A House Through the Ages

In North Woods, author Daniel Mason crafts a spellbinding historical novel that explores the intricate connections between humans, their environment, and the passage of time. A Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Best Historical Fiction (2023), it stands out for its unique structure and rich storytelling.

Twelve interlinked stories, each corresponding to a season and month of the year, make up the book. Set around a house in the woods of New England, these tales span centuries, beginning with a young couple escaping their repressive village in colonial Massachusetts. Their humble cabin becomes the backdrop for an extraordinary succession of inhabitants from precolonial days to the present day.

Among these inhabitants are an English soldier turned apple cultivator, his twin daughters who survive war and famine, a crime reporter who uncovers a mass grave, a lovelorn painter, and a psychiatrist visiting a resident with possible schizophrenia. Each story ends in tragedy.

Mason’s storytelling shines in its ability to weave together disparate narratives and genres—from indigenous tales and folk ballads to true crime and speculative fiction. The connections across time are subtle, yet reveal how deeply intertwined our lives are with the places we inhabit.

However, the writing rhythm requires some getting used to, and a few storylines might not appeal to all readers, especially those involving homosexuality, the paranormal, and horror elements.

The author’s literary ambition and the depth of his research, particularly in the detailed descriptions of nature, are remarkable It’s a multifaceted—sometimes peculiar—story about a house, its human and ghostly residents, and the surrounding nature, posing timeless questions about how we live on after we’re gone. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4.

** Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a comp of this title. The opinions are my own.

Posted in Blog, Book Reviews, Literature, Reading and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .