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The Night Strangers - a Review
The Night Strangers, by Chris Bohjalian, is the story of pilot Chip Littleton, his wife and twin daughters. The engines of the passenger-filled plane he is flying quit working, due to interference by a flock of geese. He is going to do the brave, heroic thing and land the plane on Lake Champlain. Well, things don't always work out like we think they will. A motorboat on the lake caused an unforeseen wave to crash into the landing plane and Chip's dream of saving all of the passengers was crushed. There were thirty-nine fatalities, but Chip survived.
The crash left him with PTSD, otherwise known as post-traumatic stress disorder. His doctor prescribed a change of scenery, so the family began looking for a house not in West Chester, PA. The one they found was in Bethel, New Hampshire. No one bothered to tell them the house had a history. There was a reason it hadn't been snatched up by one of the local residents. Thrilled to have found such a beautiful house in such a scenic place, they packed up and moved.
Most of the locals avoid befriending them because of the house they bought, but a group of women, all who have flower/plant names, and their husbands are extremely friendly. They bring them food, they try and help them settle in, and they show special attention to Hallie and Garnet, their 10-year-old twin daughters. As a matter of fact, they seem fixated on their daughters. This group of self-proclaimed herbalists seem to believe that it is their mission in life to take care of Hallie and Garnet.
Meanwhile, Chip finds an old boarded-up coal chute. The creepy thing is that the door to it has been bolted shut with thirty-nine bolts. Hmmm. Thirty-nine bolts on the door, thirty-nine passengers dead. Is this just a coincidence? Chip is determined to get the door open. Once he breaks through, while he is sitting on the dirt floor beneath, he is joined by someone – Ashley, a little girl who died in the plane crash. Does he freak out? No. He isn't even really sure she is really there. After all, he is suffering from PTSD. She could be a figment of his imagination. Still, he carries on a conversation with her.
Chip soon begins receiving visits from Ashley's father, who also died in the plane crash. Seems his little girl is lonely and has no one to play with in her afterlife. She needs a playmate or two. Slowly and methodically, he convinces Chip that he must send at least one of his little girls, if not both of them, to keep Ashley company.
The group of herbalists (or are they witches?) have their own plans for the Littletons, especially the twin daughters. There is a reason that all of them, despite their age, look so young. Their desire for eternal youth, no matter what it takes, is definitely one of the themes of this entrancing tale.
I found this book to be enjoyable, except for Chip's scenes - they were written in the second person. I found this to be annoying. I am not a fan of fiction written in the second person; if all of the scenes had been written in the second person, I don't know if I could have finished the book.
The description of this book made me expect action, suspense, and happenings that would make it impossible for me to put the book down. Unfortunately, this was not so. Instead, the book reminded me of a stew that has to cook all day before it attains its full flavor. The spices are added one at a time, then stirred in so that they are evenly distributed. As the stew heats up, the flavors are blended together. The main ingredients are added one at a time at various points throughout the day; some need to cook for a long time, others only for a short time. When the stew is finally done, you find it is delicious and was so worth the wait.
The book moved kind of slow until it got close to the end. Then things started happening non-stop. Even though the action through the majority of the book is slow, you can always tell that something is simmering underneath the surface; that is the reason that I was able to keep reading. The ending, I found to be both chilling and disturbing.
If you are a fan of subtle thrillers that give you shivers, then you would enjoy this book. If you require your books to keep you on the edge of your seat at all times, then this one might move just a bit too slowly for you. If you like a book that you can pick out the subtle clues that are dropped, a book where suspense and action are always bubbling just beneath the surface, then this is a book you will love.
My copy of The Night Strangers was provided for me free of charge by Net Galley. If you would like your own copy of this chilling book to enjoy and read, I have provided a link to Amazon below.
Content copyright © 2013 by Lisa Binion. All rights reserved.
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