The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian

I hesitated before picking up this novel, because I was worried it would increase my skittishness about air travel. It didn’t. Instead, it made me leery of visiting small towns in New Hampshire!

Night Strangers is the story of former pilot Chip Linton. Chip has stopped flying after a freak crash that while not his fault, resulted in fatalities. In an effort to leave bad memories behind, Chip relocates with his wife, Emily, and their twin girls, Hallie and Garnet, to the White Mountains in New Hampshire. This is their first mistake. The second is to buy an old house without investigating its history. Once moved in, Chip becomes obsessed with a room in the basement and begins to hear voices. The neighbors, while friendly, are strangely well preserved and strangely interested in the twins.

I love how Bohjalian makes you care about some characters — and how he makes you dislike and fear others. He creates a spooky atmosphere and makes three little words, “She deserves friends”, so frightening I felt chills run up and down my spine every time they were uttered. His choice to use the second person narrative for Chip was interesting and added to the tension.

Night Strangers is an interesting hybrid of horror story, ghost tale, and family drama. When I say horror I’m thinking of books like Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives with a soupcon of Stephen King and Henry James thrown in.

Readers are divided in their opinion of the ending. I won’t lie — I was taken aback, but that’s one of my expectations when reading horror. I also expect a story with engaging characters that keeps you feverishly turning pages while simultaneously scaring you out of your wits. I think Chris Bohjalian succeeds on all counts with this book and I highly recommend it.

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