by Chris Bohjalian
Published by: Random House
Genres: Paranormal, Suspense
From the bestselling author of The Double Bind, Skeletons at the Feast, and Secrets of Eden, comes a riveting and dramatic ghost story.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 after double engine failure. Unlike the Miracle on the Hudson, however, most of the passengers aboard Flight 1611 die on impact or drown. The body count? Thirty-nine – a coincidence not lost on Chip when he discovers the number of bolts in that basement door. Meanwhile, Emily finds herself wondering about the women in this sparsely populated White Mountain village – self-proclaimed herbalists – and their interest in her fifth-grade daughters. Are the women mad? Or is it her husband, in the wake of the tragedy, whose grip on sanity has become desperately tenuous? The result is a poignant and powerful ghost story with all the hallmarks readers have come to expect from bestselling novelist Chris Bohjalian: a palpable sense of place, 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.
Night Strangers is a psychological thriller with paranormal elements. It will have you turning the pages to discover the secrets of a small town in New Hampshire. Bohjalian’s tale is reminiscent of Stephen King and the Stand. I chose to read this over Halloween weekend and it was quite a thrill. The ending to this novel will simply blow you away.
The story revolves around the Linton’s. Chip Linton is suffering from PTSD, after a plane he was piloting crashes in a lake and thirty-nine passages die. In an effort to help her husband and children cope, Emily Lipton moves her family to an old Victorian home in Bethel, New Hampshire. She hopes that by moving away from the notoriety surrounding them it will give Chip the peace he needs and the twins a chance for some normalcy.
The family moves in and Chip becomes obsessed with a sealed door in the basement. The door is sealed shut with thirty-nine carriage bolts. Thirty-nine passengers died on his airplane. He and his daughter begin having nightmares. He starts seeing and having conversations with dead passengers. Meanwhile something strange is going on in this small town. The neighbors are stepping up to help the Lipton’s adjust by befriending them, feeding them, and offering advice but their interest in the Lipton’s twin girls is making Emily a little leery.
The POV is told in second and third person and it’s brilliantly done. You get a real sense of Chip’s struggle with his psychosis as it’s delivered in second person. The way in which Bohjalian spoon feeds you this tale just adds to the suspense. He weaves a tale that is creepy, horrifying, and yet eerily plausible. The town, it’s secrets, Chip’s demons all spring to life and will have you turning on the lights…All of the lights.
I did not become particularly attached to any of the characters in Night Strangers, which whether intentional or not was spectacular on Bohjalian’s part. Instead I became attached to the tale, the details, and the suspense. I wanted to unlock the secrets and uncover the truth.
I highly recommend The Night Strangers to anyone who loves a suspenseful psychological thriller. Fans of King and Koontz will be well satisfied with this story. I am adding Bohjalian to my list of must read authors.
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