Saint Joseph’s :: Album :: Books

Crime, Thrillers & Mystery Recommendations

Image of House of Leaves front cover

House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski

This is a very strange book. It is difficult to describe because it is written in different layers. There are stories within stories. At the core is a narrative about a photojournalist, Navidson, his wife and children who move into a very peculiar house. This house seems to exist in more than three dimensions. It is larger on the inside than the outside and has long corridors that seem to stretch into infinity. Part of the book is a description of a film made by Navidson of an “expedition” into the house. The next layer is a critique of this film by an elderly blind man, Zampano, now deceased. The third layer is the story of a young man, Johnny Truant, who finds and reads the film critique and whose life is affected by what he reads (even though he knows that the film does not exist and the critique is entirely fictitious).

The book itself is written in different typefaces to represent the different narrative layers. The script and page layout reflects the changes in structure of the house. The words may be written normally, upside-down, sideways, back-to-front etc. The word “house” is always written in blue ink. Johnny’s story is written entirely in footnotes.

House of leaves is a compelling read, although ultimately unsatisfying, as it seems to just fade away rather come to an end.

Helen Holmes

Image of The Sparrow front cover

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

This is a rare gem of a book. It is an intelligent science fiction novel about humanity’s first contact with an alien race. In addition it is a book which will make you re-examine your faith. The main character is a Catholic Priest, Fr Emilio Sandoz, who travels with friends and colleagues on a Vatican funded mission to a planet called Rakhat, orbiting Alpha Centuri. As he explores the new planet, he explores his own relationship with God and with his fellow travellers. When disaster strikes the mission he is left with intolerable questions about the nature of God’s will.

Helen Holmes

Image of Children of God front cover

The Children of God by Mary Doria Russell

The Children of God is the sequel to science fiction novel The Sparrow. Once you have read The Sparrow it is inevitable that you will follow on with this book. The two books form one continuous narrative. The Children of God tell the story of a follow up mission to the planet Rakhat. Contact with humanity has changed Rakhat society forever and has brought war to a peaceful planet. Emilio is reacquainted with friends that he thought were lost forever and is finally presented with some possible answers.

The Children of God lacks some of the urgency of the first volume and is a less polished novel. It does, however, bring the story to a more satisfying conclusion.

Helen Holmes

 <<< Saint Joseph’s Parish, Cardiff <<<