The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian

Chip Linton is on top of his game – he’s a career airline pilot and has a near-perfect family.  Tragedy comes when a collision with geese on a flight from Vermont forces him to crash-land his plane into Lake Champlain, and in a bizarre series of events, the plane is torn apart and most of his passengers die.

Chip suffers greatly from unresolved guilt and PTSD; as such, the family moves to a small town in New Hampshire in order to help him sort things out.  They buy a rambling Victorian farmhouse that looks appealing at first but then slowly begins to reveal its oddities – in particular a strange door in the basement sealed with carriage bolts.

There are other disturbing things about their otherwise bucolic town.  There are a group of women that call themselves herbalists who quickly befriend the Lintons and take an uncanny interest in their twin daughters.  Chip’s depression, far from lessening, becomes even more of an issue as he begins encountering the ghosts of three of his passengers who died in the crash, and their frequent appearances become more stressful and painful to him with each visit.  His relationship with his family becomes strained, and his wife Emily no longer trusts him alone with their kids.  The herbalists’ involvement with the family, initially helpful, proves more sinister with each passing day.

The Night Strangers is, if anything, a page turner, and the story, if improbable, unwinds with enough suspense to keep the creepy factor running high – just the ticket during this Halloween season. 

(William Hicks, Information Services)

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