Saturday, July 27, 2013

Night Film by Marisha Pessl

Night FilmOn a damp October night, the body of young, beautiful Ashley Cordova is found in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. By all appearances her death is a suicide--but investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. Though much has been written about the dark and unsettling films of Ashley's father, Stanislas Cordova, very little is known about the man himself. As McGrath pieces together the mystery of Ashley's death, he is drawn deeper and deeper into the dark underbelly of New York City and the twisted world of Stanislas Cordova, and he begins to wonder--is he the next victim? In this novel, the dazzlingly inventive writer Marisha Pessl offers a breathtaking mystery that will hold you in suspense until the last page is turned.

This is definitely an interesting book. I enjoyed the first half immensely, although the second half dragged a bit and the ending didn’t quite deliver on the suspense. It’s an atmospheric mystery story that provides quite a bit of frights.

The novel starts off quickly, the author immediately building up a sense of suspense that submerges the reader into a strange, almost psychedelic underworld. This is the book’s strength; the mood, the settings, the descriptions. The characters don’t fare quite as well, since we don’t really get too much about Hopper or Nora, almost to the point where we don’t really know why they were part of the story at all. The protagonist is better developed, a fuller, richer character, but still we don’t identify with him quite as much as I’d have liked.

There are some down-right scary scenes in the book. This is a huge achievement in a book nowadays when we are all so jaded by visual stimuli, so I must congratulate the author on that. The final chapters, however, are disappointing. The huge build up of suspense and horror peter out without any real conclusion. It felt like the author didn’t know just how to tie all the loose ends together into a believable finale. The last chapter in particular, is laughable.

It’s hard to give a proper recommendation on this book. There were a lot of good things about it, but there was also a lot that needed some work. All I can say is try it for yourself and see what you think.


Rinn said...

I agree, it is really difficult to build up a scary scene now. People are so used to horror films and some of the horrific imagery in that - plus since you're imagining the scene yourself when reading, you can make it as scary or harmless as you like.
Lovely review, I hadn't heard of this one before but I might give it a read if I can get a copy =)

Audra said...

Nice review -- I got an ARC of this but wasn't going to read it -- you've got me tempted now! Although that's a bummer about the end not being as good as the start... I hate that!

guiltlessreader said...

Looks intriguing. It's a pity that you were disappointed with the ending ... I'll pop this on my TBR and see. Thanks for a great review!