Recommended for: puzzle and riddle fanatics or cryptographers and code breakers
Read in January, 1998, read count: a billion!
Good grief. This book will be the death of me. I found it years ago, still haven’t solved it, and sometimes it feels like the book isn’t even real- like I spookily stumbled across the only copy that changes as I am reading it. I have never even seen this book anywhere except for the one store I bought it from… you can probably find it online I’d assume.
The entire book is a maze, each page a different room and you flip through the pages like a Choose Your Own Adventure book (a CYOA book on crack). Each room has a paragraph describing your passage through that room and a picture of the room. The paragraph and picture apparently contain clues, in fact the whole book is said to contain clues to be solved in order to find the center then come back out again.
I’m pretty sure Manson is the devil, or God, for creating a book this crazy. Good luck to you if you decide to journey down this path to madness!
Nate D’s review:
A strange picture-book labyrinth with eerily cross-hatch-shadowed rooms leading into other empty rooms leading into still others, like an interactive version of Edward Gorey’s The West Wing, perhaps. Not a book of mazes, but a maze that is a book, and seemingly far trickier in all senses than any seeming children’s book should be. I’m becoming convinced that the entirety needs to be decoded before the “path” will reveal itself. (totally stumped after a complete mapping of all accessible doorways, groping for sliding panels via the cryptic texts).
Perhaps the most entrancing book ever.
We stumbled on to this at my in-laws this summer and Adam became obsessed with it. It really is a lot of fun. I finally just now used the internet to find the answers. It’s clever and weird. The internet shows some things, but I’m curious if there is meaning in every room.
I spent an entire summer as part of a theater troupe working on this book with my friends!! It was sinister, creepy, and enchanting!!! LOVED IT! Definitely worth checking out!
Hip E’s Review:
There is a 100% chance that this book is better than “House of Leaves.
My best friend and I became entangled in this book when we were in middle school. It seriously messed with our poor pubescent brains. We found our way to the end of the maze (somehow), but could not answer the question of who the maze builder was. It drove us to distraction trying to figure it out. We guessed Elvis, and God (whoever that was) and The Devil and I can’t even remember who else. For years the book was something half remembered from our fevered adolescent minds… What a strange, unforgettable book.
- Above reviews are from the excellent book review site “goodreads.”
. . .
Rants and raves collected from the vast reaches
of the digital world:
Confusing and wonderful book.
- Jake Eakle
Knowing the path is one thing, but there are supposed to be reasons for choosing the correct doors. I haven’t thought about this book in years and then suddenly I’m fascinated again.
- Andy Boroson
I am stuck in the maze, [sure] I can get everywhere but I do not know why. I know the path but only because of math…I cannot solve why I went into that room. In short, I want to know how each room points to the next: the riddle of each room. Is there something that can help me?
- Dan Smith
All the people who supplied theories and hints are obviously much brighter than I am and I would very much like to meet every one of you!
There is another question in MAZE which I find far more compelling than either finding the shortest path to the center or answering the riddle, and that is “Who is the narrator?” Clues are given throughout, mostly in the text, as to his identity, but I’m looking for something definite.
- Ian Finley
The maze is fascinating! The final riddle is just a very small part of all the riddles in the maze. Any room in this place has a puzzle to solve. The maze is a place of full of undiscovered secrets. You solve a riddle only to discover a much bigger riddle.
Long before there was real virtual reality, author and illustrator Christopher Manson invited us into his twisted surreal realm of unending doors and puzzles.
Manson’s meticulous yet almost primitive black-and-white illustrations get into your head in a weird way and you begin to experience a disturbing vertigo as you navigate through the book, often stumbling into endless loops and desperately trying to avoid the terrifying Room 24. (At one time, when I was looking at the book obsessively every day, the rooms began to appear in my dreams.) Once Maze and its menacing narrator get into your head, they don’t leave.
- Sara Goodchild
I walked around believing that all grown-ups knew the secret of this book, though I never dared ask them how they did it, for I knew they would never reveal what I would have to discover for myself. (This, I knew, was how growing up worked.)
