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Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian (R.I.P.)

The Night Stranger promised to be thrilling and suspenseful, and at times it was.  It really was a good choice for an R.I.P. read; I just wish I'd liked it better.

It draws some characteristics from several hallmark novels of witches, paranormal, and frightening books, but I was mostly reminded of Rosemary's Baby, a genuine classic in paranormal suspense.  The Night Strangers does not come close.

Although the suspense  (that vague, unspecified threat) hangs in the air from the beginning, there are portions that are very slow, especially those dealing with Captain Chip Linton's disastrous final flight.  Aftert the first third of the book, the suspense has lost its impact.

I found the second person voice of Chip Linton annoying.  Not just the use of second person, but the voice itself was annoying.  The family's complete and utter failure to have a normal reaction to their new "friends" in the small town gave me the willies.  The attempt to justify their lack of perception by bringing up Chip's trauma and survivor's guilt (over and over) didn't work for me.  Chip and his wife were almost scarier to me than the "herbalists" (with an unhealthy interest in the couple's twin daughters) that befriend them .

A great deal of time is spent on the old house the couple buys, and its oddities, but truthfully, except for the door in the basement, none of the other oddities have any purpose or genuine connection to the story.  It is as if the author couldn't decide who or what was the real threat in the novel.

I've put off reviewing this because I was so disappointed in it, but one more detail (Spoiler Alert!!!) -- nobody in town noticed that some of the individuals didn't age.  I was OK with this for a while, but when at the end, it was revealed that some of the characters were over 100...I just threw up my hands.

Other Opinions:    Night Light Reviews (loved it), The Bookish Librarian (loved it), Whimpulsive (liked it),
Scott William Foley (finally someone who had similar thoughts!), and Fancy Terrible (again, similar opinion to mine)

I had a hard time finding anyone who shared my opinion.  Most of the reviews were extremely positive.

Fiction.  Supernatural.  2011.  400 pages.


  1. This book is definitely getting mixed reactions. I'm looking forward to checking it out myself. Wonder if part of the problem is that this author doesn't normally write paranormal?

  2. Kay - While the book didn't accomplish its purpose for me, it obviously works for many people. I think this is one that you should read just to see where your opinion falls. :)

  3. It is too bad you didn't enjoy this more. I really want to read it at some point.

  4. I really wanted to like this one and obviously others did. Maybe I'm just in one of those moods.

  5. You know, Jenclair, you've stayed true to yourself and given a review that's going to ring true for many readers. I love that because it keeps things real and alive for us as reviewers. Great job! I'm sending you "The Pub Across the Pond" as our swap. If it's not something you want...quickly leave a comment for me! Hugs, Deb

  6. I do think I've been in a less receptive mood lately in my R.I.P. reads. I've one more that I've put off for the same reason.

    The Pub Across the Pond sounds good! Thanks, Deb!

  7. This was so well-written, Jenclair. I tried to read it but I found it too frightening. And boring, as you said. And I hated the way the voice shifted when it was his chapter. And I hated the forewarnings. If I had finished, I would have begun my book report with the question - if you had twins, would you move into a house in which a twin child had killed himself? I, in fact gave up the whole RIP challenge. I don't like paranormal. I don't like to be scared.

  8. Nan - I tend not to like novels about extremely vulnerable people or threatened children. I want my R.I.P. challenge books to be more like Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White. A little Gothic and with characters with whom I can empathize.

    And yes, what parent would so easily dismiss the fact that a child had killed himself in the house. Especially if there was a question about whether it really was suicide...