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In this contemporary fantasy, the grieving biographer of a Victorian fantasist finds himself slipping inexorably into the supernatural world that consumed his subject. American Charles Hayden came to England to forget the past. Failed father, failed husband, and failed scholar, Charles hopes to put his life back together with a biography of Caedmon Hollow, the long-dead aut In this contemporary fantasy, the grieving biographer of a Victorian fantasist finds himself slipping inexorably into the supernatural world that consumed his subject. American Charles Hayden came to England to forget the past. Failed father, failed husband, and failed scholar, Charles hopes to put his life back together with a biography of Caedmon Hollow, the long-dead author of a legendary Victorian children's book, In the Night Wood. But soon after settling into Hollow's remote Yorkshire home, Charles learns that the past isn't dead. In the neighboring village, Charles meets a woman he might have loved, a child who could have been his own lost daughter, and the ghost of a self he thought he'd put behind him. And in the primeval forest surrounding Caedmon Hollow's ancestral home, an ancient power is stirring. The horned figure of a long-forgotten king haunts Charles Hayden's dreams. And every morning the fringe of darkling trees presses closer. Soon enough, Charles will venture into the night wood. Soon enough he'll learn that the darkness under the trees is but a shadow of the darkness that waits inside us all.


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In this contemporary fantasy, the grieving biographer of a Victorian fantasist finds himself slipping inexorably into the supernatural world that consumed his subject. American Charles Hayden came to England to forget the past. Failed father, failed husband, and failed scholar, Charles hopes to put his life back together with a biography of Caedmon Hollow, the long-dead aut In this contemporary fantasy, the grieving biographer of a Victorian fantasist finds himself slipping inexorably into the supernatural world that consumed his subject. American Charles Hayden came to England to forget the past. Failed father, failed husband, and failed scholar, Charles hopes to put his life back together with a biography of Caedmon Hollow, the long-dead author of a legendary Victorian children's book, In the Night Wood. But soon after settling into Hollow's remote Yorkshire home, Charles learns that the past isn't dead. In the neighboring village, Charles meets a woman he might have loved, a child who could have been his own lost daughter, and the ghost of a self he thought he'd put behind him. And in the primeval forest surrounding Caedmon Hollow's ancestral home, an ancient power is stirring. The horned figure of a long-forgotten king haunts Charles Hayden's dreams. And every morning the fringe of darkling trees presses closer. Soon enough, Charles will venture into the night wood. Soon enough he'll learn that the darkness under the trees is but a shadow of the darkness that waits inside us all.

30 review for In the Night Wood

  1. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    3.5 Unbearable loss and grief, a failing marriage, a literary obsession bring Erin and Charles to the dusty Manor that Erin inherited from her ancestor, Caedmon Hollow. A Victorian children's novel, the only work that Caedmon would leave before he committed suicide, stirs a fascination in Charles, one he hopes to turn into a worthy dissertation. There are, however, more things than can be rationally explained, in the woods behind the house. Mixing folklore, an obscure novel, and a newly discovere 3.5 Unbearable loss and grief, a failing marriage, a literary obsession bring Erin and Charles to the dusty Manor that Erin inherited from her ancestor, Caedmon Hollow. A Victorian children's novel, the only work that Caedmon would leave before he committed suicide, stirs a fascination in Charles, one he hopes to turn into a worthy dissertation. There are, however, more things than can be rationally explained, in the woods behind the house. Mixing folklore, an obscure novel, and a newly discovered cryptogram, this is an eerily creepy read. The pages are infused with a subtle dread, the slow buildup enhances this mood of darkness. What is real, what is not? Literary allusions in the crptogram and other places, Caedmon uses references from many famous authors, Shakespeare among them, added to the mystery of what exactly Caedmon was trying to say. There is much sadness here, much mystery, some gorgeous prose, and a fascinating look at the darkness within and without. The long tentacles of a history past but not forgotten. "Maybe , Charles thought, maybe stories held a germ of truth. Maybe if there weren't really any happily ever after to our once upon a times, there could at least be a hard won accommodation to the vicious world, a compromise at tale's end with bitterness and suffering. Maybe." ARC from Netgalley.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    Now that the weather is finally turning gloomy, you might be looking for an atmospheric read. Look no further! This book blends folklore, English countryside, mysterious books, missing children, and a wood that beckons.... I enjoyed Bailey's short stories that I also read this year, and I may have a slight preference for those because they were more along the lines of dark fantasy and sometimes humorous, always full of humanity. Sometimes I felt trapped in this book because it gets a bit circular Now that the weather is finally turning gloomy, you might be looking for an atmospheric read. Look no further! This book blends folklore, English countryside, mysterious books, missing children, and a wood that beckons.... I enjoyed Bailey's short stories that I also read this year, and I may have a slight preference for those because they were more along the lines of dark fantasy and sometimes humorous, always full of humanity. Sometimes I felt trapped in this book because it gets a bit circular, and you know that the characters are doing dangerous things and the author is just going to make you watch it happen! But that's part of the overall tone of the novel that is so effective. Some of the characters feel more like archetypes than individuals, but again, that suits the book too since there is a layer in it of another book, also called In the Night Wood. At the heart of the story is a damaged marriage, with both people destroyed by grief with an added undercurrent of infidelity that hasn't even started to be dealt with. That may be the greater horror in the end. (I marked this little part:) "They were silent then, listening to the sound of their marriage calve around them, like a glacier, like sea ice, as fragile and as cold. 'Pass the salt, please,' he said."

