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The Night Strangers (2011)

by Chris Bohjalian

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,03410013,838 (3.24)65
From the bestselling author of The Double Bind, Skeletons at the Feast, and Secrets of Eden, comes a riveting and dramatic ghost story. In a dusty corner of a basement in a rambling Victorian house in northern New Hampshire, a door has long been sealed shut with 39 six-inch-long carriage bolts. The home's new owners are Chip and Emily Linton and their twin ten-year-old daughters. Together they hope to rebuild their lives there after Chip, an airline pilot, had to ditch his 70-seat regional jet in Lake Champlain after double engine failure. Unlike the Miracle on the Hudson, however, most of the passengers aboard Flight 1611 died on impact or were drowned. The body count? Thirty-nine, a coincidence not lost on Chip when he discovers the number of bolts in that basement door. Meanwhile, Emily finds herself wondering about the women in this sparsely populated White Mountain village, self-proclaimed herbalists, and their interest in her fifth-grade daughters. Are the women mad? Or is it her husband, in the wake of the tragedy, whose grip on sanity has become desperately tenuous? The result is a powerful ghost story with a palpable sense of place, an unerring sense of the demons that drive us, and characters we care about deeply. The difference this time? Some of those characters are dead.… (more)

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» See also 65 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 100 (next | show all)
What a letdown of what started off as an interesting ghost story. Instead this book combined two separate plots that never really merged well and for some reason only known to the evil book gods, the author chose to have one of the characters "speak" in second person present tense while everyone else was in third person. Ghosts, hauntings, a haunted house, and witches could maybe have been interesting, but this book as a whole was a massive fail to me. Maybe a better ending could have saved it, but it seemed like the author wanted to go for The Shining but try to change up the ending a little bit.

Chip Linton is an airline pilot, after living through a crash that almost killed everyone on board, Chip and his wife (Emily) and their two 10 year old twin daughters (Garnet and Hallie) move from Pennsylvania to New Hampshire. Emily thinks the family moving to an old Victorian home that has been on the market for several years, is just the way for their family to move on. However, it seems that someone else wants Chip and Emily to move and stay, and are going to do whatever is necessary to keep them there.

I have to say that all characters from the top down were not very developed. Chip is a passive person. I get that he was dealing with PTSD, but the things he was doing and what was going on with him should have been enough to have the man involuntarily committed. It didn't make much sense that he was also suspicious of their new neighbors, but didn't think to share that with his wife either. Considering how much his family seemed to mean to him, he didn't interact with them at all and seemed to save all his chatty time for the ghosts that were haunting him. Why the author chose to have Chip's POV written in second person present tense still baffles me.

Emily is not any great shakes either. Frankly I had a lot of problems with how Bohjalian portrayed her too. She finally after a while catches on that the people she has met may have some nefarious motives and she just keeps on keeping on.

The twins though they are written as different, did not feel like real 10 year old kids to me. If you are going to throw down some "The Shining" comparisons, at least have the kids actually act and speak like kids. One thing I always gave King kudos for, he wrote a realistic kid with Danny Torrance. The only thing that was interesting about the twins was the story of how they got named. And since that got repeated a billion times (being sarcastic) I quickly got tired of them.

The people the family meet may as well hold up signs saying "we are evil". I just don't get how in this day and age I could believe with as many warnings as they got they all just blithely continued. Whatever to them.

The writing was repetitive and boring. Frankly this book could have been cut by about 100 pages and nothing would have been lost. I really do feel bummed though because the first part of the story recalling the plane crash was well done (though I still hate the writing style the author chose to use for Chip) and then everything after that was not great.

The flow was pretty terrible from beginning to end.

The place the family lives sounds like it is full of greenhouses and practically on the Canadian border. You would think something more interesting would be going on. You would be wrong though. The family either hangs out with the new neighbors, or hears weird noises in the nighttime. Or random people won't tell them why they should be afraid.

The ending was actually an insult to everything else that came before it. Maybe if the ending had chosen to go full horror I would have given it at least a 3 star. But since the ending was a lot of well because of X, Y, Z, blah blah blah happened, it didn't work at all. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
I’d tried reading this novel a few years ago because it sounded good, and I’d heard the author was great. But I’d had to nope out as soon as I’d realized that the witches (or whatever they were) wanted to sacrifice children.
Unfortunately, I’d forgotten the name of this novel, and the author’s as well. And at the recommendation of Book Riot, which has never failed me before, I picked it up from my library a few days ago.
I’m in part 2, Chapter 3 (about 16.6% through the audiobook) when I realized this novel was starting to seem incredibly familiar....while trying to fall asleep from boredom.
So I went to gr to look this thing up, and found this amazing review, which helped me realize that I’d gotten rid of this novel (in disgust) before, and why. So I won’t be finishing it now, or ever. I try not to do this with novels very often, unless I know for sure I’ll never come back and try reading it again later, just in case it’s my mood or whatever. I’d like a permanent record of my dislike of this novel now, so I won’t make this mistake again.
The best review I’ve seen on gr in a long time:


https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/244719782?book_show_action=false&from_...

