Arts + Culture » Literary

The Fifty Year Sword

By Mark Z. Danielewski (Pantheon)

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For something so strange, House of Leaves made a big impact when it was published over 10 years ago, drawing in readers with its weird fonts, stranger formatting and narrative quirks like footnotes that went nowhere1. Mark Z. Danielewski’s latest book, The Fifty Year Sword<./i>, shows that he’s still capable of crafting a unique puzzle-box of a book. The Fifty Year Sword is more of a long short story than a sprawling novel like House of Leaves:<./i> the surface plot is simply five orphans listening to a stranger’s scary story. Aside from being more concise The Fifty Year Sword is also a lot less tricky than its predecessor. If you wanted you could ignore the artifice and just read it as a straightforward gothic horror tale. But if you’re willing to work out the clues and hints woven throughout the story, there’s another narrative underneath to discover.

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