Eric Heisserer, The Dionaea House: Correspondence from Mark Condry. 2004. Available: online

Reviewed by Djibril

The Dionaea House is basically a short story told through a one-sided series of emails from Mark, the (now missing) protagonist to his worried friend, Eric, the narrator. From this perspective it is a very old-fashioned format; compare the Victorian fashion for novels in the form of diaries or correspondence. On the other hand, this is a website, that most modern of media, and so the progression from one email to the next is via a series of hyperlinks. The site also contains complementary materials, representing information gathered by the author after the email exchange ended; this layout gives a certain flexibility to the order in which the story may be consumed, the additional materials being available before, during, or after the emails have been read. Some of these materials are external to the site: they include a LiveJournal site from a young girl, for example. The site also claims to be interactive to a degree, inasmuch as the author welcomes emails from any readers who may know more about Mark's whereabouts or the nature of the House, but this is an illusion: as far as I can tell, the site is static.

All of this gives the story a degree of verisimilitude; nowhere on the site is it explicitly revealed that this is a work of fiction, nor does Heisserer claim authorship (except in the form of a copyright statement at the bottom of the page). The site could be classed as a hoax, and a very good one: this reviewer detected no glaring inconsistencies or obvious flaws. (Except that Heisserer is a well-known scriptwriter, of course, and that the movie rights to Dionaea have now been sold to Warner Brothers.)

The story tells of Mark's attempts to learn the history of their old buddy Drew, who recently committed a double murder and then shot himself. He remembers how when they were younger, and Drew briefly used to hang out with their gang, the quiet, scruffy lad became strangely disturbed after staying at a cold, unsettling house owned by his father. Becoming obsessed, Mark goes on a hunt for the mysterious house, whose address he does not know, and learns more about Mark's story than he anticipated. We know from the beginning of the site that Mark disappeared, and that the house must be involved in the story somehow, but this review is not the place to give away more than that. Suffice to say that The Dionaea House makes an entertaining read and is an impressive piece of construction, with all the peripheral trimmings desribed above.

Go read the story, enjoy, and maybe drop Eric a line to thank him for the clever site.

View Dionaea House online at

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