Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Book Review | NORTH WOODS by Daniel Mason

North Woods
by Daniel Mason
Publication: September 19, 2023
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: ★★★★

A sweeping novel about a single house in the woods of New England, told through the lives of those who inhabit it across the centuries—a daring, moving tale of memory and fate from the Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of The Piano Tuner and The Winter Soldier.

When a pair of young lovers abscond from a Puritan colony, little do they know that their humble cabin in the woods will become home to an extraordinary succession of inhabitants . An English soldier, destined for glory, abandons the battlefields of the New World to devote himself to apples. A pair of spinster twins survive war and famine, only to succumb to envy and desire. A crime reporter unearths a mass grave, but finds the ancient trees refuse to give up their secrets. A lovelorn painter, a conman, a stalking panther, a lusty as each one confronts the mysteries of the north woods, they come to realize that the dark, raucous, beautiful past is very much alive.

Traversing cycles of history, nature, and even literature, North Woods shows the myriad, magical ways in which we’re connected to our environment and to one another, across time, language and space. Written along with the seasons and divided into the twelve months of the year, it is an unforgettable novel about secrets and fates that asks the timeless how do we live on, even after we’re gone? - PRH

North Woods is not your typical historical fiction, but rather a brilliant collection of interrelated stories that take place in the same patch of land in Massachusetts, from centuries ago to the present day. Each story introduces a new set of characters, each with their own voice and perspective, and each facing their own challenges and dilemmas. Some stories are told in prose, some in verse, some in dialogue, some in reportage. Some stories are realistic, some are fantastical, some are mysterious, some are tragic. But they all share a common thread: the presence and influence of the North Woods, a place that seems to have a life and a will of its own.

Mason is a master storyteller who can switch from one style and tone to another with ease and skill. He creates memorable characters that you can empathize with, even if you only spend a few pages with them. He also weaves subtle connections and clues between the stories, making you want to go back and reread them to find the hidden links. He explores themes such as love, death, freedom, justice, faith, and nature, showing how they change and endure over time. And he does it all with beautiful language and imagery that transport you to the different eras and atmospheres of the North Woods.

NORTH WOODS is a novel that will make you think and feel deeply about the human condition and our relationship with the natural world. It's a novel that may surprise you, perhaps. It's a novel that deserves to be read.


About the Author:
Daniel Mason was born and raised in Northern California. He studied biology at Harvard, and medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. His first novel, The Piano Tuner, published in 2002, was a national bestseller and has since been published in 27 countries. His other works include A Far Country, The Winter Soldier, and A Registry of My Passage Upon Earth, and his writing has appeared in Harper's Magazine and Lapham's Quarterly. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

*Thanks to Penguin Random House and Netgalley for the digital ARC in exchange for this unbiased review.


  1. This is a fabulous review! I’ll add this to my tbr for sure. Thanks for the recommendation.

    1. Hello, Hannah.
      Thank you! Hope you get your copy soon.