“The purpose of that place still continues to elude them. Is it merely an aberration of physics? Some kind of warp in space? Or just a topiary labyrinth on a much grander scale? Perhaps it serves a funeral purpose? Conceals a secret? Protects something? Imprisons or hides some kind of monster? Or for that matter, imprisons or hides an innocent? As the Holloway team soon discovers, answers to these questions are not exactly forthcoming.”
Big mistake cracking the binding and reading the first few chapters as I laid my head down to sleep but I just couldn’t help myself. Although my first night went quite smoothly I anticipated a restless night which have been all too common as of late. Luckily visions of my dead dogs visited me, providing me quiet comfort and a deep sleep. However; I was awakened by the sound of falling indistinguishable objects at 4:30 A.M. which after a period of instant panic was attributed to the perils of owning a young Bombay cat trying to catch a glimpse of things that go bump in the night with window blinds in her way. Again, who was the one that thought it would be cool to have a domestic version of a black panther prowling in your home? I would personally like to thank them for allowing me to have mine I’ll take the good with the bad. As the book settled down the feeling of fear subsided, but the air of mystery remained. The author is setting the tone as the first few sections are a precursor of things to come. This book is an opiate-fuelled, rage virus inducing, sexually hypnotizing thrill ride resulting in a state of sleep deprivation with all of the head-on-a-swivel, sensory sort of frightening aspects that leave you begging for more. “BRAINS”…”MORE BRAINS”.
” ‘Darkness is impossible to remember. Consequently cavers desire to return to those unseen depths where they have just been. It is an addiction. No one is ever satisfied. Darkness never satisfies. Especially if it takes something away which it almost always invariably does.’ “
There are two interrelated stories at play, tugging for control at times but sharing the pages in this book as the reader travels to the eerie streets of late 90’s Hollywood and the isolation of a Virginia countryside. We are first introduced to the L.A. story of Johnny Truant which involves the underbelly of the dream-squashed city with the typical sex, drugs, and rock and roll lifestyle (think The Viper Room). When Johnny’s good friend Lude takes him to the apartment of a recently dead, old blind man named Zampanò, Johnny quickly realizes that his life will never be the same again. Zampanò’s life on the surface was underwhelming to say the least. He lived a life of solitude in an apartment complex not having anything more than acquaintances and a peculiar relationship with stray cats. When Lude and Johnny examined the body they both saw some strange markings alongside his body leaving many questions and no sure answer. When Johnny comes across the ramblings of a madman tucked away in a trunk in the corner of Zampanó’s room, Johnny finds a new raison d’etre. The thoughts of the dead man begins consuming his own life by an otherworldly possession, there is no turning back and he wouldn’t have it any other way even if he knows it may lead to his demise.
” ‘Patience has little to do with euphoria and everything to do with patience. It is not about feeling good. It is about endurance. Like patience, passion comes from the same Latin root: pati. It does not mean to flow with exuberance. It means to suffer.’ “
The story in Virginia involves a house on Ash Tree Lane which was built in 1720 and has had .37 occupants every year since; in other words no long-term tenants in this place. The new family that has just moved in are Will “Navy” Navidson, his long-time companion Karen Green, their children Daisy and Chad, as well as their dog Hillary and cat Mallory. Will and his twin brother Tom had a rather turbulent childhood with a mother that abandoned them to become an “actress” at the Whalestoe Institution and an abusive, alcoholic father that moved them around every two years to a new house in the mid west. Will has turned his passion of photography and videography into a successful career as a photojournalist. Will’s artistic drive for perfection in photojournalism has mirrored that of Pulitzer Prize Winner Kevin Carter and with his current mental health and traumatic childhood in mind he thought it would be best to take a temporary leave from traumatic on-the-job projects and take the time to film the family as they settled into their new home. Will unknowingly appointed this home as his security against the transience of the life he lived as a child, and a good place for Karen and him to repair their strained relationship. After a four day vacation in Seattle, Will realizes that the house on Ash Tree Lane has changed, became alien, exposed, and unsettling. At first glance doorways have been added, hallways have been lengthened, and there is a small incongruous crawl space, but after further investigation there is a great spatial disparity between the inner dimensions of the house with that of the external dimensions. With the help of his estranged brother, his engineering paraplegic friend Billy Reston, a professional hunter and explorer Holloway Roberts and his team of professional tracker Jed Leeder and mountain climbing prodigy Kirby “Wax” Hook they set out together to perform a thorough analysis of the construction of the house and try to figure out the labyrinth that is continually changing from within.
“Or in other words: shy from the sky, no answer lies there. It cannot care, especially for what it no longer knows. Treat that place as a thing unto itself, independent of all else, and confront it on those terms. You alone must find the way. No one else can help you. Every way is different. And if you do lose yourself at least take solace in the absolute certainty that you will perish.”
This book is unconventional with a variety of narratives, page layouts, and copeus amounts of footnotes and appendices that are there to provide better insight. As a helpful reminder, I am not much of a note taker but I would suggest using a few different coloured pens to set your house in order for when you look back for reference. There is so much going on it is very easy to get lost if your not prepared. After reading this novel I feel that the horror aspect is greatly overrated, and this is just as much a multi-faceted love story. I went into this book believing in my heart that I was going to fear sleep. As I got further into it, the psychological dimensions became very involved and thoroughly dissected, but at the end of the day, like clockwork, love prevailed.
“Zampanò himself probably would have insisted on corrections and edits, he was his own harshest critic, but I’ve come to believe errors, especially written errors, are often the only markers left by a solitary life: to sacrifice them is to lose the angles of personality, the riddle of a soul. In this case a very old soul. A very old riddle.”
Everyone has to explore their own personal dark space. While one man is searching for the answers to the mystery in his home the other is searching for the monster that is lurking around the corner. With the fallibility of man firmly entrenched their search to discover that mystery could provide the means to their own destruction. I recommend reading this book once in your life, I wouldn’t want you to miss something special, it just didn’t do as much as I would’ve liked.
“I just thought it would be nice to see how people move into a place and start to inhibit it. Settle in, maybe put down roots, interact, hopefully understand each other a little better. Personally, I just want to create a cozy little outpost for keeping and my family. A place to drink lemonade on the porch and watch the sunset.”