Title: The Night Child
Author: Anna Quinn
Page Count: 200
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Genres: Fiction, Literary Fiction
*Stacks on Deck – August 2017 – Book #1*
Summary: (Pulled from NetGalley)
All Nora Brown wants is to teach high school English and live a quiet life in Seattle with her husband and six-year-old daughter. But one November day, moments after dismissing her class, a girl’s face appears above the students’ desks—a wild numinous face with startling blue eyes, a face floating on top of shapeless drapes of purples and blues where arms and legs should have been. Terror rushes through Nora’s body—the kind of raw terror you feel when there’s no way out, when every cell in your body, your entire body, is on fire—when you think you might die.
Twenty-four hours later, while on Thanksgiving vacation, the face appears again. This time, it whispers, Remember the Valentine’s dress. Shaken once again, Nora meets with neurologists and eventually, a psychiatrist. As the story progresses, a terrible secret is discovered—a secret that pushes Nora toward an even deeper psychological breakdown.
The Night Child is a breathtaking debut novel about split consciousness, saving a broken child, and the split between past and present. It’s about the extraordinary capacity within each of us to save ourselves through visionary means.
(WARNING: Slight spoilers!)
Quinn’s novel is beautifully written and eloquently dances with mental illness, revealing it’s true nature. The symptoms and conditions associated with Nora’s psychological break rang true in my head as appropriately describing mental illness, specifically Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Nora’s Margaret (or her subconscious) is written in such a way that makes her relatable but also terrifying in her power over Nora.
The pain and trauma described in the book are not overdone and are believable descriptions of physical and sexual abuse that some people are forced to endure. Quinn’s writing allows us to relate to Nora during her break because we know and understand that this break with reality is essential to her healing and further growth. Nora must make every effort to mend the shattered pieces of her childhood and quickly realizes she has to include Margaret on this path towards healing.
Ultimately, I had a hard time putting this book down. The shorter chapters (a la James Patterson) kept pace with the theme of the novel and helped lend perspective into the time passed between the ups and downs of Nora’s condition.
The ending of the book is really the only thing that threw me for a loop. I was expecting some kind of closure, but that’s not quite what I got.
BUT! I did get the impression that Nora was FINALLY on the up-and-up. And that’s all that we can really ask for.
Rating: 4 out of 5 cacti