I guess that's how gripping the story is, it takes you right in. And every time the word 'house' appears, because of the way it is formatted (different to the rest of the text) it sends a chill up your spine.
I definitely would recommend this book to any horror aficionado. It's well worth it. Plus I would love to hear what others think of it.