Set in Southern Appalachia sometime in the recent past, Housebound participates in the tradition of short Gothic novels like Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle and Henry James’s Turn of the Screw. In the novel, nineteen-year-old Maggie prepares to leave the home in which she’s lived, worked, and been educated along with her eight siblings—a life led seemingly without contact with the outside world, save in the form of weekly trips to the library for the stories that provide her only escape. Her declaration to leave home, however, threatens the delicate balance within the house, forcing her out into the surrounding landscape. At once both remarkably foreign and intimately familiar, the map Maggie travels leads her deep into the heart of her family’s secrets and the mystery of her own life.
“Housebound entraps the reader, just as its characters are entrapped in their eerie, claustrophobic house and town. As in any good fairy tale, the characters are outsized and symbolic, unique and familiar. Gentry shows how deep loneliness can exist in large families, and how being physically close doesn’t necessarily deepen love. A rare, thought-provoking family novel, using Modernism’s gift to language to great effect.”
“Like an interesting, malevolent, and musical spell, Elizabeth Gentry’s Housebound makes the reader sink into stillness, listening. This book-length croon captures weird-but-true colloquial phrasings and so much more; its haunted characters, rural Appalachian setting, and syntax are delicious.”
“Every important novel explores the tension between our inner lives and the outside world, but Elizabeth Gentry’s Housebound does so in a way so profound and unsettling that the reader sometimes feels trapped between the two. Housebound traffics in the liminal, in the recesses of consciousness, in mystery and in manners, yet it appeals to the heart as well as the head. The obligatory comparisons to other novels do not apply here, because this novel won’t remind you of anything. Nothing like this dark fairy tale of discovery and desire has yet been written.”
“Here, secrets crisscross through walls as through hours, and words travel in creepy, kind whispers . . . Grown children run through the woods and enter strange houses. They live over here and over there—all over the terrible and beautiful map.”