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The Night Country

3.64  ·  Rating Details ·  1,041 Ratings  ·  141 Reviews
A ghost story that begins in everyday tragedy, from a distinctly American master of both forms: a "scary, sad, funny . . . mesmerizing read" (Stephen King)

At Midnight on Halloween in a cloistered New England suburb, a car carrying five teenagers leaves a winding road and slams into a tree, killing three of them. One escapes unharmed, another suffers severe brain damage. A
ebook, 240 pages
Published October 1st 2004 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2003)
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May 07, 2011 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don’t like teenagers. Since I’m not a teenager, and haven’t been for some time, I feel fine saying that. Teenagers are self-involved, narcissistic and utterly boring. They are by turns sullen, indifferent, and hysterical. Thus, it has always been shocking to me (the post-teenage me) that our country allows them to get behind the wheel of an automobile.

Driving is the single most dangerous activity most of us will ever undertake. And yet we allow the roads to be clogged with disinterested, over
Jeffrey Keeten
My friend Oren owned a battered, gold colored, extended cab Ram Charger in high school. Outside of town on the road leading to the Jarvis farm, where Oren worked when his pickup would start, was a set of railroad tracks set on a fairly steep hill for Kansas. For fun we used to gun the Ram Charger for all it was worth, getting up as much speed up as we could before going up the incline to the railroad tracks. The speed, the built in ramps would send us airborne. This was real Dukes of Hazzard shi ...more
Nov 04, 2007 Josh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was given this book a few years ago by a German colleague and I finally opened it up a few weeks ago. O'Nan is a writer who, like Paul Auster, seems to enjoy more literary celebrity in Europe than in the US. His books, translated into German, line the shelves of bookshop windows, you can even find them at airports and train stations. But I'm not sure if he's at all popular or "acclaimed" in the US.

I found this book extremely disturbing, cold and creepy, and it left me feeling horrible and emp
Aug 04, 2008 Alexis rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who liked The Lovely Bones...and only people who liked The Lovely Bones
Shelves: fiction
I loved Lobster but didn't care for this. Like other people have said, the teenagers are kind of stereotypes and their voices are annoying. Mostly I just don't care for books that have an extremely straightforward, you might even say, non-existent plot, that are only moved along because the reader has to figure things out based on clues that would be revealed quickly in the course of normal storytelling. You spend half the book figuring out what Tim's plan is, when Tim, the police officer, and a ...more
Aug 31, 2013 Bandit rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Another book that to me did not live up to its accumulative praises or its nice cover or the promise of its premise. Very stylized and unquestionably well written, this story of the ramifications of car crash just didn't draw me in. For one thing, it is severely mismarketed as a horror novel. While the story does take place on Halloween (both times) and does feature ghosts performing a somewhat very nontraditional haunting of their town and the crash survivors, it is very much a literary novel, ...more
Oct 29, 2012 Suzanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2012, horror
I can see why people are split on this one. I enjoyed the prologue, but the beginning of chapter one nearly made me put it down. I am one of those people that turns into a crankypants when presented with a present tense narrative if there isn't a VERY compelling reason for the POV choice. Here, I think there is one, but it takes a while for it to become apparent. Some elements of the narration were confusing at first, too. Having to go back and reread when I am totally paying attention (not skim ...more
Charles Dee Mitchell
As the first anniversary of their deaths in a Halloween car crash approaches, the ghosts of three teenagers drift through the suburban town of Avon, Connecticut. They are Toe, Danielle, and Marcoe. The crash involved no drugs or alcohol. They were driving too fast on a country road, lost control on a blind curve, and sailed into a tree. Tim and Kyle were also in the car. Danielle was sitting in Tim's lap in the backseat of the car and cushioned the impact. She was catapulted through the windshie ...more
Jan 10, 2012 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Paul by: Tom T.
In a small New England town on Halloween night, a car hurtles down a wooded road, fails to make a curve and crashes head-on into a tree. Three teens riding in the car are immediately killed, one must resume life with the brain of a child and lacking his trademark rebellious attitude and the fifth survives “intact” but emotionally scarred. Officer Brooks, the first respondent, is also deeply affected by what he has witnessed.

