Synopses & Reviews
A ghost story that begins in everday tragedy, from a distinctly American master of both forms: a "scary, sad, funny . . . mesmerizing read" (Stephen King)
At Midnight on Halloween in a cloistered New England suburb, a car carrying five teenagers leaves a winding road and slams into a tree, killing three of them. One escapes unharmed, another suffers severe brain damage. A year later, summoned by the memories of those closest to them, the three that died come back on a last chilling mission among the living.
A strange and unsettling ghost story in the tradition of Ray Bradbury and Shirley Jackson, The Night Country creeps through the leaf-strewn streets and quiet cul-de-sacs of one bedroom community, reaching into the desperately connected yet isolated lives of three people changed forever by the accident: Tim, who survived yet lost everything; Brooks, the cop whose guilty secret has destroyed his life; and Kyle's mom, trying to love the new son the doctors returned to her. As the day wanes and darkness falls, one of them puts a terrible plan into effect, and they find themselves caught in a collision of need and desire, watched over by the knowing ghosts.
Macabre and moving, The Night Country elevates every small town's bad high school crash into myth, finding the deeper human truth beneath a shared and very American tragedy. As in his highly-prized Snow Angels and A Prayer for the Dying, once again Stewart O'Nan gives us an intimate look at people trying to hold on to hope, and the consequences when they fail.
"More poignant than terrifying....O'Nan's simple, searching prose...captures the inchoate passion and longing of teenage life....O'Nan demonstrates remarkable restraint; there's no grasping for tragic meaning...or melodrama." Publishers Weekly
"O'Nan, author of Wish You Were Here, tells a ghost story from the point of view of Marco's ghost....O'Nan's voice is compelling, his prose lovely and evocative." Benjamin Segedin, Booklist
"The novel's power lies in its density of observation....[S]atisfying and complex: a seamless merger of the fantastic and realistic that addresses universal human concerns...with great and unsparing fidelity." Bill Sheehan, The Washington Post
"This is a haunting and haunted tale, one whose stark originality transforms a common small-town occurrence into something approaching the mythic. Recommended." Library Journal
"The perfect ghost story for a contemporary Halloween, The Night Country follows its grousing, observant, funny teenage revenants from the graveyard to the Dunkin' Donuts and convenience stores of a wounded, well-off Connecticut town as they take care of some grim and unfinished business, demonstrating along the way that the horror novel and literature can live quite happily within a single set of covers." Peter Straub, author of Ghost Story and lost boy, lost girl
"In The Night Country, Stewart O'Nan has concocted a twisted, mischievous little tale of the hereafter, told with his signature unlikely mix of meticulousness and brio. He is without question one of the strongest writers of our generation." Jennifer Egan, author of Look At Me
"On Halloween night, the anniversary of tragedy, three teenage ghosts tell a moving story of a tragic car crash. Only Stewart O'Nan has the audacity and skill to reveal the secrets of small town life in such a deft manner. The book rockets to its inevitable surprise like a high speed chase. The Night Country is a gothic novel for the twenty-first century." Chris Offutt, author of Out of the Woods
"In The Night Country, Stewart O'Nan crafts a po-mo version of Poe at his best. The unlucky band of teens who haunt the scenes of their lives and demise touchingly sift through the shimmering residue of the past as well as the countless ghostly narratives that saturate our still Gothic culture. The book is self-consciously creepy and that makes it even creepier. It is also heartstopping at the same time it is heartbreaking." Michael Martone, author of Townships
"The story...is a good one and...well told....O'Nan has justly been praised for his extraordinary ability to enter the lives of a diverse spectrum of people." Roger K. Miller, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"[A] wild and wicked ride...a spooky little tale in the Ray Bradbury tradition guaranteed to give parents the pre-Halloween willies." BookPage
"O'Nan is treating a good ghost story as if it had the depth of tragedy. For all of his compassion, you put down the book feeling cheated....[T]he work of a sensitive writer with a genuine talent for investing the plainness of everyday life with straightforward lyricism." Charles Taylor, The New York Times Book Review
"[L]eave it to Stewart O'Nan to weave a uniquely terrifying tale....The Night Country finds its ultimate power...in a story that is chilling in its realism and one that, because it is so plausible, cannot be set aside." Robin Vidimos, The Denver Post
"The writing style is eerily intimate and crackles without distracting the reader....O'Nan delivers a visceral pounding that is hard to forget, and he will be responsible for many restless nights. This is very subtle horror." Brian Richard Boylan, The San Francisco Chronicle
"The Night Country is not a scary read. It is, however, a chilling one. By juxtaposing the angst of teenage years with the hoarier dread of middle age, O'Nan has put his finger on how frightening and swift is the hand of fate." John Freeman, Minneapolis Star Tribune
"I think that if you haven't read Stewart O'Nan . . . you have some catching up to do."
--Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly
"With one foot in the genre of horror-supernatural and the other in literary fiction, this book defies classification."
--Brian Richard Boylan, San Francisco Chronicle
"Chilling...By juxtaposing the angst of teenage years with the hoarier dread of middle age, O'Nan has put his finger on how frightening and swift is the hand of fate."
--John Freeman, Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Stewart O'Nan is a literary ventriloquist. Each of his novels is is so different that he seems capable of doing anything he chooses."
--Dan Cryer, Newsday
A strange and unsettling ghost story in the tradition of Ray Bradbury and Shirley Jackson, The Night Country creeps through the streets of one bedroom community, reaching into the connected yet isolated lives of three people changed forever by a car accident.
One year following their deaths in a late-night car accident, teenagers Danielle, Marco, and Christopher return, in spirit, to the sleepy New England suburb of Avon. Over the course of the evening, the three will drift into and out of the lives of those who knew and were affected by them. None is more affected than Tim, survivor of the crash, who plots a grisly act of remembrance, and Brooks, the well-intentioned police officer who first discovered the crash and whose life has changed in startling ways since.
About the Author
' s novels include Snow Angels
, The Speed Queen
, and A Prayer for the Dying
has named him one of the Twenty Best Young American Novelists. He lives in Connecticut.