2 stars, and not recommended to anyone but insomniacs who don’t care one whit about this novel’s issues, and who can suspend their belief also. ( )
  stephanie_M | Apr 30, 2020 |
It’s well written with a good flow but I just didn’t really like the actual storyline. It just wasn’t my taste. I would however try another of Bohjalian’s books because I sense that he is an incredible writer. ( )
  NikiKropf | Feb 18, 2020 |
It’s well written with a good flow but I just didn’t really like the actual storyline. It just wasn’t my taste. I would however try another of Bohjalian’s books because I sense that he is an incredible writer. ( )
  NikiKropf | Feb 18, 2020 |
An airplane pilot (Chip) and his wife & twin daughters relocate to an old, rural Victorian house in New Hampshire after a disastrous water airplane landing. As the family members attempt to restart their lives in their new home, several simultaneous things begin occurring. Chip can't seem to escape his memories of the crash, including the ghosts of the deceased. The local group of "herbalists" in town seem intent on welcoming Chip's wife and daughters into their fold. And an old door in the basement of the family's home, bolted tightly shut, brings about more questions than answers.

One thing I like about Chris Bohjalian's books is that each one is very different from one another. You'd never know that they are by the same author, were his name not printed on each one, and I like that about his writing. That said, his books tend to be hit or miss with a lot of readers, and this one seems to be a "miss" for a lot of people. There is certainly a lot going on in this novel, but I did enjoy it for the most part. There are a lot of supernatural undertones to this one, but taken with a grain of salt, the story is enjoyable, though somewhat creepy. I did find the climax a little overly dramatic, but the ending wasn't quite as predictable as one might think, and I was fine with that. ( )
  indygo88 | Jan 18, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 100 (next | show all)
KIRKUS REVIEW

Bohjalian’s (Secrets of Eden, 2010, etc.) latest effort finds its dark magick in a coven of herbalists, ghosts from an air crash and the troubled history of a derelict Victorian house.

Chip Linton was an experienced pilot for a regional airline, but the aircraft he was flying one sunny August day hit a flock of geese upon takeoff. Chip’s chance to duplicate the heroic flying skills of Sully Sullenberger and the miracle landing on the Hudson River are lost to a rogue wave in the middle of Lake Champlain. Thirty-nine people died during the emergency landing. Until that day, Chip’s life had been the American dream: a profession he loved; a beautiful wife with a successful law practice; adored 10-year-old twin daughters. Now Chip fights posttraumatic stress and has crashed into clinical depression. Emily Linton decides the family needs a new start. She persuades Chip to move to the White Mountains of New Hampshire where she’s found a gingerbread-trimmed house crying for restoration. Emily joins a local law firm. The twins, Hallie and Garnet, try to fit in at school. And Chip goes to work remodeling the house, right down to obsessing over a door in the basement sealed by 39 carriage bolts. Chip, haunted by victims of the crash, wonders if the bolts are macabre symbols for the 39 dead. Like the Lintons, numerous houses around the small town have greenhouses, each owned and lovingly maintained by one of the herbalists. And the herbalists are especially interested in the Lintons’ twin daughters. The narrative develops an aura of malevolence early on, but perhaps too slowly for some horror fans. Many characters, especially all but one of the herbalists, seem one-dimensional. Some plot points are unresolved or take odd turns, perhaps in anticipation of a sequel. Chip’s story is the most compelling. It's presented in the second person and closely parallels the fugue state that sometimes haunts those with depression.

A practical magick horror story with a not-entirely-satisfying resolution.
added by kthomp25 | editKirkus
 

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Chris Bohjalianprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bramhall, MarkNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Our bodies are gardens, to which our wills are gardeners.

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, Othello
Dead . . . might not be quiet at all.

MARSHA NORMAN, 'night, Mother
Dedication
For Shaye Areheart and Jane Gelfman
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The door was presumed to have been the entry to a coal chute, a perfectly reasonable assumption since a small hillock of damp coal sat mouldering before it. (Prologue)
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Chip and Emily Linton have just purchased a rambling Victorian house in New Hampshire and hope to make a happy home there for themselves and their twin daughters. But in a dusty corner of the basement is a door sealed with 39-inch long carriage bolts. Then the haunting begins.
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