In the Night Wood by Dale Bailey – Book Review

Title: In the Night Wood

Author: Dale Bailey

Genre/Themes: Contemporary Gothic, Fable, Victorian Fairytale, Fantasy, Grief, Death of a Child, Books about Books

Blurb from Goodreads

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 neighbouring 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.

My Review

This was such a wonderful surprise of a book!

It tells the story of American Charles Hayden and his lifelong connection to a mid-19th century book, also named ‘In the Night Wood‘ written by a mysterious man named Caedmon Hollow.

When his wife Erin, a descendant of Caedmon Hollow, inherits Hollow’s home Charles and Erin decide to move to England to start a new chapter of their life and try to come to terms with the recent death of their little girl.

But a new chapter isn’t that easy to start as it quickly becomes apparent that Hollow House is filled with secrets and an other worldly presence seems to haunt the forest surrounding the homestead.

“What if time was a snake that bit its own tail, he said, or a wheel grinding inexorably around the axis of fate? What if what was had been and will be yet again? What if you lived inside a story and the story had already been written?”

I can’t even begin to describe how magnificently this book is written.

First off I’m utterly in love with the author’s manner of writing. His style of prose perfectly married Victorian fairytale with modern writing and created a feeling of nostalgia but still somehow contemporary in a manner that left me thoroughly enchanted.

This was the ultimate in adult fairytale. It had all those eerie aspects that I loved from the Grimm Brothers’ storytelling but obviously told with an adult audience in mind.

The book is incredibly atmospheric, fantastically chilling and has a plot that kept me turning the pages late into the night. I was never so gripped by a storyline as this. This is truly a gothic masterpiece.

I could describe it as everything I loved about Diane Setterfield’s ‘The Thirteenth Tale‘ with its brilliance at painting a dark atmosphere and is everything that I wished ‘The Hazel Wood‘ by Melissa Albert would have been.

This book perfectly blurs the line between fairytale and reality. Comparisons could also be drawn to Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s ‘The Shadow of the Wind‘ for how this also features a story about a book and author within a book.

Definitely a book that will speak to the hearts of book lovers everywhere. It really is one of those stories, that though incredibly dark in tone and imagery, will make you feel like a little kid again discovering the other worldly joys contained within its pages.

A must read

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17 thoughts on “In the Night Wood by Dale Bailey – Book Review

  1. As soon as I saw the cover at the beginning of this post, I just kept hoping that you were going to give it 4/5 stars 🌟 because DAMNNN I AM IN LOVEEE!! ITS SOOOO GORGEOUSS! I LOVE MIDNIGHT BLUE AND THAT IS JUST TOO BEAUTIFUL!! 😍😍😍😍😍😍

    OH MY GOD THAT QUOTEE!! 😱😍😍😍 SOO FUCKING BEAUTIFUL! I get what you mean by magnificent writing because WOWWWW!! 😍😍😍🥰🥰 I AM ALREADY IN LOVEEE!! 😍😍

    And you know me, anything vaguely gothic and I AM SOLDDDD!!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is such an amazing book Rain!!! It’s just the right blend of creep that keeps you on edge but not so much that you feel too scared or overwhelmed… and omg it is written so brilliantly too!!!!!!!!!!! I really think this book is so underhyped, I hope more people read it because it really is one of my fav books this year!!!!!!!!!!! <3333

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!!!! I AM DEFINITELY GOING TO MAKE IT A PRIORITY TO READ IT NOW! 😍❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ (but then, I say that about every single book you recommend! REALLY HONEY, YOU ARE SPOILING MEEEEEE!!!!)

        Liked by 1 person

  2. 1.) That cover is amazing! 2.) I feel like this is right up my alley 3.) Do I need more books on my tbr? No but oh well 4.) Great review, Emer!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t think I handle gothic tales well because they’re always ghost-y and I’m not a ghost-y fan. But the comparison to Shadow of the Wind definitely has me intrigued because of the obvious. That cover is stunning too! Great review, Emer 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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