This cult phenomenon of a horror novel is a meta-examination of a supposed attempt at an academic paper about a family living within a house that is 'impossible'. Doors and hallways appear where there were none and physical laws find themselves being continually broken and pushed to bizarre extremes, all the while a menacing growl emanates from within these dark corridors. But this is but one level of the text: this treatise is edited and peppered with commentary by one Johnny Truant, a pathetic figure who retrieved this paper from the mysterious blind shut-in Zampano, who lived in his apartment and subsequently disappeared mysteriously.
This is a truly amazing book. Rarely does a horror novel seep so deeply into the reader's unconsciousness and drag them into the horror the pages reveal. The various levels of Zampano's paper, Truant's notes, and the final editing for the supposedly recovered text create a sense of layers that constantly evoke in the reader a feeling of "Could this be real?". And this is where the real fear begins because even if it isn't you know the book is beginning to affect you. This book causes the reader to experience a kind of fear that occurs in a fundamentally existential way: even the most mundane and apparently trivial occurrences hold portents of the unseemly.
Although there are parts of Truant's writing that come off as a bit awkward and unimportant, (not to mention the character's none-too-subtle moniker of 'Truant') and leave the reader exasperated at times, his notes add a layer to the story that is very necessary. The book's experimental style and frequently truncated and labyrinthine citation methods parallel the dizzying maze that grows within the house in uncanny ways. I consider this to be a modern classic and an essential read. But be warned: once you read this book you can never un-read it. It will stay with you, change you, and forever alter the way you think about being safe at home.