Review: Into the Forest (The Familiar #2) by Mark Z. Danielewski

familiar 2The Familiar, Volume 1 Wherein the cat is found . . .
The Familiar, Volume 2 Wherein the cat is hungry . . .

From the universally acclaimed, genre-busting author of House of Leaves comes the second volume of The Familiar, a “novel [which] goes beyond the experimental into the visionary, creating a language and style that expands the horizon of meaning . . . hint[ing] at an evolved form of literature.”

In The Familiar, Volume 2: Into the Forest, the lives of the disparate and dynamic nine characters introduced in “One Rainy Day in May” begin to intersect in inexplicable ways, finding harmonies and echoes in each other. What once seemed remote and disconnected draws closer—slowly, steadily—toward something inevitable. . . . At the center of it all is Xanther, a twelve-year-old girl, for whom the world around her seems to be opening, exposing doors and windows, visions and sounds, questions and ideas previously unknown. With each passing day, she begins to glimpse something she does not understand but unequivocally craves—the only thing that will bring her relief and keep her new friend alive.

The Familiar is back and is stranger than ever. I stick with my initial reaction that this is by far the most unusual series I have ever read (in a good way). Magical cats and orbs are blended together with the everyday lives of gangsters and cops in first person, stream of consciousness narration. Everything about this series continues to be unconventional.

Danielewski has a knack for really getting into the minds of his characters and making them feel solid and real. Each character has their own unique thought processes, lingo and motives. As a result, this is a very complex novel. I definitely did not get every reference, or understand every term used, especially the ones pertaining to the drugs and computer programming. Confusion is normal as you are never fully sure that you are grasping all that is going on, yet you always know enough to follow the plot. Also, it is definitely easier to slip into the character’s lives the second time around.

Volume 2 also descends further into the realm of the paranormal and is ever so slightly more off kilter than the first book. However, things are certainly slowly coming together as I’m beginning to see how the narratives are linked. I’m guessing that each book will draw the narratives closer together, until some closure is (hopefully) found at the end.

Not quite sure who to recommend this too, but if it sounds like your thing go for it!


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