Sunday, October 23, 2011

Review: The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian

The Night StrangersThe Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a fantastic surprise this book was for me! I seem to have a hot or cold relationship with Chris Bohjalian's writing so I was concerned going in about how I'd feel about it. But, I had no reason to be worried. I was in good hands with this novel. It's creepy, it's well written, it's multi-layered and just plain GOOD!

Let's face it, at his best, Chris Bohjalian is a wonderful storyteller. His writing is very accessible yet it has such depth. The story that Bohjalian concocts here is one of the better stories that I've read in awhile. The story is dark & chilling. And Bohjalian's writing brings it to life with wit, depth, insight and versatility! This book has a bit of everything - suspense, horror, paranormal/occult, mental illness

For me, one of the most impressive things about this book was how Bohjalian made the experience of a plan crash come alive. I can't imagine how much research he had to do in order for this book to bring that alive for the reader. I literally felt as if I was in the plane - as if I was experiencing it all first hand. Bohjalian handled the writing of those passages masterfully.

I also thought it was incredible how well he kept the various threads which are interwoven throughout the novel. It would have been a difficult task for a lesser writer. Boyhjalian's skill in keeping the various threads alive for the reader while also moving the plot along and keeping the suspense at a heightened level was simply fantastic! Personally, I felt it was impressive.

This novel keeps getting called a ghost story but it really is so much more than that ... it's a character study, its a horror story and a supernatural tale - all at the same time! Bohjalian brings these things together so well! This book is simply fantastic.

The only reason that this novel isn't getting 5 stars is that I didn't love the ending. It was fine, it was good but it felt a bit cliche and unsurprising in some way. For me, the strength of the novel is the journey you take. The ending didn't quite get me where I was hoping to go. Let me be clear - it's not a bad ending, just not nearly as impactful as I'd hoped. I also wish that there was less mention of the whole Sully Sullenberger landing in 2009. It felt a bit overdone - a few mentions would have been enough. The constant bringing it back up felt like a bit too much.

There were sections of this novel that sent shivers up my spine and made me feel like I was going to jump out of my skin. That doesn't happen to me a lot. So, this was a pleasant surprise for me.

I really liked this book a lot and would recommend it to anyone who loves a good scary, creepy story ... especially one that is well-written!

NOTE: I received the galley of this novel from the publisher for review.

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  1. I too have a hot or cold relationship with Chris Bohjalian. One of his books was amazing in my opinion, while the others I have tried have been a bit lacking. This one sounds fantastic though. Thanks for the great review!

  2. I think you'll like this one, Siobian! I think its one of his best!