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In the Night Room (2004)

by Peter Straub

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7211227,562 (3.23)37
In his latest soul-chilling novel, bestselling author Peter Straub tells of a famous children’s book author who, in the wake of a grotesque accident, realizes that the most basic facts of her existence, including her existence itself, have come into question. Willy Patrick, the respected author of the award-winning young-adult novel In the Night Room, thinks she is losing her mind–again. One day, she is drawn helplessly into the parking lot of a warehouse. She knows somehow that her daughter, Holly, is being held in the building, and she has an overwhelming need to rescue her. But what Willy knows is impossible, for her daughter is dead. On the same day, author Timothy Underhill, who has been struggling with a new book about a troubled young woman, is confronted with the ghost of his nine-year-old sister, April. Soon after, he begins to receive eerie, fragmented e-mails that he finally realizes are from people he knew in his youth–people now dead. Like his sister, they want urgently to tell him something. When Willy and Timothy meet, the frightening parallels between Willy’s tragic loss and the story in Tim’s manuscript suggest that they must join forces to confront the evils surrounding them. From the Hardcover edition.… (more)
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» See also 37 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
Peter Straub makes my head hurt. But in a good way. All through the contortionist metafiction that is this novel, I was amazed by his imagination. About ⅓ of the way through I figured out that this book is related to lost boy, lost girl, but I was hooked so continued. It features Tim Underhill, who also appeared in Koko and I think, The Throat, both of which are part of the Blue Rose trilogy. Haven’t read those yet, but I will. Not only is it his sheer imagination, but way to set the hook, Pete - “As soon as he had done so, he remembered dumping a couple of similar emails two days earlier. For a moment, what he had seen from the sidewalk outside the Fireside Diner flared again before him, wrapped in every bit of its old urgency and dread.” p1

More great little nuggets -
“...with the blank subject lines that indicated a kind of indifference to protocol he wished he did not find mildly annoying.” p6

“You with the funny name. Are we interested in another journey back to the antiseptic corridors of western Massachusetts? An hour or two in the Institute’s game room?” p11 (so between this sentence and pages 1-10 we now have madness, dead kids, vanished kids, creepy emails and a mental institution!! Way to pile it on!

“Nor was he {Faber} the product of the East coast privilege hatcheries responsible for {another character}. P 22 Privilege hatcheries!!

“After she seemed to have recovered sufficiently from the shock of her great loss, she returned to New York feeling like an unpeeled egg.” p 36

This is a really difficult book to talk about without major spoilers. It’s better to go in blind, especially if you like metafictional stories. Like many other of his novels, there’s a supernatural element to this one that you just have to go with. Like Jasper Fforde’s concepts, but darker. Much darker. Some things are easy to spot, like one of the major villains, but other things will blind side you and it’s fun. I’m going to have to get the other Tim Underhill books really soon before the details of this one fade. ( )
1 vote Bookmarque | Sep 25, 2019 |
I just love this strange novel for some reason. I love the strange twists and the whole idea of a character becoming real and not knowing they are a creation, not a person. The description of a fictional character noticing that his world dims mysteriously (his author dies, though he's also fictional...) is heartbreaking. Straub is such a weird fucker. But occasionally I love him madly. ( )
  jjaylynny | Nov 12, 2016 |
Author Tim Underhill is having a bad day. He gets weird emails that come from dead people- and also emails from an exceptionally rude angel. He sees his dead sister. A ‘fan’ approaches him as he has lunch, asking him to sign a whole bag full of books, proceeds to rant about finding the ‘real’, perfect version of books, and then stalks Underhill.

Willy Patrick, author of children’s books, is also having a bad day. She is convinced that her daughter is being held in a warehouse. But her daughter, and her late husband, were killed some time ago. She is well aware that this is a kind of madness, so she goes back home, to her incredibly wealthy fiancé’s house that she is moving into in preparation for their wedding. Her fiancé is very secretive about what he does and is a control freak. Quite by accident she finds that her fiancé may have had something to do with her husband’s and daughter’s deaths, and she finds herself on the run. She winds up meeting Underhill, and they both flee the area.

I found this book to be rather frustrating. Straub played with reality in ways that I found hard to follow for a good long time- which is okay for a while. Patrick is said to be the author of the book “lost boy lost girl”- which of course Straub wrote (and I suspect that ‘Night Room’ would be a lot easier to follow if one has read ‘lost boy lost girl’ first.) Some things are said to be from his imagination, but other things are supposed to be ‘real’. The plot takes its time to get anywhere, with many things introduced that ultimately don’t go anywhere and left me, at the end, wondering what that bit was all about and if I’d missed something. For example, the emails from Underhill’s dead acquaintances seem to merely function to let him know that something weird is happening; they have no impact on the story itself. But the thing that bothered me the worst is that the story completely failed to scare me. ( )
  lauriebrown54 | Feb 8, 2015 |
I've generally enjoyed Peter Straub's books, but In the Night Room was a strange read, and I'm not sure what I think about it. Apparently, it's a sequel to the Bram Stoker winning novel lost boy lost girl, which I haven't read and this book makes reference to the first on several occasions. I think I might have done better to read them in order, though the structure is so unusual that I'm not sure about that.

The story followed Tim Underhill, a writer of dark tales filled with murder and suspense, who begins to received strange messages from the dead, and Willey Patrick, a writer of young adult novels, who is about to wed a dark and dangerous man. The tale alternates back and forth between the two and then slowly brings them together in a rather strange way. I'm not sure what else to add without including spoilers.

I can see what people might love this book, and I can also see why others might hate it. The structure and the tone evoke both possibilities. I'm settled somewhere uncomfortably in the middle, and I'm not sure which way to lean. ( )
  andreablythe | Dec 30, 2013 |
In general I've always like Peter Straub's books.... Not this one. A great premise, a lackluster effort. ( )
  pidgeon92 | Apr 1, 2013 |
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About 9:45 on a Wednesday morning early in a rain-drenched September, a novelist named Timothy Underhill gave up, in more distress than he cared to acknowledge, on his ruined breakfast and the New York Times crossword puzzle and returned, far behind schedule, to his third-floor loft at 55 Grand Street.
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In his latest soul-chilling novel, bestselling author Peter Straub tells of a famous children’s book author who, in the wake of a grotesque accident, realizes that the most basic facts of her existence, including her existence itself, have come into question. Willy Patrick, the respected author of the award-winning young-adult novel In the Night Room, thinks she is losing her mind–again. One day, she is drawn helplessly into the parking lot of a warehouse. She knows somehow that her daughter, Holly, is being held in the building, and she has an overwhelming need to rescue her. But what Willy knows is impossible, for her daughter is dead. On the same day, author Timothy Underhill, who has been struggling with a new book about a troubled young woman, is confronted with the ghost of his nine-year-old sister, April. Soon after, he begins to receive eerie, fragmented e-mails that he finally realizes are from people he knew in his youth–people now dead. Like his sister, they want urgently to tell him something. When Willy and Timothy meet, the frightening parallels between Willy’s tragic loss and the story in Tim’s manuscript suggest that they must join forces to confront the evils surrounding them. From the Hardcover edition.

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