In the House in the Dark of the Woods by Laird Hunt

In the House in the Dark of the Woods by Laird Hunt

There’s a reason there aren’t many horror / psychological thriller titles on this blog – I don’t like the ‘aftereffects’ for me – so I rarely read them. Exception to every rule comes with this title from Laird Hunt, set in Colonial Era New England and using the lore and legend of the Salem Witches, the story is both atmospheric and resulted in goosebumps – narrated by Vanessa Johansson please read on for your Halloween read with

In the House in the Dark of the Woods

So – I grabbed this (despite the horror tags) mostly because of the ties to Colonial New England and the lore that is central to much of American history and belief systems found there. Much more than a story about witches and witchcraft, and far less horror and more psychological thriller, the story uses a wonderful sense of atmosphere, particularly from deep forest ventures, to include threats in the shadows with that undefined sense of unfamiliarity and half-seen ‘things’ that prey on the mind as tales and experience meet.

What Hunt has done so well here is bring his style of this reimagined fairy tale (think Grimm not Disney) and the symbolism that is often found there – as parents for generations have used old folk and fairy tales to ‘contain’ their children with threats of witches, ghosts, monsters and ghouls – all to be found on the way to danger. Here, those same elements are brought into play as the story progresses, from one woman who seeks to find the missing and the lost, and is brought to face both the present and the possible, at first glance the evils are clear and present, and then descending into ambiguous shades of grey, forcing readers to pay attention and revisit each moment in time with a sense of ‘why”, unpacking symbolism and intentions along the way – all influenced with he sense that something just isn’t ‘right’ and that unease will ebb and flow, although never quite leaving throughout the story.

Vanessa Johansson narrated this tale, mostly told in the perspective of Goody, who isn’t quite the first-glance doting and engaged woman one expects, and is the voice who is solidly leading us through the tale. Each introduction of character is clear and precise, the words are left to create their own ‘menace’ as the story progresses, and the moments that require an adjustment in tone or emotion are clear without over performing or overly influencing or foreshadowing a moment. It took me a few breaks to get through the five plus hours of story, with plenty of images and goosebumps to go around. If you like different and a more thoughtful thrill – grab this one.

Stars: Overall:  4 Narration: 3 Story: 4

In the House in the Dark of the Woods by Laird Hunt

Title: In the House in the Dark of the Woods
Author: Laird Hunt
Genre: Colonial Era, Historical Fiction, Magic, Witches
Narrator: Vanessa Johansson
Published by: Hachette Audio, Little Brown
ISBN: 154914734X
Published on: 16 October, 2018
Source: Hachette Audio
Pages: 224
Audio Length: 5 Hours: 30 minutes
Rated: four-stars
Get Your Copy: Amazon Barnes&Noble iTunes Kobo Downpour IndieBound GoogleAudible
See this Title on Goodreads

"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.

A copy of this title was provided via Hachette Audio for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.


About Laird Hunt

Laird Hunt is an American writer, translator and academic.

Hunt grew up in Singapore, San Francisco, The Hague, and London before moving to his grandmother's farm in rural Indiana, where he attended Clinton Central High School. He earned a B.A. from Indiana University and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University. He also studied French literature at the Sorbonne.

Hunt worked in the press office at the United Nations while writing his first novel. He is currently a professor in the Creative Writing program at University of Denver. Hunt lives with his wife, the poet Eleni Sikelianos, in Boulder, Colorado.


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