Book Review: The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian

January 12, 2012 book review 8

Chip Linton is a pilot flying smaller regional jets.  In a typical flight one summer day his plane flies into a flock of geese, and he attempts to land the plane on water, similar to the infamous Sully Sullenberger.  Unfortunately this attempt is not successful and 39 passengers and crew members die in the water landing.
Chip and his wife Emily attempt to rebuild their life by moving to northern New Hampshire, they purchase a huge old home, complete with a green house.  They move in with their ten year old twin daughters.  In the mostly dirt floor basement Chip finds a bolted door, a door that appears to lead to nowhere, but it is bolted shut with 39 carriage bolts.  Why so much overkill on securing this door, and is it just coincidence that the number 39 appears again?
The community is warm and welcoming to the Linton’s, almost too much so. Everywhere they go people are very interested in their twin daughters Garnette and Hailey.  Emily takes a position in a much smaller law firm  that is local and Chip is home, suffering with the memories of his flight and experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  He tries to spend his time renovating and redecorating their home, but first he must open that mysterious door.  What he finds is more than horrific. Some people in the community are worried about the “herbalists” and Emily and Chip begin to have their own doubts too.

I loved the prologue to this book, it drew me in, had me begging for more.  The reader learns early that the book is not just about Chip and his PTSD, or a spooky old mansion, but about an odd quirky community, and yet I imagine most readers will keep reading, as it’s just not something one can put their finger on.  I began reading this book, but it seemed to be moving a bit slow to me, so I borrowed the audio from my library, and I really enjoyed the two voices of the audio, they were very well done, but I didn’t make note of the narrators names.
Bohjalian does an expert job of creating that creepy feeling in the house, with their neighbors and of the basement.  I don’t think I’d go down there if I lived in such a house.  His characters are precise and yet I was so surprised by the end of this book, I hadn’t predicted it at all. I love how the words caused me to look up exactly what a tincture is, and I’ll never think of it the same again.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars, I really liked it.  I think it makes for a disturbing yet entertaining read or listen.

8 Responses to “Book Review: The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian”

  1. bermudaonion

    I read Bohjalian’s Skeletons at the Feast and just loved it. This book sounds so different from that one, but I really want to read it because I loved the author’s writing.

  2. Zibilee

    I am so glad that the switch to audio is just what you needed to get the ball rolling with this one! I am going to be reading it soon, hopefully, and will have to be sure to discuss it with you! Great review today!

  3. Pam

    I’m a fan of Bohjalian’s books and this one was a real departure for him. I’m not usually a fan of magic realism or supernatural type books, but Bohjalian did a wonderful job keeping the story believable. I, too, enjoyed it. Great review.

  4. Jenny

    This sounds so good but in afraid that after reading it I’d be too scared to fly lol! Good thing we don’t have basements here or I’d be scared of that too lol! I’ve really liked his other books that I’ve read though.

  5. Sandy Nawrot

    I loved this book! It was my first from this author and was pretty impressed with the writing and the creepiness. The only reason I didn’t give it five stars was because it traumatized me from ever wanting to fly again!

  6. Aarti

    I admit I don’t want to read this book because I get scared REALLY easily and I have a feeling this book would really, really creep me out!

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