Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Group Review: The Night Strangers

The Night Strangers: A Novel
Summary:  In a dusty corner of a basement in a rambling Victorian house in northern New Hampshire, a door has long been sealed shut with 39 six-inch-long carriage bolts.
The home's new owners are Chip and Emily Linton and their twin ten-year-old daughters. Together they hope to rebuild their lives there after Chip, an airline pilot, has to ditch his 70-seat regional jet in Lake Champlain due to double engine failure. The body count? Thirty-nine. What follow is a riveting ghost story with all the hallmarks readers have come to expect from bestselling, award-winning novelist Chris Bohjalian: a palpable sense of place, meticulous research, an unerring sense of the demons that drive us, and characters we care about deeply. The difference this time? Some of those characters are dead.

Alice's Review: I didn’t write this review right away. I couldn’t. I needed time to process it. This novel took possession of my thoughts; it dominated them. I thought about The Night Strangers every waking minute. Sadly, I’m not sure if it was because the novel was that good or that disappointing.  I am relatively new to Chris Bohlajian’s work, this being my second with The Double Bind being my first. I loved The Double Bind. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for this one.

Mr. Bohlajian is a master of mystery. He has an uncanny ability to write about emotions in a way that you as the reader experience them too. I also loved how he infused a perfect amount of creepy through the pages. I thoroughly enjoyed a few things about this novel. The first being the relationship between Emily and Chip. You could feel the genuine love they felt for each other, especially in Emily’s protection of Chip. Secondly, Reseda was a character I wish I had known. She seemed to genuinely care for Emily and the twins. And finally Chip. I loved Chip. I thought Mr. Bohlajian did an incredible job of adding realism to his character. There were times it read more as an emotional realistic account of what happened and not a work of fiction. Chip was flawed, troubled, and carried around the guilt of not going down with his “ship.” We all know the heroic effort of Captain Sully, Chips efforts were no less heroic but tragically his end result was catastrophic.

There was one aspect of The Night Strangers that felt a bit off the mark for me. A part of me wishes this had been more about Chip’s demons rather than the mysterious Herbalists (the witches) that live in Bethel. Although the stories merge in the end, one clearly dominated the other. The witches were too far fetched, they distracted me from the Captain’s battle with his demons. It’s not that the witches portion of the story was bad, far from it. But oddly this novel would have been better as two separate tales instead of one. However I can’t imagine having one without the other.

The one thing I totally give him credit is the very ending of the novel had that catch my breath, exploding stomach feeling I was hoping for. It was the same feeling I got at the end of The Double Bind, and that same feeling is what will keep me reading Mr. Bohlajian for years to come.

Final Take: 3/5

Julie's Review:  Mr. Bohjalian has done it again! He has written another book that leaves me breathless and stunned. Like Alice, The Night Strangers wasn't exactly what I thought it would be but I didn't mind the path the book ended up taking. I liked Chip, Emily, Hallie and Garnet. Immediately though I knew that I would like Garnet the best. Everyone had written her off as the weaker of the two sisters, but I didn't think that was the case at all. She had an inner strength that had yet to be realized.

I felt nothing but sympathy for Chip and for the one event that ruined his career and his psyche. I can not imagine trying to recover from an event like a plane crash. I understand why they family decided to hightail it to the mountains of Bethel. Immediately you get the sense that something is off with the town inhabitants.  That they are a little too happy to see the Linton's come to Bethel. They are a bit too interested in the twins and Emily, but they could take or leave Chip.

Meanwhile, Chip is dealing with his own psychological issues from the crash. He's going a bit nuts but keeps it together enough that Emily and the girls don't take much notice. Is he going crazy? Are the women of the town hexing him? What is causing him to slowly go mad?

Mr. Bohjalian does an excellent job of setting the scene. He describes the Linton's new house perfectly in all its creepy glory. You can picture the extra set of stairs that don't really lead to anywhere and the mysterious coal chute. The town seems cozy but there is definitely an air of eeriness coursing throughout the town. There are the herbalists and then there are the others.

I knew that Anise's interest in the twins wasn't for their own good or their own healing. She was a little to eager with her food and teaching the twins botany. On the other hand with Reseda I couldn't get a good feel for her and I know that was intentional. I kept going back and forth on her attentions.

As much as I'd love to spew a bunch of information here and engage in dialogue, I won't. I hope that I've peeked your interest in reading the novel. It's especially perfect on a chilly, partly cloudy fall evening. This book made me rethink my desire to move to a small town. (haha)

Another twist in the ending that had me going back to read the last few pages to make sure that I was correct in my understanding of the outcome and I was.

My favorite book by Mr. Bohjalian will always be The Double Bind. That is a piece of literature that I need to revisit and that I pimp out to anyone that will listen.

Final Take: 4.5/5



Fancy Terrible October 17, 2011 at 2:17 PM  

Hi ladies, thanks for the thoughts . . . think The Double Bind might be added to the ol' TBR pile, just to compare another of his works.

Check out the review on our site here:

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