The new novel from Laird Hunt, “In the House in the Dark of the Woods,” has the feel of a hymnal. It is palm sized and red, and it contains a story nestled in the Puritan Colonial era.
Hunt, 50, won an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in 2013 for “Kind One,” a haunting Civil War novel inspired by a short passage in Edward P. Jones’ masterpiece “The Known World.” Hunt is drawn to fable and journeys and psychological complexity. The new novel wastes no time entering the woods.
The first two sentences, in the voice of the narrator, are “I told my man I was off to pick berries and that he should watch our son for I would be gone some good while. So away I went with a basket.”
The woman goes missing, and Hunt excavates the ancient fears of women who abandon their families and women who are kidnapped and women who wander away without explanation. The epigram for the new work comes from Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”:
Deep into that darkness peering,
Long I stood there
This eighth novel from Hunt, now a professor at Brown University, continues his assured, lyrical and disruptive storytelling. Readers who enter his fiction already know that these woods will be strange and harrowing indeed.
Laird Hunt will speak at the Orange branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library on Thursday, October 18. Registration is recommended.