Now, those left behind are forced to alter their lives, live with their
Apr 10, 2009 Josiah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: El
My favorite O'Nan book so far. I noted at least one reviewer who felt that the teenagers seemed whiny and lacked depth, so I approached the book with some trepidation. But I feel that O'Nan really captures what it means to be a teenager. He builds up his portrayal with small details, like disagreements over who gets the shotgun seat and thoughts on the best places to hide drugs. His characters are not the cheerleaders and jocks usually cast in a high-school drama, but the outsiders who feel trap ...more
Jul 13, 2013 Nicole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My friend and dissertation director from grad school recommended this years ago. She taught it in one of her Gothic courses, recommended it not only as a good read but also as easily teachable, and added the extra enticement of telling me the chapter titles (all but the prologue) were taken from slasher films--interesting intertextuality. But I shelved it for a long time because, honestly, I hadn't loved the little I'd read by O'Nan in the past. I'm really glad I finally dove into this short nov ...more
Apr 26, 2010 El rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to El by: Josiah
It's been a year since the grisly Halloween car accident that killed Toe, Marco, and Danielle, and disabled Kyle. Tim is a survivor of the accident - while Kyle survives, his mind and body are crippled and he's essentially in a state of limbo. Brooks is the officer who first arrived on the scene of the crash, and the past year has been difficult for him for a myriad of reasons. It's been a year when this story picks up the thread. Toe, Marco, and Danielle are back, visiting those that loved them ...more
Jul 20, 2010 Matt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: supernatural, 2010
The Night Country is the story of the aftermath of a car accident (one year after the fact), that killed three teenagers. It is narrated by Marco (who died). Marco and the other deceased (Danielle and Toe) have come back to follow the two who lived (Tim and Kyle - who is now seriously mentally disabled). Toe, Marco and Danielle have spent the previous year leaping in and out of the lives of people who remember them, at the times they remember them (including while people are in the shower, appar ...more
Dec 25, 2016 Erin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This premise was fascinating to me - Halloween night, last year a group of high school students are involved in an accident. Three are killed, one suffers severe mental and physical injuries and one walks away unscathed. Now Halloween approaches again and we relive the experience and see what is happening now in the lives (and deaths) of the five from the car, Brooks, the police officer who investigated the accident and the mother of the teenager who suffered the severe injuries.

Marco, one of t
Robert Mingee
Sep 25, 2014 Robert Mingee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is not "scary", but it *will* haunt you. It is sad, and at times funny, and just feels incredibly "true". The actions of all the teenagers (living and otherwise), the downward spiral of Brooks (a cop involved in the tragedy), and the quiet but unshakable strength of the mother of one of the kids who suffered severe brain damage in the tragedy all feel spot-on, and weave together beautifully as the countdown towards Halloween and the 1-year anniversary of the tragedy approaches. I reall ...more
Here's a novel that deserves to be made a poster child for the gentrification of popular fiction. A trio of teenage ghosts haunt their small town as Halloween approaches on the first anniversary of their fatal car wreck. O'Nan mutes the horror overtones of this scenario in favor of a mystery-novel structure (in which he peels back various narrative layers to reveal what actually happened That Night) as well as a tour de force display of his viewpoint prowess. A neo-Americana atmosphere pervades, ...more
Jan 09, 2012 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This short novel takes place on a recent Halloween night in the small affluent town of Avon, Conn. It is the one year anniversary of a car crash involving five teenage friends, three of them are killed. One escapes all physical injuries, and the fifth has facial injuries and brain damage. Then there is the policeman who was on duty that night and was on the scene of the accident and is connected to the fatal accident.

What makes this an interesting read is that the story unfolds through the telli
Aug 14, 2010 Marvin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
I don't know if I ever read a novelist that shows so much influence from Ray Bradbury. The style is strangely similar. Unfortunately this brief novel doesn't do the Bradbury influence justice. The author puts the reader through a lot of logistical and stylistic calisthenics for a plot that is too simple and ultimately anti-climatic. The characterizations are stiff and stereotypical. Not recommended.
Jared Sandman
Aug 04, 2012 Jared Sandman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
This book is a heartbreaking look at the aftermath of tragedy. Told in an etheral style, it doesn't hold much in the way of plot. I usually prefer plot-driven stories over character-driven ones, yet this one held by interest. A great book that explores grief and regret in all its forms.

M. Gaffney
Mar 14, 2017 M. Gaffney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I will never grow tired of this book. The imagery and language is breathtaking and haunted. I was hooked by page one. I recommend this book to everyone I meet that reads literary fiction, horror, or mystery/thrillers.
May 02, 2016 G rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When it comes to Stewart O’Nan, I think he’s at his best when he goes dark. A Prayer for the Dying is one of my favorite books. The Circus Fire: A True Story of an American Tragedy, Snow Angels and The Speed Queen are up on the list too.

I was a bit surprised that I ran hot and cold on The Night Country; parts of it were terrific, but large swathes left me wanting more.

Brooks was the most intriguing character, so the passages focusing on him were engaging. The other main character of Tim never r
Anita Dalton
Here’s a quick synopsis: A year prior on Halloween, a car with five teenagers caught the attention of a patrol officer and tried to outrun him. The officer gave chase and the car crashed, killing three of the teenagers inside, gravely injuring one, while one walked away with few injuries. Marco, Danielle and Toe (real name Christopher) died. Marco is narrating this book while Danielle and Toe serve as a sort of third-person Greek chorus, chiming in with opinions and dark humor when they feel th ...more
Welcome, boys and girls, to Mediocre Hour! Here at Horror-Web, we like to dish out all types of entertainment. Sure, we mostly like to stick to the exciting or fantastically bad, but every now and then we like to share with you, our readers, the mundane. Why, you ask? Because we, the staff, feel that by experiencing our pain, you’ll better appreciate our highs and lows. So without further adieu, I give you The Night Country…