  3. 5 out of 5

    Juli

    Charles Hayden is watching his life and his marriage go down the drain. An Affair. His daughter dying. He and Erin have just drifted apart. Then his wife inherits the Hollow family home. Hollow House. Maybe the house, the money, the new start will make everything ok? Charles and Erin don't realize that Hollow House and the Eorl Wood surrounding it hold dark secrets. Very dark secrets. This story unfolds like a deep, dark, demented fairy tale. An old house sitting in the middle of the deep, dark w Charles Hayden is watching his life and his marriage go down the drain. An Affair. His daughter dying. He and Erin have just drifted apart. Then his wife inherits the Hollow family home. Hollow House. Maybe the house, the money, the new start will make everything ok? Charles and Erin don't realize that Hollow House and the Eorl Wood surrounding it hold dark secrets. Very dark secrets. This story unfolds like a deep, dark, demented fairy tale. An old house sitting in the middle of the deep, dark woods. Legends about disappearances, murder, The Horned God. And an ancestor that wrote a strange, mesmerizing novel about the woods before killing himself. Visions of a dead little girl. What a creepy, awesome story! I loved it! I started reading the book on Halloween night and it ended up being a total binge read. The story sucked me right in and kept me reading until the end. Dale Bailey has written many short stories and several novels. In the Night Wood is the first book by Bailey that I've read. I enjoyed this story so much that I'm definitely going to read more of his work. I like his writing style. He doesn't hit readers in the face with roaring monsters and jump scares. The horror in this novel was more subtle chilling...the sort of scary that sneaks out of the woods at night and waits at the end of your bed while you sleep. I'm definitely reading more by this author! The cover art for this book is just awesome. *I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.*

  4. 5 out of 5

    Selena

    I received a free e-copy of In The Night Wood by Dale Bailey from NetGalley for my honest review. A tale about a couple, who is grieving the death of their young daughter. They move to a remote estate in England that the mother inherits, to escape the reminders. Some very strange and eerie things begin to happen. The couple begins to see thing. Are they really seeing these thing, creatures or are they so grief stricken they are seeing things. A very dark, eerie fantasy.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Helen Power

    When he was just a young boy, Charles Hayden discovered a mysterious Victorian children’s book called “In the Night Wood”.  Years later, Charles is a failing scholar who is obsessed with the book that so greatly influenced his life. His wife is a distant relative of Caedmon Hollow, the author of "In the Night Wood".  When she inherits Hollow’s home, he moves there with her to run away from their shared tragic past--the death of their six-year-old daughter.  Charles hopes that he can use this opp When he was just a young boy, Charles Hayden discovered a mysterious Victorian children’s book called “In the Night Wood”.  Years later, Charles is a failing scholar who is obsessed with the book that so greatly influenced his life. His wife is a distant relative of Caedmon Hollow, the author of "In the Night Wood".  When she inherits Hollow’s home, he moves there with her to run away from their shared tragic past--the death of their six-year-old daughter.  Charles hopes that he can use this opportunity write a biography of Caedmon Hollow.  Digging deep into the past is never a good idea, however, and it quickly becomes apparent that “In the Night Wood” was inspired by the forest surrounding Hollow’s home.  But how much is truth and how much is fiction?  The writing style is one of the book's greatest strengths, and Caedmon Hollow's Victorian-style house, the woods surrounding it, and the neighbouring town are all beautifully described.  However, I felt that the story somehow managed to feel too rushed, while very little actually happens. The story doesn’t have much substance.   In the Night Wood is quite short, but based on content, it could have easily been a novella or even a short story. The major appeal factor of this book is that Bailey has created his own legend.  The story of “In the Night Wood” with the horned king and a little girl named Laura--a little girl who is so similar in both name and appearance to Charles' lost daughter.  However, Hollow's book is not quite developed enough to my liking, and instead Bailey pulls from Shakespeare and other well-known writers throughout history for later plot points, including a cipher that Charles must decrypt. I didn’t particularly enjoy this book. Charles Hayden is a most despicable main character. He hasn’t learned from past mistakes. He cheated on his wife, and on his daughter’s birthday, his “secret birthday gift” to his now six-year-old daughter was that he was going to break up with his mistress. What a wonderful present. You’re too kind .  This would all be fair, but in present day he’s almost cheating on his wife again with another woman, another scholar with a similar name. He didn't learn from his mistake, which would also be okay, if he learned his lesson before the book ended.  He didn't. There’s no “I should have learned” moment or time when karma comes to bite him in the ass.  He doesn't get his comeuppance, which makes an unlikable character such as this one inexcusable.  He's also sexist, not only the way in which he views his wife, but in the way he views other women. The female scholar he works with on Hollows' biography is said to have her "prickles" because she won't allow him to patronize him.  He likes her despite her "prickles".  Ugh! Throughout the story Charles Hayden reflects on his daughter’s tragic death and how he feels responsible. The way he says it makes you think that he isn’t actually responsible, that it’s just an inflated level of survivor’s guilt.  A way for Bailey to make an unlikable character have some substance.  Then it’s revealed how the daughter actually died. Charles is 100% responsible for her death, which makes his woe-is-me attitude even more disgusting.  In the plot line of the story, a local child has been kidnapped.  Charles doesn’t react beyond how you or I would react to the thought of someone else’s child being kidnapped, despite the fact that he literally went through the experience of losing his daughter less than a year before. He should have had empathy for the parents of the missing child. He should have--at the very least--had it remind him of his own lost daughter and bring him to shed a single tear down his cheek. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure Charles is human. The unlikability of Charles Hayden is exacerbated by the fact that his wife, Erin, isn’t well fleshed out. She’s grieving her lost daughter. That’s basically all we know about her. She doesn’t do much else except for wonder if her husband is cheating on her again once they move to Caedmon Hollow’s home.  It’s actually mentioned at one point that Charles can’t leave her because he needs access to the house she inherited. I repeat, "Ugh".   This book has numerous intellectual discussions; however they’re mostly about things I’ve heard about a million times before--quotes like “Murder most foul” by Shakespeare, a definition of “automatic writing”, the story of Oedipus, and a brief mention of Occam’s Razor, to name a few.   I recommend this book to those who want to read a book with a lot of literary references and a strong sense of place--the old Hollow House is beautifully described, as is the dark and treacherous woods that surround it.  If you do decide to read this, try not to let an extremely unlikable main character who doesn’t grow or get what’s coming to him interfere with your enjoyment of the story (like I clearly did). *Thank you to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Netgalley for the advanced reader copy*

  6. 5 out of 5

    Carlos

    3.5 stars for this effort by Dale Bailey. I found myself getting immersed into the setting the author created in this book , i could see the trees , the old house and even the bar itself, this book had a sense of the ethereal in it so I enjoyed that part. But scenery a book does not make and I felt that while the story started strong it kept losing more and more complexity as it went forward and by the end it had lost any foundation that it had on the beginning . Great effort but felt flat towar 3.5 stars for this effort by Dale Bailey. I found myself getting immersed into the setting the author created in this book , i could see the trees , the old house and even the bar itself, this book had a sense of the ethereal in it so I enjoyed that part. But scenery a book does not make and I felt that while the story started strong it kept losing more and more complexity as it went forward and by the end it had lost any foundation that it had on the beginning . Great effort but felt flat towards the end .

