Saturday, February 21, 2015

Book Review: The Night Strangers

Phew! It's been a long time since I've read a book as eerie as Chris Bohjalian's The Night Strangers. The night I began reading it, I had actual nightmares—the creepy, ghosty kind of nightmares. I know: this isn't a rousing endorsement of the book. But this book is creepy!

The story opens with a terrible plane crash. The pilot, Chip Linton, faces paralyzing guilt after his plane crashes, killing 39 passengers. He and his wife and twin daughters move to a small New England town with hopes of restoring some peace in their lives. But, well, there's an old house with a basement. And ghosts. And twins. And a coven of witches. And did I mention New England, where all creepy stories take place? Yep.

I was terrified, but I couldn't stop reading. OK, this isn't terror on the level of 'Salem's Lot or The Shining, but for me it was reminiscent of that love/hate relationship I once had with Stephen King's horror novels. (I saw "once had" because I've generally stayed away from horror novels in the past 25 years.) I loved to get scared, and yet I hated to get scared.

This novel went in places I wasn't expecting at all—murders, poisoning, seances, and all kinds of crazy stuff. But Chris Bohjalian is an incredible storyteller, and I kept reading in spite of my queasiness. Am I glad I read this book? I'm not sure. It was much different than anything I've read in a long, long time. The Thirteenth Tale would be perhaps the only story I've read in a while with scary ghosts and twins. (Why are twins often in horror stories?)

So, my recommendation: it's eerie and dark, incredibly well written, and mesmerizing. I mean, just look at that book cover. You decide.

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