Thursday, September 22, 2011

Review: The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian

Genre: Supernatural suspense
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2011
Source: NetGalley

It begins with a door in a dusky corner of a basement in a rambling Victorian house in northern New Hampshire. A door that someone has sealed it shut with thirty-nine enormous carriage bolts. 
The home's new owners are Chip and Emily Linton and their twin daughters. Chip was an an airline pilot until he was forced to crash land on a remote lake the jet he was flying after double engine failure. Thirty-nine people aboard Flight 1611 died that day - a coincidence not lost on Chip when he discovers the number of bolts in that basement door ...
Meanwhile, his wife is increasingly troubled about the women in this sparsely populated village, self-proclaimed 'herbalists'. Why do they seem excessively interested in her young daughters. Emily is terrified, too, that her husband's grip on sanity seems to have become increasingly tenuous, in the wake of the devastating plane accident.

I enjoyed the other two books I read by this author and I do love a good psychological thriller particularly if it includes a touch of the ghostly supernatural which should have made The Night Strangers ideally suited to my taste. Expectations can be dangerous - although I enjoyed this book I didn't love it!

Several themes are woven together very well and it was Chip's story I enjoyed the most. It's the story of a man suffering severe PTS and haunted by the past and the destructive effect his condition has on his life and family. The use of the second person worked very well as a means of being able to identify with Chip and to share the horror of his mind unravelling. Emily I didn't connect with at all , unfortunately because I couldn't understand her behaviour towards her daughters.
I enjoyed the 'herbalist' background and learning about the potions and tinctures concocted from the plants and I may never look at little old ladies pottering in their greenhouses in the same way again.

Great writing, a bit slow through the middle but building to a fast-paced ending, and enough creepiness to keep the pages turning.


  1. This does sound good but possibly a little slow. You would enjoy The Abandoned, it may be on Netgalley.

  2. You know, I read only one of his other books a few years ago, and didn't really take to it. I've shied away ever since. This one sounds like it would be right up my alley, but I'm a little worried about picking up another one of his works. Might need to put this one on the to read later pile...

  3. Bohjalian has been very hit and miss for me, so I am trying to not to have sky high expectations for this one.

  4. Marce - as far as thrills and creepiness goes it was too slow to achieve a real scary effect,

    Natalie - I wouldn't be in a hurry to make it a priority.

    lola - definitely don't expect too much.

  5. The cover of this one really grabbed my attention! I've never read the author before, but I love a good psychological thriller and this one sounds great!

    The cover on Netgalley is not as good as this one!

  6. I haven't read this author yet but I'm hoping to. I have one of his books at home, so that may be the first one. I'm glad that you liked this, even if it wasn't fabulous. It does sound like it has a good plot.