  7. 5 out of 5

    Gary

    Dale Bailey’s new novel In the Night Wood is assertive with its intertextuality. It begins with two epigraphical quotes, one from Mircea Eliade’s The Forbidden Forest and the other from the Brothers’ Grimm’s “Hansel and Gretel”. A prelude follows that “quotes” its fictitious novel-within-a-novel called In the Night Wood, attributed to the (also fictitious) obscure Victorian writer Caedmon Hollow. The Forbidden Forest is about a man who, after the death of his wife and child, searches for his est Dale Bailey’s new novel In the Night Wood is assertive with its intertextuality. It begins with two epigraphical quotes, one from Mircea Eliade’s The Forbidden Forest and the other from the Brothers’ Grimm’s “Hansel and Gretel”. A prelude follows that “quotes” its fictitious novel-within-a-novel called In the Night Wood, attributed to the (also fictitious) obscure Victorian writer Caedmon Hollow. The Forbidden Forest is about a man who, after the death of his wife and child, searches for his estranged mistress in the forest where they had met years before, and the quote refers to “the existential necessity of listening to stories and fairy tales.” Those familiar with “Hansel and Gretel” will understand the context Gretel’s tearful lament “How are we to get out of the forest now?” and recognize its interrelation to the Eliade quote. Then, as though its thematic architecture still lacked sufficient clarity, the passage from the imaginary Caedmon Hollow novel is also about a frightened little girl lost in a forest, informed by an enchanted oak that her “Story is rich in coincidence” and “is not a happy Story” (the capital “S” in “Story” is the author’s). It is unsurprising that Bailey’s novel turns out to be a self-reflexive fairy tale involving the tragic death of a child, marital infidelity, little girls lost in enchanted forests, is full of coincidence, and is not a happy story. That story, a dark fantasy flavored with historical metafiction, begins when young Charles Hayden steals a copy of the forgotten children’s novel “In the Night Wood” from his grandfather’s library. His pilfered copy disappears not long after he reads it, but Charles grows up obsessed with the book and its author. Years later, literary grad student Charles meets Erin, a direct descendant of Caedmon Hollow. They fall in love, get married, and have a daughter, before the novel jumps another decade into the future. Erin is the next living heir to Hollow House, Caedmon Hollow’s ancestral home, and the couple uproot their American lives to live there when the previous, childless heir passes on. A lot has happened in the intervening years. Their marriage is now in ruins: Charles had been having an affair with a colleague, and their daughter Lissa died in an accident as the affair came to light. A trickle of clues suggests there is a relationship between those two circumstances, the result being that Charles is now on sabbatical from his university position (it is clear he will not be welcome back) and Erin, addicted to prescription drugs, cocoons in her grief. Charles hopes to write a biography of Caedmon Hollow to resuscitate the author’s reputation and his own. Living in Hollow House, with its proximity to Eorl Wood (the purported inspiration for Hollow’s novel) offers all the inspiration and incentive he needs. He may even find the biographical information he needs in the nearby village of Yarrow, whose unofficial historian, Silva, takes an interest in his project. Charles discovers there might be more to Hollow’s infamous novel than its reputation as a simple allegorical fairy tale suggests. A local girl, around Lissa’s age at the time of her death, has gone missing. Erin, in her drug-induced haze, is sketching bizarre likenesses of the Horned King, the villain of her ancestor's novel. Charles keeps seeing vague, human-like figures near the wood that seem to blow away with the wind, and the more he digs into Hollow’s past, the more real-life correlations to its fantastical allegories surface. This premise has all the makings of a solid, atmospheric dark fantasy. Bailey’s silvery prose, plush with descriptive embellishments and perceptual insights, evinces an appropriate Victorian-ness. These attributes also slow the story down. The narrative’s progress stalls sputters for two thirds of the book, stretching out or repeating the same dramatic beats. Erin grieves and regresses and grieves and regresses. Apparitions of the Horned King and Lissa appear and disappear. Charles’ will-he-or-won’t-he attraction to Silva goes nowhere, except that her daughter Lorna reminds him of Lissa so he wants to spend more time around her. Things pick up when the novel finally opens its box of secrets for the final act, but Bailey lets Erin out of the fridge too late for us to care, then stuffs Silva into it in her place. Stories always work best when the plot, no matter how meticulously devised by the author, progresses from a believable set of choices made by the characters. In the Night Wood often feels as if the characters make choices pre-ordained by the needs of the plot. The opening epigraphs do more than just set the tone and lay out its themes, they direct its inclinations and formulate its path, striving to manufacture layers that only end up weighing it down.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Caidyn (SEMI-HIATUS; BW Reviews; he/him/his)

