It was a dark and stormy night.
No electricity in the eerie old mansion, a scary apparition calls for restitution, and bones morph into ghosts. If you like Bohjalian’s brand of psychological drama, The Night Strangers will have the hair on the back of your neck prickling, and you will be wondering what is real and what is imagined.
Chip Linton was not as lucky as Sully Sullenberger; Chip crash landed his commercial jet into a lake, but thirty-nine passengers died. Trying to recover from the trauma and guilt of surviving, Chip moves his family from tony West Chester, outside of Philadelphia, to an old house in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The basement of the house has a door sealed, conveniently, with 39 bolts. The story’s narration flips from Chip’s thoughts as he tries to cope with his post-traumatic symptoms to his wife Emily, an attorney who finds work in the village, as she tries to normalize the family’s emotions, and then to their twin daughters, Garnet – red-haired and suffering from epileptic seizures, and Hallie, who, like her mother, acts as a stabilizing force.
What seems like a routine tale of a family in recovery, suddenly turns into a scary tale of “I see dead people.” The village women who grow exotic plants in their greenhouses, and brew concoctions that can change perspectives add to the drama.
Bohjalian cleverly juggles reality with the paranormal, and you won’t know if the voices and apparitions are real or in Chip’s mind. You may think you do, but you’ll need to read to the end to be sure. By creating cliffhangers at strategic points in the plot, Bohjalian sustains the suspense. The journey was more fun than getting there; the ending left me feeling robbed – but that’s Chris Bohjalian.
A great scary book to read through the night; keep your doors locked and a flashlight handy.
Read my review of another Chris Bohjalian thriller: Secrets of Eden