I received this book for free from Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Night Film by Marisha Pessl
Published by Anchor Canada on July 1st 2014
Genres: Adult, Horror, Mystery
Source: Random House of Canada
Buy on Amazon
Now in paperback, the New York Times-bestselling author of Special Topics in Calamity Physics' hypnotic literary thriller, Night Film.
On 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.
Night Film is a book that I can say is unlike any other. And now I’m going to contradict that and say it reminded me a bit of The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo. Not in story or plot, but in its atmosphere and compelling nature. Night Film gives us a mystery like no other, following a horror movie director – Cordova – who has become a cult favorite and a huge enigma; his entire life is an endless puzzle. After his daughter commits suicide, Scott’s journalist nature can’t help but dig into this story. What he finds is at once fascinating and horrifying. But… what’s the real truth?
At 640 pages, this is one whopper of a book. Don’t let this intimidate you, though, it never has a chance to get boring, but it does take a while to get through. The whole of the book is dedicated to finding out who in the hell is Cordova, and what kind of life he really held. Every new chapter gives us a new – often horrific – clue to grip onto; with every new bit of information, our whole image of this man’s mysterious life unfolds in our minds. And with every new speculation, my eyes just kept getting wider and wider. At one point I thought I was losing my mind along with Scott. With that said, this is not for the faint of heart. Nor is it for the impatient reader. While we do get tons of clues and theories throughout, the pacing is unhurried, and concrete answers seem to never come. In my opinion, though, this is what makes the book so addicting. The need to examine and obsess over every new inch of string we’re given. You don’t rush through an experience like this!
The writing is very impressive. Pessl takes a story that is very slow moving, and turns it into a highly addictive read. Her characters come alive in only a matter of pages, and her atmosphere is phenomenal. I do admit that I was irked at first by the heavy use of italics, but I did eventually get used to it and stopped noticing. I could see this being grating to some, though. The foreshadowing and atmosphere that she achieves, however, is, by far, the best aspect of this novel. It’s written with this infinite amount of ominous energy that really propels you forward, making you devour every page you turn. It’s a hard one to put down for even a second, as you’re sure that in just a few sentences you could learn something new and shocking – and we often do. Cordova’s history, his movies, his estate, everyone who ever knew him; they all bleed with uneasiness and menace. Let me tell you, this becomes quite the thrill ride when you feel as if you were living it, as Pessl effortlessly propels us into her characters’ shoes.
Then, just when you think they have given you the whole story, you’ll be wrong. I do admit that I was a tad disappointed by the ending. Even though I was expecting it – it’s heavily foreshadowed throughout the novel by mimicking Cordova’s movie style – the “make of it as you wish” ending is not always my favorite. On the other hand, it’s the kind of ending that leaves you gasping, questioning the meaning of everything you have read; it’s daring and memorable, for which I admire.
Night Film is one book that will stand out in my memory for many years to come. It’s unique and highly creative, with an impressively eerie atmosphere that really makes the whole book feel evil, yet inviting. Like an addiction, no?
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Nick @ Nick's Book Blog
An addicting and mysterious read is exactly what I need at the moment. I’m still worried about the page length though! It would take me weeks to finish. 🙂
But I’ll be sure to check this one out at my library because it sounds amazing!
Great review, Giselle!
Haha yes this one is a loooong one. And the pages are super thin and hard to turn, it’s that big! Lol! >.< If you like thrillers/mysteries though it's definitely one that's memorable!
Renae @ Respiring Thoughts
This book was amazing! I loved how much information Pessl kept revealing over the course of the (freakin’ long) text. At the same time, the ending was pretty disappointing also. All that build-up, and then we get THAT? It was a smart ending, sure, but not exactly satisfying. I still really enjoyed the book, though, like you.
RIIIGHT? I so wanted more answers at the end. But I was kind of expecting it to end like that since it kept mentioning the endings of his movies were the same kind of deal. BUT STILL! ARGH! Otherwise it was such a well crafted story! Wow!!
Tammy @ Books Bones & Buffy
I bought this in hardcover when it came out, but haven’t read it yet. But I may pull it down and try to read it soon. I think this is the book with lots of graphics and photos, right?
Yeah it has a lot of pictures and other media like police reports etc that makes it fun to read!
I don’t enjoy the horror, but this book sounds soo amazing that I would like to give it an opportunity. However, I’m afraid of that disappointing ending >.<
Amanda @ Late Nights with Good Books
This sounds so good. It’s not normally the type of story I’d plan on reading, but I do love twisty stories and this certainly does sound as though it has a unique premise. Now, though, I’m curious to see what you mean by the heavy use of italics!
I’ve seen this one around and hear it’s really good, so I’m definitely curious. Your review has me even more so! I’m glad to hear, that while it may move slow, it wouldn’t be called boring. I like a good mystery.
Hannah @ The Irish Banana Review
Oooooooh. Adult horror? My kind of book! Lovely review, doll!
I enjoyed this one so much! And yes, although there’s not much of a ‘plot’ as such, I was never ever bored – so addictive!
Like you, I wasn’t 100% satisfied with the ending, but I LOVED the media throughout, and there’s an app too!
Great review 😀
I heard about the app I haven’t checked it out yet though! And yes the images and other media was such a great addition and made it all the more fun to read!
This is one of my FAVE books. I’m so glad you enjoyed it! 😀
Yay! Glad you’re a fan, too! It’s definitely one that will stay in my memory for a long time!
Wow! When I read the intial summary at the top of this blog post I though “oh God, I don’t know if I’m going to like this”, but your review was superb! I really want to read this now, is it available in the UK? Kind of concerned about the ending though, as they often leave me frustrated, but the page count doesn’t really concern me, although it means I wouldn’t blog about it for a good few weeks to say the least!
Thanks, Rebecca! 🙂 I’m pretty sure you can get it at The book Depository and they ship free worldwide! If you like horror/thrillers, you should give this a try! The ending could be a hit or miss, but I still think it works well for the kind of story it is!
I totally know what you mean by the atmosphere of Dragon Tattoo. I love that. Though it sucks the ending wasn’t great and predictable.
Great review! I’m always a bit nervous to spend time on such a long book, just in case it’s a fail, so I’m really glad to hear you liked this one!
I am reading this now for Forgotten Friday – I am really excited over this one!
Bonnie @ For the Love of Words
I was also slightly thrown by the ending as well but I felt the rest of the book was still so fabulous I couldn’t not love it. So glad you enjoyed it too, it’s one of my favorites. 🙂