    This review can also be found on my blog! Thanks to Edelweiss for an ARC in exchange for an honest review! This will be published October 9th. 1/5 – DNF at 47% CW: child death Wow, I’m not having good luck with the spooky reads, am I? I swore I would like this. A man who loses a daughter, going to England to live in the house of a man he’s writing a biography of. His wife is some sort of distant relative and they go together, hoping to put away the past. But, as what happens, the past keeps coming ba This review can also be found on my blog! Thanks to Edelweiss for an ARC in exchange for an honest review! This will be published October 9th. 1/5 – DNF at 47% CW: child death Wow, I’m not having good luck with the spooky reads, am I? I swore I would like this. A man who loses a daughter, going to England to live in the house of a man he’s writing a biography of. His wife is some sort of distant relative and they go together, hoping to put away the past. But, as what happens, the past keeps coming back. Charles and Erin were rather bland characters. I understand that grieving characters don’t always have the most interesting things going on, but I feel like this book didn’t capitalize on the setting. Creepy forest? An author who wrote a creepy children’s book? There was just no pay-off or anything resembling bringing it in within half the book. There were odd things going on, but it felt like this story focuses on the aftermath of losing a child. That means it reminded me more of The Child in Time by Ian McEwan than a creepy fantasy book. There were no fantasy elements to it. There was just a creepy setting that wasn’t used. I love pieces about grief and losing a child. I rated McEwan’s book five stars because he did it so well. However, this book isn’t being marketed in a way that I agree with. It has a creepy setting and odd coincidences, but they’re never brought in and fleshed out by halfway through the book. It was all about Charles and Erin grieving the death of a child that is never quite explained. Another atmospheric, “spooky” book that just fell through by taking too much time getting to the point for me to be bothered to find out if it would pay-off.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Pop Bop

    Cernunnos Would Approve I very much enjoyed this, but I do think this is the kind of book you have to adjust to and make allowances for as you read it. Allow me to explain. We start out dark, creepy, and full of portent. As a youngster our hero, Charles, comes across a copy of Victorian Caedmon Hollow's strange and eldritch children's book "In the Night Wood". This disturbing book not only informs and dictates the flow of the rest of the story, it completely establishes and ordains the path of our Cernunnos Would Approve I very much enjoyed this, but I do think this is the kind of book you have to adjust to and make allowances for as you read it. Allow me to explain. We start out dark, creepy, and full of portent. As a youngster our hero, Charles, comes across a copy of Victorian Caedmon Hollow's strange and eldritch children's book "In the Night Wood". This disturbing book not only informs and dictates the flow of the rest of the story, it completely establishes and ordains the path of our hero's life. It is no accident that he later meets and marries Erin, the only surviving distant relative of Caedmon Hollow. So far, so good. This looks like it will be creepy fun, because something dark is afoot. Then, in quick order, we have an infidelity that shatters the marriage, coupled with the death of the couple's only child, (which shatters their minds), coupled with the fortuitous news that Erin has inherited the abandoned Hollows ancestral home in the dampest, creepiest, weirdest primeval forest in the gloomiest part of Yorkshire. Oh boy, you think, let the madness and creepiness begin. This feels like it could be an amped up version of "Turn of the Screw" meets "Don't Look Now". But, for a while the book goes over the top. Everything is Gothic. We drive through a Gothic village on a Gothic road and turn on to a narrower Gothier road and go through a Mega-Gothic wood in order to turn on to a Meta-Gothic driveway through a Super-Gothic forest. Charles even drives the car in a Gothic sort of way, (squealing tires, stiff braking, slipping on the leaves). It all becomes so much that you start to smile a little at how Gothy-Mac-Gothface it's getting. That said, don't give up. Sure, Erin becomes a drunken/drugged neurasthenic cipher. Sure, Charles is a depressive guilt-driven walking exposed nerve ending. Sure, dark references to how their child died become tedious after the twentieth vague hint. But, just as you decide the story has become all handwringing and atmosphere, it takes off. NO SPOILERS, but suddenly we have a neat mystery, the Celtic mythic background to the tale comes into focus, our hero grows a bit of backbone, the other characters start to play their roles, dark things begin to happen, there are visions and dreams and apparitions, we shift times and dimensions as we walk in the encircling Woods, and Caedmon Hollows' madness and the curse that has come down to Erin begin to poison everything. Yes! So, the writing is taut, economical and evocative and well serves the material except for some flabbiness about Charles' guilt trip. The settings and the atmosphere are top notch. The clever mystery and the play between reality and fantasy were unexpected bonuses. The narration sometimes gets a bit meta and too knowing, but that actually added a bit of welcome counterpoint to the tale. The same goes for the interesting passing references to other books and fantasy sources. This ended up to be a wildly entertaining treat. (Please note that I received a free advance ecopy of this book without a review requirement, or any influence regarding review content should I choose to post a review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bandit

    I’ve actually read Dale Bailey before. Ages ago. I vaguely recall an old paperback, liking it. But the main reason I wanted to read this book was the title/cover/description combination promising a dark fairy tale. I love fairy tales and dark is absolutely the best variety of them. And so this was one. A fairy tale for adults. About two adults who move to a great old manor in a pastoral England to try to get past the death of their young daughter only to discover the nearby woods just might be d I’ve actually read Dale Bailey before. Ages ago. I vaguely recall an old paperback, liking it. But the main reason I wanted to read this book was the title/cover/description combination promising a dark fairy tale. I love fairy tales and dark is absolutely the best variety of them. And so this was one. A fairy tale for adults. About two adults who move to a great old manor in a pastoral England to try to get past the death of their young daughter only to discover the nearby woods just might be darker and scarier than a mere collection of trees. It’s a near perfect Victorian gothic premise and although it takes place in the present, it may very well have been a timeless tale. There is a mysterious Horned King (a very traditional English wood being) awaiting, nay, expecting a sacrifice. There is a bibliomystery (I can never resist those). There is a family drama. Quite a lot in such a slim volume that definitely doesn’t read slim. And yet the star of the show here is the writing, Bailey’s hauntingly atmospheric narrative spellbinds the reader, spirits them away into a place on the very edge of madness where supernatural and natural comingle in such a way as to make mere mortals seem like playthings. The character writing is also terrific, the quietly dissolving marriage of Charles and Erin, with him trying to manage his guilt with a project of discovering the secrets of the family he’s married into (yes, there’s even a cypher) and her giving into the overpowering grief and sliding into something of a chemical coma with interludes of obsessive drawing…it’s a relationship a real as it is devastating. But really this is a story about a book, a book that once brought Charles and Erin together, a legendary children’s story that really isn’t for children, and the terrifying truth behind its inspiration. Of course, it can just be read as an allegory about grief and forgiveness, but it’s so much more fun to go the fairy tale way. Sad, lovely, eerie…this was a thing of beauty, particularly for anyone who’s into psychological mindtwisters. Might not sing for everyone with its meditative pace and Charles’ questionable moral character, but personally I enjoyed it tremendously. And it’s a good October read too. A literary dark fantasy with a distinctly scary undertones. Great read. Recommended. Thanks Netgalley.

