Posts tagged ‘Halloween’

Come and play with us forever and ever – “The Night Strangers” by Chris Bohjalian

“The Night Strangers” by Chris Bohjalian, Published in 2012

Again kudos to Bohajalian for his writing – like I said in my review of “Midwives” this guy does a lot of research for his characters and really writes admirably. But this novel, that started out so promising, just kind of turned into “The Shining” meets “Practical Magic” meets “Rosemary’s Baby” meets “Locked in Time” (Lois Duncan can scare the crap out of any teen girl) and so it becomes a kind of really unimpressive, discombobulated ghost story.

Chip Linton is a commercial airline pilot based out of Pennsylvania, happily married to Emily with twin 10 year-old daughters Hallie and Garnet. They are a fairly normal family until a flock of birds fly into Chip’s plane shutting down the engines.  He is forced to make a water landing and 39 passengers die, including his co-pilot. After months of battling severe depression and post traumatic stress disorder, the Lintons decide to move to a large Victorian house in the White Mountains to start over.

The house is quirky with a dark history – but promises to be a good family home.  Until the Lintons move in no one notices the door in the dirt floor basement.  It is a small door that has been sealed off with exactly 39 steel bolts.  Chip decides one day to break down the door with an axe that he found hidden in the house. After that he begins to be haunted by Ashley, a young girl, and her father. Both died in the plane crash.  Ashley’s father wants her to have a playmate in eternity and Chip finds that he may have to make the ultimate sacrifice of one of his children to make amends for the crash and Ashley’s untimely death.

Meanwhile, Emily and the girls have been befriended by a local group of women interested in horticulture who have renamed themselves after herbs and flowers. However, as time passes it becomes clear that the women are interested in the twins in a way that is both creepy and very dangerous.

The disappointing part about this book is that there are really no surprises. Bohjalian has cherry picked parts of some of the creepiest stories that you have already read and applies them here.  The book has such a promising and scary start that I was mistakenly optimistic about where it was going.  I cannot however abandon Bohjalian as an author so I will be revisiting more of his books in the future.   Hopefully none will have a small boy staring in the mirror, a finger raised, saying “red rum” that would just be a bit obvious and Stephen King might have something to say about that.

Now I need to find a good, scary book for these chilly October nights. Suggestions anyone?

scary door Stock Photo - 1640441

Other reviews to check out:

From Pen in her Hand 

From Horrific Knits 

From Turning Pages 90

October 7, 2012 at 9:41 pm 3 comments

Autumn should always have a good ghost story

It has been getting colder and that means autumn and that means all kinds of great things – cider, spiked cider, sweaters, blankets, fireplaces, and Halloween.   I always have books that I read and then wish I could read again and have that “first scary read” experience.  So in the interest of promoting all things spooky and autumn, I thought I would put together a list of some of my favorite fall reads:

1. “Little Stranger” by Sarah Waters – this is a ghost story set in the 1940s in an old English manor.  It is wonderful and fun and scary.  I will warn you though, the end was not what I had expected (Hollywood has ruined me) but it was perfect for the book.

2. “The Woman in White” by Wilkie Collins – this was written in the 1850s. Collins was a contemporary of Dickens and is credited with writing the first novels with the detective character which may have inspired other to follow suit and thus was born Sherlock Holmes.  But this novel has a ghostly woman dressed in white appearing at night, a murder plot, a handsome rescuer and everything a Victorian suspense story needs. This is also thought to be the first Western novel to use different characters to narrate the story (just a little nerdy fact for you).

3. “The Straw Men” by Michael Marshall – so this is not an amazing piece of literature by any stretch and the sequel is awful. But this book is damn fun.  Here is the description from Amazon: “Ward Hopkins, attempting to make sense of the accident that killed his parents, discovers a note and videotape that lead him to believe their lives (and deaths) were not as they appeared. Meanwhile, the abduction of 14-year-old Sarah Becker renews the search for a serial killer who scalps his victims, embroiders their names into sweaters using their hair and then delivers the clothing to the victims parents. As Ward and his CIA buddy slowly unravel the mystery surrounding Wards parents, FBI agent Nina Baynam and former LAPD homicide detective John Zandt search for the elusive killer. Their paths cross when a series of connections is made between the victims and a bizarre cult known as The Straw Men.” Sounds spooky, huh?

4. “The Executor” by Jesse Kellerman – This book reminded me of  “A Tell Tale Heart” which I believe we all had to read in Junior High.  Joseph finds himself over-educated, unemployed and homeless so he answers an ad to be a “conversationalist” with an elderly woman who lives in a creepy house all alone.  Eventually she asks him to move in with her and then it all goes terribly wrong.  This book is worth reading for the description of the library in the house in and of itself which is a room I plan on owning someday without the creepiness.

5. “Rebecca” by Daphne du Maurier –  set in the 1930s, a young woman finds herself married to Maxim de Winter, a rich Englishman. But unfortunately for her, she is the second Mrs. de Winter. Maxim’s first wife, Rebecca, seems to haunt every aspect of their lives.  Rebecca was more beautiful, more accomplished and more something that you just can’t put your finger on.  As with all of Daphne’s novels there is a great twist at the end.  Mrs. Danvers, the creepy, spidery housekeeper is one of best characters ever written.  If you want to skip the book and see the film it was directed by a guy named Hitchcock and it is equally as good.

Other good ones:  obviously”The Turn of the Screw” by Henry James; “Fingersmith” by Sarah Waters; “Case Histories” by Kate Atkinson; “The Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafron (I know, I know I already blogged about this book); “The Alienist” by Caleb Carr.

Enjoy the fall.

        

September 16, 2011 at 5:22 pm 3 comments


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There is some great literature out there, but there is a lot of bad literature as well. We shouldn't all have to read it. These are my recommendations and thoughts about the books I read.

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