I am an unabashed NPR lover and I am especially an unabashed Diane Rehm lover. She occasionally has fiction authors on to discuss their books. I heard Chris Bohjalian on her show discussing this newest book and it sounded like my cup o’ tea. Also, it was Halloween time and I was in the mood for a ghost story. So now that it is winter time and you will likely be trapped in a house somewhere with nothing but reading to do, doesn’t a nice scary ghost story sound fun?
Chip Linton, his wife and their young TWIN daughters (already you know something crazy is going to happen) are moving to New Hampshire to escape. Chip tried to land a plane in a lake Sully Sullenberger-style but instead of being a hero, a wave caught the wing and capsized the plane. In the end, thirty-nine people died in the accident. Chip is super haunted by the whole deal even thought it was technically not his fault. He needs a new start in a small town in a rather large, Victorian, isolated house and a greenhouse. The town seems to be divided by those people with strange plant names and greenhouses (the “herbalists”) and the regular townspeople. The herbalists seem unnaturally interested in the twins and this is causing all sorts of anxiety for their mom. Meanwhile, Chip is going a little cuckoo trying to deal with the accident but is especially having issues when he discovers a door in the basement that has been sealed shut with large iron nails – thirty-nine of them to be exact…. Chaos ensues.
This book was a lot of things rolled into one – family drama, creepy ghost story, psychological thriller, New England small town story. Most of the time it is successful but I felt like sometimes the author was trying to do too much and veered off the path. The door and the ghost story were pretty creepy and reminded me very much of The Shining (one of my faves.) The herbalist stuff was strange. In the end, I enjoyed it but sometimes I thought it was a little too heavy handed. The family trying to deal with the accident was also pretty effective and I enjoyed that portion of the story. It definitely got me thinking about what would have happened if Sully hadn’t saved all those people. I enjoyed this book although at times it felt rambling – I give it seven and a half shoes….my green desert wedge boots – love them!
Title : The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian
Three Appeals : Atmospheric ghost story, developed characters, twins
Red Flags : Some violence and language, too intense for children
If you are looking for more ghost stories check out :
1) The Dead Path by Stephen M. Irwin (also known as The Darkening)
Nicholas Close has always had an uncanny intuition, but after the death of his wife he becomes haunted, literally, by ghosts doomed to repeat their final violent moments in a chilling and endless loop. Torn by guilt and fearing for his sanity, Nicholas returns to his childhood home and is soon entangled in a disturbing series of disappearances and murders – both as a suspect and as the next victim of the malignant evil lurking in the heart of the woods. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)
2) Those Across the River by Christopher Buehlman (previously reviewed)
3) The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
A classic ghost story. The narrator is a young governess, sent off to a country house to take charge of two orphaned children. She finds a pleasant house and a comfortable housekeeper, while the children are beautiful and charming. But she soon begins to feel the presence of intense evil. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)
4) The Shining by Stephen King
I know this is an obvious one but it is a really good book! Definitely a 10 shoe for me. Jack Torrance moves his family into the Overlook Hotel as the overseer during the winter months. They are trapped up there, there is super intense evil in the house, and of course, creepy twins.
Read any good ghost stories lately??