Bohjalian's ghostly mystery
BookPage Fiction Top Pick, October 2011
Over the past two decades, best-selling author Chris Bohjalian has written about everything from a woman’s madness following a sexual assault (The Double Bind) to a midwife’s trial for manslaughter (Midwives). Now he has given readers a spellbinding, heart-pounding novel partially inspired by his own life in The Night Strangers.
In 1987, Bohjalian purchased a Victorian house, only to discover a mysterious sealed door in the basement. But it wasn’t until 2009, when pilot Sully Sullenberger was forced to (successfully) land his plane on the Hudson River, that Bohjalian had the second thread he needed for The Night Strangers’ terrifying plot. His protagonist, Chip Linton, is a pilot who lives to tell the tale of his emergency landing on Lake Champlain. But Flight 1611 ends up with 39 casualties among the 40-odd passengers and crew. Thirty-nine just happens to be the same number of bolts that seal shut a hidden door in the basement of the new house Chip and his lawyer wife Emily move to with their twin daughters Garnet and Hallie. This retreat to the mountains of northern New Hampshire is an attempt by Chip to come to terms with the crash. However, peace doesn’t come easily.
While Chip goes about refurbishing the house (discovering the boarded-up door and random weapons hidden in nooks and crannies in the process), Emily and the twins realize this small White Mountain village is populated with numerous greenhouses and self-proclaimed herbalists. As Chip’s grief slowly descends into a type of madness, Emily begins to question why the town is so obsessed with teaching her daughters the tricks of the plants.
The Night Strangers will frighten its audience with ghostly girls, spooky spirits and more, keeping readers on the edge of their seats. Lovers of herbal lore (or witchcraft) will have an especially hard time putting it down. Told through several different narrators, this is one perfect book for Halloween.
BookPage's Cat Acree talks to best-selling author Chris Bohjalian about The Night Strangers: