Adult, ARC review, book review

In the House in the Dark of the Woods by Laird Hunt (ARC Review)

Title: In the House in the Dark of the Woods
Authors: Laird Hunt
Type: Fiction
Genre: Adult, Horror, Historical,
Paranormal, Witches
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Date published: October 16, 2018

A physical copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

“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.

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It’s been a long time since I’ve read an adult book that wasn’t romance, and In the House in the Dark of the Woods definitely took some getting used to (for that reason) when I picked it up. It’s written from the point of view of the Puritan woman who gets lost in the woods, which made me feel closer to the situation, and therefore made more goosebumps pop up on my arms and the back of my neck than if this had been written in the third person. Before In the House in the Dark of the Woods, I have read books written in a lyrical style before, but I have to say that I have never read a horror book composed with the use of such beautiful language. (I definitely found myself switching between feeling horror at the creepy things that happen in the book, and feeling appreciation for Laird’s creative and artistic use of the English language!)

This book gives off an eerie atmosphere, right from the very first page, and I felt myself pulled into this book (and into the woods) just as the protagonist was. The strange and horrible things that happen are also depicted in such a way that I had absolutely no trouble imagining them (and therefore had to stick to reading this book during daytime hours only, haha)! I also found that some of the phrasing was complex enough (compared to most young adult fiction anyway) that I had to give In the House in the Dark of the Woods my full attention while reading. As the protagonist of this story struggles with the horrors thrown at her body, she also has to struggle with the horrors that she slowly unlocks and shares with us from within her mind. This book had me on quite the roller coaster of emotions, but the thing that I felt most of all … was unsettled. I recommend this one to fans of horror, psychological horror, and historical fiction!


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.



4 thoughts on “In the House in the Dark of the Woods by Laird Hunt (ARC Review)

  1. Woohoo, glad you enjoyed this! I like horror but I’m very picky about how it’s written so I like that you’ve commented on the lyrical prose. I added this one to my TBR when you mentioned it awhile back and I will be keeping it there 🙂

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