June is Audiobook Month, in case you haven’t heard, and I want to get at least one more audiobook review posted before the month is over!
The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian, narrated by Alison Fraser and Mark Bramhall, is a good one for late winter reading, when the nights are still long but spring is in the air. Or for October, when you need something creepy and chilling to listen to for Murders, Monsters and Mayhem over at Jenn’s Bookshelves. But I listened to it in the middle of a spring heat wave and it was still pretty chilling. So it’s a good one for whenever you’re in the mood for a psychological ghost story about an airline pilot who survives a plane crash in Vermont and is brought by his wife, with their young twin daughters, to a creaky old house in northern New Hampshire to recuperate emotionally from his trauma.
The plane crash has left physical and psychic scars on Chip Linton, and his depressed state is affecting his family. Uprooting themselves from Pennsylvania and getting a fresh start in New England (“any state but Vermont”) seems like a good idea, and so does buying the three-story Victorian in the remote town of Bethel, about fifty miles from the Canadian border. Renovating the drafty, old house will keep Chip’s mind occupied while his wife Emily goes to work and Hallie and Garnet go to school.
But there are other things in the house that keep Chip occupied, besides the hallucination-inducing wallpaper and hidden stairways, such as visitors – passengers who didn’t survive the plane crash – who come to talk just with him.
Mark Bramhall reads the parts of The Night Strangers that put readers into the disturbed mind of Chip Linton, and does an excellent job of keeping a listener wondering what’s real and what’s not. Traumatized, Chip is unmoored, adrift; the detached style of Mark Bramhall’s narration captures that state of mind perfectly. Narrator Alison Fraser reads the parts of the story that are told from the normal, more rational perspectives of Emily, Hallie, or Garnet. She is great with the different voices and at putting just a faint note of concern into their thoughts and words. After all, the rumors swirling around town that the house is haunted and that the gardening women who befriend Emily and the girls practice some sort of witchcraft have to be merely rumors. Ghosts and witches don’t really exist.
I have also listened to The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian on audio, narrated by Susan Denaker (which was also excellent). There may be something about Chris Bohjalian’s storytelling style of writing that makes it perfect for audio. Listen to an excerpt from The Night Strangers here, at Random House, and see what you think.
The Night Strangers
Mark Bramhall and Alison Fraser, narr.
Random House Audio, 2011978-0-307-94077-3
14 hours on 11 CDs
Disclosure: I borrowed this audiobook through my public library system.