Night Film by Marisha Pessl
s you all know, I usually read happy books, historical fiction, some literary fiction, and of course, the (not so) infrequent dirty book.
I don’t generally pick up scary books, thrillers, or mysteries, or really anything that will make my heart pound (in a negative way…)
And then, Night Film happened.
And I changed my mind.
Night Film, the new literary thriller from Marisha Pessl, is (to me) gorgeous and extraordinary. It is an work of immense proportions (literally), and I think, one of the best books I have read in a long time.
On a damp October night, beautiful young Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Though her death is ruled a suicide, veteran investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. As he probes the strange circumstances surrounding Ashley’s life and death, McGrath comes face-to-face with the legacy of her father: the legendary, reclusive cult-horror-film director Stanislas Cordova—a man who hasn’t been seen in public for more than thirty years.
For McGrath, another death connected to this seemingly cursed family dynasty seems more than just a coincidence. Though much has been written about Cordova’s dark and unsettling films, very little is known about the man himself.
Driven by revenge, curiosity, and a need for the truth, McGrath, with the aid of two strangers, is drawn deeper and deeper into Cordova’s eerie, hypnotic world.
The last time he got close to exposing the director, McGrath lost his marriage and his career. This time he might lose even more. (from Goodreads)
Other reviewers (who know way more elaborate words than me, and who employ fancy-pants phrases like ‘byzantine reflections’ ) have a lot more to say about how Night Film stacks up against similar books. I can’t contribute to that debate. I can, however, let you know what this neophyte thinks.
And she thinks it’s really great. She thinks it is creepy, and intriguing, scary, and enthralling. She couldn’t put it down. And, she is very proud of herself for not reading the end when she was halfway through.
Note: I actually did try to flip forward to see the ending first, (one of the reasons I don’t read mysteries or thrillers). But since this story is so convoluted and unexpected, I had no idea what I was reading, flipped back and didn’t try my mischievous tricks on myself again.
So, why did I love Night Film?
- I like big books and I cannot lie. and this one tops out over 600 pages. Lots of room for story twists and character development.
- The characters were robust, interesting, and well-developed. I got to know them, and they sorta got to know me.
- The story kept me guessing. Detractors say there were too many twists and turns, but I LIKED that I never knew what was going to happen next, and that I was continually kept on my toes.
- Marisha Pessl knows her way around a typewriter. She possesses many great words and knows how to use them. Her descriptions were vivid and exciting.
What’s really interesting about Night Film?
Pessl incorporates photographs, ‘evidence’ and interactive multimedia (a smart phone app that scans the ‘Cordova’ symbol and provides even more information). Some of this mixed media enhanced the reader experience (the movie posters, Time article, police reports), while others like the opportunity to use the app are superfluous (I never downloaded the app).
I’m not going to say anything else, just go read it. Then, report back.
Oh, and don’t expect to sleep. I had an odd case of insomnia after reading Night Film.
I was invited to the mysterious Night Film book party in Toronto. Marisha Pessl is really young (my husband who joined me for this event couldn’t stop staring and kept asking me ‘Are you sure she wrote that book?’) and charismatic. She was genuinely surprised that people liked her book. It was hard to believe this suspenseful but mostly weird story came out of her head. More evidence not to judge a book by it’s cover…
Also, the Night Film Margarita was really good, although
Marisha Pessl and the Night Launch Party
(Photo Credits: Author photo c David Schulze and ME)
Recommend Factor: 8/10
Unputdownable Factor: 10/10 (when you’re at this one part, where McGrath is…Oh, well, you’ll know. And you won’t be able to stop. So make time.)