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, has 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 die on impact or drown. 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 poignant and powerful ghost story with all the hallmarks readers have come to expect from bestselling novelist Chris Bohjalian: 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.From the Hardcover edition.
©2011 Chris Bohjalian (P)2011 Random House Audio
"A page-turner of uncommon depth. Guilt, egotism, and fear all play parts in the genre-bending novel." (Booklist)
"Bohjalian has crafted a genre-defying novel, both a compelling story of a family in trauma and a psychological thriller that is truly frightening. Fans of Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones and Margaret Atwood's Cat's Eye and The Robber Bride will find similar appeal here." (Library Journal)
"Compelling ... a practical magick horror story." (Kirkus)
I really, really wanted to like this book. Given that it takes place in towns and cities somewhat local to me, and I love a good, creepy story, I thought that I had no choice but to love it. But I was wrong. As was mentioned before, this book's two distinct plot lines really could have been two separate books. As far as what actually happened in the book- I did not find it frightening or spooky in the least, obnoxious would be a better word. The characters were all one-dimensional bad guys or unbelievably stupid "good guys". I'm disappointed.
I really enjoyed this audiobook. It was a fantastic mix of mystery, macabre and the constant suggestion of supernatural vs natural forces on the human mind. I thought the author did a beautiful job with character development, and I remained engaged with most of the characters, enjoying the occasional moral ambiguity or questioning of my loyalties. The end however was an epic disappointment. I almost wish I could go back and not listen to the last 30 minutes and make up my own. I can't downgrade a whole book based on a small portion, but really the ending...was remarkably unfulfilling.
As usual with Bohjalian's work, this is a compelling listen. Once the reader suspends disbelief and gets into the "genre-bending" plot arcs, the story is grabs you and won't let go. The characters are relatable and the geography and story location are palpable, supplying the primary ambiance of the narrative.
I loved the use of mixed-person narration, second person for one of the protagonists. It's not exactly a new narrative hook, but the technique works particularly well for this story and with this narrator.
Can't say more without spoiling, but suffice it to say that the twists and turns in "The Night Strangers" are delightfully unpredictable.
I started out really liking this story. I liked the pilot, even got used to the weird point of view in which he told his story. I thought the female narrator was also very good, in spite of sounded like a child at times.
I thought the scenes of the plane crash were really well told, vivid, and difficult at times, as they should be.
But there are several things I just can't get past. One was when the mom and one of the "herbalist" had a passionate kiss. Completely gratuitous scene. really.
And the ending was soooooo bad. I was MAD when it ended. Truly annoyed. I don't understand how these seemingly intelligent people became the people they were at the end of the book. It's like the author got an invitation to a really cool party, and he just had to finish this novel in order to go, so he banged out a few more silly thoughts and ran out the door.
Bummer. I REALLY liked most of it.
The premise was intriguing, and the first part of the book was well written, however it began to bog down in the middle, and the male narrator's "droning monotone" third person performance was too much for me. I quit mid through and don't regret it.
I have loved all the other Chris Bohjalian books I have read, but I could not get through this one. The airplane crash scene is understandably tough, but the plot of the story kept forcing the reader to go through it again and again. I finally had to stop reading, it was too dark and depressing, which probably means the writing was good, but I needed something with a little more life to it.
The Dragon Mother
This is my first book by this author and I am really impressed! The suspense was awesome and the story had a perfectly mysterious ebb and flow. There were many different things happening to the Linton family that might be related to their new house, but then again, it might not be related to the house at all. Chip has his own demons because of the crash of his airplane and the deaths of the people on board. But does his new house amplify the spirits, add to his delusions, or is the move to the new house just a coincidence? There are a group of herbalists in their new town, but is what they are doing magic, witchcraft, or just advanced herbology? And what is the fascination with twins in this town??
I don’t want to give away too much and ruin the mystery for anyone else, but when I finished this audiobook, I just sat and stared for a moment. All I could think was ‘Wow, I didn’t see that coming!’ It was a bizarre ending. I am still not sure how I feel about it. This book was kind of like Hot Chocolate with peppermint in it. Smooth, warm and creamy chocolate with the peppermint to wake your senses and put them on alert.
The Narration Review
This book was narrated by Alison Fraser and Mark Bramhall. I liked the dual narration for this story. The two voices worked off each other well. Sometimes with two different narrators you get a hot/cold feel to the story, but I didn’t feel that with these two. Both were very clear and easy to listen to voices.
This book deserves an A for effort, but the plot is unoriginal and the story overlong. Harvest Home, anyone? Children of the Corn? Witches of Eastwick? The story is well-told and the characters realistic but BOORRING. People are unnecessarily mean to one another, shallow and humorless, which really makes the novel drag. I didn't think it was terrible, but certainly not something I'd recommend to others. The two voiced narration is interesting, a bit jarring in that the man's side of the story is told in the second person present ("You go upstairs and look at your sleeping daughters").
Unfortunately, and this may only be my copy, but a re-download didn't help, the female narrator's voice suffers badly from "Charlie Brown's teacher" syndrome (waaaah-waaaaaaaaah). Either she is too close to her microphone or there is another technical problem, but some of her speech is unintelligible to me. I used several sets of headphones and speakers, and had the same result. The male reader's voice is clear, and I like his attempt at a New England accent, which the female reader never even tries. I went so far as to listen to samples of the narrator's other works, and none of those seems to suffer from the same problem, so she is not to blame. But her voice is a bit childish for the telling of this tale, even as the male narrator's is a shade to grim. (PS: for a 100th time, "water" rhymes with "daughter" and not with "matter"!)
Say something about yourself!
I love this author usually. Double Bind was great. However, with this particular novel he seems to have thrown some ideas together as he goes along. It starts out really well- fascinating account of an actual plane crash and followup of that story line and how some of the survivors (and non-survivors) were coping. But then, it kind of veers off into almost a Rosemary's Baby type story (for those of you who remember that early Mia Farrow movie.) It was like trying to combine two different story lines in one-and I thought it would have been a much more interesting story to stick with one. I was disappointed in the ending because it was kind of expected. Anyway, this author is very talented in getting you to believe that what he writes is very real. My only other comments are on the narrators- the female voice was too childish at times, even when not talking as a child. Also, as another reviewer noted,, the male character was confusing at times because he did talk about himself in a third-person context. It took me awhile to get used to it.
The story was good, chilly at some points and narrators performed well
It's not a very common topic although it is a ghost story, the approach a little different.
A old story told in a new outfit.
I didn't like the ending so much, a little bit to surreal for me. Was expecting something a little more...possible.
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