So here is the thing readers, this is the first time ever I am going to say, do not buy this in e-book format. I am still mad days later that Barnes and Noble does not allow you to return purchased Nook books that have been opened/downloaded. I had several comments about the book they sold not actually being the actual book (you miss several key pieces of information if you don't read the book in paperback format that is not replicated in the e-book form) but nope, no refund. So make sure you get this book in paperback form.
That said, I would say that on the 1-5 scale, one being not very scary and 5 being holy shit I am going to have nightmares for the rest of my life I would give this book a 3.5. The mind has never been that scary to me. What has always scared me is what people do to one another. So even though House of Leaves was not the scariest book ever out there. I would say that it is very interesting. And that is really because of the way that Mark Z. Danielewski chooses to set up the book. With hidden text, messages, underling themes, with the way he plays with perspectives, I would say that House of Leaves is the best interactive book out there. Because of the way you have to interact it with it as a reader it causes you to fall more into the story.
Told in shifting perspectives we get the uber of all unreliable narrators out there, Johnny Truant. We find out that Johnny finds a manuscript out of a trunk in a dead man's apartment. What he finds inside starts to slowly drive Johnny insane. Or does it? That's a real question I had while reading. Is it madness when it seems the participant knows that he is crazy and also a liar? We get part of Johnny's life story interspersed with notes by the dead man named Zampano that also includes Johnny doing research on what Zampano has found about what he calls The Navidson Record. We also find notes by "editors" that are included that leave some clue to what has happened to Johnny at the end of this book. So you have a story within a story, within a story, within another story.
For me, I loved everything about The Navidson Record. I was honestly tired of going back and forth to Johnny's story playing out since I wanted to know more and more about the people who inhabited a house that was not just a house. All of the characters in the Navidson Record, Will Navidson and his partner Karen Green and their two children felt real the entire team. I kept holding my breath because the book alludes to things not going well and you just want to make sure that this family ends up okay by the end of the book. It took everything in me to not just skip to the ending.
For me though the writing I thought was really good. There were so many times that I was just over reading about Johnny and how he was "screwed" by some random woman who was always the most gorgeous women in existence was. Considering that based on what Johnny said he looked bad, probably smelled bad, I was wondering were this woman blind?
There is a lot of callbacks to Greek mythology in this book (made me so happy) and I don't want to get into it all in this book, but though at times you feel like you are going to black out from sheer information overload, the book just takes time in describing how something like Echo and Narcissus could come back into play and how it relates to the house. Same thing with the Minotaur and even God. Heck Zampano being a blind man trying to find out a deeper meaning in life through The Navidson Record echoed Home and other Greek philosophers. I loved those parts the best.
The flow though, was not great. The going back and forth between different stories and honestly I could not keep track of who was speaking a lot of the times because my Nook version of this book did not have different fonts like it does in the paperback (reason number one million why you must not buy this in e-book format) so for me it took a lot of going back and forth since we would often segue into a different story than the one I had started.
I thought the setting of the house was perfectly scary. Reading about the different rooms, the corridors, how no sound was found within it really was awful. Likening the house to an unending cave where you could fall and fall forever seriously made me wish for a bright and sunny day outside sitting on the grass.
The ending though I will say I was a wee bit let down. Maybe because I have my own thoughts on what is real and not real about House of Leaves and realizing that besides how the book was set up (very good) that I really didn't think this was that scary of a book and the main protagonist was very boring.