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The Night Country

3.65  ·  Rating Details  ·  957 Ratings  ·  126 Reviews
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 year later, summoned by the memories of those closest to them, the three that died come back on a last chilling mission among the living.
A strange and uns
Hardcover, 229 pages
Published October 1st 2003 by Farrar Straus Giroux (first published 2003)
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The Halloween Tree by Ray BradburySomething Wicked This Way Comes by Ray BradburyDracula by Bram StokerThe Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Bo HamptonFrankenstein by Mary Shelley
Best Halloween Books
82nd out of 392 books — 462 voters
The Name of the Wind by Patrick RothfussHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. RowlingMistborn by Brandon SandersonHarry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
Best Fantasy of the 2000s
338th out of 354 books — 331 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,712)
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Apr 26, 2016 Matt rated it really liked it
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
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
Jan 17, 2009 Alexis rated it did not like it
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
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
Nov 09, 2012 Suzanne rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 29, 2015 Charles Dee Mitchell rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror, ghost-stories
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
May 17, 2012 Paul rated it really liked it
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
Mar 06, 2010 Josiah rated it really liked it
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
Jared Sandman
Aug 07, 2012 Jared Sandman rated it it was amazing
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.

Aug 06, 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
Jul 17, 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
May 07, 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
Mar 09, 2010 Adam rated it really liked it
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
Robert Mingee
Nov 01, 2015 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
Jan 09, 2012 Tom rated it really liked it
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
Nov 13, 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
Oct 18, 2014 Justin rated it liked it
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
Oct 10, 2010 Marvin rated it it was ok
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.
Timothy Juhl
Nov 04, 2014 Timothy Juhl rated it it was amazing
This was the most recent book of O'Nan's I read and it cinched his standing as one of my favorite and mostly unknown contemporary writers. O'Nan takes many risks with his fiction and in this little book, his narrator is a teenage ghost (and the spokesperson for his other 3 friends also killed in a car accident that took place one year ago on the previous Halloween). The ghosts follow the town cop, their families, their friends as everyone in the small town is anxious about the anniversary of thi ...more
Oct 27, 2015 Christa rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book for what it was: a short ghost story to read around Halloween. I'm not sure if I missed something, but I wasn't quite sure how the two other students who set the tree on fire, Travis and Greg, were aware that Officer Brooks was a "liar," regarding the deaths of Marco, Toe, Danielle, and 'real' Kyle...If the police station covered up all those details, as O'Nan tells us they did, how did these two students, random aside from their friendship with Toe, know? This small hole in ...more
Jan 20, 2016 Ellen rated it really liked it
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
Doug Gillan
Oct 18, 2015 Doug Gillan rated it liked it
This is a modern ghost story. The idea of the story is interesting and the writing is atmospheric, perfect for a ghost story. But, the novel has a very limited plot, so, as a consequence the story is repetitive, which distracts from the atmosphere -- I found it hard to be spooked out when I kept wondering when something might happen. If you want atmosphere and plot, reread Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House. I expect that Stewart O'Nan will produce a much better scary book in the futur ...more
Oct 01, 2008 Kelly rated it liked it
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
Feb 07, 2011 Jody rated it liked it
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
Amber Frangos
Jan 22, 2012 Amber Frangos rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 25, 2012 Leighkaren rated it it was ok
This is the first O'Nan book I've read, and I heard he was Ray Bradbury (love love love) combined with Stephen King, and a little of his own razzle dazzle, I was pretty stoked to read it. But I was really disappointed. It was really hard to get who the omniscient narrator was, and which kid it was telling most of the story. I figured out at some point that it was Marco (I think?), but it took me a while. Where the novel was going was a mystery to me almost until the end, I guess because there wa ...more
Jan 18, 2014 Holly added it
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
Jane Doe
Oct 22, 2009 Jane Doe rated it it was ok
Noch ein nicht zuende gelesenes Buch. ich nehme mir trotzdem die Freiheit, darüber zu urteilen: Langatmig. Die Idee an sich ist ja ganz nett, die Geschichte wird aus der Sicht von jugendlichen Geistern geschildert. Jedoch entsprechen diese dem Klischeebild des durchschnittlichen amerikanischen Teenagers und, schlimmer noch, dem langweiligen 0815-Geist à la Casper. Sie erscheinen dort, wo man an sie denkt und sind nicht in der Lage, Gegenstände zu bewegen. also bitte. Dies ist mein 2. Werk von O' ...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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