  11. 5 out of 5

    La La

    4.5 stars on the blog. This author packed a lot of story into less than 250 pages! The writing is lush without being dense. If you loved The Hazel Wood, this is its adult sister. It is one of the best books I have read this year. I couldn't put it down. It took me firmly by the hand and said, "Come with me." I was approved for an eARC, via Netgalley, in return for an honest review.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Megan Lyons

    I had a really hard time getting through this, and kept reading other books because I was struggling so much with this one. It was very slow moving. I don't mind a slow build mystery, and I like a slow creeping sense of unease in my scary stories, but this just felt needlessly wordy, and overly introspective. It felt more like a book about people dealing with tragedy and loss, than a scary story. That doesn't need to be a bad thing if it's done well. However, the protagonist was so unlikable tha I had a really hard time getting through this, and kept reading other books because I was struggling so much with this one. It was very slow moving. I don't mind a slow build mystery, and I like a slow creeping sense of unease in my scary stories, but this just felt needlessly wordy, and overly introspective. It felt more like a book about people dealing with tragedy and loss, than a scary story. That doesn't need to be a bad thing if it's done well. However, the protagonist was so unlikable that I had trouble caring too much about him, and I got so tired of his endlessly circling thoughts. There were elements of the mystery that were at times engaging, but they were too little and far between. Overall, it felt like a painful slog. If someone wants a weird, slow moving, introspective scary story dealing with psychology and academia, they should read "House of Leaves" by Mark Z. Danielewski, which is a very odd, but very good read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Crystal King

    In the Night Wood tells the tale of a couple, grieving from the death of their young daughter, escaping to the wife's ancestral mansion in northern England. Both Charles and Erin see the image of their dead daughter wherever they look, and both see a mysterious horned figure looming in the woods beyond their home. This is a dark, spooky story that has some pacing issues. I wanted more excitement a little earlier in the story and for the tension to keep me going, but instead it felt more like a c In the Night Wood tells the tale of a couple, grieving from the death of their young daughter, escaping to the wife's ancestral mansion in northern England. Both Charles and Erin see the image of their dead daughter wherever they look, and both see a mysterious horned figure looming in the woods beyond their home. This is a dark, spooky story that has some pacing issues. I wanted more excitement a little earlier in the story and for the tension to keep me going, but instead it felt more like a child's roller coaster than a thrill ride. That said, it's a beautiful tale, and the novel will appeal to anyone who has a deep love for Gothic fiction. Thanks Net Galley and Houghton Mifflin for the early read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Joe Jones

    I enjoyed the slow burn gothic feel to this story but there was a part that I really did not like. I am torn how much it should effect the overall rating. This is one of those times I wish we could do half stars. I don't like to round up for ratings so will stick with my 3 stars.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Wendy Wagner

    Prologues are rarely a reward, but in this little volume, the prologue is glorious and stunningly magical. That magic carries through into the book's setting--a charming little English village and an elaborate mansion straight out of a Gothic novel, spooky forested grounds and all. Every scene set out on the woods is unsettling but beautiful. The beginning and the very end of this book are absolutely fabulous. But I didn't feel like the characters, who grow a bit tedious, quite lived up to the wo Prologues are rarely a reward, but in this little volume, the prologue is glorious and stunningly magical. That magic carries through into the book's setting--a charming little English village and an elaborate mansion straight out of a Gothic novel, spooky forested grounds and all. Every scene set out on the woods is unsettling but beautiful. The beginning and the very end of this book are absolutely fabulous. But I didn't feel like the characters, who grow a bit tedious, quite lived up to the wonderful setting and all the magic surrounding them.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Diana

    Arc provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! A grieving couple move from America to a remote estate in England to escape the lingering reminders of a recent tragedy and to study the life of a long dead reclusive writer who published one very strange fairy tale inspired novel. To no one's surprise, creepy things then begin to happen. In the Night Wood is a fairy tale inspired dark mystery that foists upon the reader a foreboding feeling of unease as the author dangles uns Arc provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! A grieving couple move from America to a remote estate in England to escape the lingering reminders of a recent tragedy and to study the life of a long dead reclusive writer who published one very strange fairy tale inspired novel. To no one's surprise, creepy things then begin to happen. In the Night Wood is a fairy tale inspired dark mystery that foists upon the reader a foreboding feeling of unease as the author dangles unsettling clues along the way to a not entirely surprising, but satisfying, conclusion. This book is a quick and intriguing read and would be great for fans of atmospheric horror, fairy tale retellings, and mysteries. Older fans of The Hazel Wood who want a good read-alike will find much to enjoy here. However, a few things prevented me from giving this novel a higher rating. First, the book is a bit slow on action and for the majority of the work is more of a character driven story. Yet, the two main characters, Charles and Erin, are not particularly likable, reducing any tension surrounding their eventual fates. Additionally, some of the suspenseful scenes started to feel a bit repetitive as they mostly had similar imagery and a lack of real danger for our protagonists. Finally, after the climax, the book just ends - there is no denouement, which I think could have improved the work. As the focus of the book is our main characters, learning their fates would have provided a better sense of closure to the story.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Alysa H.

