Linda S's Reviews > The Night Strangers

The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian
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I love a good ghost story and The Night Strangers seemed like a good bet for one of those curl up and be scared tales. On some levels this book did deliver on the creepy story but on a number of other levels it didn’t work.

The opening pages of this book are the most realistic descriptions of a plane crash I have ever read, and the most terrifying. When Chip Linton survives the crash of the plane he piloted and 39 passengers die he sinks into PTSD. As an effort to rebuild their life Chip, his wife and two daughters move to an old house in New Hampshire, a house that has a mysterious door that is securely closed with 39 bolts. And so the hauntings begin.

After this rich and dramatic opening the book goes astray. The house has a very sad history and the residents are eccentric in the extreme. This is where the story seems to go off the tracks. Rather than focus on Chip and weather or not the ghosts that haunt him are real or an offshoot of his PTSD the tale veers into a story of possible witches and covens with a very unhealthy interest in Chip’s two daughters. They also seem to be harboring a number of secrets about the family that lived in the hosue previously. Emily, Chip’s wife, despite uneasy feelings begins to trust these distinctly bizarre people taking the easiest path rather than cope with what is going on with her marriage and her children. So while the first storyline about a man being haunted by his past and/or ghosts the second storyline is about vaguely sinister herbalists. Chip’s story was often mesmerizing, the story of Emily and the townspeople was often boring, repetitive and these characters had no depth and were often laughable. In addition Emily was a supposed business powerhouse, yet as a mother I found her naïve beyond belief and often far too trusting of people she barely new taking over the care and upbringing of her daughters.

The final denouement was such a let down and so unsatisfying it actually made me angry. It’s not a good sign when I want to throw my Kindle against the wall. (I refrained)

This was my first book by Bohjalian, an author that I know is extremely popular. I will probably try another book by him, there were enough flashes of depth in Chip’s story and the opening sequence had me completely drawn in and horrified at the same time. I do think that I will read the reviews of these books very carefully before choosing.

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