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Bonnie Read a Book Today

Reader, writer, cat tamer, and Tiny Communist.

Currently reading

His Dark Materials
Philip Pullman
Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief
Lawrence Wright

The Night Strangers

The Night Strangers - Chris Bohjalian I had really high hopes for this story about a family who flees to a country house in New Hampshire after a devastating tragedy. In the basement is a door and behind the door is...something. Something that is possibly exacerbating the husband/father's already unstable mental status. But somehow it never came together for me. I couldn't really care about the characters, partly because everyone but the children were so poorly drawn, and everyone seemed to lack depth. Trauma and melodrama just aren't enough to make a boring person interesting. At least not for 375 pages.

The perspectives shift frequently, and everything from the father's POV is written in second person present, demanding that the reader walk in his shoes. (You climb the stairs silently, a knife clutched in your hand...) It was a mildly interesting tactic at the start, but as the book wore on it became just another irritation. In an attempt to build suspense, the author hides as much as possible about motives and personal histories, but all of it is so easily guessed that it would have been better if he'd found a way to spell it out in the first place.

And the wording. Oh my dog, the wording. Bohjalian really seems to have a problem with pronouns. A character referred to singly in one sentence will be referred to as "the woman" or "the man" in the next, as if we've forgotten already of whom he's speaking. Scenes with the cat, Dessy, are the same, only she's not even "the cat". Rather she is "the animal". Every page has some attempt at mystery or suspense, he truly never misses a chance no matter how slight, but after a few chapters they all fall flat. My biggest regret is that I read it on Kindle instead of a paper book where I could flip ahead to the end and quit. It was every bit as disappointing as I'd feared, btw. But at least I got it from the library so all I lost was two days that could have been spent re-reading The Red Tree.