Books

[Book Review] Night Things (Michael Talbot, 1988) ★★★★☆

cover Night Things by Michael Talbot

Night Things stirs up something evil in a maze-like house.


Night Things is an enthralling and suspenseful story about good and evil and supernatural beings. Set place in a maze-like and seemingly haunted house which hides both good and evil it’s a journey though its hallways, secrets passageways and hidden rooms to discover its ultimate secret. 

Just like the house this story is sets up like a labyrinth and is full of twists and turns. Told from the perspective of both an eleven year old boy and his mother, it makes an interesting an adventurous story. It’s an occult fantasy horror which makes a fine read and is very enjoyable mostly because of the well written characters and the nice pace. It’s a horror classic and a must read.


Plot

Eleven year old Garrett moves with his mother Lauren Montgomery and her new extremely rich rock star husband Stephen Ranson to a big house for the summer in the Adirondacks. Lake House is enormous and built by an eccentric named Sarah Belfram, over 100 years ago. Allegedly there are 160 rooms, hidden rooms and corridors and stairs that lead to nowhere. 

Although Garrett doesn’t like Stephen very much because he thinks Stephen doesn’t take to him at all, he is very interested in the house. Mainly because he is into UFO’s and science fiction. When he encounters a strange figure at night in his bedroom, he is scared but intrigued and wishes to befriend this strange being. It’s the beginning of a sinister plan that is set in motion and Garrett and Lauren must reveal the house’s secrets to escape with their lives. 


Why you should read it

If you like a haunted house story, this tale has it all. A maze in a haunted house, sinistere beings, good versus evil, evil men, an innocent child and a brave mother. It’s a story that compels you to keep reading. Garrett is an endearing young boy and as curious and adventurous as they come. 

Because the story is told from two perspectives, alternated between Garrett and Lauren, it’s a coming of age story and a normal horror story seen through the eyes of both a child and an adult. Both make different discoveries and together they weave the story and solve the puzzels in the labyrinth and put them together. 

It makes the story much more interesting and these alternations tell one big story, not for example one scene twice. Each perspective brings something different to the story, in themes, discoveries and tone of voice. Their thoughts and feelings are reflections of the house and their relationships and understanding of themselves and the world. 

The house is an intriguing haunted house and well described and you wish you could wander those corridors yourself. The house functions as a decor, a sinister setting, though an exciting one, but the focus lies with the characters and their relationships. Therefore the house functions as a symbol for the labyrinth-like paths that form relationships and are as confusing as the house itself. The relationship between Lauren and Garrett is a loving one, but Stephen is not quite what he seems to be, just like the house, he hides some unfriendly traits. 

Themes like trust, friendship and love and loyalty are all intertwined with the house, the plot and the relationships. Which makes the story very coherent. There are some nice surprises and twists and turns you don’t see coming, and they’ll turn the whole story around. It mixes the occult, fantasy, horror, the coming of age part and the supernatural together with the thrill of an adventure into a fun read. 


My favorite part

The discovery of the house, I enjoyed most. I really love a haunted house story, preferable with lots of secret rooms and corridors and strangeness. Well, this book has it all. The disorienting part of the house, the exploring of Garrett firstly all by himself and then with Lauren is exciting and fun to read. It’s the core of the house, but also the core of the plot, that what connects the plot, the theme and the horror and fantasy. 

Also the passages written from Garrett’s perspective are well written and give it a touch of coming of age. His thoughts and motivations are exactly those of an eleven year old, and define that age where you are not really a child anymore, but not taken seriously by adults either, at least not by most of them. It’s that time you begin to wonder how people work, how the world works and that there are many surprises, not all fun and games, waiting around the corner. It gives the book more body and brings in an extra dimension which makes it more meaningful and adventurously fun at the same time. 


A favorite quote

‘She noticed also that the hallway was even more exaggeratedly out of proportion than the one they were standing in. So much so that at its far end what had started out to be walls and spindlework archways were now mere parodies of themselves, splays of wood and wainscoting gnarled and folded back on their original forms.’ 


Ratings

Rating: ★★★★☆

Scare factor: ★★★☆☆

Entertainment factor: ★★★★★


Info

Night Things is written by Michael Talbot and first published by William Morrow & Company in 1988. It was reprinted by Valancourt Books in 2015. It consists of 274 pages. 


cover Night Things by Michael Talbot