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The Night Strangers

A Novel

by Chris Bohjalian

The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian X
The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian
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Power Reviewer
Cathryn Conroy

A Hauntingly Scary Gothic Ghost Story That Had Me Shivering in Fright (and Delight)!
Oh, what a devilishly creepy, hauntingly scary Gothic ghost story that had me shivering in fright (and delight!).

But one important word of caution: Do not read this book after dark. And most especially, do not read this book just before falling asleep or you will have nightmares.

Masterfully written by Chris Bohjalian, this is the story of Chip Linton, a competent and confident regional airline pilot whose plane one August day collides with a flock of geese. The plane loses both engines. With 48 people on board, Captain Linton ditches the crippled jet in Lake Champlain in Vermont, all the while remembering the "Miracle on the Hudson" when Captain Chesley 'Sully' Sullenberger did the same thing in the Hudson River with no loss of life. Linton isn't as fortunate. While he survives along with eight others, he is never the same man, haunted with memories of what might have been and forever grieving the loss of those 39 lives. His loving wife, Emily, decides it's time for a change, so the couple, along with their twin 10-year-old daughters, Hallie and Garnet, move from tony West Chester, Pennsylvania to a century-old house in an isolated part of New Hampshire's White Mountains. But the house is haunted and seems to be harboring strange secrets and horrors. For one thing, there is a mysterious door in the basement that is sealed shut with 39 bolts—the same number as those who died on Chip's plane. What is behind that door? Meanwhile, the local women who befriend Emily call themselves "herbalists," but they are more like a coven of witches with their bizarre names and odd potions, teas, and tinctures. Most alarming of all, these women seem to have a nefarious aspiration regarding the Linton family. There is evil inherent in this quaint New England village, and it is terrifying.

And the ending? It's a sucker-punch to the gut that left me almost breathless, screaming "Noooooooooooo!"

With three distinct plotlines that merge into one petrifying tale, this is an ideal book for those who enjoy a good, scary read, especially on a chilly autumn day. (Not night…no, no, no. Do not read this at night! You have been warned.)
Malinda Newman

The Night Strangers
This book was riveting. At first glance I thought it might be a bit corny but I was completely incorrect. I found myself reading into far into the night and being as frightened as a young girl hearing a horrible ghost story. I loved it!

Although the story is well written, its subject matter didn't appeal to me
I thought I had already read everything written by Chris Bohjalian, but I missed THE NIGHT STRANGERS until a few days ago. I love Bohjalian's books but might not have read them if I had started with this one. That is not to say this book is poorly written. It was the subject matter that didn't appeal to me. I would still call it a four-star book; it just isn't worth the five stars I usually give him.

After Chip Linton, an airline pilot whose plane crash landed in a lake, and his wife, Emily, and twin daughters move to an old home in New Hampshire, he begins experiencing what appeared to me to be hallucinations. One of their new neighbors, Anise, regularly brings them her homemade food, and I believed she was spiking it with a hallucinogen.

It's easy to understand why I believed that. Anise is among a group of especially friendly and helpful neighbors who are all herbalists with greenhouses in their backyards where they grow both normal and exotic herbs. Each member of this group is even named after an herb.

THE NIGHT STRANGERS is about Chip seeing and speaking with the ghosts of dead passengers on his ill-fated plane but, also, about this group of herbalists. Are they a cult?

The book is told from the points of view of various characters, mostly of the family members, including the 9-year-old twins, Hallie and Garnet. It is these girls who are in danger throughout THE NIGHT STRANGERS from both their father and his ghosts and from the herbalists.

If I had ever known for sure that Chip's ghosts were all in his head and certainly not real, I might have taken this story more seriously. More than that, I didn't see how the end could be as it was written. To me, it is unacceptable, especially Emily, who finally understood the danger of the herbalists if not of her husband.

I am a big fan of Chris Bohjalian. If you're from New England or if you've just visited, you are able to visualize many of the settings of his novels. This is his only horror offering, as far as I know, but on a plane with Stephen King's The Shining. Inspires fear and revulsion. I gave it a four only because I favor happy endings.
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