    One of the most creepily atmospheric books I've read in some time, Dale Bailey's übergothic In the Night Wood did not disappoint. The lead character, Charles Hayden, is not an especially likeable person. I'm not sure whether this was intentional, but it's ultimately irrelevant in that one can nonetheless feel for him in his grief over his dead child. Charles' wife, Erin Hayden, is ostensibly an equal lead character and also has POV sections, but she lacks Charles' complexity, instead functioning One of the most creepily atmospheric books I've read in some time, Dale Bailey's übergothic In the Night Wood did not disappoint. The lead character, Charles Hayden, is not an especially likeable person. I'm not sure whether this was intentional, but it's ultimately irrelevant in that one can nonetheless feel for him in his grief over his dead child. Charles' wife, Erin Hayden, is ostensibly an equal lead character and also has POV sections, but she lacks Charles' complexity, instead functioning as, basically, grief personified. She is little but a big ball of grief, and a sort of cipher for Charles to play off of. There's a fascinating "literary mystery" in this book, wound up in the Haydens' personal tragedy and family history. I love the idea of the book within this book, and how the snippets of the former are is written as if it could have been an actual Victorian children's story. I love how it wriggles into Charles' mind, and apparently the minds of the local townspeople, in such a sinister way. I love how even though the narrative leans towards the legitimately supernatural, it's still more or less left to the reader to decide (like all the best Gothic novels!) whether to go with this interpretation, or whether to believe that the weird stuff is some kind of mass delusion, exacerbated by the legitimate insanity of grief. ** I received a Review Copy of this book via NetGalley **

  18. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    A Grimm inspired gothic horror tale, In The Night Wood brings out the best in subtlety and slow boil horror. The author unspools the creepy tale along side an intricate dissection of the protagonist’s emotional/psychological state after the death of his daughter. Perfectly paced and lyrical, this is a perfect stew of the fantastic, horrific and psychological.

  19. 5 out of 5

    June

    If you are a fan of victorian gothics, definitely give this one a try. I would have liked this more if the protagonist hadn't been a completely unlikable, awful, selfish husband and individual. That being said, it gets points for gothic atmosphere and well done 'is it real or is it hallucination' scenes.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa (Books Take You Places)

    2.5 stars for this one but I'm going to go up because I may be rating it lower due to the book not being what I wanted it to be. In the Night Wood was bleak. It was not a vibrant or uplifting book in any way and where that may have been okay had it fallen on the horror spectrum, I expected more. I suppose that is my review in a few words: I expected more.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    A wonderful read that falls somewhere on the dark fantasy/horror spectrum. Bailey conjures up an oppressive atmosphere with both the environment of the story and the weight of memory placed upon his characters shoulders. Highly recommended.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Marzie

    3.5 Stars In the Night Wood is a short novel that is nevertheless not an easy read. A dark fantasy, it features an antihero who is an adulterous, failed parent and struggling scholar, and whose wife is a descendent of Caedmon Hollow, English author of the titular story, "In the Night Wood." At a fortuitous moment, American Charles Hayden and his grief-stricken wife Erin find themselves the beneficiaries of her recently deceased Hollow ancestor, who bestowed Hollow House, its lands and its fortune 3.5 Stars In the Night Wood is a short novel that is nevertheless not an easy read. A dark fantasy, it features an antihero who is an adulterous, failed parent and struggling scholar, and whose wife is a descendent of Caedmon Hollow, English author of the titular story, "In the Night Wood." At a fortuitous moment, American Charles Hayden and his grief-stricken wife Erin find themselves the beneficiaries of her recently deceased Hollow ancestor, who bestowed Hollow House, its lands and its fortune upon Erin, his last living descendant upon his death. Seeking to escape the death of his child and near wreck of his marriage, Charles, who first read Hollow's "Into the Night Wood" as a child of eight or nine years of age, moves to England with Erin, to research the life and work of Caedmon Hollow while living in Hollow House, situated near a village called Yarrow. Hayden is haunted by the death of his young daughter, for which he blames himself, and for his ruinous affair with a colleague, the sultrily named Syrah. Erin meanwhile loses herself in a haze of prescription drugs and seeming hallucinations, seeing their dead daughter Lissa in every girl of similar age that she encounters. She spends her hours drawing her daughter again and again, until a new obsession overtakes her art (spoilers). Over the course of a few days, Charles meets the police inspector, along with a handful of other Yarrow locals like the pub owner, the hardware store owner, and most importantly, the Hollow estate's steward, Cillian Harris. Charles pursues his research, encountering Silva, who manages the Yarrow village's historical society and whose daughter, Lorna, is a ringer for Lissa. Meanwhile, just before the Haydens move to Hollow House, a little girl named Mary, who also looks like Lissa and Lorna, has gone missing. Together, Charles and Silva find evidence of dark doings in Caedmon Hollow's past and the strange links between the Hollow family and the stewards of the estate. Along the way, Charles receives many warnings about Eorl Wood, the forest that encloses Hollow House. As Erin descends further into her depression over her daughter's death and fractured marriage, Charles sinks deeper into his own guilt and despair, eventually walking into the forest and finding greater darkness. The past is never dead. It isn't even past. ~ William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun The dark heart of this story lies in "In the Night Wood," in which the long-dead character of Caedmon Hollow wrote a story that seems (we get excerpts of the story but never the whole story) to be a merging of the faery ride of Tam Lin and the legend of Herne the Hunter of Windsor Forest. A child named Laura becomes lost in the wood and tries to escape the an evil Horned Man. We're told the story is not a children's story since it's implied that Laura does not escape the Horned Man. Her fate isn't clearly spelled out until Charles and Silva begin to unravel the fate of a long ago murdered child, Livia. There are plenty of literary allusions in the story, to the fae and Goblin Market, Tam Lin and other tales of folklore, along with occasional pithy quotes like Faulkner's famous quote about the past. The story of Herne or Horne first appears in written folklore of the British Isles in a reference in Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor. The folklore figure reemerges in the 1792 in the writing of Samuel Ireland and then again in the 1840's. Herne or Horne has sometimes been linked to Cernunnos, a Gaulish folklore deity but most of the stories of Herne, the horned man, are centered in the Berkshire region of England. The Berkshire Herne is most commonly held to merely be a poacher. In Caedmon Hollow's story, however, the Horned Man is a figure who periodically requires a tithe or tiend to remain youthful and strong, hence the allusion to Tam Lin and the faery ride. Like a Green Man of folklore, he is leaf-covered but he is not peaceful entity. This is a dark and compelling fantasy but I felt it could have been developed further into a stronger novel. I wanted to understand Erin and the marriage better, and get a stronger sense of the cultural displacement that the Haydens would have faced transitioning from life in Ransom, North Carolina to that of a small English village like Yarrow. (Readers who go looking for a real English village of the name will only find a Yarrow in the Scottish Borderlands region.) We see how word travels quickly in the small community about the Hayden's dead daughter but we don't see any real struggles on their part with adapting to their new home. There is never a question on Charles' part about whether they have traded one nosy or judgmental community for another, for instance. While Bailey developed the dreamlike feel of the Eorl Woods and Hollow House beautifully, I just didn't buy the idea of Charles adapting so rapidly to his new environs and society. I also wanted to know more about Cillian, Mrs. Ramsden, Silva and even Ann Merrow, an attorney who seems to have questioned little up to the point the novel gets going. This is an interesting read but not one for those looking for a happy fantasy tale. I received a Digital Review Copy of this book from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via Edelweiss, along with a paper review copy, in exchange for an honest review.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    3.5 stars, rounded up for exceptional atmosphere. In the Night Wood is a gorgeously creepy, atmospheric tale that blends a number of high gothic tropes into a modern ghost story. The plot is average to perhaps a tick above average for the genre, competently done with no major flaws but also with nothing that makes it a standout. Atmospherically, however, it's a triumph. The delightful slow creep of the not-quite-rightness of the townspeople and the house mixed with the overt menace of the woods 3.5 stars, rounded up for exceptional atmosphere. In the Night Wood is a gorgeously creepy, atmospheric tale that blends a number of high gothic tropes into a modern ghost story. The plot is average to perhaps a tick above average for the genre, competently done with no major flaws but also with nothing that makes it a standout. Atmospherically, however, it's a triumph. The delightful slow creep of the not-quite-rightness of the townspeople and the house mixed with the overt menace of the woods makes for a perfect backdrop to the principal story. Charles and Erin made for genre-appropriate (if not particularly likable) protagonists. Though this frustrated me at times, it almost had to be this way. Could we, as readers, really stomach what they endured and how they reacted to it if they had been too lovable? Further, would the plot be able to proceed as it did without the tremendous sense of guilt that radiates from both of them? While the denouement failed to grip the way the very best gothic offerings do when they reach their crux, I appreciated the way the author provided a concrete ending while leaving the source of the menace in the woods slightly nebulous. A good effort in all, and a particular joy if you like to "feel" your gothic novels like I do. *I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ctgt

