Book Review: Night Film by Marisha Pessl

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.

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My Review:

I’m not usually into mytery/thriller/suspense novels.  Granted, I have a few authors I follow pretty religiously (Ahem, Tana French, I’m so ready for your next), but mostly 10 years of reading James Patterson and Stuart Woods books pretty much put me off from the genre for the last few years.  When the buzz about Night Film started to emerge I took one look at the cover and dismissed the novel.  It didn’t appeal to me at all.  But then, something strange happened.

Have you ever looked at something and thought, nope, not interested, but then it lingers in the back of your mind and you start to think about wanting it and then that thinking turns into looking at it online…but then just before you decide to take the leap you worry that maybe you have built it up to be something it’s not and you dread the inevitable disappointment?  No? Yes? Beuller? Well, welcome to what my mind is like.  So I didn’t take the plunge, I didn’t make the purchase, but I did put the book on my wishlist.

No one got me it for Christmas.

So how did I finally manage to get to it?  Let me tell you a bit of a story (please, indulge me because a real review is coming up and this is necessary for me to review it).  I didn’t go to the library, I didn’t manage to win a gift card or stumble across it on paperback swap.  Nope. I went home for two weeks over Christmas/New Years (my folks home where I lived while going to school.  I haven’t been back since moving to Hawaii last May) and spent a total of 11 of my 14 days home there, looking at my beloved book shelves filled with books, and not noticing a thing until day 12.  On day 12 I noticed something odd.  A book in a strange place, right in the middle of a series. What was it?  Why it was an advance paperback copy of Night Film.  Weird, right?  It was the ONLY book that missed my change of address and so there it sat while I sat in Hawaii wondering whether I should finally take the plunge.

So I read the book during a 40 hour trip back to the islands. I devoured every word, sometimes more than once or even twice.  I pored over all of the “extras” inside.  And the entire time I was immersed in this book I kept thinking of the circumstances that led to it being in my hands.  You see, this book is about something dark and deep, but also it’s about being caught up in something that’s bigger than yourself.  And that’s what happened here.  Someone knew I wanted this book before I even knew it myself.  And so there it sat, waiting for me.  It’s so strange that I didn’t see it right away (my mother confirmed it arrived during the summer so it wasn’t a recent placement), because I am usually very in tune with my system and what’s on my shelves.

I loved Night Film, folks.  I mean… I loved it so much that I’m going to sit right here and type that it will be in my top five books of 2014, and the year has barely begun.  The amount of detail put into this story is unreal.  From the articles to the entire persona built up by Pessl – the atmosphere is set right away and not once does the pace slacken or let loose its grip on the reader.  I actually had to put down the book and just absorb some parts because so much happened in certain scenes that I needed to take time to process and remember what had come before.

So yes, Night Film is hands-down a favorite.  And now I know that I need to buy that hardcover edition – not just for myself but for the readers around me as well.  Marisha Pessl has a new fan right here and now I will add another author to that shelf that is anxiously awaiting my other favorite authors next releases.

Check out these reviews!

  • “This is an up all night book. I stayed up until 1 AM, in spite of an exam the next morning. And if that isn’t a testament to how good Night Film is, then I don’t really know what else to say—especially coming from me, as I rarely forgo sleep in favor of reading. ” – Respiring Thoughts
  • Night Film presents itself as a mystery, but it flirts with the occult and the horror in a way that reminded me of uncertain gothic novels. I was seduced and intrigued from the first scene, and I ended up entranced by it, pacing my reading to make it last. ” – The Infinite Curio
  • “[Pessl] just seemed to be having so much fun with it that even a wimpy reader like me (one who can’t watch even the campiest horror film) was swept up and enthralled with every dark turn of the author’s imagination.” – Reading the End

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