Review: The Night Strangers

The Night Strangers

The Night Strangers
By Chris Bohjalian
(Crown, Hardcover, 9780307394996, October 4, 2011, 400pp.)

The Short of It:

One of the most frightening opening scenes I’ve read in a long time. I am still haunted by those images.

The Rest of It:

Chip Linton, an experienced pilot, is forced to make a split decision which results in the death of thirty-nine of his passengers. Although the accident itself was caused by a flock of geese flying into both engines, Chip finds himself reliving the moment over and over again. What could he have done differently? Overwhelmed with grief and wanting a new start, Chip purchases a rambling Victorian and moves his family to New Hampshire. Emily, his wife, is at first pleased with the move. Their ten-year-old twin daughters, Hallie and Garnet aren’t so sure.

This is a ghost story and these ghosts are not subtle. They appear often and know exactly what they want. Because of this, you don’t get the atmospheric creep factor that you do with most ghost stories because you know right away who they are, and what they want. However, there is no escaping the dread that you feel while reading this story. This little town that they’ve moved to has its own secrets and the inhabitants are weird and cult-like and when you begin to understand what they have in mind for those twins, you can’t help but be disturbed by it. It’s unsettling and I was absolutely shocked by the ending.

There is no denying the fact that this book is incredibly hard to put down. Bohjalian’s writing is gripping and the opening sequence took my breath away. I was sitting in my car, out in the middle of parking lot, just me and my Kindle and I swear I held my breath the entire time.

But…

I wanted more of the ghost story and a little less of where the story went. I won’t go into details for those who haven’t read it yet, but Bohjalian had me with the house…nothing else was needed. Give me a creepy house with secrets and a set of strange, yet likable twins and I’m more than happy.

I haven’t read a ghost story in a long time, so I really enjoyed this one even though I had a little quibble with where it went in the end.

Source: Net Galley

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35 thoughts on “Review: The Night Strangers”

  1. Ti, this one sounds like the perfect read for RIP – I’ll jot down the title for next year 🙂 I’m not huge on creepy books, but I do enjoy reading one or two of them every year and this one sounds like one I’ll enjoy. You have me curious to find out about that opening scene and also about what the town wants with the twins – yikes! Great post!

  2. “Strangers” seems to be a recurring theme in your reading this week. 🙂
    Now, this book could suit me very well. I love ghost stories and tales of haunted houses. Throw in a pair of twins, and I think you’ve got a winner!
    Cheers!

    1. I thought of the “strangers” thing when I linked to Twitter today. I am reading The Night Circus right now so now “night” seems to be the operative word.

  3. I haven’t yet read anything by Bohjalian, but I do know that a ghost story is a departure for him. It sounds as if he really handles his materiel well, and although he sometimes injects some unnecessary bits, that this was a really frightening story. I am going to have to keep this one in mind for October. This was a really wonderful and atmospheric review, by the way. Great job!

    1. Heather, you always have the nicest things to say. I just love hearing from you. Your comments are always so thoughtful. I’m so glad we found each other. Book bloggers are awesome.

  4. Sounds like quite in interesting story Ti! I haven’t read anything by this author yet but I sure have been wanting to. I do enjoy a good ghost story every now and then.

  5. oMG…I was haunted by the sheer horror of that opening for days….
    And we have to fly to see family…yikes…

    I felt the same way about that book…
    We should have read that one at the same time…might have helped with the scary parts…

    1. That plane crash…such detail! I saw an episode of The Ghost Whisperer where a plane crashes. It was similar in feel but not nearly as horrifying as Bohjalian’s writing.

  6. I admit I’m one with a weak stomach, and the horror genre is one that I stay away from in both books and movies. So the best that I can do is to read lively reviews like yours here. At least I can get a taste of it and glad to see someone enjoy her read. 😉

    1. This one’s not too bad to stomach but I know some readers will consider it pretty scary. Plus, the time of the year with all the Halloween decorations breaking out really up the creep factor.

  7. Sometimes I curse you, you know! I have all my little books lined up in order I’m going to read them, then here comes Ti with her literary catnip. I’m going to have to read this one next. *sigh*

  8. I got all excited because I’ve been meaning to read something by Bohjalian and thought maybe this one would work, but I stopped reading after your comment in “the short of it.” I hate frightening scenes, and I hate them even more when I can’t forget them!! I’ll go for something else 🙂

      1. That’s the kind of frightening I don’t like — the kind that is realistic! I’ve actually been listening to and loving Dracula, which I did not expect to enjoy. I think I might go with some other classic “scary” books. Do you read lots of Bohjalian? Is there one you’d recommend starting with?

        1. The only other one I’ve read was Midwives…there is also a slightly scary, realistic event that takes place. I guess that’s how he writes.

          Have you read Du Maurier’s  Rebecca? It is fabulous. A classic for sure.

        2. Out of replies on your last comment, so I’ll reply here 🙂

          Hm, I guess maybe I should give up on trying to read one of his books! That’s ok…not like I don’t have plenty of other books to read. I’ve only recently started reading classics again (in the past year-ish), but Rebecca is on my priority list! I may try to read it in the next few months, time permitting. If not, definitely soon.

  9. Oooh I didn’t know he had a new book out! I haven’t read any of his books in a while and this one sounds great! Perfect for maybe an RIP read…

  10. I can agree with you on this one. I Iove Bohjalian and loved the ghost story aspect of this one, but the direction it took with….well you know, was a disappointment.

  11. I’ve been meaning to read Bohjalian for years. This one sounds intriguing, but I’m glad to know the opening scene is intense before I sit down. I may have to pluck this one off my shelf.

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