- Reif Larsen from “The Crying of Page 45″
The first part of the book’s puzzle, then, is simply to find a path that takes you from the entrance to the maze’s center and back in 16 steps. The harder part involves teasing the text of a riddle out of all the depicted stuff that lay along this route. And this is where most mortals get stopped, finding themselves with a pile of stuff and no clues.
Carry this feeling over the path’s 16 pages, and I assert you’ve got an utterly unsolvable combinatorial explosion. I would be quite interested to learn of integral clues I’m overlooking, though, or to hear about someone who solved the book without any hints! Until then, I must conclude that for all the book’s beauty – and it is quite a lovely thing to flip through – as a puzzle, it would get booed off the stage at the MIT mystery hunt.
More important than its puzzle, however, is the book’s legacy. Without a doubt, the book left a lasting inspiration to many, stoking a hunger to try solving more baroque and beautiful puzzles, even if that means having to create them first. You can see echoes of Maze in art-heavy digital adventures such as Myst.
- Jason McIntosh from “Maze: beautiful, inspirational, unsolvable”
Being a nerdy kind of guy my entire life, I went through a period of being enamored by puzzle books, in the sense of entire books being a puzzle. The first one I came across, and the one that remains, in my mind, the best example of them, was Maze by Christopher Manson. I don’t remember how I found it; by the time I came across it the contest portion (offering a $10,000 prize to the first person who successfully solved it) was long over. I didn’t care about the contest; the book itself was unbelievably cool.
The sense of every little thing – every word, everything in the images – being a clue was enervating. I would pore over every room seeking clues. I drew matrices of rooms, trying to figure out the shortest route.
It’s fucking genius.
- Jeff Somers
If you are an expert puzzle solver, especially with words, maybe you could enjoy this. My kids and I looked through it for 20 minutes and didn’t feel like we got anywhere. I looked up solutions online and thought, “Seriously? Who has time to figure this out!?”
Ridiculously difficult puzzle.
- The Dunk
I returned it because I just didn’t get it. Maybe it is for some of the geek type kids.
- Loretta Blanchat
This book just wasn’t what I expected…. kind of hard to understand….
- Hope Wahl
The maze went down easy compared to the puzzle – it’s not a huge matrix. The puzzle I cannot fathom, and I am at peace with that.
I hate this book. I give it five stars.
- Marshall Vaughan
This is NOT easy, to put it mildly– but it is fun. The Narrator is also the mysterious Guide of the maze– a figure who you really should not trust to lead you to safe places or on the correct path. The illustrations really make the book. You stumble through brooding gardens, dank caves, creepy theaters, giant mouse traps, halls of broken statues… Everything is a clue. I loved this book as a child. I found it again recently and still enjoy it today.
This book is not a puzzle. It has no solution without a cheap trick. The clues are meaningless. Do not waste time on this piece of junk.
Actually I should start by saying that I owned this book as a teenager and read it so often with friends that it finally just fell apart. I re-ordered it for myself and have now lost it to my 9 year old son. He has found himself addicted to the puzzle that is Mr. Manson’s creation. Like so many others have mentioned it is a deliciously sinister book with images that will keep you captivated for hours.
This book is worth every last dime you spend on it! A riddle to end all riddles! Awesome book!
- Angela Weir
It is not your typical maze, more like walking thru a fun house but you can never find your way out.
- Kindred Spirit
This is a must in any library, whether you like mazes or not. Beautifully done.
- Alexandra Taylor
One of the best puzzles ever, but also one of the toughest.
A puzzle not for the faint-of-heart — there is NO solution available to brute force and you are not expected to solve it in an evening. It’s an exciting, detailed trip through a fiendish den of riddles and allusions with an untrustworthy guide, and I’ve used it as a great conversation piece with smart people. (Somewhere I have whole notebooks filled with sketched maps and riddle notes, the combined efforts of my theater group …) Highly recommended for those who love difficult, DIFFICULT puzzles.
- Cynthia Cooper
The narrator is a bit nasty.
- Margaret P.
This book is truly one of the most amazing creations I’ve ever held in my two hands. The dialogues, the pictures, the clues, riddles, symbolism, historical references…it’s all fantastic.
- The Golden Ostrich “Sarah”
Amazing riddle . . . the best “choose your own adventure” book EVER.
