Publisher: Anchor Canada

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Review: Night Film by Marisha Pessl

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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.

Review: Night Film by Marisha PesslNight 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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