On a damp October night, beautiful young Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan.
Though her death is ruled a suicide, veteran investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. As he probes the strange circumstances surrounding Ashley’s life and death, McGrath comes face-to-face with the legacy of her father: the legendary, reclusive cult-horror-film director Stanislas Cordova—a man who hasn’t been seen in public for more than thirty years.
For McGrath, another death connected to this seemingly cursed family dynasty seems more than just a coincidence. Though much has been written about Cordova’s dark and unsettling films, very little is known about the man himself.
Driven by revenge, curiosity, and a need for the truth, McGrath, with the aid of two strangers, is drawn deeper and deeper into Cordova’s eerie, hypnotic world.
The last time he got close to exposing the director, McGrath lost his marriage and his career. This time he might lose even more.
~ Blurb from the back of the book
Going in, I had no idea what to expect from Night Film. I had read a couple of intriguing reviews that spoke about the multimedia aspects of the book, and that aspect, combined with mentions of suicide and occult doings was enough to sell this book to me.
I knew I would fall in love with Night Film as soon as I started it. It opens with some faked online news article about Ashley and her father. The way this was put together was the perfect hook to reel me into this book.
I usually tend to devour thrillers overnight, however this book took more than two weeks to complete not that I am complaining. For one, the book is extremely detailed and also extremely vivid. Marisha Pessl literally makes a movie with her words. Every interview, every experience that the trio of investigators go through, I felt that I was going through it as well.
I quickly realized that I really needed to take breaks from the book as it got creepier. I tend to read books late in the night before bedtime, but I discarded that ritual once the book entered its stride and started showing signs of getting seriously twisted. I ended up starting at shadows and peering out of windows suspiciously at strange sounds in the night.
It was only with the advent of the long weekend that I could fearlessly read this book in broad daylight 😀 otherwise this could so easily have been a Did not Finish.
So yes, this book is creepy and scary as hell. While the writing is ordinary (solid but not mind-blowing), the cadence of the book is perfect almost like a roller-coaster ride or a classical music symphony. It has a slow start, builds to a thrilling crescendo, before gently slowing down and letting you down at the end.
There have been a few reviews online from people who were disappointed at the gentle ending. I for one was relieved. So much of bleakness was hard to take, and the final rather prosaic ending was balm for my soul.
Thoughts on the Multimedia Inserts and App Outtakes
The images and the web pages inserted into the book are wonderful. Far from being a distraction, these graphics immersed me further into the book. Here are some examples of the imagery used:
A Missing Persons report that we read along with McGrath and screen caps of the forums that McGrath visits online during his investigations. Perfect examples where it is far simpler to show what the investigator is looking at rather than tell it later. I like this writing style (more show, less tell), and I think we will see more such innovations in many other books.
The app embed is also great – it provides additional information, but nothing that is spoiler-y or necessary to understand the book. If you don’t have access to the app, you are not missing anything in terms of content. It’s just the extra icing on what is really a well put-together thriller.
Thanks to Penguin Random House for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
You can also purchase this book from Amazon
What about you? Have you read Night Film? What do you think about this different style of presenting a book? Like or dislike?