The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian is an effectively complex novel that mixes psychology and the supernatural to create an original, atmospheric thriller that keeps the reader guessing.
As the novel opens, Chip Linton faces the difficult situation of safely landing a passenger jet in a lake after the engines are destroyed by a flock of geese. His attempt fails and thirty-nine passengers die, as the plane is ripped apart. Chip is cleared of any fault, but is left with severe guilt and PTSD. In order to begin healing from the ordeal, Chip, his wife, Emily, and their twin girls, Hallie and Garnet, move from their formerly comfortable lives in the city to a smaller, out of the way town. As the Lintons attempt to settle into their new lives they are surrounded by mystery and conspiracy. Their new home may be haunted and the residents that have welcomed them may have deeper, stranger motivations behind their welcoming nature.
The Lintons are welcomed into the town by a group of women who believe in the magical and healing properties of plant life. The women, who are all named after different plants, begin to take interest in the Lintons and try to acclimate the family into their close-knit group.
As the intentions of the herbalists to incorporate Emily, Hallie, and Garnet into their cult become more and more persistent, Chip’s PTSD becomes a bigger problem. The subsequent drama provides the reader with page after page of hair-raising paranoia, supernaturally creepy visions, and murderous deception.
Chris Bohjalian employs a blend of narration perspectives throughout the novel to add to its creep-out factor. While the majority of the thriller is told in a third person omniscient perspective, Chip’s narration is portrayed through a second person perspective. This change in perspective allows the reader to experience, first hand, the disturbed mentality that Chip progressively succumbs to during his family’s encounters with the unusual and deceptive herbalists.
With Bohjalian’s unique writing style and his ability to twist the plot into a unique and sufficiently creepy thriller, The Night Strangers is best read with a light on.
After obtaining a Masters in Liberal Arts and Literature Marcus has dedicated most of his time to teaching English Composition for a community college in the Midwest. In his down time, he spends time avidly reading an eclectic selection of books and doing freelance writing whenever he gets the chance. He lives in Kansas with his wife.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Crown. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.