Now, before we even begin, lets discuss the fact that this story is not
May 15, 2011 Oskari rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kirjan ytimessä on edellisenä vuonna Halloweenina tapahtunut kohtalokas liikenneonnettomuus, joka jättää jälkensä pienen kaupungin elämään. Ytimen ympäriltä löytyvät kolarista hengissä selvinnyt itsemurhainen nuori, lapsen tasolle aivovamman takia vajonnut poika perheineen, onnettomuudesta pakkomielteen itselleen muodostanut poliisi sekä muutama muu joiden kautta tapahtumia kuvataan. Näiden ulkopuolella, milloin varjoissa milloin ihmisten parissa, kiertävät kolarissa henkensä menettäneet aaveina ...more
Laurel Deloria
This was a difficult story for me. Its an awful story, you know the end but its so well written that I had to finish it and I hated it. Very few enjoyable characters, a twisted plot, bedtime nightmare. Amazon review.A ghost story that begins in everyday tragedy, from a distinctly American master of both forms: a "scary, sad, funny . . . mesmerizing read" (Stephen King)

At Midnight on Halloween in a cloistered New England suburb, a car carrying five teenagers leaves a winding road and slams into a
Jan 17, 2015 Ellen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One year ago on Halloween a terrible car accident involving 5 teens from the small town of Avon, CT, changed many lives forever. Danielle, Chris (Toe), and Marco all died at the scene while Kyle suffered head, facial and brain trauma, and Tim escaped unharmed but psychologically damaged. John Brooks, a police force veteran, was the first on the scene and has suffered deep guilt over the circumstances. Now on the anniversary of the accident the spirits of the three dead teens have returned to Avo ...more
Nov 09, 2014 Hollowspine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Night Country takes place on Halloween, three ghosts have returned to haunt the living. Toe, Marko and Danielle were killed in a terrible automobile accident near midnight on Halloween night. Two others, Tim and Kyle, survived the crash. Kyle came out a walking vegetable, not even a shadow of his former self. Tim lost his best friends and girlfriend in the crash and though he remains friends with Kyle, he's more like a caretaker to his once rebellious buddy.

The police officer, Brooks, who w
Amber Frangos
Jan 04, 2012 Amber Frangos rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The final chapter of The Night Country: A Novel was brilliantly written. (No spoiler). O'Nan chose to write the final chapter in rewind that befit the tempo of the book. The spookiness of the story was supported through out by certain characters floating from the afterlife to the present. And, O'Nan is the definition of show-don't-tell. The storyline is simple: Teenagers tragically killed on Halloween, haunt survivors. This premise could have been hokey, cheesy or a script for a Lifetime Movie. ...more
Oct 14, 2014 Justin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
I admit the best part of this book was the summary on the book jacket. A Halloween ghost story akin to Ray Bradbury and Shirley Jackson, and about grief and loss sounded like my kind of read. And it is a literary horror story with a somber mood accompanied by evocative writing.
The Night Country is narrated by one of the three teens who died in the car crash a year ago, and as ghosts they follow three main viewpoint characters grieving over the tragedy: Tim, Brooks, and Kyle's mom. I don't mind
Feb 05, 2011 Jody rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was really planning on loving this book so just liking it feels like a let down. I had already read a very searing and riveting account by O'Nan of the 1944 circus fire in Hartford, CT. I have respect for this author and also heard rave reviews of this particular book AND I'm a fan of dark story lines. So what could possibly go wrong? I 'should' be giving this book 5 stars! This is a story of a tragic car accident and it's horrific aftermath but the bottom line for me is I just didn't really ' ...more
Nov 08, 2013 Holly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read, audio, 2013-reads
On re-reading I still really like this Halloween spooky story with its softball moral/ethical questions and quotidian Americana and irascible teenagers whom I don't detest. A little disappointed in the audio version - the reader just read too fast! I like a brisk reading pace for nonfiction books, but here I just couldn't stop to digest anything and the reader's tone rarely changed: Imagine a spoken recording that blitzes through a story narrated by a disgruntled group of dead kids who are simul ...more
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Stewart O'Nan is the author of eleven novels, including Snow Angels and A Prayer for the Dying, a story collection, and two works of nonfiction. His previous novel, Last Night at the Lobster, was a national bestseller, was nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and was named one of the New York Public Library Books to Remember. Additionally, Granta named him one of the 20 Best Young Ameri ...more
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“Come then, come with us, out into the night. Come now, America the lovesick, America the timid, the blessed, the educated, come stalk the dark backroads and stand outside the bright houses, calm as murderers in the yard, quiet as deer. Come, you slumberers, you lumps, arise from your legion of sleep and fly. Come, all you dreamers, all you zombies, all you monsters. What are you doing anyway, paying the bills, washing the dishes, waiting for the doorbell? Come on, take your keys, leave the bowl of candy on the porch, put on the suffocating mask of someone else and breathe. Be someone you don't love so much, for once. Listen: like the children, we only have one night.” 8 likes
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