- C. Galfas
As an adult, I found myself thrilled by the challenge of The Maze, the creepy ambiguity of meaning, and a pervading sinister feeling that made my stomach uneasy and gave me goosebumps up and down my arms.
I envy those who are stepping into the entrance hall for the first time . . . Good Luck!
This work is an engrossing, intriguing, thought-provoking, perspective-changing, paradigm-shifting…maze. This is a work of genius. I can’t think of any book, puzzle, or movie to compare it to (except maybe “Labrynth”). The subtle yet surreal illustrations and short dialogues from your guide draw the visitor/reader into a maddening underworld of the Maze. A friend showed me this book about 13 years ago, and the illustration style and overall eeriness and CHALLENGE stayed in my memory, I recently purchased it, to find it as wonderful as when I was 14 years old.
I’m above average at solving puzzles, and I can’t even get a good start into “MAZE” before I start doubting my whole interpretation of the “clues”, and run around in circles blindly.
I give this work 5 stars for the premise and flawless execution, but I would subtract a half star for the following reason: After weeks of serious attempts at deciphering the symbolism, it is still as unintelligible as some of Lewis Carroll’s or Aleister Crowley’s nonsense. Yes, I am dense. The only solution we’ve figured out to MAZE involves “cheating”, unless that’s the real solution. Notice on the cover how there is a very ambiguous fish over the door? Well, that’s what its like inside, too: “ambiguous at best.” Utterly eclectic, and gripping.
LET ME OUT!
- J.J. Kilroy
I can’t figure it out. Other people who come by our house and see it…can’t figure it out. I have been left in the dark…dead end there. And I get turned around and around in a group of rooms that I can’t find another way out. It is a maddening book!
- Rainforest Belle
This book is great if you like the kind of puzzle that will make you think. Hard. It’s very cruel of the publisher to label it a children’s book; I’ve never been able to solve it on my own and I’m 24. It’s beautifully illustrated, deeply involving, and thoroughly irritating.
It gets under your skin.
I remember first stumbling across this book when a Jr. High classmate of mine brought it in for me to look at. I also remember how a number of kids in the class wanted to borrow it and be the first to figure it out. Fast forward 17 years…none of us have come up with the solution. I haven’t seen the book since that time but have looked for it in a number of bookstores-waiting for the chance to come across this gem. Great illustrations aside, this is truly a book like no other-it’s the paperback version of Myst…and Myst isn’t even half this good.
Buy it…you will NOT be disappointed.
I am in AGONY! I am still working on this book with my friend Alison. It is intriguing, but hard. If you know the answer, please tell me because I have looked at this book, right-side-up, up-side-down, sideways, and in the mirror!…
- Sacred Wolf
It’s hard to appreciate a book like this when you are very young, but I loved it all the same.
- James Cox
I first stumbled upon this book at the age of twelve. I always enjoyed mazes and thought I’d be able to add another notch to my belt in no time at all, an hour at most. I spent every free minute for the next several months looking at this beautiful book, completely lost in its simplicity.
Twelve years later, I found myself entering the maze again, just as bewildered. I finally, with a little help from my friends (who think this book is evil in its purest form,) was able to find the shortest path from 1 to 45 and back again. Now if I can only unravel the hidden riddle and trace the answer through those many rooms, I believe I may just die a happy man.
As for the author/illustrator Christopher Manson, I tip my proverbial hat to you, sir. I believe you may have me in check, but I’ve a few tricks left up my sleeve as well.
I both fear and covet the next offering of this caliber, though to equal MAZE would be an astonishing feat.
This is my favorite book. Ever.
- J. Israel
My GODS people, this book is insane. I’ve owned it for two years now. Why haven’t I gotten around to writing a review yet? BECAUSE I’VE BEEN WORKING ON IT THIS WHOLE TIME. Still haven’t figured out the Riddle of the Maze, let alone the solution. Getting to the center is a delightfully maddening experience, provided you don’t CHEAT and actually follow the clues. If you like driving yourself into a manic-depressive state with incredibly difficult puzzles GET THIS BOOK. GET IT NOW.
