Author: Chris Bohjalian
Genre: Supernatural suspense/horror
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2011
Rating: 4 Crowns
Synopsis: 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.
My thoughts: If you like spooky, creepy , good old fashioned ghost stories complete with haunted house then The Night Strangers is for you. Reminiscent of Stephen King's earlier books there are some genuinely spine chilling moments and not all of them are from a supernatural source The opening chapters describing the plane crash are so horror- filled it's enough to put one off flying forever.
With several interwoven themes it's also the psychological study 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.
Then there are the numerous little old hippy ladies pottering in their greenhouses, growing 'herbs' and cooking up 'goodies' to feed to unsuspecting townsfolk. I enjoyed reading about the plant lore and the medicinal and healing (or not) uses of the herbs but there was a point when I felt the focus stayed too long in the green house and slowed the story down. I also found it strange that Emily allowed these women to spend so much time with her daughters when she had had initial misgivings about them.
Chris Bohjalian creates an atmosphere that is perfect for the Halloween season. The story builds to a way OTT climax and a slightly unexpected ending and overall was the book made for very satisfactory reading.
I enjoyed it !
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