The Night Strangers
By Chris Bohjalian
Review by Jarad Johnson
Small towns can often seem picturesque, quiet and overall just a peaceful place to live. But, as this book shows, that’s not always the case. Usually, it’s the people who don’t live there that have this rosy picture. Small town life can sometimes be much more complicated than living in a city. Particularly if there’s an evil group of people intent on killing your children. I’m sure that doesn’t happen in all small towns, just the interesting ones.
Most of this book takes place, in a small town in New Hampshire. After a serious trauma, a family moves there to start a new life. They quickly discover that they have walked into more danger than they left behind.
The book is very much written in the style of gothic horror, which is one of my favorite genres. It displays nearly all the characteristics of gothic horror, and really what more can one ask for in a novel? There are a few other aspects I found noteworthy. I’ve picked some key elements that I enjoyed from the novel that shouldn’t give too much away.
First, a huge section of this book is devoted to talking about and describing gardening. Over the summer, I suddenly became an avid gardener, so I was fascinated by all the herbs and exotic plants that the author mentioned. I even plan on growing a few next spring(or attempting to at least). So basically, I’ve become a huge plant nerd, because I spent more time than I care to admit looking up and researching the plants mentioned. Is this personal? Probably. But heads up fellow gardeners!
I also really liked Bohjalian’s take on the “witches” here. They’re not the traditional sort with the pointy hats and cauldrons, and all of the overdone, stereotypical stuff that has become the baseline for writing witches. In the novel, they call themselves herbalists, which means that they’re more science based, and their craft is subtler and less noticeable than normal. The whole novel is like that, really. Its horror has a subtlety to it, it creeps up on you, as does the plot. It draws you in, which is why I couldn’t put it down for nearly a week. Its multilayered writing, plots within plots, makes it all the more enjoyable. And what perfect timing too! Fall is upon us (even though its still blisteringly hot where I live), but if you’re looking to get into the fall vibes, you may want to start with this book. I really hope there’s a sequel, as well.
Jarad attends college at MTSU, loves tea, and tries to spend every spare second reading. Jarad wants to be an English major. Bless his heart! Let's all light a candle for him and send him happy thoughts!