- Jesse Nelson
All I can say is that it all starts making sense at about 3 AM on a Tuesday, when you and your roommate are sitting hunched in the middle of your dorm room with pencils, frantically drawn loopy maps, fragments of rebuses and the fact that there’s just something *wrong* with the stick figure in the basement. That’s when you stare blearily at page three and say, “We’ve been blind, we’ve been blind the whole time,” and start babbling conspiracy theories.
In short, the art is beautiful and eerie, the puzzle is intensely difficult, and it will either make you lose sleep or give you nightmares.
- M. Glenn
While I have solved the actual maze, the mystery of the narrator and his purpose and the maze’s purpose and what all the clues in all the rooms mean… are lost on me! The way each page holds a room and each room holds the key to thousands of different clues, is amazing!
I am an aspiring filmmaker, and I think it would be awesome to make a film about this book someday. If anyone has any hints or knows a way to contact the author, could they please tell me?
- Nicole Rogers
A book like NO other!
I agree with its subtitle- “The World’s Most Challenging Puzzle”. But it’s so much more than a brain teaser. Even if you solved the puzzle, there are still so many great anecdotes, underlying stories, amazingly illustrations, and you could probably spend the rest of your life personally interpreting (or misinterpreting) the meaning of the hundreds and hundreds of objects in those illustrations. I don’t think I’ll ever grow bored of this book.
Shoot me in the head because I can’t figure it out!!!!!
I have had this book since I was like eight or nine and to this day (I am eighteen) I cannot figure it out. Neither my mother nor any of my friends have yet to complete it either. It is very addicting and frustrating. Someday I hope to be so lucky as to be enlightened with the solution. If any one has any insight, PLEASE, let me know!
Maze, by Christopher Manson, puts you in the maze at eye level. This is no abstract adventure. You will get lost.
Maze is a must for all puzzle-lovers. The only one of the prize/puzzle books from the eighties (Masquerade, The Treasure, The Unnamed Book, etc.) to remain unsolved to this day!
- Owen Hammer
An old mansion, a mysterious guide, and a hidden riddle. Each page is a beautifully illustrated image of one room in the mansion. As you travel through the mansion, you suddenly notice funny things – the labyrinth seems to be turning in on itself. “Haven’t I been here before?” You are lost! Trapped! Muahahahaa!!!!
You will literally get ‘lost’ in this book.
My best friend and I became entangled in this book when we were in middle school. It seriously messed with our poor pubescent brains. We found our way to the end of the maze (somehow), but could not answer the question of who the maze builder was. It drove us to distraction trying to figure it out. We guessed Elvis, and God (whoever that was) and The Devil and I can’t even remember who else. For years the book was something half remembered from our fevered adolescent minds, but then i found a copy at a second hand store and had to buy it. It’s sat on my shelf for a few years now and I don’t even want to open the thing! In a couple days I’ll give it to my best friend as a joke New Year’s gift and get it out of my house. What a strange, unforgettable book.
A strange picture-book labyrinth with eerily cross-hatch-shadowed rooms leading into other empty rooms leading into still others, like an interactive version of Edward Gorey’s The West Wing, perhaps. Not a book of mazes, but a maze that is a book, and seemingly far trickier in all senses than any seeming children’s book should be. I’m becoming convinced that the entirety needs to be decoded…
(totally stumped after a complete mapping of all accessible doorways, groping for sliding panels via the cryptic texts)
- Nate D
The most engrossing book ever.
- Lily D.
Perhaps the most entrancing book ever.
I spent an entire summer as part of a theater troupe working on this book with my friends!! It was sinister, creepy, and enchanting!!!
Good grief. This book will be the death of me. I found it years ago, still haven’t solved it, and sometimes it feels like the book isn’t even real- like I spookily stumbled across the only copy that changes as I am reading it. I have never even seen this book anywhere except for the one store I bought it from.
I’m pretty sure Manson is the devil, or God, for creating a book this crazy. Good luck to you if you decide to journey down this path to madness!
Some girl left this at my house after a sleepover and I never gave it back. I was fascinated and tortured by it, though I never figured out the answer and don’t think I really “got” what the “other mysteries” were. A few years later, one of the first things I ever did on the internet was look up the answer, because I still couldn’t figure it out. I’m a great big cheater.
- Clare Marie