    But there was too much between them now. Too much history, too much blame and grief, too many inarticulate resentments for such intimacy. Some wonderful writing in this tale of a couple struggling with a horrific life event. A seemingly good turn of fortune sets them up in an estate in England which on the surface may be the change of scenery they needed. Unfortunately the mystery surrounding the lineage behind the estate, the tales of the surrounding woods and the disappearances from the local But there was too much between them now. Too much history, too much blame and grief, too many inarticulate resentments for such intimacy. Some wonderful writing in this tale of a couple struggling with a horrific life event. A seemingly good turn of fortune sets them up in an estate in England which on the surface may be the change of scenery they needed. Unfortunately the mystery surrounding the lineage behind the estate, the tales of the surrounding woods and the disappearances from the local village lead the couple on a strange journey as the secrets are slowly revealed. The book draws on Celtic folklore and is definitely a slow burn but if you enjoy a story with a build up of dread and unease you might want to give this a shot. Outside, the air had cooled. The village slept. A breeze moved through the high street to touch his face as he stood on the stoop, and the stars blazed out in the cloudless heavens, like a thousand pinholes punched through the black curtain of the night and behind it something radiant and true. 9/10

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Perchikoff

    This was not a bad book. It's actually very well-written which is why I found it so unbelievably depressing to read. So much bad happens and then more bad happens or you learn about bad stuff that happened in the past. I would like to give a huge trigger warning for anyone who has an issue reading about the death of a child. If I had a kid, I would not be able to read this. It was hard enough as it is. But let's get to the review! Synopsis (from Goodreads): American Charles Hayden came to England This was not a bad book. It's actually very well-written which is why I found it so unbelievably depressing to read. So much bad happens and then more bad happens or you learn about bad stuff that happened in the past. I would like to give a huge trigger warning for anyone who has an issue reading about the death of a child. If I had a kid, I would not be able to read this. It was hard enough as it is. But let's get to the review! Synopsis (from Goodreads): American Charles Hayden came to England to forget the past. Failed father, failed husband, and failed scholar, Charles hopes to put his life back together with a biography of Caedmon Hollow, the long-dead author of a legendary Victorian children's book, In the Night Wood. But soon after settling into Hollow's remote Yorkshire home, Charles learns that the past isn't dead. In the neighboring village, Charles meets a woman he might have loved, a child who could have been his own lost daughter, and the ghost of a self he thought he'd put behind him. And in the primeval forest surrounding Caedmon Hollow's ancestral home, an ancient power is stirring. The horned figure of a long-forgotten king haunts Charles Hayden's dreams. And every morning the fringe of darkling trees presses closer. Soon enough, Charles will venture into the night wood. Soon enough he'll learn that the darkness under the trees is but a shadow of the darkness that waits inside us all. Charles and Erin Hayden are moving to England after they find out one of Erin's relatives has left his estate to her. But it's not just any relative and not just any estate. The relative is the famous author of the bizarre tale, In the Night Wood, Caedmon Hollow, and the estate is the place he wrote that famous book. The estate also happens to be surrounded by a thick, lush, and creepy af forest.  The Haydens need a new start. Charles has fucked up in a multitude of ways. I don't want to give spoilers but I also don't really want anyone going into this book blind. To be surprised by where a story goes is one thing, to be shocked by some horrible shit is another thing altogether. Let's just say that the Haydens used to have a daughter and now they don't anymore and their marriage has suffered greatly because of it. Charles's infidelity hasn't helped either. Yeah, their lives have been a bit of a shitshow.  As you can probably guess, moving to England does not help them much at all. Erin is more depressed than ever, always thinking about her daughter, taking pills to no end, rarely leaving the estate unless she's looking at the forest. Charles is looking into the book that has been a part of his life for as long as he can remember and also looking into the man who wrote it. He sees his daughter everywhere he goes. In the newspaper, when he sees a little girl has gone missing, and in the daughter of a local woman he meets at the historical society. And then there is the forest. There are things in the forest. Things that may or may not be killing the girls in the village, including the one Charles saw in the newspaper, and these things have possibly been doing it for centuries.  All of this culminates in a final scene in the forest with Charles, Erin, Silva, the woman Charles met at the historical society, and her daughter, Lorna. The story ends perhaps the happiest it can considering the circumstances. While I did enjoy the darkness of the story, it was very difficult to read at times. I think if there was one less bad event, it would have been a little more bearable to read. Everything on top of each other felt almost excruciating. The chapter we find out exactly what happened to their daughter, Lissa, was...it was hard to breathe while I read it. I don't want you to think this isn't a well-written story because it is, but you have to like tragedy and not be affected too much by it. I soak up emotions like a sponge, so this was quite difficult to read. I am giving In the Night Wood 4 out of 5 stars. I probably would have given it the last star if what happened to their daughter had stayed a secret. I don't think it would have hurt the story if it remained unknown. The character's emotions are shown enough to know something awful has happened. In the Night Wood by Dale Bailey comes out October 9, 2018. Thank you to Edelweiss and John Joseph Adams/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the free ARC in exchange for my honest review.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nia Ireland

    This book is an interweaving of Charles' story and that of a Victorian fairy tale (one that only exists within this book as far as I know) - it draws parallels between the events of Charles' life and superstition, leaving you as the reader to decide what's real and what isn't. It's a very atmospheric book, featuring a grieving couple that have moved from North Carolina to a rural village in the UK. It has some wonderful cliches on the move, which are classics for a reason! The gothic fairytale st This book is an interweaving of Charles' story and that of a Victorian fairy tale (one that only exists within this book as far as I know) - it draws parallels between the events of Charles' life and superstition, leaving you as the reader to decide what's real and what isn't. It's a very atmospheric book, featuring a grieving couple that have moved from North Carolina to a rural village in the UK. It has some wonderful cliches on the move, which are classics for a reason! The gothic fairytale style is prevalent throughout the book, which binds the past, present and fictional together - it's a beautiful writing style but wasn't really enough to keep me interested. The overall feel of this book is very sad, it's mostly about the grief of two parents and the author quite aggressively holds back on the backstory which is then fed in chunks every so often. I prefer either a more subtle approach to plot reveals or starting off with all the information to hand and then see where the narrative takes me. If you're a more forgiving person and reader than I am, with a love of gothic fairy tales and classic celtic mythology, give this book a shot! *Thank you NetGalley for a free copy of this book*

  27. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    This book is much more than the dark fairy tale the cover presents (although the cover is BEAUTIFUL). Grief, guilt, remorse, and the boundaries of forgiveness are interwoven with a fascinating mystery in this captivating tale of a writer and his wife who flee to a family manor in England after the death of their daughter. Fairy tales are historically metaphors for real life struggles, which is certainly true here. I was drawn into the strange mystery they uncover there, but I kept reading for th This book is much more than the dark fairy tale the cover presents (although the cover is BEAUTIFUL). Grief, guilt, remorse, and the boundaries of forgiveness are interwoven with a fascinating mystery in this captivating tale of a writer and his wife who flee to a family manor in England after the death of their daughter. Fairy tales are historically metaphors for real life struggles, which is certainly true here. I was drawn into the strange mystery they uncover there, but I kept reading for the character study of this troubled couple. This is a weird subgenre of books I really love- fairy tale-ish books where troubled characters that are swept up into magical realms to learn real life lessons. "In The Night Wood" was more down-to-earth than many of these types of books, so someone looking for a straight fairy tale world book might be disappointing. But I think that it'd be a great semi-Halloween read for someone who likes more literary fiction/mystery kinds of books, without the violence or overt scares.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Billie

    A dark, unsettling, Victorian-inspired tale, reminiscent of the works of the late Graham Joyce in the way in which it blends family/relationship dynamics with supernatural elements.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    I have received a free copy of this book through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Failed father, failed husband, and failed scholar, Charles hopes to put his life back together with a biography of Caedmon Hollow, the long-dead author of a legendary Victorian children’s book, In the Night Wood. But soon after settling into Hollow’s remote Yorkshire home, Charles learns that the past isn’t dead. As you can imagine dark and creepy things occur. In the primeval fo I have received a free copy of this book through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Failed father, failed husband, and failed scholar, Charles hopes to put his life back together with a biography of Caedmon Hollow, the long-dead author of a legendary Victorian children’s book, In the Night Wood. But soon after settling into Hollow’s remote Yorkshire home, Charles learns that the past isn’t dead. As you can imagine dark and creepy things occur. In the primeval forest surrounding Caedmon Hollow’s ancestral home, an ancient power is stirring. The horned figure of a long-forgotten king haunts Charles Hayden’s dreams. And every morning the fringe of darkling trees presses closer. In the Night Wood is a fairy tale inspired dark mystery that imposes upon the reader a ominous feeling of unease as the author dangles unsettling clues along the way. I would recommend this book to those who liked The Hazel Wood, but In the Night Wood was more darker and creepy. 3.5 stars

  30. 4 out of 5

    i v a n a

    What a fascinating novel - an excellent blend of traditional literature and fantasy in an entangled plot, reminiscent of Del toro’s gothicism and the forbidden forest of Harry Potter. I really loved the way the plot played out and the effort put in to the detail, but I felt like the book missed out a little due to the sort of shakiness. Awfully explained by me, but I felt like in some areas it wavered because it was not clear how it reached that point or why something happened. None the less an What a fascinating novel - an excellent blend of traditional literature and fantasy in an entangled plot, reminiscent of Del toro’s gothicism and the forbidden forest of Harry Potter. I really loved the way the plot played out and the effort put in to the detail, but I felt like the book missed out a little due to the sort of shakiness. Awfully explained by me, but I felt like in some areas it wavered because it was not clear how it reached that point or why something happened. None the less an excellent story and one that surely will please many fantasy fans!

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